Beachwood Blendery and The Culinary Underground joined forces in early August for an evening of remarkable wild ales and inspired gastronomy. Head Brewer & Blender Ryan Fields began by talking a bit about Beachwood Blendery’s focus on working to recreate the flavors found in traditional lambic and gueuze in its barrel-aged sour beers. Chef Andrea Mahuca-Kirkland and her Culinary Underground team proceeded with a menu that complemented the flavors, aromas and profiles of some of those beers.

1st Course—Flavor & Funk: A foie gras torchon served with macerated strawberries, aerated delice de Bourgogne, strawberry gel and candied mustard seeds paired with Dia De los Mangos, one of the Blendery’s experimental and offbeat beers. Inspiration for this beer came from time Fields and Beachwood co-owner Gabe Gordon spent surfing in Baja, Mexico. They set out to incorporate essences of some Mexican candies. Starting with a one-year-old lambic-inspired beer, mango and tamarind were added for a two-month secondary fermentation. Five different Mexican chile powders were also added. A bit of heat, chile and mango flavors combine with the tamarind’s earthiness to bring forth a unique taste experience. In selecting this beer for the pairing, Ryan looked for a beer that would marry with the components in the dish. The mango went well with the strawberry, while the spice served to cut the fat in the dish. It provided a unique combo that changed the spicy character, cut through the fat and cleansed the palate.

2nd Course—Darjeeling Limited: Combining Indian and Asian flavors, a pungent aromatic washed-rind Taleggio cheese from Italy was served with saffron honey (from Massey Honey Co in Yorba Linda), spiced pistachios, curried turmeric pickled cauliflower and Gochujang leather (Korean savory/sweet/spicy fermented condiment). It was paired with Chaos is a Friend of Mine. This beer, referred to as the essence of Beachwood Blendery, starts with the best barrels of one-year-old Lambic-inspired base beer. Described as one of the team’s favorite beers, its funk paired well with the cheese, creating different flavors as it infused itself into the dish. 

Intermezzo Course—Strawberry Fields Forever: Little Secrets (Belgian-style sour ale aged in oak barrels and dry hopped with Mosaic hops) accompanied strawberry granite with basil, Thai mint, broccoli flower, wild-beer foam and farmers market plums. Ryan shared that he enjoys playing with hops and wild beer because wild yeasts (brettanomyces, etc.) actually scavenge any available oxygen in the finishing beer. This behavior helps hop flavors maintain freshness longer. It also results in what Ryan termed “biotransformation,” which imparts additional fruitiness to the finished product. The beer provided a fruity complement to the dish.

4th Course—Peachy Keen: Peachwood-smoked duck rillettes with polenta cooked with peppadew peppers and blended with Point Reyes bleu cheese, pickled fennel, Fresno chiles and dill was served with Careful with that Peach Eugene, a Belgian-style sour ale aged in oak barrels on fresh local peaches for two months. Its sweetness counterbalanced the savory dish, providing some in-a-good-way contradiction. 

Dessert—Take me to Paradise: Lilikoi guava mascarpone pie, coconut snow, passion fruit curd, pineapple whipped cream and Farmstand 59 marigolds made up the dessert course, paired with For the Love of Guava that was aged with fresh guava in oak barrels. Tart and fruit forward with some funk, the brew provided complementing of flavors while at the same time improving the combined experience by cutting some of the sweetness. 

Follow both @culinaryundergroundoc and @BeachwoodBlendery for news and upcoming events. Very admirable is Chef Machuca-Kirkland’s drive to push the boundaries of the culinary experience as well as the dedication that Beachwood Blendery has to perfecting and expanding the Lambic-inspired experience. For an interesting and comprehensive read, take a look at Ryan Fields’ paper on Brewing Beer in America Inspired By the Belgian Lambic Tradition (