Cleveland Beer Week – Part 1

I am so excited about Cleveland Beer Week. And of all the events, and there are sooooo many, the one thing I did NOT want to miss was the Dark Horse Brewery breakfast at Buckeye Beer Engine.  So, Sunday, October 17th, at 10 am in the morning, I pulled into the Buckeye Beer Engine parking lot to attend (having purchased my tickets weeks before).

warm Beignets with caramel espresso glaze

Who knew, but there is a basement at the Beer Engine.  And it looks like someone’s basement.  They use kitchen cabinetry behind the bar, there are beer signs decorating the wall, and the paint looks like some clearance rack special light green.

The crowd skewed a little more male (and in the parking lot, I was the only girl, I was slightly concerned) but there was a good cross-section of people from late 20s to mid-to-late 50s.

There was supposed to be a speaker from Dark Horse there to open the breakfast and introduce every course, but he was late.

Dark Horse Perkulator Coffee Dopplebock

That’s alright though.

The first course was called Beignets. I just always called them fried dough.As there was a bit of sauce on them, I tried to use my knife and fork.  Yeah, forget it.  They were so perfectly fried, it was impossible to cut them without crushing them, which would be criminal.  So I broke down and used my hands.

The beer really did compliment them well.

Once the brewery rep showed up, right before the third course, he explained that Dark Horse used fair trade, shade grown coffee and had it roasted at a local coffee roaster.

It was a good first beer of the morning.

Second Course - Dark Horse One Oatmeal Stout paired with steel cut oats w/house butter, brown sugar and tarragon

The second course might have been my favorite (although I loved everything, really, I was overwhelmed by how fabulous every pairing was) because of it’s simplicity.  Oh, also because you can pretend steel cut oats are healthy.

It was funny to hear the chef describe his pairings.  He was incredibly charming.

He mentioned that the butter was house-made and then said something about the not being that big of a deal.  Then he went on to give directions on how to make homemade butter and a prank they play on new kitchen workers where they have them put the cream in a food processor, send them off on another task and watch the worker come back and be confused as to who put the butter in their cream in the food processor.  Very cute.

I was skeptical that the tarragon would work well with this dish, but it did  When we have steel cut oats at home, we use buttermilk and brown sugar.  If I’m feeling really decadent, I add dried fruit (usually cranberries, but sometimes cherries, acai, blueberries, or whatnot) and pecans or walnuts.  When I’m really lazy, I’ve just added some trail mix (Trader Joe’s Omega Trail Mix is pretty good for this).  Oh, and sometimes we add fresh ground flax seed to the oats.

So the taste of these steel cut oats was so light and clean.  I loved it.  I know, I’m getting all misty about stupid oats but it’s good to find pleasure in simple things.

Halfway through this course I realized I was half in the bag already.  I think it was about this time that the chef came out to explain the course (he came out after people were eating each course as he was busy plating in the back) and he had this bit of wisdom:

You can’t drink all day unless you start in the morning.

What a wise man!

Third Course - a blend of Dark Horse Too Cream Stout and Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout with blueberry ricotta cheese with stout syrup

The third course was a very close second favorite.  They were ricotta (pronounced rigott if you’re Italian) blueberry pancakes.  They were so incredibly creamy it was hard to believe they were solid pancakes.

The chef explained that he had reduced a gallon of stout to about 1/2 cup and added it to the syrup.  That was some damn good syrup.

Again, we have pancakes at home, but we make them healthy.  They’re made with whole wheat flour and we add fresh ground flax seeds and fresh ground chia seeds and wheat bran.  They are so healthy, and they really do taste good, but it’s not like eating a regular pancake.  So, it’s such a treat to eat more traditional versions of these foods.  And this was so far better than traditional.

The beer was a blending of two Dark Horse beers made to tone down the blueberry (which is Dark Horse’s best seller.  I mean, if a beer is your best seller, maybe it’s good just the way it is).  It was funny that the chef and the Dark Horse rep were almost apologetic about having used a blueberry stout.

I like blueberry beer.  My favorite Fatheads beer is the bumbleberry (blueberry).  It’s excellent.   Why apologize for your product (unless it’s defective and harmful).  Is there a known carcinogen in the beer?  Are you using substandard ingredients?

Don’t put down the blueberry.  The blend was really nice, but now I need to go find the blueberry to try it.

Fourth Course - Dark Horse Fore Smoked Stout paired with pastrami and applewood smoked bacon hash with a poached egg

A very interesting thing that the Dark Horse rep told us was that the beer we were served had been purchased 3 years prior and stored by the Beer Engine.  So we had lovely aged beers for this breakfast.  What a treat.  And the beers were truly lovely.  I need to find out where they sell Dark Horse beers in Cleveland.

Another cool thing the rep said was that Dark Horse is a 7 barrel brew house but they produce 5000 batches each year. That’s a lot of brewing. Also, he said that they go crazy doing everything in-house with a very small staff.

For instance, the fourth course included a smoked stout.  He said that most breweries use peat for their smoked beers, it’s cheaper to buy than to make, but that Dark Horse prefers hardwood smoke. So, one of the employees, his job was to smoke the malt.  That’s all this guy did for a month and a half was stand out back and smoke the malt.

The food was a smoked pastrami which was then put through a meat grinder with bacon and potatoes to make the hash.  It was topped with a poached egg.  The only thing I would have done differently was leave the yoke runny so that it could run over the hash.

