What a (beer) pair
From Main Street to Montana Avenue, places to wet your whistle come a dime a dozen.
However, some of the better places that offer a wider beer selection are more than likely to also hold tastings, dinners, and events showcasing a certain brewery’s goods. It’s a great way to differentiate yourself and to create a rep.
After recent success with a beer dinner featuring Firestone-Walker Brewing Co. from Paso Robles, Calif., West 4th and Jane gave it another go around, but this time with Ommegang Brewery from Cooperstown, N.Y. It was fitting to feature Ommegang since the gastropub was founded by Steve Lieberman and Keith O’Brien, two high school chums from the city that never sleeps.
The evening was set with the usual cast of characters — press, PR people, beer reps, but with a large showing of regulars as well. The general consensus from my table, which consisted of a lawyer, an account exec, an art director, amongst others, was they liked the bar, they liked the food, so adding copious amounts of beer was a no brainer.
It was a five course affair paired with five different types of beers. Ommegang specializes in Belgium style-beer, which by definition runs the gamut from blonde ales to lambics, saisons to trappist Beers, and everything in between. The beers at the tasting had a similar spectrum of variety, but were paired very nicely with their corresponding dish and vice versa.
A great example was the first course, which consisted of an exquisite piece of hamachi paired with Ommegang’s Witte, the lightest of the beers in color, flavor, and alcohol content described as flavorful, soft and hazy. Soft and hazy was the general tone as the courses continued to arrive — along with the pitchers.
Each time a new beer would come to the table, someone would declare “this is my new favorite.” Perhaps the people at Ommegang knew to save the best for last. It must also be noted that the alcohol level in each new pitcher seemed to be higher too.
A standard beer dinner for myself usually consists of beer, pretzels, more beer, more pretzels, even more beer, shots, and then Taco Bell. This beer dinner was quite the opposite. Chef Ryan Turner did an exemplary job sizing up each beer, and pairing them with what was becoming an increasingly more inebriated group. Not to undermine the himachi, or roasted baby beets, but when the chicken fried quail and waffle arrived, followed by a plate of crispy pig ear, braised pork cheek, and nori rubbed pork loin, it’s safe to say that it brought out the fat kid in all of us.
Ommegang delivered with a great lineup from the Witte, to a farmhouse saison, dubbel, amber, and topped off by their 3 Philosophers, which was described as a dessert beer; dark, sweet, and at 9.7 percent abv, a perfect night cap.
From Firestone to Ommegang, 4th and Jane has aligned itself with quality beer makers. The establishment also lucked out with a chef who delivered an outstanding meal in plating, creativity, and taste (the three judging categories for “Iron Chef”). All because their last chef quit during the organizing of this beer dinner, and Ryan had to step in on short notice. That’s a story for a different day, probably for their re-launch party on May 9.
By: Michael Ryan