We love Unibroue, always have, so when I saw the listing
in Philly Beer Scene magazine, I figured we'd kill 2 birds with one stone....satisfy
our love of Unibroue and visit Cork for the first time. I had heard a lot
about Cork, but we always like to reserve judgement for ourselves.
We knew the East Coast rep for Unibroue, Rick Suarez, for many years. The nicest guy you'd ever want to meet and very adamant about his products. In the last year though, he felt the need to seek new goals. Rick felt he had done all that he could for the Canadian company and put out feelers for a new position. What he found was Arcadia Brewing in Battle Creek, Michigan. As VP there, he has the chance to sell beer lovers on a whole new line of brews. But I digress......
We really looked forward to this dinner. Getting to meet a new group of people in a new place is always a good thing. We arrived early and took our seats in a cozy corner right beside the fireplace. I called Rick to tell him we were at a Unibroue Dinner and he said that Bernard Johnson would be the rep in charge. Unbeknownst to me, I had met Bernard during the '09 Philly Beer Week at St. Stephens on the Green. Also in attendance was Tim Kelly of Tun Tavern fame and his sister. That about summed up all the people that we knew!
Apparently, that far west in NJ is in a different time zone as the dinner was advertised at 6:30 and, even by 7, the room was only half full! Listening to the groups, one could surmise that they were not beer people...also the proliferation of appetizer cocktails was a dead giveaway! Bernard proceeded to give an overview of the company and its products. But people were anxious to get to tasting.
First up was their flagship, Blanche de Chambly, with a Scallop Ceviche Shooter in the Blanche. Tough to get out of the glass, but tasty!
Bernard kept up with the narratives and questions taking short breaks to consume his portions. Also in attendance was the local distributor who just picked up the brand recently. They fielded questions about availabilty, etc. to the impressed crowd. All the "VIPs" made the rounds to each table and got to meet everyone. It was then that Bernard found out why Rick had called him earlier...I guess my call spurred him to contact Mr. Johnson.
Next beer was Don de Dieu, "Gift from God", and it certainly is! With it, we got Baked Brie en Croute with Honey-Orange Marmalade and Toasted Almonds.
Ephemere is my least favorite of Unibroue's. It is like a tart apple cider which is not bad, but I'm not a big fan of ciders. I enjoyed the Cranberry and Cassis much more but they no longer export it to the US. It certainly did complement the Parsnip Apple Soup with Julienned Celery and Apple Salad that accompanied it.
Maudite, "Damned", is a strong red ale and full of flavor. It will stand up to a lot of spicy foods and the Braised Beef Short Ribs, Charred Tomatoes and Spicy Long Hots were no exception. The beef was melt-in-your-mouth and the red hots seared the tongue only slightly. The Maudite cleansed the fat from the mouth perfectly and left you with a new palate each taste. Excellent!
And for the piece de resistance, my favorite of theirs, Trois Pistoles, "3 Towers???" was served up with a Triple Chocolate Parfait which made you want to lick the glass! The dark, sweet brew goes so well with chocolate, it's sinful, thus the church on the label!
Thus ended our first foray into the Westmont world of Cork. Being the first time in the area, we decided to walk down the street to the Pourhouse, a PJ Whelihan offshoot with lots of great beers! The place was crowded for a Tuesday evening and a multitude of great craft beers were flowing! I added a new one to my list from the UK's Brewdog, Stone Bashah.
Both of these venues certainly warrant further examination which we will do by train in the near future. The train stop is just several blocks away! If you ever get the chance to visit these beer havens, please do. It is worth the trip!