Lagunitas Brewing Co.’s ‘Fusion 30’

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It’s been a while since Hopjacks has done a beer dinner, but that’s no sweat for us. We’re a restaurant, after all. If anything, there’s the trepidation of putting a special menu out there and hoping I’ve picked the best beer possible to go with each course. Now, let’s kick that up a notch.

For the first time, we’ve planned a pairing dinner with the option for beer or wine. Wednesday, September 2 at 6:30 pm, tickets available at… End of shameless plug.

We sat around over some beers and kicked around the ideas until they made sense with each other. While Mexican barbeque and deconstructed ramen both sounded killer, there’s no table upon which the two should ever be served alongside.

All right, time to get some stomachs growling. Restaurateur Joe Abston has the first course; Florida Stone Crab Risotto with blistered Farmer Carl cherry tomato and Elberta, Alabama’s Sweet Home Farms white cheddar. I felt that Bayou Teche Saison D’Ecrevisses would be perfect while Max Rowe – Wine Director for Abston’s family of restaurants and general manager of Pot Roast And Pinot – chose Haras Pirque Albaclara Sauvignon Blanc.

Second course is mine; Chilton County peach- and candied Renfroe pecan-stuffed roast pork with a salad of arugula, green peppercorn goat cheese, fried plantain and mostarda vinaigrette. The smoke and citrus from Weihenstephaner Dunkelweizen matches smartly as does Fortant Mountains Carignane Grand Reserve from Languedoc.

Third goes to Nick Samaras from Pot Roast And Pinot. He’s presenting homemade basil pappardelle pasta with duck confit and heirloom tomato sauce. This was the hardest one to pair for me. Piggybacking off of the peppery basil I decided Lexington Kentucky Rye Barrel IPA has enough of its own pepper to complement while its honey malt elevates the duck. Max has a 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva from Querceto that’s going to be fantastic.

Narja Campbell from our soon-to-open The Tin Cow in Pace, Florida has dessert with “Grandmama’s” Florida orange/Grand Marnier bread pudding. I figured coffee and dessert and picked Fairhope Judge Roy Bean Vanilla Espresso Stout while Max knows his Spanish Torres Floralis Aqua D’or is a sophisticated complement.

With the dinner one week from today, I’m getting thirsty for a beer that satisfies the dilemma of “beer or wine” and it’s one you can find at Hopjacks right now without waiting seven days until the event. Lagunitas just released their Fusion 30 Belgian pale ale that’s been brewed with muscat and sauvignon blanc grapes. This thing provides a tall meringue-like head over its shimmering orange-yellow body. Scents are a mixture of demi-sec Champagne and Brach’s hard orange candies plus some sweet cereal malt underneath. Very vinous, very grapey. Almost like someone tipped some late-harvest dessert wine into a lager, Fusion 30 exhibits flavors of tangerine, peach, Flintstone’s Vitamins and wet grain on top of leafy Nelson Sauvin hops.

Dinner bell is a’ringing and we’d like to see you here! Make this Lagunitas an aperitif and wet your whistle with the best of both worlds.

Lagunitas Fusion 30