Boucherie co-owners Nathanial Zimet and James Denio looked at the sour beers in New Belgium Brewing's portfolio and knew they had to create a dining experience just as wild as the beers themselves. "I've loved sour beers for years, and finally we're getting them in this market," says Denio. Upon tasting the five beers - all inoculated with Brettanomyces, lactobacillus, or pediococcus and, for the most part barrel aged and blended - Zimet knew he could honor and complement the beers by thinking creatively about the dishes, a challenge he welcomed. "Beer dinners in general allow us to be much more playful," he said. "The guests who come to these events trust us, and we take full advantage of that opportunity.'
The "mild and approachable" Snapshot wheat beer with a touch of lactobacillus was paired with a salt and aleppo pepper cured tuna atop a roasted garlic spaetzle carbonara. New Belgium's Yuzu Imperial Berlinerweiss paired beautifully with a chorizo and goat cheese tamale and accompanying candied satsuma.
For the brewery's annual La Folie release, Zimet said of the brown ale, aged in enormous wooden barrels called foudres for 1-3 years with Brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus, "this beer really sings. The last thing I wanted to do was compete with it." His beet mole with a Frito crust, oven dried eggplant, and mustard greens "grounded the beer with earthy ingredients."
The entree course paired New Belgian's collaboration Transatlantique Kriek with Belgian brewer Frank Boon with what Zimet called "pad thai... ish." Soft boiled peanuts sat atop noodles made up of mahi mahi belly. The fresh herbs in the dish really worked well with the cherry flavors of the Kriek, and the sweetness tempered the sweet and sour heat of the sauce. Zimet said that after the fish was broken down, salted, and pushed through a sieve, the fish was mixed with tapioca starch and cooked, resulting in a firm noodle-like consistency. The dessert course was a banana leaf wrapped purple rice pudding with cashew praline sauce, paired with the 2014 version of Le Terroir, a sour beer dryhopped with Amarillo hops.
As Boucherie's menu shows, beer dinners are a fantastic opportunity to trust in a chef and let the beer and food give the palate a new experience. New Belgium is hosting another beer dinner next week on October 22 at 7pm at Galatoire's 33 Bar and Steak. The featured beers will be different - Sunshine Wheat, Fat Tire, Wild2Dubbel Ale, Ranger IPA, 1554 Black Lager, and another chance to sample the unique Yuzu Imperial Berlinerweiss - and the menu is more Creole, but still creative with an emphasis on utilizing the beer as an ingredient in each course, like the beef shortribs braised in black lager and beer battered fish and chips with Fat Tire amber ale. With dishes like Buffalo-spiced quail, foie gras torchon with a banana nut bread and praline sauce, a baked brie and candied ginger dessert, and passed hors d'oeurves like fried cornichons, bacon lardons, and honey poached apples in phyllo, and a price of $65 (inclusive) for six courses and six beers, call (504) 525-6022 to make a reservation and experience the flavor adventure that beer dinners can provide.