Thursday, August 02, 2012

Recap of Gracie's Arcadia Ales Beer Dinner

Written by  Ryan Ranspach
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Recap of Gracie's Arcadia Ales Beer Dinner

Recently, we had the pleasure of attending the Arcadia Ales beer dinner at Gracie's Place in Williamston. It was a 5-course meal, each course served with a different Arcadia beer. As usual, the ambiance and feel of Gracie's was first rate and they had a long table set up for us near the open kitchen, so we could see some of the dishes being prepared and plated.
Recap of Gracie's Arcadia Ales Beer DinnerWe started off with some light conversation and a couple small glasses of their flagship beer, Angler's Ale. I was meeting a friend of mine at the dinner and arrived before him, so I sat next to Chris from West Side Beer who distributes Arcadia, among many other things, to the Lansing area. We chatted about living in the area and some of our favorite Michigan beers and places to drink them at. After everyone arrived and was settled in, Steve Marcial from Arcadia said a few words of welcome and we were served our first pairing beer of the night, Arcadia's Whitsun Ale. Whitsun is a wheat beer brewed only in the summer and is styled after a traditional English festival ale. It pours with a thick head and has heavy notes of citrus and coriander that are smoothed out on the finish by the fairly large amount of Michigan honey used in the brewing process. It was served with Confit Baby Back Ribs that were covered in a ginger, Szechuan, orange, and basil glaze. The ribs were flavorful & tender and went together tremendously with the beer; the sweetness of the oranges paired perfectly with the orange and honey presence in the beer. We were officially off and running at this point...

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!