I wanted to lick the plate here. I really had to think about how gauche it would be if I did. I rarely allow myself to eat these kinds of foods, at least, not all together.  I certainly can’t deny myself the beauty that is bacon, but I eat it in small quantities, infrequently. But I savor it when I do indulge.

Fifth Course - Dark Horse Plead the 5th Imperial Stout paired with house made sage breakfast sausage with spaetzle and eggs

The fifth course made me sad because that meant the meal was coming to a close.

The Plead the 5th was a strong, heavy beer.  12% alcohol.  It was good this was the last beer; it would’ve been too heavy any earlier.

Now, spaetzle doesn’t seem like it would go with eggs but let me assure you that after eating it, I know that this is how spaetzle is meant to be eaten.

The spaetzle was cut into strips.  The eggs were scrambled but not dry and there was some cheese involved.

The only complaint I have in this whole breakfast was the sausage in this dish.  I am not very fond of sage, particularly in my breakfast sausage.  I prefer an apple pecan type of breakfast sausage.  Sage just kind of smacks me right in the face.  And this sausage had a lot of sage.

I mean, I still ate it.  But, given the choice, I would’ve had a differently seasoned sausage.

Dark Horse keychains, hard to tell but one's silver and one's black

During the fifth course, the chef recommended that we don’t go home right away.  He strongly suggested that we stick around the bar for the next couple hours, drinking of course, then go home to take a nap.  Then, we should wake up with a slight hangover so we will need to start drinking again.

I like that chef.

There were Dark Horse glasses, but the beer engine didn’t order enough so they saved them for the beer trivia thing they were having a few hours later.  They did have these keychains.

Every key ring should have a bottle opener.  How else can one drink and drive? (I’m sooo joking.  I really don’t recommend drinking and driving).

Several people were going upstairs to the bar between courses to get more beer.


I didn’t do that, but, being the obedient girl I am, I did stick around at the bar and order another beer.

I actually was hoping that they would have Founders Breakfast Stout.  But they didn’t

They did have Bell’s amber cask ale.

So I ordered one.

It was room temperature, because it was delivered through the beer engine.

I thought that beer engine was just a name, but it’s a thing.  It’s like a pump.  The line’s not pressurized.  I don’t know exactly what makes it special, maybe I have the whole description wrong, but I have a picture of it.

the actual beer engine

I only stayed for one more beer, I had other things to do.  But we did order a growler so that we could somewhat follow the chef’s recommendation.  I didn’t go home to take a nap, I had other obligations.  But after my other obligations, I sat down, watched the TIVO’d Browns game (like I needed to watch the Steelers hand them their asses) and drank the growler full of Beer Engine Saison de Maison.

It was a nice beer.  Relatively light and smooth.


the boot, 2 L of beer-y goodness

The picture to the left is The Boot.  This coming Saturday, the Beer Engine is going to sell boots full of beer.  The boots are 2 L.  I forget how much they cost.

The glasses next to the boot, I have two of those.  They were $12 each.  They are 1 liter and were full of the Octoberfest beer of your choice (from a select list).  I chose Bell’s Oberon.

The 1 L glass was hard to finish.  The boot just dwarfs it.  I would need to bring 3 friends to finish that.  I mean, I’d give it hell (trying to finish it myself) but I would need to be carried out and taken immediately to a hospital for alcohol poisoning.

Hobgoblin "glass"

My husband didn’t ordered the Hobgoblin.  It came with the lovely glass I have pictured to the left.

It’s incredible.  And a perfect Halloween decoration.  It’s on my mantel with the papier mache pumpkins we painted.

What an incredible morning.

The Beer Engine is having another breakfast this coming Sunday with Founders beers.  I just can’t go.  Too many calories.  Oh, but I want to do it.

Tonight, Monday the 18th, the Beer Engine had a Unibroue tasting.

Buckeye Beer Engine Growler - smaller and more expensive to fill than a Fathead's growler

4 Unibroue beer samples with four glasses for $14. At the breakfast, we were told that the Beer Engine had only purchased 40 sets of the glasses.

So, with permission, I stopped on my way home to try and get the glasses (I’m amassing quite a collection).

I was lucky enough that I got 3 of the 4 Unibroue glasses, but I had to pick an alternate glass (they gave me 3 to chose from).

The beers were good, I’ve had them all before.

The promotional materials say that it was Blanche de Chambly, Trois Pistoles, Maudite, and La Terrible.  However the bartender said that it was La Fin du Monde not Blanche de Chambly.

The glasses were the four listed, but by 4:15 pm, when I got there, they were already out of the Blanche de Chambly glass.  I chose a Hennepin glass instead.  It’s pretty.

Unibroue tasting - La Fin Du Monde, Maudite, Trois Pistoles, and La Terrible

My liver is going to take a few days to recover.

Unfortunately for my liver, I have a whole beer crawl planned for tomorrow night. More beer, more glasses, more hazy memories. Life is good.

As much as I’d like to celebrate every day and night of beer week, my liver and my wallet cannot manage it.

But tomorrow, I will give it hell!

And this weekend, I hope that the Ohio Craft Brewer 12 pack is available.  I think Santa will be putting it in someone’s stocking.  And while I’m doing this bit of Christmas shopping, I’m hoping to find some Dogfish Head Punkin ale, Founder’s breakfast stout, and maybe a nice lambic for myself.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s