Last Wednesday, we were lucky enough to have tickets to the first beer dinner hosted by the new Heavy Seas Alehouse in Harbor East. We’ve been to Heavy Seas several times since we went for Noel’s birthday during their soft opening and we’ve continued to be impressed with the food and the beer.
One of the reasons we really wanted to go to this dinner (other than the beer and the food) was that it was hosted by Hugh Sisson, the founder and master brewer for Heavy Seas. We’ve learned that these things are better when someone from the brewery is involved, and the higher up the person, the better, because they know more about the beer! Hugh was an entertaining host, but I wish he had gone into a bit more detail about the beer. We got the feeling that the event was bigger than expected (it was split into two rooms) and it felt like Hugh was stretched a little thin. He did take the time to walk around to each table at the end, which we really enjoyed.
I will say, that other than Hugh being stretched thin, everything else about the beer dinner felt mostly smooth, especially for it being a first one. The event was as much about the food as the beer, which was good because it meant every course was really well matched. From the appetizer to the dessert, we enjoyed all of the beer and food combinations!
First up, the Hors D’oervres, which were an interesting pair. We started with Watermelon Gazpacho, served with Sea Nymph Ice. The gazpacho was interesting, a very light taste that mixes well with the light bodied Sea Nymph. The crab and corn fritters seemed like they would be good, but honestly the taste I had was so small, it was hard to tell. It also tasted like mostly fritter, with no crab. Served with Sea Nymph Summer Ale.
Up next, the salad course, an heirloom tomato salad with fresh hearts of palm, blue cheese, vincotto, and pickled ramps. I LOVED this. The tomato and the ramps were perfect, and I even liked the blue cheese, which is not normally a favorite of mine. Fantastic. Served with Small Craft Warning Uber Pils, which I thought was a bit much for the salad.
Our third course was fish, and was a pan-roasted rockfish with cockles and mussles in a tomato Loose Cannon broth with sweet corn and bacon. Oh man, this was delicious, and hands down my favorite course of the night. The rockfish was perfectly cooked, and although I thought it was odd that is was served skin up, I think this helped locked in the moisture. The sweet corn was a wonderful balance to the salty and smokey broth. And there were mussels and clams. BONUS!! Served with Loose Cannon, one of my all time favorite from Heavy Seas.
Up next, the meat course. It was flat iron steak, but since I don’t eat steak, I asked for a substitute and ended up with portabellas. They were good, but not my favorite course. But I have to give the restaurant props for coming up with something in a short time period because I didn’t give them any notice. Everyone else really enjoyed the steak. It was served with a Plank II Dopplebock Lager. I don’t usually like dark beers, but this was good.
And finally dessert–drunken peaches and a brownie, served with Letter of Marque syrup, cherry ice cream, and spent grain. I was worried the brownie wasn’t going to be good when it came out because it looked a little dry, but it was actually delicious. And so was that drunken peach. And I really like the Letter of Marque–the winner of a home brew contest that Heavy Seas then produces. Sadly, its a one time thing. It’s tasty but at 10 percent ABV, pretty deadly!!
So for a first time dinner, I think this went really well. Except for a few service hiccups, it was an all around excellent time. The staff said they expect to have a few of these a year, so I would definitely encourage others to check them out. At $60 a head, we felt like we got our money’s worth!