Beer-pairing dinners are nothing new around these parts. It seems like they crop up more and more often. And while the possible pairings should approach the infinite, I tend to see a lot of the same stuff. That’s what made last night’s dinner at Spike Africa’s, Downtown, so special.
To be honest, I’m astonished no one has thought of this before. Rather than pair the beers with dishes built off their complementary flavors, the beers at this dinner were matched with their ichthyoid namesakes, courtesy of Ballast Point's fish-themed lineup:
Pistachio Crusted Wahoo Filet with Wahoo Wheat.
Mustard Glazed Yellowtail Collar with Housemade German Sausage, Beer Braised Cabbage and Yellowtail Pale Ale.
Pan Seared Local Sculpin Apricot Risotto, Wilted Spinach, Grana Padano with Sculpin IPA
Dark Chocolate Rum Tart with Ballast Point Three Sheets Rum Caramel, Lightly Whipped Cream and Black Marlin Porter
It's such a simple and elegant idea that I'm astonished no one has done it before (that I can recall). It's either the mark of some highly intuitive chef or an incredibly lazy one, but it's a good idea regardless. Fish require very little massaging to taste quite good with a citrusy pale ale.
Of course, I don’t need to point out the glaring omission here: There’s no actual black marlin in the dessert course. This whole dinner was based on the promise of parity, and they didn't deliver simply because fish doesn’t taste pleasant with dark chocolate. What a cop-out!
Of the main courses, the most successful pairing was with the Pistachio Crushed Wahoo filet with Wahoo Wheat. The clove and banana notes in the beer complimented the nutty crust beautifully and elevated the entire dish.
While Spike's Africa may not have the biggest stable of draught options, it does carry most of the Ballast Point options. It's a one-stop shop for putting together your own fish pairings, which I highly recommend.