Sadly, I can’t be everywhere at once, and I had at least five articles due this week. As a result, I had to decline an invitation to attend a beer dinner featuring Denise Jones’ beers from Moylan’s that was held Thursday at Noon’s Bar & Grill in Larkspur, California. Happily, Bulletin correspondent — and real-life newspaper man — Brent Ainsworth was on hand to give us his report on the beer dinner. Here’s what he had to say:
Taste buds were spoiled with a luxurious spa treatment Nov. 13 when Moylan’s ace brewer Denise Jones hosted a brewmasters dinner at Noonan’s Bar & Grill in Larkspur, Calif. Jones and her staff unveiled some special ales and executive chef Jose Flores delighted the diners with delectable treats including smoked oysters and quail.
Moylan’s brewmaster Denise Jones and Chef Jose Flores.
A trio of passed hors d’oeuvres: poached white prawns with spicy tomato & pepper relish; Dungeness crab crostinis with tarragon aioli; smoked Point Reyes oysters. Served with Moylan’s ESB
Marinated Niman Ranch tenderloin of beef on a bed of arugula, fennel and orange with cilantro vinaigrette. Served with Moylan’s Oktoberfest Marzen
Banana leaf-wrapped Pacific rockfish in adobo sauce with vegetable-filled passilla pepper and queso fresco. Served with Moylan’s White Christmas Winter Lager
Wheat ale & lemon granita
Pan-roasted quail filled with dried cranberries, wild mushrooms and spinach with sauce Bernaise. Served with Moylan’s IPA
Walnut bread pudding with malted barley caramel reduction. Served with a trio of Moylan’s Ryan Sullivan Imperial Stout variations (bourbon barrel, espresso and chocolate infused, fresh raspberry).
Jones grew up hunting and fishing in eastern California’s rugged country, and she said she often craves the kind of fresh game she used to shoot as a kid. So she worked with Flores, a native of Mexico City, to hand-craft a menu that included flavors from her personal history. The roasted quail worked perfectly with the mushrooms, cranberries and spinach. “Quail is tricky to do because you have to make it moist,” Flores told the diners.
The rockfish was actually corvina, a member of the seabass family, that Flores had brought in from Ecuador. The gravita, a granular sorbet, was a cool breeze after the fish and before the quail.
Beerwise, the dinner got off to a smooth start as the extra special bitter almost stepped aside graciously to let the hors d’oeourves show off their deep-sea flavor. Jones’ Oktoberfest Marzen was light in body and crisp in autumn flavor, “almost a German cousin to an Irish red,” she said. The combination of the fish and the White Christmas Winter Lager was a sweet pre-holiday treat, and the bitterness of Jones’ signature IPA helped the quail take a posthumous flight as the meal’s star attraction.
Then came the three stouts – a style dear to Jones’ heart. The bourbon barrel version was aged only about 3-4 months, according to brewer Jim Grbac, and was intentionally more subtle than more monstrous bourbon barrel stouts floating around. The espresso/chocolate had a nose to die for thanks to Wolf Coffee Sumatra blend and Scharffen Berger dark chocolate. The raspberry stout went down like a 20-year-old cabernet sauvignon.
“These three stouts are the same age, same basic ingredients, same everything except for the infusions, and we’ve come up with three very different results,” Jones said.
Thanks to Brent Ainsworth for that great glimpse into the beer dinner. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there, its all looks delicious.