The Hopmonk Tavern is Sebastopol got back into the swing of things with their beer dinners this weekend with Grand Teton Brewing Company of Victor, Idaho. Tyipically, Hopmonk has shown a preference for local brewers, but the decision to bring in Grand Teton was a great one, as head brewer Rob Mullins provided plenty of information to go along with tasty beers and a wonderful dinner.
The evening started with the Grand Teton flagship Bitch Creek ESB (Extra Special Brown). Named after a nearby creek whose name is actually derived from the French word “Biche,” this beer is a great way to start an evening. Slightly hoppy with a touch of roasted bitterness, Bitch Creek is approachable and best of all, delicious.
The first course brought out a salad with caramel apple bites. This salad blew me away. The apples, dipped in bittersweet chocolate then caramel, were intense. Sweet with a touch of sour, the flavors were contrasted by the bitter green salad. This sweet and bitter flavor was mirrored by the Sweetgrass American Pale Ale with it all being tied together by the cheese in the salad. Fantastic dish.
The second course was a pumpkin and squash bisque and screamed out autumn. The soup, paired with the double white Tail Waggin’ Ale, was spicy and hearty. The spices brought out the spice of the white ale with the alcohol drawing out both. Definitely a dish for the season that went well with the cool temperatures of the evening.
As impressive as the first two dishes were, the third dish seemed to miss the mark slightly. Beautiful on the plate, with a whole langoustine sitting atop the fillet, the shellfish seems to have been the biggest issue I had with the dish. Having been blackened, the aroma of roast clung to my nostrils as I tried to figure out how to eat the shrimp. Upon discovering that the tail was the the best place to go, I had put in too much effort for what I was returned. The roasted flavors were a bit overpowering especially when combined with the espresso crusted steak and the black IPA. That said, the fillet was cooked perfectly and was capable of being cut by the edge of the fork. The bed of squash and purple potatoes were very tasty and my favorite part of the dish.
To finish it off, we were brought out tiramisu served in tulip glasses. The Count Chocula soaked in Black Cauldron was a treat and provided a nice twist to the typical dessert. I found myself eating the dessert possibly too quickly. Thankfully the beer alongside it was there to wash it down as well as slow my pace.
In all the dinner was a big success. Criticism aside, if this were the first Hopmonk dinner I had attended I would still be coming back for more. Dean Biersch was a gracious host as usual and Chef Billy Reid’s menu spoke to a theme that was easily graspable and one that he pulled off successfully. Head Brewer Rob Mullins provided plenty of stories about Grand Teton from the history of the brewery, to name changes with beers to where the brewery is looking to move forward with respects to terroir.
The next Hopmonk dinner will be in December with local Lagunitas Brewery. I am looking forward to another of these and hope to see you there.