Now it is well known that I have not been a fan of Wallace Brewing’s beer. So it was with hesitation that I purchased tickets for Tom and myself to the Wallace Brewing Brewer’s Dinner at the Coeur d’Alene Casino this last Saturday evening. I had been told they had hired a new Brewmaster and that he had made some changes, so why not take a chance?
I am happy to say I “ate crow” on Saturday, (along with a bunch of other interesting dishes), at the Brewer’s Dinner. I was pleasently impressed with the new brews. The addition of Jack Johnson to Wallace Brewings team appears to be a good move and I am looking forward to seeing what else comes out of the brewery in the near future.
Let’s take a look at what we experienced at this fabulous dinner at the Casino.
Here is what our menu looked like and our first course. It was a Winter Vegetable Fritto with beer battered parsnips with aioli, sweet potato chips with Oregon Blue Cheese and onion fondue, brussels with curry and smoked raisins. This was all paired with Wallace Brewing Idaho Select Light Lager. I wasn’t a fan of the food. I just felt there were too many flavors on the plate and I have never been a fan of overpowering curry. Tom and those around me enjoyed it and I did taste everything, and the pairing with the beer was a good one. I did think that with all the spice on the plate it probably would have been good with their Vindicator IPA too.
Second course was a Slow-cooked Idaho Potato Soup. It was really good, but a bit underspiced for my tastes. Funny how I thought the first dish was overspiced and that the soup wasn’t spiced enough. I still think it was just because there was so much going on with the first one I couldn’t really enjoy just one thing. The soup however stood on its own, I just personally would have liked a little zing to it. There was a bit of confusion on what beer was to be paired with the soup as the Vindicator IPA was served, but it was actually supposed to be brought out with the next course. It paired OK, but because the soup was kind of bland even though it was a lower IBU (international bitter units) than some IPA’s that I enjoy, it still over powered the soup.
This was by far my favorite course of the entire dinner, (except of course the dessert, but we will get to that later). Endive and White Cheddar Salad: Toasted pecans, Tillamook vintage cheddar, buttermilk dressing tossed with Belgium endive lettuce, poppy seeds, and candied chicken confit. The flavors all meshed together perfectly and the chicken was melt in your mouth delicious. Because of the sweetness of the salad it paired well with the Vindicator IPA because it was the opposite of the bitterness of the beer. I would have paid to have this as a main course.
Next they attempted the Granite again using the Vindicator IPA, but they should have taken my advice from last time and ditched it from the menu. Alchohol does not freeze, and what happened according to Jack from Wallace, the Hop Oils are what is left in the ice. It was so bitter no one in the room could get past two bites.
Main course was a Braised shortrib. Slow cooked beef topped with aromatic winter gremolata, pan jus, warm potato salad, fried Pacific oyster, and poached grilled onion. This was all paired with Wallace’s Red Light Irish Red. The beef was so tender it fell apart with just your fork and the flavors of it and the warm potato salad, (reminded me of a german potato salad), went really well with the Red Light Irish Red. I do not eat oysters, clams, or the like so I gave mine to Tom. He of course enjoyed it and I would say the main course was a success!
The final course, but not the least, was the Chocolate Decadence. It was a dark chocolate flourless cake with espresso ice cream, dark walnut brittle, chocolate covered coffee beans, and Wallace’s Winter Ale whipped cream. All this sinfulness was paired with Wallace’s Winter Ale that you can see they also used in the whipped cream. Mouth watering are the words I would use to describe this dessert. I was transported to a little spot in heaven with every bite and with the higher alcohol content of the Winter Ale it was smoothed out with the sweet richness of the dessert.
All in all I would say this was another success for the CdA Casino and Wallace Brewing. Jack did a great job of answering questions and explaining each beer, and once he is up to speed on Wallace and the Silver Valley history (he’s only been here from Colorado for 6 months, didn’t expect him to know everything yet) he will be a wealth of knowledge to share! I was also really glad that Chef Adam spent a bit more time explaining the dishes and interacting with the diners this time. Probably good to get him out of the kitchen and out of his comfort zone sometimes.
Tom and I are already planning a caravan to Wallace with friends to go check out the Brewery and have some fun in Wallace, and we will definitely be at the next Brewers Dinner in April!