BXCR/ The Culinary Underground Valentine on the Vine beer vs. wine dinner. Photos by David Mulvihill

He Said Beer, She Said Wine 

First published in 2008, He Said Beer, She Said Wine was inspired by dinner pairing competitions that prominent Philadelphia-area sommelier Marnie Old and famed owner and founder of Dogfish Head craft brewery (Milton, DE) Sam Calagione have been holding for quite a few years. For these dinners (held throughout the country) they team with unaffiliated chefs who create each menu. Sam and Marnie then choose a liquid pairing for each course. Guests vote on the better pairing of each course. Their illustrated book guides the reader on how to successfully pair both beer and wine with a wide variety of foods. 

As the popularity and standing of craft beer has elevated as accompaniment to fine fare, additional beer vs. wine dinners have come
into play. 

BXCR VOTV 2.0

One such occasion took place on Valentine’s Day at the BCXR Wine Bar, located within Anaheim’s Packing District. Held in collaboration with The Culinary Underground’s Chef Andrea Machuca-Kirkland, Valentine on the Vine 2.0, a Wine vs. Beer Dinner, was BXCR’s 4th installment of wine vs. beer. 

Unlike the Sam vs. Marnie dinners, Chef Andrea teamed with both Anaheim’s Unsung Beer Company and Hello Kitty Wines to plan the menu and accompanying libations. She even collaborated with the Unsung brewing team in crafting the dessert pairing beer! Unsung Brewing Company is a premier craft brewery with tasting room and pilot brewery just across the street in the Packing District’s Make facility. Unsung’s production brewery is in Tustin. Hello Kitty Wines incorporates artisanal wines from various regions in Italy.

1st course: What Mermaids Eat for Breakfast

To waken the palate, a fresh Kumamoto oyster served with a blueberry yuzu mignonette and shaved cucumber was presented with a dusting of sand-toned sea salt to complete the ocean-side illusion.

Wine pairing: Hello Kitty Pinot Grigio. It provided a fruity pop that enhanced the flavors of the bite at hand.

Beer pairing: Unsung’s Hard Seltzer, a remarkably light but refreshing and flavorful sparkling seltzer-type brew that incorporates Mandarin orange zest and juice. At less than 4% ABV, it was subtle, but flavorful enough to complement the fresh brine of the oyster. Unsung has a new seltzer in process that will be released soon. The new one incorporates pluots (a stone fruit hybrid of plum and apricot) into the mix.

2nd course: Brie Mine

A very special presentation of Gran Margaux Brie came next. A matcha bruleed Gran Margaux was accompanied by Drea’s Raspberry 3:00 a.m. with Corvette rose petals and spiced almonds. My guess is that the raspberry sauce was prepared or created in the wee hours of the morning. 

Beer pairing: French Boysenberry Saison by Unsung, a French-style fruited saison with boysenberries. The Saison was powerful but pleasant. Given the mildness of the brie, it alone may have become overpowered by this bold saison. Combining the cheese with the raspberry and spiced almonds resulted in a more-harmonizing pairing. Attendees must have agreed. The Saison was voted winner over the wine paiting. 

Wine pairing: The Hello Kitty Prosecco, with its effervescent light fruitiness provided a subtle contrast that cleansed the palate and allowed for a resulting explosion of flavor. 

BXCR/ The Culinary Underground Valentine on the Vine beer vs. wine dinner. 

Main course: Down the Rabbit Hole

A Rabbit Cassoulet with white beans, warming winter root vegetables, parsnips, carrots (with crunch), chorizo and rabbit white-wine gravy provided a tasteful interpretation of a classic French countryside dish. It came accompanied by mini-squeeze bottle containing Dante’s Inferno hot sauce (with ancho, ghost chiles and more) as an optional addition to the dish. The hot sauce provided some heat and enhanced the culinary components without changing the intended flavors.

Beer pairing: Kinetica Helles Lager by Unsung was crisp, light and true to style. For this dish, this reporter preferred the helles lager’s lighter qualities, which perked up of the principle constituents in the course.

Wine pairing: Hello Kitty Pinot Noir, from the Lombardi Region of Italy, was fruit forward, containing cruxes of strawberry, blackberry and raspberry. Possessing some aged raisin-y sweet characteristics, it perhaps lacked some roundness/ fullness of body to improve its complement, but played well off the spiciness of the chorizo.

Dessert course: Let Them Eat Cake 

For dessert, a strawberry champagne sponge cake with Vermont Creamery mascarpone frosting in the middle and “Romance Raspberry” gelee came for dessert. In introducing the dessert, Chef Andrea shared that, while she created its foundation, Stephanie made it beautiful. She introduced the evening’s pastry chef, Stephanie Snee, who spoke about the dessert. A white-chocolate ganache was soaked into the top layer along with a strawberry glaze (strawberries soaked in rose wine), topped with a white chocolate Hello Kitty and garnished with pansies.

