The next beer was Arcadia's limited batch, Big Finish Ale. This is an American IPA that was brewed specially for the Kalamazoo Marathon. It has a strong hop presence and pronounced, ripe citrus notes. The Big Finish pours very frothy and has a bright, golden color. It was served with a Beef Carpaccio; a very rare and thin slice of sirloin over a piece of watermelon and served with fennel, chopped pistachio, tomato, and greens, and it sat in a delicious and tart strawberry mustard sauce. I felt that as gentle and subtle as the flavors in this dish were, it actually did very well being paired with this pretty robust pale ale. The strong citrus of the hops was a nice accompaniment to the tartness in the strawberry mustard, and I thought the beef, nut, and greens worked well with the subtle biscuit notes in the IPA.
For the third course, it was straight business time. The beer was Arcaidia's strong, oaky Loch Down Scotch Ale. This is a big, boozy beer that pours a gorgeous dark raisin color and has strong notes of jam, biscuits, and caramel malt. The course paired with it was perfect; a Lamb Roulade served with a couscous salad and arugula, chiles, preserved lemon, and local area garden tomatoes. The roulade was strong, tender, and moist and the richness of it went perfectly with the bigness of the beer. I love Scotch ale and lamb, and this was probably my favorite course of the night.
The final course before dessert was Beef cooked two ways (braised and grilled, I believe) from McLaughlin Farms in Jackson, Michigan. It was served with beet greens, roasted beets, a black garlic chip, and tomato. It was well prepared and tasty. The beer pairing was Arcadia's Cereal Killer Barleywine, a high ABV, barrel-aged English style barley wine. It is a dark , almost purple color and has rich, dark-molasses and fruit flavors with a light but hoppy finish. The heat from the alcohol lingers with this barleywine and it worked very well with the beef, so this pairing was pretty simple and delicious...meat and strong beer. As Ina says, "how bad can that be?"
For dessert, we had olive oil sorbet and cake with a white balsamic-plum sauce, roasted plum, whipped brie, and a saffron-white chocolate ganache. This was served with Arcadia's limited release "15", which was a beer brewed in conjunction with Arcadia's 15th anniversary. It is a brown ale with sharp alcohol and tart fruit flavors. I didn't love this beer but thought it paired well with tartness of the plums and sauce. The brie was a nice ballast for the whole dish.
We had a great time at this dinner and thank Gracie's Place for having us. We got to try some of Arcadia's old-guards and a couple new surprises, and we certainly left howling!