For the past few months, Tony P's has been hosting a beer pairing dinner once a month. Last week, I had the opportunity to join them for their Oskar Blues night. In full disclosure as a blogger, I was invited and paid for to attend, but I think my observations are still pretty impartial. Here's a little recap.
I wasn't too familiar with Tony P's. In my mind, I pictured it more as a Gator dominated sports bar than a beer bar. However, I was quite surprised when I arrived here to find out that they have 40 beers on draft and 60 to 70 different choices of bottled beers. Of those 40, 30 are resident and 10 are rotating. Obviously, with their beautiful brand new LED flat screens they're catering more to the interested beer and sports fan then uber craft beer nerds. But that being said, I was able to find several beers on their menu that I hadn't tried, which is saying something indeed.
The first pairing was Dale's Pale Ale with a chicken cordon blue calzone. Dale's is a pretty good and standard pale ale. I find it's body to be slightly metallic and thin, but it's got a very nice hop finish and a very even malt front end. Here's Kat and Naheed cheers-ing with a Dale's.
... And MJ cheers-ing to camera with a Dale's
The calzone came stuffed with chicken and spinach with an alfredo sauce poured over the top of the whole thing. The pairing was really quite enjoyable; the carbonation and light body of the beer cut nicely through the heavy alfredo sauce.
Next up was the Gordon, which is a blend between an Imperial Red and a Double IPA. I've never really heard of anyone doing this before and I'm not really even sure what it means. I'm not sure why that hybrid isn't just... an Imperial Red? At least that's what I imagined the flavors would be. But I think the key point here is that it's a blend, not a hybrid, so I'm imagining they mixed the two beers post brew, rather than during the boil.
This was served with a Spicy Mac-N-Cheese, which has chorizo and roasted pasilla peppers. This was probably my favorite pairing of the night.
While the Gordon was good on first taste, it wasn't blowing my socks off. I tasted raisins with a touch of caramel and I thought it actually tasted a lot closer to the Old Chub with a little hop finish at the end. It did have a good body though. However, the spiciness of the chorizo complemented the beer perfectly. It made the hop finish really pop. The Gordon has just enough body to stand up to the much bigger hop rush that's brought out from the spice. This was really nice!Course number three started with the Gubna Double IPA. Gubna is a great double. What's most impressive is they created the beer using only Summit hops. Summit is high alpha stuff and leaves a wondeful piney, citrusy aroma with a great bright hop finish. Brewed with Dark Munich grains, it still maintains its balance and light color for a double.
This was served with a smoked pork mole, which was quite good, and very spicy. Unfortunately, the two didn't work as well together as I would have hoped. While spices are usually good with hoppy beers, the mole was so heavy that it killed a lot of the beautiful Summit flavor in the beer. Otherwise though this was pretty enjoyable.
Next up was the Old Chub, their Scotch Ale. Tony (of Tony P's), proclaimed this beer as his favorite, and he may be on to something. I've been seeing Old Chub popping up more and more and I think this beer may be a big winner in the end for Oskar Blues. It's currently rated as the top Scotch Ale on Beer Advocate and it has the potential to gain a lot of popularity due to its appeal to both novice and experienced Scotch Ale drinkers. For those who aren't familiar with Scotch Ales, they undergo long boiling periods in order to caramelize the wort. This creates a fairly potent and sweet with a full mouth of roasted grains in a full-bodied mix.
Unfortunately, due to these characteristics, it's a hard beer to pair with. In this case, it was paired with a Catfish Po Boy, with collared greens and ham hock on the side. I'm not really a big catfish fan, nor did I have much room left in my stomach after 3 prior courses, so I didn't have too much of this one. My impression on the pairing though was that it wasn't bad, but the dish and the beer didn't do too much for each other.
For dessert we had Ten Fidy, their Imperial Stout with a Chocolate Brownie tart and vanilla ice cream. Ten Fidy was fantastic as always, but it simply couldn't hold up to the level of sweetness in the tart. Still, I enjoyed eating and drinking both.
Here's MJ drinking his Ten Fidy, acting like he's too cool for school... actually he is, I've seen his high school book reports.
I have to hand it to Tony, he gave us pretty sizable portions of beer and food all night; this wasn't a little tasting session. Afterwards, I spoke with him and he's really trying to get people to drink better beer. He's got an amazing setting to do it in with a secluded dining room and sports bar in the same building, he's on his way to getting people to drink better beer.
Tony P's will continue to hold beer pairing dinners once a month. Next month he's doing a special Irish themed meal with several beers from the UK.