A week and a half ago, Ted and I attended the Hops and Heat beer social at the Portsmouth Brewery here in town.
This social paired spicy hot foods with hoppy beers, which go together nicely! We were excited to attend, especially since the dinner included vegetarian options!
I arrived promptly at 6pm, excited to begin the tasting! I situated myself at a big table in the center of the room, which featured a centerpiece of jalapenos and habaneros. Yes, let's get started!
I grabbed the first pairing - wasabi peas and chex mix (anyone who knows me well knows I LOVE LOVE LOVE both wasabi peas and Chex mix), paired with the brewery's British IPA. The Chex mix and peas were delicious - the Chex mix contained just a hint of spice and the wasabi peas cleared my nasal passages! The IPA tasted how I expected, mild with a slight hoppy taste. I thought it went well with the more subtle spiciness of the Chex mix.
Next up, a spicy chili-garlic soup with chili-rubbed crostinis, paired with the Project X with Summit hops. I've been a fan of Summit hops since Earth Eagle put out their own single hopped beer with Summit, so I was eager to try the Portsmouth Brewery's version. It didn't disappoint. This soup was a little more on the spicy side, so the IPA really helped neutralize the hotness!
Third on the menu was another soup - a tofu pho with a spicy ginger vegetable broth, paired with Ginga Ninja. Now, this soup knocked my taste buds out of the water and I had to take breaks from eating it, because it was almost too hot and spicy! This beer went perfectly with this meal, with the spices in the pho complementing the gingery spices of the beer. I liked this pairing the best, though I couldn't actually finish my soup as I couldn't feel my lips or tongue anymore!
The last main course was a tempeh mole, paired with the Night Nurse IPA. Night Nurse is a Black IPA, a style I only kind of enjoy (I am not a fan of stouts or dark beers in general), but I loved this one. I also incredibly loved the mole! Apparently the kitchen spent a few days making the mole, and I could tell. The flavor complexities were amazing. Another excellent pairing.
Last but not least, dessert! We were given orange and habanero infused flan with rosemary and chili whipped cream, paired with the 5 C's IPA (the 5 C's being 5 varieties of hops beginning with C). I hadn't ever eaten flan before, and I can't say I'm its biggest fan. I did like the habanero flavors and I loved the 5 C's with it, but it's not a dessert I'd pick out on my own if I'm out.
All in all, a great beer social! The Portsmouth Brewery plans on holding a different beer social roughly once a month, with the next one being Beers Around the World on February 12th. If you're in the area, I highly recommend checking this out.