BJ's beer tasting and dinner
210 W Southwest Loop 323
Tyler, TX 75703
I have previously reviewed BJ's and mentioned my love of their deep dish pizza and their beautiful beers. I continue to frequent BJ's and continue to love their unique brews and large selection of Belgian beers. While dining the other day, I learned that they were doing a beer tasting and dinner using Sierra Nevada beers paired with items from BJ's regular menu (very much like a wine tasting/pairing dinner). I was ectastic and invited a good friend of mine to try out the dinner.
The feast had 5 courses and 7 different beers. The fist course was crispy calamari paired wtih Kellerweis Hefeweizen. The calamari was salty and crunch with a zesty garlic aioli sauce and marinara sauce that paired very well with the crisp, refreshing hefeweizen. The citrus notes of the beer paired well with the zesty garlic aioli. The next course was California club flatbread pizza and the Pale Ale. While I found both the pizza and beer to be of high quality, the pairing was the weakest of the night for me. The next course was the Kung Pao chicken and the Torpedo Extra IPA and it was another fine pairing, the bitterness of the IPA enhanced the spices and heat of the Kung Pao. Next came a 'palate cleanser' of the Ruthless Rye IPA, which I found to be somewhat of a disappointment as the beer seemed to have only one note - the bitterness of the hops. Next came my second most favorite pairing of the night was the Porter and the Barbeque Pulled pork sandwich. The porter was dark and rich with malty, caramel flavors that harmonized with the smoky richness of the pork. This was definitely a time when the beer and the food became more than the sum of its parts. What a combo! The next 'palate cleanser' was also a disappointment for me - the Bigfoot Barleywine Ale. The beer started with a nice strong fruity, malty flavor, but then the bitterness of the hops overwhelmed my palate so I couldn't really get all the fruit and malt notes. Next was the most surprising and best pairing of the night - dessert. The Oliva Quad was paired with BJ's Baked Beignet. The crispy rich beignet was topped with strawberries, ice cream and whipped cream. The Oliva was surprisingly sweet with a strong fruit flavor (cherries, plum, raisins) and nice malty-ness. I wouldn't have been able to drink very much of the Oliva on its own, but with the ice cream and beignet, it was heavenly. You cold really get all the fruity complexity from the beer. WOW.
In all, I had a great time and it was remarkably inexpensive for what we got (30 bucks for the whole she-bang, plus tip). The service was great and there was plenty of food and beer. I have only one criticism, and that was the guys who were speaking during the dinner. When they were just talking with the guests, they were knowledgeable, friendly and just plain fun to have around, but when they were describing the beers, they pretty much read right from a script that detracted a little from the experience, but this is a small criticism, the evening was awesome. Apparently, BJ's is doing more of these beer pairings and I plan to attend every one!