Coleman Public House's beer dinner debut 

Ringing in 2011 with strong Belgian ale and great food

East Cooper's Coleman Public House hosted its first beer dinner on New Year's Eve with a casual approach and a hearty theme. Chef and owner Brian Tanner and his kitchen team offered a four-course feast paired with three Belgian ales and a monastic Dutch specialty, all of which were quite strong and flavorful.

Unlike most beer dinners at local restaurants, CPH offered a prix fix they described as "anytime during dinner service" throughout the evening. The servers and bartenders presented each course at the diner's own pace, explaining a little bit about each dish and ale as they went. It was a fun and laid-back approach that worked well.

A smooth and delicate Tuscan White Bean Soup kicked things off alongside a full snifter of Troubador Magma from Brouwerij De Musketiers. Mildly seasoned and topped with a bit of pork belly (braised with juniper berries and Troubador Magma). Tan/caramel in color and very well conditioned, the Troubador Magma was a surprisingly hoppy Belgian version of what many domestic beer fans call an "Imperial IPA." At 9 percent a.b.v., it was stiff but tasty starter

The second course of frisée salad could easily have worked as the starter. A crisp bed of greens came topped with crumbled Stilton bleu cheese, chopped dates, candied walnuts, caramelized Shallot and a very light sherry Vinaigrette. They paired the salad with a glass of Poperings Hommel (7.5 percent a.b.v.), an even hoppier Belgian IPA brewed by Brouwerij Van Eecke. The grassy and flowery notes of the hop flavors and aromas complemented the fruity zing of the dressing and the sweet/savory mix of toppings.

As the main course of a holiday dinner, the rack of lamb with wild mushroom and spinach risotto and a rich demi-glace couldn't have been more handsome and inviting. Three herb-garnished rib points came to a fulcrum atop a generous bed of creamy, earthy risotto, nicely roasted to medium rare. A new variety of pale ale from Bierbrouwerij de Koningshoeven (based in the Netherlands) called La Trappe Isid 'Or accompanied the dish. Complex. Pale amber in color, it boasted a complexity of malt flavors and fermentation ester typical of Trappist ales, but with a bigger hop accent.

Fans of Nutella would have loved the final course — a delicate but very sweet dessert of chocolate-hazelnut crepe with fresh raspberries paired with the Gouden Carolus Emperor's Cuvee, a strong, dark ale brewed by Brouwerij Het Anker in a limited quantity to commemorate the birthday of Charles V (one of the many Holy Roman Emperors). At 11 percent a.b.v., it almost overpowered the creamy, chocolate-layered crepe, but no flavors were distorted or ignored.

Still new to many in town, Coleman Public House know their beer like seasoned experts, and their regular menu has already earned a strong reputation among local foodies. If they can present beer dinners like this throughout the year, they'll continue to please and impress beyond expectations.




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