I recently had the opportunity to check out Cook Hall’s new fall menu (read about it here). It was basically bomb.com (side note: I was kind of shocked to find that this URL doesn’t seem to be registered…hmm). That being said, I was SUPER excited when Cook Hall generously extended an invitation to check out one of their signature beer dinners! Cook Hall hosts a bi-monthly 5-course beer pairing dinner, with themes ranging from the creative (whiskey versus beer throwdown!), to the educational (i.e., brewery or variety specific pairings). October featured a Spaten Brewing beer dinner. Jackpot.
First, a little about Spaten Brewing Company: They have been around the block a time or two. This Bavarian brewery has been one of the leading exporters of German beer for over a century. Spaten is pretty much committed to kickin’ it old school when it comes to their brewing philosophy; they continue to brew in the tradition of the German Purity Law, circa 1516 (!), decreeing that beer should only be brewed using malt, hops, and water. Shocking revelation that a historic German brewery would do things by the book, I know.
Cook Hall prepared a five-course menu featuring thoughtful and creative beer and food pairings throughout the evening.
We started out sampling Spaten’s Premium Lager (Munich Helles Lager/5.2%). This crisp, balanced lager was notably drinkable, and paved the way for our delicate yet delicious starter, Roasted Beet Salad, served with blue cheese, dried fruits, and nuts. The tender, sweet beets paired nicely with the maltiness of the Lager.
2nd Course brought us Spaten’s Oktoberfest (Marzen/Oktoberfest/5.9%)- one of the sanctioned beers of Oktoberfest Munich (i.e. “THE” Oktoberfest…sorry, Addision/Lake Highlands/McKinney!). This smooth, full-bodied Marzen, with its malty aroma, was slightly bitter yet balanced with hints of caramel. Paired with the creamy, decadent, Butternut Squash Soup with oyster mushrooms, this duo could not have been a more perfect way to welcome fall (Seriously…this soup is everything. Please come try it before it goes away).
3rd Course featured Spaten Franziskaner (Hefeweizen/5.0%), the brewery’s Bavarian wheat beer. Spaten’s hefe is lightly malty with a creamy finish, bringing lovely notes of banana and clove to the table. The Franziskaner paired nicely with our next dish, Gulf Shrimp & Smoked Bacon, with papaya mustard and avocado. The smooth, wheaty finish of the hefe was a match made in Heaven for tangy notes of chili and cumin in the papaya mustard.
4th Course, they brought out the big guns; Spaten Optimator (Doppelbock/7.6%). I love a good doppelbock, and Optimator is about as good as it gets. This sweet, malty offering is heavy-bodied, and features notes of caramel and licorice. It was a rich, indulgent accompaniment for our main course, the Braised Short Rib with ginger and chive spaetzle. Oh man, this was the good stuff. The short rib was fork tender, and the ginger and chive were a lovely, surprising twist on this traditional German noodle dish.
The 5th and final offering was Spaten’s Dunkel (Munich Dunkel Lager/5.5%). This medium-bodied dunkel is lightly sweet and moderately, complex, with caramel and toffee flavors. If you have never enjoyed a thoughtfully selected beer with dessert, you have been missing out, my friends. The Dunkel paired beautifully with Caramel Roasted Pairs, served with brown butter ice cream. Lighter caramel notes from the beer intensified the richer caramel flavors in this dessert dish, and it really worked.
Bravo, Cook Hall. Bravo, Spaten.
Cook Hall beer dinners are hosted on a bi-monthly basis. Each 5 course meal includes one full-sized beer, and tasting sizes of four subsequent beers. The cost is $55 per person (tax & gratuities not included)- a great deal! Presently, the next beer dinner is planned for early December (firm date and menu TBD- check back here for updates). Space is limited, so make your reservation ASAP!
Fri/ Sat. 11:30 AM – 11:00 PM
Sun. 11:30 AM – 9:00 PM