Three Ring Circus Beer Dinner & Sideshow was a SF Beer Week Highlight

A nine-course meal, twelve beers from three breweries and circus performers were on the bill for the Three Ring Circus Beer Dinner & Sideshow at the Elks Lodge in San Francisco on February 15th. The event was a collaborative effort organized by the Home Brew Chef Sean Paxton, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, Shmaltz and Ninkasi Brewing. It was by far the most ambitious and elaborate festivity taking place during SF Beer Week and lived up to the $120 price tag.

Every detail of the event paid homage to the circus, including the food. Paxton put his spin on a variety of carnival treats using local ingredients and gave each course a playful name, such as The Mermaid, The Drumstick and The Sword Swallower. Nearly every component of the food incorporated beer from the three breweries. The most highly anticipated course was the Hopped Cotton Candy wrapped around a cube of Sonoma foie gras terrine mixed with He’Brew Geneisis from Shmaltz. The sugar laden candy instantly melted around the fatty goose liver. It was delightfully decadent.

As the dinner progressed circus acts and sideshow performers entertained the crowd.  Most of them fell into the freak show genre. Classic acts like sword swallowing, walking on glass and mind reading took the stage along with a few acrobatic performances that mesmerized the dinner party, including Spiral, the pioneer of contemporary hoop dance.

The grand finale of the dinner was the unveiling of the collaboration beer, appropriately called Three Ring Circus Ale, that was created by the evening’s organizers. Brewed at Speakeasy, the very unconventional nut-brown ale was made with dulce de leche, popped corn and peanuts. Other noteworthy beer selections included Ninkasi’s Conventionale Imperial Stout (2010), He’Brew Genesis 15:15 by Shmaltz, and Speakeasy’s Massacre Black Wheat Wine. A complete food and beer menu can be found below with photos.

Although the evening extended well into the night due to slow food service (a minor flaw) the event was a great success. The historic Elks Lodge provided a wonderful backdrop, the entertainment was exceptional and the whimsical food paired nicely with the beer in almost every instance. Hopefully the organizers will bring this event back next year. SF Beer Week needs more quality events like this one.

 

The Menu

 

Pre-Dinner Reception Nibbles: Gourmet Popcorn

Bacon fat popped organic popcorn seasoned with tomato powder, roasted garlic, hop salt and smoked in bourbon barrel wood

Black Truffle Oil Scented Popcorn with cooked in vegetable oil with roasted garlic salt flakes

Thyme Infused duck fat popcorn with Sonoma Vella Dry Jack shavings, green peppercorns

 

First Course: The Mermaid

Lobster and prawn mousse infused with Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale, wrapped around petrale sole filets, Speakeasy White Lightning Ale “Tide Sauce”, Ninkasi Little One Beer Foam, Speakeasy Prohibition Ale quinoa “sand”

Paired with Ninkasi Sterling Pils

 

Second Course: The Drumstick

Willie Bird Smoked Turkey legs rillettes layered with He’Brew Genesis 15:15, shallots, dried figs and thyme, Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk cheese, malt pickled heirloom pumpkin, assorted crackers, breads and spiced nuts

Paired with Speakeasy Massacre Black Wheat Wine and Coney Island Geektoberfest

 

Third Course: The Sword Swallower

“Haute” Dogs infused with 4-H style Lamb, Speakeasy Scarface Imperial Stout, caramelized onions and rosemary Ninkasi Renewale Porter Beer mustard, fennel carrot slaw, sweet roll

Paired with He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA

 

Fourth Course: Hopped Cotton Candy

Centennial hop scented sugar, wrapped around a cube of Sonoma foie gras terrine mixed with He’Brew Genesis

Paired with Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA

 

Fifth Course: Slider

Ground elk and duck heart patty, rendered dry aged beef fat, Brioche bun, house made He’Brew Genesis 15:15 beer ketchup, baby arugula, Speak Easy Payback Porter braised red onions

Paired with Ninkasi Conventionale (2010 Imperial Stout), Speakeasy Scarface Imperial Stout and He’Brew Genesis 15:15

 

Sixth Course: Churro

Point Reyes Blue cheese mixed into a Speakeasy Double Daddy savory churro, roasted garlic powder

Paired with Ninkasi Total Domination IPA

 

Seventh Course: Three Ring Circus

Roasted red, gold and white baby beets, Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog crumbles, carbonated citrus segments, malt candied hazelnuts, micro greens drizzled with a Three Ring Circus Collaboration vinaigrette

Paired with Speakeasy Prohibition Ale

 

Eighth Course: Funnel Cake

He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA infused batter with bergamot zest, Three Ring Circus Wort Honey Drizzle, Malted Powdered Sugar Dust, Ninkasi Sleigh’r Beer Caramel

Paired with Coney Island Albino Python

 

