When it comes to a day that appears only once every four years that just so happens to land smack in the middle of Sacramento Beer Week, we figured it was the perfect
excuse chance to have a tremendous, Epicurean night of food and craft beer. Chef Adam Pechal has been making a name for himself in his role as head chef of two of Sacramento’s more inventive restaurants Tuli and Restaurant Thir13en, so when he brought up the idea to do a beer dinner at Thir13en, we jumped at the opportunity to put it together.
With a contagious exuberance that likely hasn’t waned much since he was a small boy and an undeniable talent in the kitchen, Chef Pechal worked with our Head Brewer Brian Thorson and created a 5-course menu of sumptuous dishes each paired with a different Drake’s beer.
As guests began to arrive early in the evening, we poured our light and crisp Kolsch-style Blonde ale, to pair with the first dish of the night: Lobster and Blonde Beer Fritters with Meyer Lemon Aioli.
Hungry from set-up and the choice to eat very lightly throughout the day pre-beer-dinner, the intoxicating smell of these delicious golden puffs of beer batter and lobster made it difficult to keep from promptly stuffing four into our mouths and washing down with a full Blonde, but we refrained. Good thing too, because the hits just kept on coming.
Chef Pechal finally instructed us all to take our seats for the next course and introduced to the crowd our owner John Martin and Brian. Then, when the opening remarks were complete, the wait staff brought in dish and beer number 2. Drakes Amber paired with 12 Hour Pork Belly with Honey Amber Mustard, Toasted Pistachios, sauteed Blueberries, and Red Mustard Frisee.
After the delicious and almost mandatory infusion of pork belly, we moved on to course three: House Made Squid Ink Pasta with Grilled Monterey Squid, Calabrian Chilis and Arugula paired with 1500. The lightness of the 1500 and the citrus in the hops perfectly paired with the richness of the pasta, lightness of the squid and the spice from the chilis.
Now that we had hinted at the hops and the spice, the fourth course took it to the next level. Glasses of our seasonal Hopocalypse Double IPA made their way to each guest as servers dropped vintage martini glasses filled with Fort Bragg Rockfish Ceviche with Blood Oranges, Habeñero, and Hopocalypse-Avocado Mousse garnished with a crispy corn chip.
Then, the night got even more interesting. In a mad scientist turn, Chef Pechal brought a table to the front of the room and had his sous chef bring in a large metal container filled with liquid nitrogen. After donning protective gloves and goggles the two chefs began to pour the -320 degree liquid nitrogen into a container filled with a hefty amount of our latest sour Theia (an American Strong Ale aged in Chardonnay Barrels with Brettanomyces), thus creating tableside sorbet. Fog from the liquid nitrogen billowed out of the top of the container as Chef Pechal stirred the mixture to a perfect sorbet consistancy– the perfect palate cleanser for a beer dinner. Chef Pechal served small spoons of the Theia sorbet with garnish of carbonated blood oranges (made by putting oranges and beer into a keg and cranking up the psi to carbonate the juice inside the oranges) and a glass of the non-frozen Theia.
After the entertainment of the evening was finished, and all of our palates thoroughly cleansed, servers began to bring out the fifth pairing: Black Robusto Porter with Porter Braised Beef Shortribs with Crispy Fingerlings, Carnival Cauliflower, and Toy Box Carrots. We had no words…
Nearly stuffed, a bit red faced, and very happy at this point, every cheerfully welcomed the final pairing for dessert that was both delicious and inventive. Dessert paired our well-named Barrel-aged Barleywine blend, The Good Shit with Apple-Barleywine Bundt Cake with Cardamom Ice Cream and Apple Barleywine Granita.
We left that night full, completely satisfied, and absolutely certain to dream about the foods and beers we had had. Both Brian and John agreed it was one of the more excellent pairing dinners they had ever had the pleasure to experience, and if Chef Pechal wants to do another dinner with us… you can be sure that we’re in.
Quick shout out to the servers and staff that made the dinner as wonderful as it was. Probably going to dream about this food again tonight. Cheers.