May 3, 2013

Breckenridge Brewery Beer Dinner at El Palacio

Recently, I was invited to attend a beer dinner, hosted by El Palacio Restaurant in Chandler, featuring beers from Breckenridge Brewery. As I haven't been to a beer dinner in years, I gladly accepted the invite!

The dinner was on Wednesday, May 1st, at 7:00. I arrived (a few minutes late I'll admit) and found a small group, seated at a long table tucked into the back corner of the main dining room. Rick Lazague, from Crescent Crown Distributing was there, representing the brewery, and did a fantastic job.

Throughout the dinner, he not only talked to us about the beer we were drinking, he spoke to us about the breweries history, and plans for the future. He provided stories and antidotes about the beers, how they got their names, his own opinions on the beer, and even his thoughts on beer vs. wine pairings, and the advantages on drinking beer with food rather then wine (more about the A.A.B.C. of beer tasting at a later date). I found Rick to be friendly, and informative, and great host to the event.

Chef Anthony Serrano, owner and chef of El Palacio came up with a spectacular menu for the dinner, and I must say, paired great with the beers! Lets go over the menu, shall we;

Course One
Caviche with Summerbright Ale. The caviche was made with lime, lemon and orange juice that paired great with the ale! While not my favorite course in terms of flavors, I think this was probably the best pairing. These two just danced together, and was just wonderful. The citrus worked so well with the crisp clean flavor of the beer, and I really enjoyed this course. Off to a great start!!

Course Two
Elote with Agave Wheat. This was a fun coarse. There was much discussion at the table as to what this was going to be. Elote means "corn", but normally refers to sort of a grill, corn on the cob version. We were wondering if we were going to get corn on the cob or rather some fancy variant of it. Well, it came out, it was just that, corn on the cob, with cojita cheese, butter and Agave Wheat sauce on it, that was just outstanding! Easily the best corn on the cob I've ever had, and worked very well with sweetness of the beer.

Course Three
Carne Asada Street Tacos with 471 IPA. First off, let me say, these tacos, on their own, would be outstanding! Fresh, hand, homemade tortillas to start, they were much thicker then what you would normally think of tortillas, along with a carne asada and cheese that was, well, awesome! Pair that, with the complexity, and intensity of the IPA (actually a Double IPA), and well, it was a winning pair. The beer, while a double IPA, was not a typical hop bomb. It was hoppy, but had a great malty balance, and a less prominent hop presence then most DIPA's. Great beer, and awesome tacos!

Course Four
Fish Tacos with Avalanche Ale. OK, I love a good, traditional fish taco. These tacos were not what I would call "traditional", but they were no less good, in fact, they were great! Made with nepali cactus, and cod, these taco's had a sweet, and salty flavor. The beer, formally Breckenridge's flagship beer, worked great. The beer, a crisp, clean, flavorful beer, balanced out the salty sweetness of the tacos. On a side note, this would be a great post hike, summer beer, loved it!

Course Five
Dessert Tamales with Vanilla Porter. I had no idea what a "dessert" tamale was.Well, I was very pleasantly surprised. It was a sweet, strawberry tamale, that sort of looked like a fat, pale slab of bacon. Served with sweet, whipped cream topped with fried mint leaf pieces. Wow, just awesome, and well paired with Vanilla Porter, now the brewery's best selling beer. This is my favorite Breckenridge Beer, I love porters, and especially vanilla ones, and this is a very solid example of the style, and it paired great with the sweetness of the strawberry, not what I would have expected, but very enjoyable.

This was a great event, with a bunch of great take away's to think about, and one of the best things I took away from it, aside from my now increased knowledge of Breckenridge (and the new hat and t-shirt), and a great respect for Anthony and the fine folks at El Palacio. was something Rick said about the beers, and the brewery. Too often us "beer folks" get caught up in chasing down the biggest hop bombs, or the rarest barrel age stouts. I've heard them refereed to as "White Whales" before, and its true. While these are awesome beers, and fun to "hunt down" and share with friends, we tend to forget about all the outstanding, flavorful, and easy to find beers that our local brewery's brew up on a daily basis. Beer you can drink, and enjoy, whenever, and where ever you are. Constantly great, flavorful, drinkable beers. These are exactly what Breckenridge literally brought to our table on this evening, and it was spectacular.

I give a hat tip to Rick, and Chef Anthony for a phenomenal menu, and some great beers, it was a great event, and I look forward to the next beer dinner! My thanks also to my friends at HDE for the opportunity to enjoy this evening with you!

So, if you are in area off the 202 and Gilbert Rd's, and looking for a great place to bring the family to eat, check out El Palacio's. If you like good Mexican food, you will not be disappointed, at all!

Visit El Palacio's website here...
Visit Breckenridge's webiste here...

El Palacio is located on

2950 E Germann Rd
Chandler, AZ 85286

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar