More importantly, this tasting was being held at The Fresh Market, a chain of gourmet grocery stores. I've found some amazing stuff there, and was intrigued by the note of appetizers on the invite.
I was not disappointed.
I even got a commemorative tasting glass, with a line drawn at the exact 3 ounce mark, which turns out to be rather perfect for a beer tasting. There were two or three appetizers and four or five beers per station. And the staff on hand were well educated on the particular beers that were being served. Over 30 beers were available, and I was glad to see American microbrew pioneers like Sierra Nevada and Anchor Steam represented in full. As is my usual practice with massive tastings, I chose to try those beers I'd never had before, plus a few that I really enjoy.
The entire store was closed off to the public for the evening, though they kept a couple of registers open if the guests wanted to buy anything.
Among the appetizers I sampled:
- Caprese Salad on Baguette Slices
- Mini Crabcakes
- Mushroom Vol-au-Vent
- Cambozola Cheese and Sun-dried Tomatoes on Crackers
- Salami and Smithfield Cream Cheese
- Sushi (including my first taste of tilapia sashimi)
- Cubes of Ribeye Steak with Olives
- Some savory dish using squid ink angel-hair pasta and fresh basil
- Warsteiner Dunkel from Germany. Light and slightly bitter. The first beer of the evening, and not a bad one.
- Flying Dog Old Scratch. Colorado. An old favorite.
- Flying Dog In Heat Wheat Beer. Colorado. A pleasant unfiltered wheat beer.
- Sleeman's Cream Ale from Canada. Light and refreshing. I'm consistently amazed by Canadian beers. And I'm not talking about Molsen's or Moosehead.
- Avery White Rascal from Colorado. A Belgian style white beer, unfiltered and seasoned with orange peel. One of my favorites from the tasting, and it went really well with the sushi.
- Sierra Nevada Wheat from California. Lovely little wheat beer.
- Sierra Nevada Porter from California. The reason why the porterhouse steak was invented.
- Samuel Smith Pure Lager from England. When you're drinking Samuel Smith, you're drinking history. Kudos to the antiquated label design. Pleasing notes of yeast and hops on this one.
- Woodchuck Pear Cider from Vermont. I still enjoy the tart and refreshing Woodchuck Granny Smith hard cider when the mood strikes, but I'd never tried the pear cider before this tasting. Enjoyable, and definitely something different. Would be interested to serve with my beloved dessert of pear slices, goat cheese, and honey.
- Lindeman's Framboise Lambic from Belgium. I reviewed this back in August, and it still brought a smile to my face. So much fun, and much more like a sparkling dessert wine than a beer.