Carla and I had a great time at East Burn's Beer Belly Dinner last night. It was the one-year anniversary of the dinners, so they brought back Full Sail's John Harris as the guest brewer, since he did the first such dinner. A new beer was previewed, Hop Pursuit Extra Pale Ale, and I got to try the Pilsner Room exclusive Slainte Stout for the first time. The appetizer courses matched up well with the two lagers of the evening: Session Black and LTD 1, and of course any night is a good night if the dessert is served with barrel-aged Top Sail Imperial Porter.
Hop Pursuit is a nice biscuity pale that John said was his way of getting back to his brewing roots, with the "old-school hops" that were all he had to work with early in his brewing career: Willamettes, Mt. Hoods, and Cascades. It will be out in 22-ounce bottles in a few months as part of the Brewmaster's Reserve series. There are lots of flowery hops in there, but it's not overly bitter. Nice stuff.
These Beer Belly dinners are a great deal, $35 a head for five wonderful courses paired with beer. The setting on the East Burn's patio is pleasant and relaxing, especially if you get one of the tables with porch-swing seats. Best of all, the proceeds from the dinners benefit a worthy cause: Ride On, the non-profit organization that will drive you and your car home for a small fee if you've had too much to drink.
Next month's dinner features San Francisco's 21st Amendment Brewery. Good food, good beer, good deal, all for a good cause.