Beer pairing: Buzzed On Love Lager, brewed by Unsung in collaboration with Chef Andrea, was a one of a kind special presentation. They began with one of Unsung’s core beers, Buzzman Cream Ale. Buzzman pays homage to owner Mike Crea’s Midwest origins. The cream ale begins fermentation at ale temperatures in the 60 degrees range. The temp is then dropped to the 40s, where the beer lagers as it finishes and clears. Adding a Valentine’s Day twist, Andrea worked with Mike Crea and Unsung Brewer Ryan Hunt to transform this base beer with additions of Egyptian rose water and organic raspberry puree. It presented with a hint of roses and refreshing tartness on the finish. This one-of-a-kind beer complemented the course, as did the wine pairing and the resulting split vote for this course.

Wine pairing: Hello Kitty sweet pink is a floral and fruity demi-sec semi-sweet sparkling rosé made with Chardonnay and Pinot Nero grapes. Pressing with the skins resulted in the pale
pink hue.

Regardless of whether wine or beer was voted best pairings of the evening it was clear that both are apt accompaniments. Chef Kirkland-Machuca and The Culinary Underground team up once again on March 14th for a St Patrick’s Day beer vs. wine dinner, this time with Anaheim’s Asylum Brewing. Consult BXCR’s and The Culinary Underground’s social media for complete details on upcoming events. 

Festival Time

With an ever increasing number of beer festivals, I’m not sure that Festival Season ever ends.

Yorkshire Square’s Andy Black at last year’s N’owt But Stout Fest.

Coming March 9, craft beer enthusiasts can look forward to San Juan Capistrano’s Docent Brewing commemorating its 2nd Anniversary FIELD TRIP. In collaboration with Brew Ha Ha Productions the celebration will take place at Reata Park and include musical entertainment by The White Buffalo, Roses Pawn Shop and Robert Jon & The Wreck. In addition to Docent brews, invited breweries will also be pouring. The list includes Alpine, Artifex, Chapman Crafted, Green Cheek, Gunwhale, Lost Winds, Pizza Port, Riip Beer Company, Stereo Brewing Co, TAPS, Ten Mile, The Good Beer Co, Tustin and Burgeon.

Yorkshire Square Brewery and the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild come together again on March 16th (St. Patrick’s Day Weekend) for YSB’s Second Annual N’OWT BUT STOUT FESTIVAL. Dark beer is the liquid meal of the day (on cask and keg) from more than 25 breweries personally selected by Yorkshire’s own Andy Black. The fest will again feature unlimited pours from 1pm-5pm, food trucks and live music.

The Central Coast Brewers Guild will present its second annual Central Coast Craft Beer Fest on Saturday, March 30th at the Sunken Gardens in Atascadero from 12-4 p.m. The festival takes place towards the end of Central Coast Craft Beer Week, which runs from March 24-31. Samples of beer from over 45 member craft breweries, from Ventura County to the south all the way north to Monterey. Wineries, cideries and additional guest breweries will also be participating. Entertainment by Bear Market Riot, Wall of Tom, and Dj Hecktik, food trucks and vendors will complete the experience. The VIP Session from 12-1 p.m. includes an hour early entry, and VIP craft beer and food pairings from area restaurants. 

The Fest benefits local charities and the Central Coast Brewers Guild. The 300 miles coastline that encompasses California’s Central Coast (Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Monterey counties) is home to over XXXX craft breweries.

For more information and tickets visit: www.centralcoastbrewersguild.com/cccbf2019

Brew Ha Ha Productions and Synergy Global Entertainment are back at it in early April when Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco and Music Fest returns to the beautiful grounds of Doheny State Beach. This year’s So Cal event will run for two days, April 6-7. With an amazing lineup of beer, tacos and entertainment, many will want to attend both days. Saturday’s music includes Flogging Molly, Bad Religion, Good Charlotte, Lagwagon, Strung Out, The Suicide Machines, and D.I. Sunday’s bill includes The Offspring, Decendents, Black Flag, Face to Face, Plague Vendor, Red City Radio and Orange Blossom Special.

There will be over 150 craft beers to taste, a large assortment of tacos from a variety of restaurants and vendors and lucha libre wrestling!

On April 27, The OC Brewers Guild will hold this year’s OCBG Invitational Beer Festival from 12-4 p.m. The event moves to a new venue and will take place at the Elks Lodge in Garden Grove. Expect beer from over 50 breweries to be flowing from Guild member breweries and invited breweries from all over. Consult ocbrewers.org for complete details and tickets.