Of the Oregon Beer Growler
The seed has come to symbolize the idea of the humble beginning along with the hope that adequate work and care will yield a strong and productive future. As the season shifts toward spring, it’s natural to begin thinking about the new life that’s reflected in nature. But the theme of a small start growing into something that thrives can be applied to Oregon’s craft beer industry. And seeds served as the perfect centerpiece at a beer-pairing dinner for Oregon Beer Growler’s March edition, which focuses on nature and sustainability. The February installment of Ecliptic Brewing’s Lunation Dinner Series featured seeds in every dish that was served.
The multicourse meal began with a kohlrabi salad containing sunflower and pumpkin seeds, bacon, dates and pumpkin seed oil. It was paired with the brewery’s Frosty Leo Winter Warmer, a beer that goes perfectly with those lingering chilly days early on in a typical Pacific Northwest spring. The winter warmer’s chewiness and American hop kick went well with the nuttiness and sweetness of the bacon and dates in the salad.
The second dish, carne cruda with sesame seeds, cocoa nibs and sesame oil, was one of the more challenging dishes in the lineup to pair up with the perfect beer, according to chef Michael Molitor. Izar Belgian Strong Pale Ale was the optimal choice because of its ability to match the intensity of the sesame oil. The Belgian is slightly sweet — brewmaster John Harris described it as having hints of bubble gum -- but also spicy and clove-like, due to the Belgian yeast. Since the sweetness of the beer isn’t sugary, it also married well with the cocoa nibs in the carne cruda.
A quinoa-buckwheat cake with hazelnut romesco and egg yolk was the third course of the night. The Mintaka Stout, an American-export style, has a roastyness and chocolate flavors that paired nicely with the earthiness of the buckwheat. Additionally, the cake’s dark sauce matched the rich, dark beer, which also has some hop aroma and bitterness.
Finally, a brand-new brew was chosen to go with dessert. The Orbiter IPA has some citrus notes that were also present in the candied kumquats served with the poppy seed panna cotta. A bright IPA helped cut the richness of the panna cotta and didn’t produce an overwhelming amount of sweetness.
The debut IPA isn’t the only project brewmaster John Harris has been focused on. He has two upcoming collaborations with Cigar City Brewing in Florida and Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery. Additional food and beer pairing opportunities are available at the brewery. Lunation Dinners continue the rest of the year on the first Tuesday of every month with the exception of August.
Paired with Ecliptic Frosty Leo Winter Warmer
By Chef Michael Molitor
3-4 medium kohlrabi bulbs
4 ounces applewood-smoked bacon, diced
2 ounces red wine vinegar
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted, roughly chopped
12 Medjool dates, pitted and diced
1 ounce pumpkin seed oil
salt and black pepper
*In a small skillet, cook the diced bacon on medium heat until chewy, but not crispy. Set aside, reserving the rendered fat.
*Peel kohlrabi bulbs and, using a mandolin, thinly slice into 1/8 inch-round slices.
* In a large bowl, combine vinegar and bacon fat; toss the kohlrabi in the vinaigrette and arrange the dressed slices on 6 salad plates.
*Garnish the salad with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and dates.
*Season with salt and black pepper and lightly drizzle with pumpkin seed oil.
Paired with Ecliptic Orbiter IPA
By Chef Michael Molitor
For the Panna Cotta:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups half & half
½ cup sugar
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
pinch of salt
6 sheets of gelatin
For the Kumquats:
1 pound kumquats
1 cup water
1 ½ cups sugar
*Combine cream, half & half, sugar, vanilla, poppy seeds and salt in a sauce pan. Slowly heat until just below the boil.
*Soften gelatin in cold water and then remove from water and add to cream mixture until dissolved.
*While warm, divide into 8 small aluminum soufflé cups.
*Chill for 4 hours or overnight.
*Slice kumquats into 3-4 round slices each and remove seeds.
*Combine sugar and water, then bring to a simmer.
*Add kumquat slices and cook until softened and translucent, about 5-8 minutes.
*Remove kumquats, and continue cooking syrup until slightly thickened. Pour syrup over kumquats and cool.
*To serve, invert panna cottas onto plate and remove from cups. Spoon kumquats around the plate.
[a] 825 N. Cook St., Portland
Owner/Brewmaster: John Harris
Head Chef: Michael Molitor