Last night, I had the wonderful opportunity to take part in a delicious Sour Beer / Boutique Wine / Small Plates Dinner at the Salt Cellar in St. Paul as part of my birthday festivities for the week. In addition to combining so many of my favorite things, it was also the first such dinner hosted by the Salt Cellar, so hooray for making history! As if it couldn’t get any better (or any more interesting) Jace Marti of Schell’s Brewery, Leslee Miller of Amusée Wine and Michael Agnew of A Perfect Pint were all on hand to provide much-appreciated commentary and insight.
Thus, this week in lieu of a cocktail recipe, I’d like to share my experience and highlight/recommend one of my favorite libations from each category.
Truthfully, I find it’s nearly impossible for me to actually pick a favorite from the exquisite 5-course meal where the beer, wine and small plates prepared by Executive Chef Alan Bergo were indeed perfectly paired. It was evident that our collective hosts put a lot of thought and passion into the menu for the evening. That said, if I highlighted everything we would be here for days!
Quick disclaimer: I am not an expert in either category, merely an appreciator, so bare with my more modest descriptions. Feel free to correct me if I get any of it wrong!
First up, the wine!
Out of all of them, the one that stands out the most to me was the Matthiasson Ribolla Gialla (sorry I don’t know the vintage). This is an orange wine, and if you’re like me, you’ve never had one of those before, let alone knew they even existed.
That was half of the fun, the flavor of the wine was the other. Boasting a beautiful rich gold color, the Ribolla Gialla is complex enough to be interesting, but not so complicated it’s overbearing. I tasted pear, something citrusy (lemon perhaps), and a little something bitter as well. Overall, it was an extremely pleasant wine that came with a lovely savory character.
Next, the beer!
What I thoroughly enjoyed about the entirety of the tasting, was that these beers are so clearly part of a family. Without knowing they were all part of the same Noble Star Series of Berliner Weisse beers, you would still be able to pick up on the similarities that weave them all together. At the same time, it was also easy to notice the differences that made them each unique. For me, the highlight was the Apparent Horizon.
This particular brew is made with 35% rye malt and is deliciously complex. There’s a bit of spice, a bit of cidery feel, some lemon, and of course the rye element which totally felt perfect for fall. Sadly, you can’t go out and get this one yet, but when it’s released, you definitely should sprint to the store to get it! Release details are TBD at this point.
Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of either the wine or the beer as I was too busy enjoying them to remember to take out my camera. Between the beverages and the food (which I know I didn’t have time to rave about), I could not be happier that Josh and I decided to buy tickets to this tasting on a total whim last Sunday.
Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to put this event together, I certainly hope to see more in the future! I would absolutely recommend them to anyone.
PS: If you want to learn more about Schell’s more permanent foray into sours, check out this great article from The Growler.