Iron Hill Maple Shade Dinner

The newest member of the Iron Hill family opened its doors in July '09 and has been a hit in the area ever since. The locals have picked up on the quality of the cuisine and libations and business has been brisk. When they decided to do their first beer dinner here, it quickly sold out and they decided to schedule a second event with the people who were on the waiting that's keeping the customer happy! I was lucky enough to garner 2 spots at the first event and looked forward to attending. It was bittersweet that they had scheduled all their locations' dinners within several weeks and we were not able to attend the Wilmington or Media dinners as we usually do.
When we arrived, brewer Chris LaPierre was explaining the brewing process to some of the locals who came to their probable first beer dinner. Little did they know that they were about to be spoiled forever. We have attended many beer dinners in our time and some just weren't that special...good but not great!
Chris welcomed us all and introduced his boss, Mark Edelson and his asst. brewer, Jeff Martinez who I got to sit with and converse about his past, present and future. I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot of good things from him after learning from a multi-talented mentor like Chris.
First up was a Fall Pumpkin Bisque, a thick porridge of fresh gourd topped with spiced creme fraiche. The chef apologized for its consistency, but I like creamy soups and found no problem with it. Paired with the Pumpkin Ale, the flavors certainly complemented each other.
A Fall Salad was served next consisting of red oak leaf, grilled pears, crumbled gorgonzola, pupernickle croutons and butternut squash vinaigrette accompanied by an American Brown Ale. The salad was excellent despite the bleu cheese and the brown ale was reminiscent of Brooklyn's Brown with a nicely hopped profile.
The cheese course was quite special. The fromage was made with King Ludwig Dunkel and quite tasty. We washed it down with King Chris' Munich Dunkel, a favorite style of mine with lots of flavor and low alcohol content. The Germans really know how to live!
Our entree was exceptional. An ever-so-tender Grilled Tenderloin of Beef was placed before us with  Red Bliss Potatoes Lyonnaise, Golden Raisin, Spinach and Pine Nut Saute and Sweet Blackberry Jus. The meat was melt in your mouth and the Belgian Quad that was paired with it added that hint of sweetness and warmth to the dish that was to die for!
Dessert is one of my favorite courses when done right and this was excellent. A Caramel-Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with Toffee Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream topped off the most sumptuous feast. I love bread pudding and chocolate, so this made for one outstanding dessert! They paired a Vienna Lager with it which caused me to pause as I expected a stout or a porter, but the lager had enough sweetness to it to keep up its end of the bargain.
Kudos to the Chef and his staff who not only produced the exceptional cuisine, but got it plated and to the servers in a very timely manner. It is a treat when the dinner moves right along as a consistent event and not as a piecemeal one.
Congratulations to Mark, Chris, Jeff and all those who made this event GREAT! We look forward to the next special event as well as all the meals there in between! Be sure to make this a stop on your beer itinerary!