Fullsteam celebrates 5th anniversary with dinner at Washington Duke
Posted August 14, 2015
Durham, N.C. — Last night, The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club hosted the final installment in its “Summer Dinner Series” with a Fullsteam Beer Dinner. Guests were treated to a five course dinner with dishes created by Executive Chef Jason Cunningham and Chef de Cuisine Murray Healy paired with Durham based Fullsteam Brewery’s Southern-style craft beers while enjoying scenic views from the Fairview Dining Room’s Terrace on the Green. The menu combined Fullsteam’s “plow to pint” beers which focus on local and seasonal ingredients with the Fairview Dining Room’s seasonally-inspired cuisine and prominence of locally-sourced ingredients.
I’ve been to many events involving Fullsteam, but this was the first time I’ve had the chance to enjoy its founder, Sean Lilly Wilson, emcee an event and he did not disappoint. He is great in front of a crowd and offered wonderful insights about the inspiration behind each of the craft beers and their connection to the locally sourced ingredients used to make them. It was a particularly timely event as the brewery celebrates its 5th anniversary this week and guests honored Sean by singing “Happy Birthday” to him as the evening festivities kicked off.
As we watched the sun begin to set over the golf course the first course was served consisting of a beer poached shrimp cocktail over fried szechwan soba noodles, with a basil cucumber puree. The dish was paired with Fullsteam’s light and crisp “Summer Basil” farmhouse ale. In explaining the pairing Sean shared that Summer Basil was Fullsteam’s first beer. It is so popular that they are planning to offer it year round and change its name to “Southern Basil”.
Things got even better with the second course which was actually two items plated together and paired with two versions of Fullsteam’s “Cack-a-Lacky” ginger pale ale. The first was a beer battered NC flounder with fried potato ribbons and lemon caper berry aioli. Also on the same plate was a crab stuffed flounder garnished with a baby heirloom carrot and ginger glaze. Paired with this was a rum barrel-aged version of the same ginger pale ale.
The tropical notes of the barrel–aged beer played well with the ginger glaze and carrot garnish. This course proved to be my favorite of the night. The simplicity of the beer battered flounder belies just how wonderful a dish this was. It was easily my favorite and by far the best version of the classic “fish-n-chips” I have ever tasted.
As the meal progressed so did the alcohol content of the beers paired with each dish. Courses three and four were a pan seared pheasant breast with pickled peaches over a red lentil puree and braised lamb with boxty potato and a celery root puree. The pheasant was paired with Fullsteam’s “Farm Edge” sumac & lemon verbena session ale which was my favorite beer of the night. The lamb was accompanied with a hearty “Lampshade” brandy barrel-aged barleywine.
The evening of excellent food and beer was topped off with a rich and delicious dessert for the fifth and final course. We were all treated to a chocolate and ice cream flight featuring homemade chocolate ice cream and three flourless chocolate tortes ranging from light to dark chocolate. These sweet treats paired perfectly with the “Paw-Paw” Belgian-style triple. I didn’t know this until Sean shared it, but the Paw Paw is the only sub-tropical fruit that grows in North America. It adds hints of banana and mango flavors to the beer making it the perfect pairing with desert.
The goal of beer dinners is to both inform as well as entertain. At the end of the lovely evening guests went home with mason jar glassware from Fullsteam armed with the knowledge that eating good food and drinking quality craft beer is more about how it is prepared and that the experience can be made even more enjoyable with an understanding of where the ingredients come from and its connection to the community.
John Huisman covers the Triangle through his blog, Triangle Explorer.