Four courses, four Widmer Brothers beers, $40.
It was an irresistible deal: the latest monthly themed drinking and dining event at The Good Life gastro pub in Long Island’s Massapequa Park. The kitchen showed flair with the inventive fare served to an Aug. 14 sell-out crowd over 2 1/2 hours while Jeremy Kieffer, a brewery representative of the Portland, Ore.-based Craft Brew Alliance introduced each of the four unusual Widmer beers that were served on draft.
The Craft Brew Alliance is an amalgam of Widmer, Red Hook Ale Brewery, Kona Brewing and Goose Island that is publicly traded and almost a third owned by Anheuser-Busch Interbev. The beers are sold through Budweiser distributors.
Up next was the misnamed Widmer W’12 Dark Saison. More of an Abbey-style single with its amber hue, candy-sugar notes and fruity esters than a Belgian farmhouse ale, Kieffer suggested that marketers and brewers weren’t quite on the same page. Still, a nice beer. And a good foil for our next course, a meatloaf with added Gruyere cheese and wild mushrooms, a tomato-molasses glaze and crunchy deep-fried pearl onions.
For round two, we received Widmer Shaddock IPA, a limited release brew with a powerful grapefruit nose, the result of a blend of alchemy and citra hops as well as grapefruit peel. It’s named for the sea captain who introduce grapefruit to the West Indies. Big-time bitter and a sourish finish, it needed more malt for balance. Even so, it paired nicely with The Good Life’s reconstructed Buffalo chicken wings, in which wings were braised, the meat deboned and shredded, blended with hot sauce and served with blue cheese foam, watermelon, carrots and celery. A delight.
Alas, the grand finale was not so grand. Our beer, Widmer Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout 12 was alcoholic (9.3% abv) and as bitter as Turkish coffee so that whatever raspberry flavor might have been there was obscured. Alas, dessert, fried bread pudding, read better on the menu that it tasted. Crusted with crushed almonds and cornflake crumbs and served with thin slices of grilled peaches and a dash of chocolate ganache, it consisted of dry triangles resembling French toast. Not enough sweetness here, and certainly not enough to balance the bitterness of the beer.
Be that as it may, Good Life owners Peter Mangouranes and Paul and Anthony Oliva and their staff get an A for effort and their inventiveness. I can’t wait till next month, when the Good Life dinner will feature the beers of Bavaria’s Weihenstephan, including some previously never available beers brewed by students at the nearby Weihenstephan Science Center at the Technical University of Munich. Hey Pete, please hold a seat for me!