Ayala Alabang Craft Beer Night, Part II

The previous post focused on Sculpin IPA and Pliny the Elder going head to head. This continuation focuses more on the dinner proper: beef, bountiful, beautiful beef. And a couple of four year old Russian… stouts.

Mr. Eye on Wine grilled the steaks for the main course, finishing them in the oven while Mr. Gilmore Wines and the rest of us looked on. Zoom in and check out the beautiful char marks on these USDA Prime Rib Eyes, which were cooked to a perfect pink, medium-rare center.  Before the main event, though, we began with a beautiful salad of greens, fruit vinaigrette, pine nuts, walnuts, Parma ham and Parmigiano Reggiano. As for the simple yet delicious steak and frites, what more can one ask? Top quality ingredients, seasoned just enough for the glorious beefy goodness to come out. Steak is one of my favorite examples of how one ingredient itself can have different textures and flavors – a crisp, smoky crust enveloping a tender pink interior. I also love rib eye for its thick, succulent fat – juicy and just about to gelatinize at medium rare; simultaneously crisp and buttery after being returned to the pan.

The Doctora meanwhile brought a fabulous oxtail casserole which recipe I am dying to get hold of. Melt in your mouth meat and fat; deep, earthy and umami flavors and a rich sauce perfect for drowning rice. Excellent with the red wines for the evening…

The twins also brought a 2004 Beringer and 2005 Chateau Siran Margeaux. The wines were delicious, despite my palate being ripped to shreds by all the hops I’d had to that point. When you have a doctor and a lawyer cooking for you, you just know that the food will be delicious! Why else would they take matters into their own hands, right?

The beers that I tasted with the main courses were:

Ballast Point Tongue Buckler Imperial Red Ale (photo was from another time). A monster of a beer at 10% ABV, entering with aggressive malts, and finishing with equally intense bitterness. This is a carnivore’s beer, and nothing less than a meaty, manly steak could stand up to this beast.

I also enjoyed two Russian Imperial Stouts which were brewed way more than four years ago. Yes, these steaks spent more time aging than I did studying in law school. The 2008 Rogue XS was pleasant and quite drinkable. It has mellowed down, I’d assume, since I haven’t been able to try this at a fresh or younger age. The 2008 Stone Imperial Russian Stout, which I’ve had previously after one and two years, also mellowed quite a bit, but retained a bit more of its trademark hoppy finish and a deeper roasted coffee and dark chocolate flavor. Both were excellent, mind you. Sipped alone or with our mains for the evening, I would give the advantage to Stone.

With dessert however, the slightly sweeter and creamier Rogue XS literally takes the cake, which was a Belgian Chocolate Cake from Heavenly Chocolates on Roces Street, Quezon City. Bittersweet, creamy, rich. Simultaneously full and smooth on the tongue. Was that in reference to the stout, or the cake? Both, actually. This was probably the best dessert and beer pairing I’ve had, and it was to die for. (Incidentally, there was a mango torte as well, which I was not able to try. I don’t suggest pairing that with a stout. A lambic, perhaps?)
Another good dessert-beer pairing was the Southern Tier Jah-va with the chocolate cake. Though this picture came from another time (My good friend Francis’ birthday party a few weeks ago), this approximately two-year old aged imperial coffee stout, probably the last bottle remaining in the Philippines, was opened. This had thinned out a bit and lost some carbonation, but the coffee was still there, and the alcohol wasn’t as abrasive as it was when young. I still prefer their Mokah variation, which included some Belgian chocolate in the brewing process. Most beers with chocolate flavors, even those calling themselves chocolate stout or porter, usually just use “chocolate malts” which is barley roasted to the point where the aroma and flavor are similar to cacao. The same goes with coffee. Thus, it’s always a real treat to have a beer with either coffee or cacao beans as an actual ingredient.

Again, most of these photos were stolen from Doctora Thea. I tried not to include too many pictures of the guests, and I was too busy enjoying to take a lot of pictures myself. Next time, though! Also, I -ahem- forgot to take notes and photos of the post-dinner drinks, except that we also had an excellent 2008 Rogue Old Crustacean Barleywine. Again, with mellowed hops, subdued booziness and a more complex maltiness, this was a wonderful aged beer.

I’m excited to wait a couple years for the Stone Old Guardian Barleywine I have “cellared” at home. I’ve been keeping beers, wrapped in paper in the back of a closet, behind old jeans and away from heat and sunlight. The Stone IRS did not exhibit any major drop offs, so I think a year or so of storage at those conditions would be fine. Which means I have to open it soon.

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