Special Five-Course Dinner Highlights Good Beer With Good Food At LA Restaurant
Chicago’s craft beer Goose Island has come West and – like many transplants from the Windy City – has landed in the fun Los Angeles Beach Cities of Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo Beach.
And on a weather-perfect Tuesday evening, the kind of gentle night where you want to have a few beers with dinner out of doors, there was an outstanding pairing of several of Goose Island’s beers with the magnificent menu of the relatively new Rock & Brews “rock restaurant” in Redondo Beach.
Some 50 people attended, sitting on picnic tables at the indoor/outdoor venue in Riviera Village on the corner of PCH and Palos Verdes Blvd.
The special dinner was a five-course meal with samples of more than half a dozen Goose Island selections. And what pairing it was, an ideal combination of quality beer and quality food in a really cool and super-friendly environment.
The meal started with one of my favorite salads, the Strawberry Fields Forever. There was a choice of two beers – – and of course I had them both – the Vintage Sofia Paradisi and the Class 313 Urban Wheat. The Sofia Paradisi is a Belgian style farmhouse ale, which is actually aged in wine barrels and has a bit of a grapefruit citrus flavor. The sharpness of the Vintage proved a very nice compliment the tartness if the salad vinaigrette dressing. The 312 – named after Chicago’s area code – brought out the lighter side of this flavorful salad, especially the walnuts.
Salad set aside, we were then served the Rock & Brews Asian Wings with Vintage Matilda, a beer which and tastes a bit like champagne and Classic Harvest Ale. Each produced a different outcome, the Matilda proving a more delicate finish to the wings with the somewhat heavy Harvest Ale – it has a toasty malt character – giving them a real beer-and-wings, put-on-some-football result.
When you’re at Rock & Brews, by the way, save some beer for after the wings,, because that spice on the sauce lingers on the taste buds a bit, like “style points” touchdowns do late in the college football season rankings.
Next we were served the Bleu Cheese Bacon Burger sliders with a fairly heavy Vintage Pere Jacques beer and also the Classic India Pale Ale. The Vintage Pere proved to be as hefty as a linemen although, it must be pointed out, today’s linemen can be quite nimble of their feet on occasion and so, too, is the Pere.
Personally, this lager lover feels the better pairing is with the lighter Honker’s Ale and that’s where the IPA comes in; it proved to be right between the uprights of the Vintage and Honkers. The Bleu Cheese Bacon Burger is something I would rarely order, by the way, as I prefer to dine on more healthy items But the two sliders were indeed tasty, and the “oohs” and “ahhs” coming from my picnic table neighbors were of the worshiping level.
The star of the Rock & Brews menu – if you ask me – is its pizza and we were served the pulled pork pie paired with my favorite Goose Island beer, Honkers Ale. To me, this pairing was the best of the night, the perfect combination, the evening’s equivalent of A.J. McCarron to Amari Cooper for an easy touchdown.
The pulled pork, pizza by the way, is more spicy than the wings. Credit/blame the jalapenos. So be sure and have plenty of Honkers handy after every bite.
Independently – and while it was there why not enjoy the entire available bounty being offered on this night – I tried the Illinois IPA. It nearly knocked me off the bench, not just with its potency but also it’s rich flavor. I later learned why; it’s an 8.4% brew! This s not your pounding beer but more of the Al Bundy put-the-hand-in-the-belly, end-of-meal beer. At least for me. If I’m to pound Goose Island it will be the Honker’s Ale, not the Illinois IPA.
The evening ended with dessert, the decadent Purple Rain Drops with a surprise pairing, which happened to be Sophie Paradisi. I had the beer but not the Rain Drops because I don’t eat sweets. That’s right, I don’t eat sweets.
This was a special pairing night, but Rock & Brews serves Honkers and IPA on a daily basis, and both are available at the table-top taps. Yes, table-top taps.
It’s little wonder this place is so popular.