Ninth Course: The Non-Fried Non-Twinkie Cupcake

Ninkasi Conventionale Imperial Stout Chocolate Cake, filled with a He’brew Jewbelation 15 mousse filling, Speak Easy Prohibition Frosting, THCO Cocoa Nibs, Caramel Malt

Paired with the Speakeasy, Ninkasi, Shmaltz, Home Brew Chef Collaboration beer: Three Ring Circus

Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah Readings & Tastings

A brewer’s story is often filled with adversity, heartbreaks, mishaps and hopefully a little humor. Jeremy Cowen’s began in San Francisco in 1996 when he launched Shmaltz Brewing and personally delivered his He’Brew beer with help from his Grandmother’s Volvo. Fourteen years later the brand has exceeded his wildest expectations and he recounts his efforts in a new memoir called Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah: How it Took 13 years, Extreme Jewish Brewing, and Circus Sideshow Freaks to make Shmaltz Brewing Company an International Success. Whew!

Cowan has decided to host a number of book signings and tasting nights at various bookstores throughout the Bay Area where you can sit back and enjoy a glass of beer and learn how he built his brand from scratch.

Saturday, May 7, 2011
Omnivore Books
3885 Cesar Chavez Street, San Francisco, CA (Map)
4 pm – 5 pm, Free
415-282-4712

Jeremy Cowan will do a book reading and signing at this food book haven in Noe Valley. Following the reading, he’ll host a beer tasting featuring selections from both the HE’BREW Beer® and Coney Island Craft Lagers® lines.

Monday, May 9, 2011
Kepler’s
1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA (Map)
650-324-4321
5:30 pm – 7 pm, Event is open to the public with a purchase of the book or a $10 Kepler’s gift card.

Cowan will speak at Kepler’s, in the new Roy Kepler Pavilion, and will host a beer tasting following the event. He’ll feature selections from both the HE’BREW Beer® and Coney Island Craft Lagers® lines. For more information, please visit: http://www.hometownpeninsula.org .

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Afikomen
3042 Claremont Avenue, Berkeley, CA (Map)
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm, Free (Beer For Sale Onsite)
510-655-1977

Cowan will do a book reading and sign copies of Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah, and selections from the Shmaltz beer line-up will be available for purchase. This is one of the finest Judaica shops in the Bay Area, and they will have a variety of Shmaltz gear (usually only available online) as well.

Friday, May 13, 2011
Alexander’s
50 2nd Street, San Francisco, CA (Map)
415-495-2992
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm, Free

Cowan will read from Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah, and afterward will host a beer tasting featuring selections from both the HE’BREW Beer® and Coney Island Craft Lagers® lines. This 3-floor independent bookstore is conveniently located in downtown SF, so the event will be an excellent lunch break.

Sunday, May 15, 2011
Dog Eared Books
900 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA (Map)
415-282-1901
7 pm – 8 pm, Free

At the Bay Area’s finest independent book store in the heart of the Mission District, Cowan will read passages from Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah and host a beer tasting featuring selections from both the HE’BREW Beer® and Coney Island Craft Lagers® lines.

RateBeer’s Best of 2011 Awards, Bay Area Roundup

Awards season is upon us and the beer world is no exception. The folks at RateBeer in Santa Rosa have finished crunching data from nearly 3 million beer reviews on their website and a few Bay Area breweries, bars, restaurants and stores can stand a little taller today. According to RateBeer “130,000 beers from over 10,000 brewers worldwide were tallied and the emphasis was largely placed on tasting commercial samples — not special batches prepared for festivals.”

There are some very familiar names in each category but a few surprises will leave beer geeks disillusioned, particularly in the bar category. Here’s how the Bay Area faired:

The Best Beers in the World 2011

#3 Pliny the Younger, Russian River Brewing

#8 Pliny the Elder, Russian River Brewing

#20 Supplication, Russian River Brewing

#32 Consecration, Russian River Brewing

#81 Temptation, Russian River Brewing

#83 Blind Pig IPA, Russian River Brewing

The Best Brewers in the World 2011

#8 Russian River Brewing

#30 Bear Republic Brewing Company

#68 Marin Brewing Company

#85 Shmaltz Brewing Company

The Best Breweries to Visit 2011

#12 Anchor Brewing Company

#34 Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

The Best Beer Bars 2011

#17 The Trappist, Oakland, CA.

The Best Brewpubs 2011

#5 Russian River Brewing

The Best Beer Retailers 2011

#31 City Beer Store, San Francisco.

#36 Perry’s Liquors, Livermore.

#45 Healthy Spirits, San Francisco.

The Best Restaurants for Beer 2011

#17 La Trappe Café & Trappist Lounge, San Francisco.

So what does everyone think? You can see the full results on the RateBeer website.

Congratulations to all the winners. You truly help make the Bay Area one of the best craft beer drinking regions in the country.