Riverlands Brewing Co of St Charles, IL and Pair-It-Up Craft Food put together a Valentine’s Day beer dinner in the Riverlands taproom. The event sold out and it was little wonder why, as the quality of the food and the beer was top-shelf. Four beers were expertly paired with four food courses.
Pair-It-Up is not the typical food truck operation that shows up at a brewery and feeds hungry beer drinkers. They seek synergies between their offerings and the beer being served. Last Tuesday, everyone involved hit the bullseye.
Riverlands kicked off the night by giving us a pint of their Kayak Pilsner as the Reception Beer. Adding a branded koozie was a clever idea. Kayak is a crisp, refreshing, malty lager, with a nice bite of hop bitterness.
Pair-It-Up’s appetizer course featured samosa and Korean meatballs. The Indian influence in Pair-It-Up’s menu is front and center, but their ability to meld that influence with other types of cuisines makes their offerings approachable to a wide audience. The combination of meatballs and samosa pastries (filled with vegetables) resulted in a dish full of zingy spiciness. Pairing it with Riverlands’ No Functioning Gauges West Coast Pilsner was inspired. The beer has fruity aspects which helped take the edge off the poignant zest found on the plate.
The first entrėe of the night was Moroccan beef kebab served with potato salad and pickled onions. All of the components worked well together. The presence of dill in the potato salad was an imaginative addition. Riverlands contributed their Biegarden Symphony Vienna Lager to the pairing. Big, sweet and malty, the beer was as robust as the flavors in the kebabs.
Pair-It-Up served butter chicken on top of a bed of biryani rice for their second entrėe. The savory sauce was the star of the dish. The Dean Street Hazy IPA was a fine complement, as neither the food nor the beer were over the top with respect to spice level or hoppiness.
Our hosts finished off the night with a creamy fruit dessert topped with chocolate ganache and served in a waffle cup, paired with the barrel-aged Three Chocolatiers Imperial Stout. The dessert was tasty and sweet, but could have paired better with the beer if more chocolate had been present. The stout was a true champion of a beer, with its 12% ABV well disguised within its complex flavor profile. We were saddened to see that many guests were not adventurous enough to take more than a sip of the stout before rejecting it. Not all beers are a good complement for dessert, but this one was a winner.
We rate this beer dinner as a massive success. Riverlands and Pair-It-Up paid close attention to how the beer and food would work together and the result was a home run. The amount of food served was just right for a dinnertime event. The $45 price point was outstanding, as some beer dinners have reached unpalatable levels in the neighborhood of $65 or $70.