Today’s modern craft breweries are born into and out of their respective local communities, a mindset more prevalent than brewing entrepreneurs of the past. They recognize their role in the Slow Food and locavore movements as well as community values of volunteerism, service and the arts, and embrace them all.
Few breweries exhibit this communal spirit more than Dallas’ own Community Beer Company, who hosted their first Communal Beer Dinner this past Monday right on the production floor of their brewery. Dining on rustic picnic tables under strings of lights and amid towering stainless-steel fermenters, guests were treated to an outstanding series of elegant dishes not from a single restaurant but sourced from several local organic and specialty vendors.
The food was prepared by The Bite Catering & Personal Chef of Dallas in a guerrilla kitchen and prep area set up in the adjacent taproom. This was the first beer-pairing dinner I’ve attended actually held inside a commercial brewery itself, which offers some distinct advantages over one hosted in a local restaurant. With Community supplying the beers and none leaving the brewery TABC approval is not needed, allowing for some unique non-commercial offerings and special-event brews.
1st Course: Cheese platter with fresh pane paisano bread, beer-cultured butter, Lissome beer-brined cheese, and candied Cascade hop and blood orange marmalade. Paired with a fresh firkin of Community Public Ale, their ESB finished with Crystal hops, which also served as the icebreaker/introductory beer.
2nd Course: Cream of sunchoke soup with sautéed upland cress and farm shiitake mushrooms. Paired with a nonstandard Community offering brewed just for this event, an American wheat ale listed on the menu as “Amarillo Wheat” but made instead with the new German TNT hops.
3rd Course: Butternut squash ravioli in a sage brown butter sauce with microgreens. Paired with two Community beers, Public Enemy and Brett’s Get It On. The latter is the brewery’s second anniversary beer released earlier this year, brewed with 100% Brettanomyces, and the former is a special release of the Public Ale aged in chardonnay barrels with cherries added and finished with Brett. (Technically, it is the #2 batch brewed of Public Enemy but they’re keeping the name Public Enemy #1.)
4th Course: Texas Wagyu beef short ribs with microgreens. Paired with Oaked Mosaic IPA, Community’s popular and award-winning IPA aged on toasted oak spirals.
5th Course: Deconstructed pecan pie consisting of candied pecans, espresso marshmallow cream, oatmeal dust and Legion custard. Paired with Community Vanilla-Bean Ascension Coffee Porter, their seasonal Baltic porter blended with cold-steeped Sumatran coffee from the nearby Ascension Coffee House and then aged on whole Madagascar vanilla beans.
(The popular favorite seemed to be the butternut squash ravioli, but my personal obsession quickly became the Public Enemy. However, overall the best beer-food pairing by far was the dessert course served with the Ascension Coffee Porter.)
Individual suppliers included Empire Baking Company and Rare Edibles of Dallas, Texas Organic Mushrooms of Denison and Young’s Greenhouse of Wichita Falls and, of course, the event presented in conjunction with North Texas Beer Week.