Photos by Sarah Gerrity
Words by Kaylee Dugan
When you get an email from D.C.’s very own DBGB inviting you to attend a private, DC Brau paired dinner in celebration of their newly released Space Reaper, you do not ignore that email. It doesn’t matter if you’re drunk off of frozen Pain Killer’s at Seacret’s in Ocean City, Maryland (the horror…) or if you already kind of have plans with your boyfriend that night. You do whatever it takes to secure yourself a seat at that table, because it’s going to be worth it.
And it was. This was certainly not my first local beer paired dinner, and it certainly will not be my last, but I’m sure I’ll be hard pressed to find one as inventive and complex as what DC Brau and DBGB served up last Thursday. From top to bottom, Executive Chef Ed Scarpone played with food and beer in a way I hadn’t seen before, making well loved and familiar beers taste like entirely new beasts. And Space Reaper, my lord…
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. The reception began with a small glass of their ever popular pale ale, The Citizen, paired with a tarte flambe of fromage blanc, bacon, and onion. Essentially, the bougiest white pizza you ever did see. It was delicious. BYT photographer Sarah Gerrity concisely compared it to crack, and she was 100% right. Even though we still three full courses to go, I couldn’t stop shoving the crispy, cheesy squares into my mouth. The bright clarity of The Citizen was excellent for cutting through the rich cheese-onion-bacon combo of the tarte flambe. If this is the rich person version of treating yourself to beer and pizza on a Friday night, I never want to go back.
After being tempted with an amazing bread basket served with salted butter, the first course arrived. A crunchy Maryland crab shumai with a shaved carrot salad, chili oil, and a black garlic paste. While not the most inventive course we would see that night, it was definitely my favorite. The crab shumai was simple, and allowed the sweetness usually associated with Maryland crab easily shine through. The thick sweet and savory flavors of the black garlic gave the shumai an added depth, and the shaved carrots added the right amount of fresh crunch needed to keep the dish from getting too bogged down. This round was paired with the limited run Hefeweizen, El Hefe Speaks, which is basically summer in a can. I can’t imagine a better beer to pair with this salty, savory interpretation Maryland crab.
Next, we had what was hands down the most complex, unique dish of the night, the foie gras. Comprised of a good slice of foie gras, covered with a sliver of crispy pork belly, a pickled peach slice, a small dollop of mostarda, all in a cherry glaze. I’ve never tasted anything like it. The foie gras and pork belly started you off on a train to meat heaven, yet the sweet / sour combo of the pickled peach (why don’t we pickle all of our peaches forever?) and the cherry glaze threw you in the completely opposite direction. And that mustard. I’ve never tasted anything so intense. The only note I wrote down for this course was, “I need this mustard on everything for the rest of my life,” and I still kind of feel that way. This was paired with my personal favorite of DC Brau’s lineup, The Corruption, a classic IPA. While it would have been so easy to go smokey (like the meat!) or sweet (like the peach!) or sour (like the mustard!) the chef instead decided to throw in a delightfully spiced beer. It was the right call. Anything else would have been drowned out by the intense flavors of the dish, but The Corruption was right at the top with the rest of them. It was the pinnacle of the night.
The final two courses came in quick succession. First, the roasted squab featuring toasted farro, turnip choucroute, and a date puree. It was succulent and homey, while The Public (an American Pale Ale) worked as a solid backbone for the dish. The dessert, which was beautiful in execution, paired the Space Reaper (an American Double IPA) with a matcha custard cake featuring a coconut sorbet, nectarines, and a raspberry gel. I cannot say enough good things about Space Reaper, a retooling of last years Solar Abyss, it’s a delicate punch in the face. Highly drinkable, and highly alcoholic, at 9.20% ABV, you wont be able to drink many of these, but you’ll enjoy each and every sip.
Every meal should be just like this.