Cambridge Common beer dinner with People's Pint Beers (Massachusetts)
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Posted 06 October 2010 - 08:47 AM
I went to a beer dinner at the Cambridge Commons beer bar last night, and thought I would write about it here. This was the menu for the evening, for a fixed price of $50 per person:Cambridge Common, a bar between Harvard Square and Porter Square on Mass. Ave. in Cambridge, does beer dinners once a month or so, typically with beers from one particular vendor. They have a Lagunitas dinner coming up that I'm exceited about, because it can be hard to ge their beer in Boston,a nd there's a 30th anniversary Sierra Nevada dinner as well. Last night's dinner focused on the beer of a brewpub in Greenfield, Massachusetts called the People's Pint. I got to spend a lot of time chatting with Chris, the brewmaster at People's Pint, about his choices for malts and hops. He's done some interesting beers blending American C hops with English and German varieties like Target and Hallertau. He also has some weirdly experimental beers like Slippery Slope which I'll write about later.There were about 30 people at the dinner, with 18 at one long table, and the rest at four-tops next to the long table. When I signed up for the dinner, I gave them the names of some friends who were also attending, and they sat us all together at one end of the long table. This worked out well, because six people from the brewery were at a booth next to our end, so I got to talk more beer with professionals.When I arrived at the restaurant, I gave my name to the hostess, and she seated me with two of my three friends, and someone handed me an 8-ounce glass of Pied PIPA. I think Pied AIPA would have been a better name for this beer, it was a fine example of an American IPA with, if I remember right, Centennial and Cascade hops.Our next beer was a Provider Pale Ale, again about an 8 ounce pour, this time served with a plate of artisanal bread, a couple small chunks of a nice Vermont cheddar, a dollop of mustard, some pickles, and a couple pickled peppers. Chris, the head brewer, explained that Provider Pale was a mixture of Continental and American hops (Willamette/Hallertau and Centennial, I think) with a Maris Otter base. One of my table mates asked me if I actually understood what he was talking about, and I had him sniff the Pied PIPA and Provider Pale, and he could tell that the Willamette were much more floral while the American-only was more citrus and pine. I feel like I did my part for educating a beer noob, although the guy was probably 20 years older than me.The final of the three hoppy beers was the Double IPA. Although all three beers were hoppy, none were over-the-top bitter, so they didn't really destroy our palates. There was a nice salad with craisin and stinky cheese crumbles to go with the DIPA. I thought the bold flavors melded pretty well, but I honestly don't remember that much about the DIPA -- I think it was a mixture of Target, Centennial and Chinook hops, but I could be wrong here. I tried to explain to the noob a little about how this was a beer with more sweetness and more bitterness to maintain the balance, but I don't think he really understood my point.For our entrees, we had a choice of salmon paired with a high gravity, or short ribs with a brown ale. Almost all the guests (including me) went for the salmon, and I think the kitchen may have cut the salmon into smaller pieces to deal with the demand. It was still tasty, and we all got plenty to eat, but next time I might be contrarian and get the unpopular dish. The salmon was quite good, and the beer was interesting. I sniffed the beer and asked the brewer if he had used a Belgian yeast fermented warm, and he explained that it was fermented cool with an Engish ale strain, but it had a lot of esters and phenols from everything added to the beer. The additives included a couple varieties of honey, apple cider, and a lot of ginger. He said the ginger was a little overpowering at first, but this beer had aged about a year and was mellowing out a lot. It was an odd, experimental beer, but it went really well with the salmon. I wouldn't want to drink it on its own, but it was a perfect food beer paired with the oily fish. I really enjoyed it, but it's definitely not a beer for everyone (or for anyone with a timid palate).The last course was a brownie for dessert, along with an oatmeal stout. The stout was sort of forgettable without much mouthfeel. I didn't get that thick porridge-like impression that I expect from an oatmeal stout, and the stout was probably the weakest beer of the evening. There was nothing wrong with it, but it didn't have the bold impressions that all the other beers displayed.
Posted 06 October 2010 - 03:40 PM
sounds really awesome. I'd love to do something like this and the $50 price tag doesn't seem too unreasonable.
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