The event was phenomenal. How could I not enjoy it, with my favorite restaurant, favorite brewery, and one of my favorite bars all in one night? Chef Paul Kulik from the Boiler Room accomplished an impressive culinary feat: pairing food with beer. Beer is a notoriously difficult drink to pair with food; it’s carbonated with strong malty flavors and it takes some creative dishes to make a pairing that works.
Here is the run-down of the courses:
First: Lucky Bucket Pre-Prohibition Lager with house boudin blanc, mustard, and broiche. The food, which is named in typically foreign terms, is actually a kind of bratwurst emulsified in Lucky Bucket on a bun with mustard. The pairing here was excellent, obviously. Beer and brats are a classic for a reason.
Second: LB IPA casked with ugli fruit and dry-hopped with a very citrusy hop. The food was spicy chicarrones, which are pork rinds spiced with chili powder and fried and battered with LB IPA. I’d never had pork rinds before, and these were good, like extreme, high-class Cheetos. The IPA was literally a one-of-a-kind stand-out. A local rock-star homebrewer, Tom Malowski, designed this beer with finished Lucky Bucket IPA, ugli fruit, and the citrus hop. The beer was by far my favorite. It was basically IPA and orange juice, but much more delicious than that sounds. The pairing was interesting as well, not the best combination of the evening, but the citrus and spice blended very well. As Paul said, it had “citrus, spice, fried food with a little bit of heritage mixed it.”
Third: Certified Evil with a salad of roasted squash pearl barley and smoked lardo vinaigrette. Lardo is cured back fat, an acidic substance that made a great dressing. The pairing was an excellent and counter-intuitive choice. Certified Evil is Lucky Bucket’s imperial porter and has a powerful roasted taste. My first thought would have been to pair it with roasted short-ribs or barbeque, but Paul’s choice of a light and acidic salad with sage and barley accents proved a wonderful counterpoint to the richness of the beer.
Fourth: Chocolate Stout with brewer’s yeast waffles, stout syrup, and brown butter ice cream. No translations needed here. This was everyone’s favorite, practically causing a riot when the dish was brought out. I can still taste the syrup, which was made with the same Chocolate Stout that was served. I’d never had Lucky Bucket’s new beer, but I was pleased. Despite 150lbs of chocolate per batch, it did not share the choking syrupy consistency that most chocolate beers have. According to Chris Sund, the Lucky Bucket rep, this was because they used coco nibs instead of only coco powder and milk chocolate. The result is remarkably clear and drinkable. The brewer’s yeast waffles were made with active yeast scraped from Lucky Bucket’s lager fermenting tanks. The combination was astoundingly sweet and chocolatey, and the syrup had a rich, phenomenal molasses texture that made a worthy counterpoint to the buttery ice cream and chocolate stout.
Fifth: Barley Wine with Landaff cheese from the New Hampshire farmstead creamery. Full disclosure: barley wine is not my favorite. Yet Lucky Bucket has a solid offering that is not as overwhelming as some I’ve had in the past. The pairing was logical and tasty. The Landaff cheese in was excellent and had a flavorful kick that cut the intensity of the barley wine very well. Paul chose cheese because it has the complexity to pair with beer, even barley wine.
The event shows how a pairing should be done, and proves that with some creativity it’s possible to pair with beer. Chef Paul did an amazing job designing the event and it’s great that Lucky Bucket will work with homebrewers and restaurants to create something really worthwhile like this event. Having Paul and Chris to talk to in an intimate environment was a great learning experience.
Hopefully Lucky Bucket, the Boiler Room, and House of Loom will team up again for another phenomenally fun and informative event.
Lucky Bucket Brewery
11941 Centennial Rd La Vista, NE 68128
The Boiler Room
5:30 to close, Monday through Saturday
1110 Jones Street Omaha, NE 68102-3205
House of Loom
1012 South 10th Street Omaha, Nebraska 68108
Corrections: I originally had Chef Paul’s name as Chad. Not sure where I got that.