Chef Michael Scognamiglio and Charleston Beer Exchange are partnering up for a four-course feast of artisanal Italian beer and food. “For this beer dinner, we wanted to celebrate the beginning of summer with some of the lighter Italian ales I’ve tasted over the last year,” says Scognamiglio. “We wanted to get a hold of our distributor and importer to see what we could get our hands on, and I think we have a great lineup with the summertime courses.”
Billed as Cena di Birra, the dinner starts with an antipasti of grilled mixed seafood and spring vegetables paired with Birreria le Baladin’s Isaac (Belgian-style witbier). The Piccolo Birrificio Seson (Belgian-style saison) will accompany an opening course of farro risotto with cornish game hen breast. The main course will feature braised lamb neck with roasted spring vegetables and a hefty sample of Birrificio Montegioco’s Demon Hunter (strong dark ale).
“The Isaac is a really light aperitivo beer, and the saison goes well with almost everything,” Scognamiglio says. “The Demon Hunter is the biggest and darkest of the bunch, and it has some beautiful fig and caramel notes, which should go well with the braised lamb.”
Scognamiglio says they’re still devising a dessert course of grilled fruits, which will pair with two sour ales, LoverBeer’s grape-accented D’uvaBeer and an additional surprise. “The two sours we’re finishing on are very special,” Scognamiglio says. “They’re complex and not too unlike some of the digestivs you might have at the end of a big dinner in Italy.” Three of the Italian beers featured on the menu — the Isaac, Super, and D’uvaBeer — are currently available at Charleston Beer Exchange.
“There’s a growing popularity for craft beer in Italy, especially northern European-style ales like the ones they make in Belgium,” Scognamiglio adds. “It’s catching on, but even some of my relatives in Venice and Naples are still unaware that a beer movement is even going on. It’s still a young market, but it’s very unique.”