The collaboration between Hog River Brewing and Grants restaurant was a much-anticipated meal. A new brewery teamed up with esteemed chefs to create a four-course meal paired with five of Hog River’s tastiest beers. Menus, meal and beer descriptions, and HRB branded stickers sat atop the tables in the chic French style back room of Grants restaurant. Around 35 guests were greeted with HRB’s Hartford Pale Ale and guided over to the overflowing charcuterie table. The light bodied Mosaic hop beer started off the night, getting everyone talking about Hog River Brewing. The complex hop flavor paired well with the smoky sausages and sharp cheeses. Groups of friends and individual diners introduced themselves to each other as they were seated in the small back area, while Hog River Brewing owner and brewer, Ben Braddock, walked around greetings guests.
We all found our seats, and after a short welcome from Ben, the first course started coming out from the kitchen. The large dish of rich and creamy New England Clam Chowder included CT Quahog little neck clams, cipollini onions, Colgan Farm potatoes, celery and crispy prosciutto paired beautifully with the Golden Messenger Kolsch-style Ale. The Kolsch-style Ale described as Ben’s favorite style is a “classic, cold-fermented German Ale” which is “brewed with Cologne malt imported from Germany. Lightly hopped with Hallertau Mittlerfruh hops and conditioned for 3 weeks.” The clean and crisp beer was well received by the guests who preferred ales to IPAs. Its light but bready flavor complimented the complex flavor of the sweet onion and salty soup.
The second course beer, HRB’s 1881 Copper Ale, “named after the year Hartford Rubber Works was founded…is brewed with a mix of pale, crystal and Munich malts, lending a pleasant spice character. Hopped with Germany Hersbrucker” was paired with the first entrée of the night: the Long Island Duck Confit. The most colorful dish of the night, the duck was accompanied with baby carrots & turnips, caramelized cauliflower, crispy Brussels sprouts, watermelon radish and duck consommé. The strong ale complimented the rich duck and roasted vegetables with bold, but not overpowering flavors.
The meatier third course, and second entrée of the night, consisted of Black Angus NY Strip Steak with butternut & acorn squash, Hakurei turnips, salted roasted fingerling potatoes, pickled late summer vegetables, romesco sauce and bone marrow. It was paired with the hoppiest beer of the night (85.5 IBU), the River Run Rye Red IPA which had “sweet malt flavors from an array of Germany malts and a slight hand of Amarillo and Palisade hops to balance out.” The hearty meal paired with the crisp IPA balanced the taste buds and filled our bellies.
Finishing off the ever-so filling and fantastically delicious dinner was the warm pumpkin cake. One of the crowd favorites also made its debut – the London Porter Ice Cream. While sipping on the actual London Porter, “an award-winning example of the historic English style” the smooth and surprisingly light porter touched on chocolate and coffee flavors. The gorgeous pumpkin cake topped with a sliver of sculptural sugar also boasted maple crème anglaise, spiced whipped cream, candied pumpkin seeds and Grant’s house made London Porter Ice cream. The creamy and robust ice cream was such a hit that multiple people asked if it was going to be on the menu full time! Here’s to hoping! And here’s to hoping that a Grants and Hog River Brewery collaboration happens again soon. The enjoyable and delicious night was a wonderful example of local restaurants, chefs and brewers coming together for unique and creative meals.