I have a confession: (raises right hand) I have a hard time with hoppy brews. So I was completely delighted when Victory Brewing Company hit it out of the park pairing an amazing menu with its lip-puckering Hop Wallop during Girls Just Want to Have Horace.
What? Get your minds out of the gutter, people. Horace is hop legend. And might I say the posers were just revealed as the story of Horace “Hop” Wallop is mightily told on each bottle’s label.
Horace’s namesake was put to the test recently and performed admirably. My meat-eating Suds bud and I dug into the following dreamy pairs: she, already a hop Jedi, and I, a Padawan, noted the following in each delish bite:
Pistachio Encrusted Artisan Goat Cheese on radicchio, frisee and heirloom tomato salad with a tart mango chutney + draught Hop Wallop: Totally had me at goat cheese, especially since it’s creaminess soothed the savagely good bitter. The wee bite from the chutney pulled it all together while the pistachio added a nutty finish. This draught Wallop had the biggest smack-in-your face bitter of the three, and it was well matched.
Toasted Cumin Seared Sea Scallop with a chilled grapefruit relish served on plantain tostones + bottled Hop Wallop: Didn’t skimp on the spice, that’s for sure, and we learned the hot way that the hops enhance spice’s fire. The mild grapefruit and plantains added sweetness and, when combined with a nip of the beer, gave the scallop a peppery end. This bottled Wallop was crisp and clean with a pronounced but less strong hop flavor vs its draught cousin.
Habanero Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak over red lentil cakes with chimichuri sauce and spicy daikon apple salad + hand pumped Hop Wallop: My Suds bud had braced herself for another shot of spice, but instead found the buttery steak boasted hot pepper taste with less heat. She reported those tastes complimented and even harmonized with the hops for a refreshing finish.
I was treated to a gorgeous ratatouille inside zucchini boats as the meat substitute. It was mild and a good match for the creamiest of the three Wallops. The whole plate was mild and just a tad pungent and a perfect match for …. wait … am I becoming a fan of hops?!
Dark Intrigue Drinking Chocolate and Eclat Hop Wallop Truffles with fried bread + draught Hop Wallop + a Dark Intrigue bonus beer! Was it wrong for me to raise my arms in victory and give a “whoop” when they set the bonus beer in front of me? I think not. Three, count ‘em, three outstanding bevs to end the evening and to enhance the just-hoppy truffles. The drinking chocolate had a dash of salty goodness and spice on the finish that became a decadent and sultry partner for the truffles. The Hop Wallop and truffles combo was, somehow, just this side of savory. The Dark Intrigue, a bourbon barrel-aged Storm King Stout, plus truffles? Well, if love had a taste that would be it. Truth be told, I thanked Horace for his fine invention and went to town on the drinking chocolate and Dark Intrigue. Oh and fried bread? Like the softest, sweetest baked treat you’ll ever have, and now I’m obsessed. It complimented the drinking chocolate, tamed the Hop Wallop and intensified the Dark Intrigue.
I’ve learned that with the right food hoppiness can be happiness for all. But I also learned you can’t take the dark beer-lover out of the girl. Then again, who would want to when Victory is poised to offer this girl’s favorite brewski aged in Wente Vineyards’ red wine barrels? Red Thunder: Nov. 21, 2012, can’t come soon enough.