Located less than five miles apart, Daniel’s Restaurant and Henniker Brewing Company are teaming up on Thursday, March 31, for a beer dinner featuring five Henniker Brewing beers.
They’ve been doing an annual dinner since the brewery opened a few years ago.
“It’s a different event,” restaurant co-owner Judy Daniel said in a phone interview. “It brings people in, introduces them to new beers, new foods that they could eat and pair with the beers that complement each other.”
Chris Slayton, executive chef at Daniel’s, has experience orchestrating beer and wine pairing dinners and hopes this event will elevate beer beyond its common relaxed-and-laid back barbecue association.
“I’m trying to take it up a notch and show that it [beer] can really be done with good food as well,” he said in a phone interview. “And [it’s] a chance to showcase some of the fun stuff that we can do as a restaurant and a way for me to try new things that may be future specials.”
Before planning the menu, Slayton stopped by Henniker Brewing to chat with the brewers about their beers, learning more about what they base the beers on when creating flavor profiles. For example, the dry-hopped pale ale Miles & Miles works well with cheese and grilled items, so Slayton is pairing it with a Contoocook Creamery cheddar cheese board with pickled vegetables and grilled asparagus.
“The second course is [an] IPA … very hoppy … and that really likes spicy items,” he said. “I wanted something rich like a pork belly and pair it with a spicy and sweet, so we have the spicy pepper gastrique.”
The third course pairs a double-hopped IPA with an arugula salad with shaved onion and cucumber, avocado dressing and spiced hard boiled eggs.
“I’ve done a two-week spiced hard boiled egg, so we’re pickling eggs in a beet and hot pepper vinegar,” he explained. “Anytime I’ve done an IPA it’s usually worked really well with the salad course.”
The fourth course highlights the Working Man’s Porter, which Slayton described not as similar to a Guinness, but in the same class — dark, earthy and complex — that works well with roasted flavors. So he’ll prepare a slow-braised short rib with roasted root vegetables and a Peruvian blue potato for a pop of color.
Finally, Amber Apparition will complement the dessert course with its caramel and toffee notes. It can be tough to pair beer with dessert, Slayton said, but this American amber ale that “really likes caramel and toasted sugar” will work well with a burnt caramel cream and candied pistachio-filled chocolate pastry puff.
Though they’ve done a number of beer dinners featuring Henniker Brewing’s core and seasonal beers in the past, Slayton isn’t concerned about any previous dish overlap.
“There’s such a variety of food I can mix and match that it’s always fun just to create something that’s going to play off of these things,” he said. “And sometimes you surprise yourself.”