Sunday, April 22, 2018
Bars & Spirits

Beer Week: From pairings with panache to vintage bottles

My Day 4 of Tampa Bay Beer Week started with the Sweetwater Brewing Beer Dinner at The Pub in Tampa on Tuesday. Four dishes prepared by The Pub chefs were paired with four beers from Sweetwater, along with sampling of another two beers. The beers were 420 Extra Pale Ale, Blue, IPA, LowRYEder IPA, Happy Ending, and the just-released 16th Anniversary Red Wheatwine from the limited Dank Tank series. My girlfriend and I are vegetarians, so we passed on the food pairings, but the staff at The Pub insisted on making us a pizza marinara with sweet peppers and onions that was just fantastic.

The dinner was in The Pub's upstairs loft, giving it an intimate feel. The beers were served in 10-ounce versions of the larger, Imperial-style pint glasses (the kind with the bump around the top), but I made sure to ask for three-quarter servings, especially considering that the Dank Tank 16th Anniversary Ale clocked in at 11 percent alcohol by volume! The beers were excellent, and we were grateful to have some food before heading to the next event, Archaic Ale Night at downtown St. Pete's Empouria.

There owner John Vellines pulled some seriously vintage bottles from his personal cellar to be served in four-beer flights. These included an '03 Saison de Pipaix, which was surprisingly flavorful for a style that generally does not age well (especially for a full decade!); Schneider Weisse's excellent and wine-like Tap X Mein Nelson Sauvin; an '06 bottle of Stille Nacht, which had strong toffee notes and a rich, maple finish; and the Doppelsticke from Uerige, which had a subtle caramel flavor. We also sampled from a cellared bottle of Nöel Baladin Strong Ale. In addition, Birra del Borgo's Caos was on tap — an Italian Wild Ale brewed with local Malvasian grapes.

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