When the opportunity to host a Beer Dinner with acclaimed chef Todd Humphries arose, it probably took us all of 10 seconds to jump onboard. At his restaurant The Kitchen Door in Napa’s Oxbow Public Market, Humphries has started a monthly series of beer dinners with Mutineer Magazine pairing local, seasonal comfort foods with local craft beer. Last night, we had the chance to share our beers around the Kitchen Door table alongside some truly excellent dishes prepared by Humphries and his Chef du Cuisine Chris Litts. Our Brewer Alexandra Nowell spoke between each course to give folks the low-down on our beers from the perspective that only a brewer can give.
As guests arrived they were given our Hefeweizen to start as servers passed around a fresh flatbread topped with goat cheese and olive tapanade. The fruity aroma and fresh zing of the goat cheese played very nicely with our light Hefeweizen, kicking the night off to a great start.
When the guests had all arrived, the meal began with a light arugula and asparagus salad with a creamy herb dressing pairing with Drake’s 1500. The lightness of the 1500 and the crisp citrus hop flavors went well with the light vegetables and the peppery arugula and cut through the creaminess of the dressing.
For, the second course, Humphries, an East Coast native, pulled together his take on a classic New England Clam Bake, butter poached lobster with little neck clams, marbled potatoes, corn pudding and sea beans. For this dish, they chose our Denogginizer IIPA, which has a clean hop character capable of balanced the buttery, richness of the lobster and corn pudding.
Things got seriously delicious with the third course, with a succulent serving of Chicken Marsala with morel mushrooms and spring onions paired with our Amber Ale. While we did not confirm this, we’re fairly certain the chef used the Amber in the sauce to up the pairing perfection of this dish to new heights. Our only regret is that it would have been uncouth to lick the plate clean…
If the previous dish didn’t send us road tripping down memory lane about good ole’ home cooking, the next dish certainly did. Out came a tender and delicious braised beef short rib served with classic pot roast vegetables, carrots and spring peas. Hearty and delicious and paired with our Barrel-aged Drakonic. Such a classic dish, we could have seen this paired with lots of our beers from regular Drakonic to IPA to Denogginizer.
Lastly we came to dessert with two different courses designed to satisfy those preferring a savory cheese course and those going for the rich and deeply satisfying sweet chocolate ending. First, Humphries paired a Pt. Reyes Blue cheese crouton with pickled rhubard and frisee with our Bourbon and Brandy barrel aged Drakonic Imperial stout. The intensity of the pungent blue cheese was impeccable with the strong imperial stout and the enhanced flavors of dried, dark fruits and brandy cut the richness of the cheese nicely.
At the same time, servers poured out side by side tastings of our regular Drakonic imperial stout alongside a dark chocolate pudding with sour cherries and a thin crispy “Cara Crakine” on top. We had trouble not licking the plate on this one too.
A big thanks to the whole Kitchen Door crew including Chef Humphries, Cheff Litts, Kitchen Door General Manager Tim Seberson and to the folks at Mutineer Magazine (especially Managing Editor Brian Knopf, who celebrated his birthday last night with us). Check out the rest of our pictures from the night below. Cheers.