Mississippi is coming into it's own golden age of craft beers. Breweries have been popping up all the state, and to commemorate this period, they held the 5th Annual Gulf Coast Craft Beer Week which had an amazing event each night including the Goose Island Brewery Dinner Pairing at the incomparable Beau Rivage's Coast Restaurant headed by Chef Sarah Cormier of Coast Restaurant in the Beau Rivage Casino. "Chef Sarah is not a huge craft beer drinker, but she does know taste profile, so she expereimented with the beer. She didn't expect some things to happen, but that's when great things happened," explains Beau Rivage's Beverage Manager Bruce Cartwright.
Goose Island Brewery is based in Chicago, and their products are dessribed by Cartwright as: "You don't have to be a brew master to be wowed." I found their beers to be quite mild, yet very flavorful, especially when paired with Chef Sarah's dishes. First, we tried their IPA, which was certainly not as abrasive as IPAs are known to be. We then had the Honkers Ale with the chef's Honkers Fundido, a cheesy fondue with pepperjack cheese, hand-made pico de gallo, and freshly made tortilla chips. She explained that she not only cooked the dip with the beer, she added a fresh beer at the end to boost flavor.
We moved on to Goose Island's Nut Brown Ale served with Chef Sarah's Nut Brown Chicken: roasted chicken thighs with tamarind and glazed with the ale. We then had delicious Ten Hills Fish Tacos stuffed with fried white fish, cabbage, and cumin crema paired with Ten Hills Pale Ale. I took the extra step of adding the Fundido to the taco for extra flavor. Each attendee left with a Goose Island glass, bottle coozy, bottle opener and sticker to remember the event by.
The Beau Rivage orignally held a micro-brewery, but it wasn't rebuilt after Katrina. The Beau keeps their love of craft brew alive by being the exclusive carrier of three Crooked Letter Brewery beers. Bruce Cartwright says, Craft beer is still new to this market, but it's not just a trend anymore. It's taking over the spirits market. We plan on pairing with these breweries more, so watch out for us in the future."