The special beer themed dinner was to take place at the Aerie which is at the tippy top of the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. I had reviewed the resort a few months earlier and had dined at the Aerie with my husband. We knew this would be a dinner to remember forever. I could hardly wait for the day to arrive!
The day finally arrived and the drive up to the resort was astonishing! We were driving up just as the sun was going down. I remember thinking that the sunset was one of the most beautiful that I had ever seen. The Traverse City area itself is gorgeous and the added sunset made it even more so.
We arrived at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, walked in the took one of the elevators up to the very top. When we came out of the elevator we were greeted by music and a tasty smell in the air from the food we would soon be enjoying. We went a little bit further in and a hostess greeted us to show us to our seats. The feeling in the air was exciting! The lights were slightly dimmed and the atmosphere was laid back and relaxed. We sat down and immediately hit it off with our table-mates.
If I remember correctly there were three long tables and each table sat about 7 or 8 couples each. To be honest it was a little out of my comfort zone to meet new people but my husband is a huge people person. He made sure to break the ice and keep the conversation flowing. It also helped that we were sat next to another couple who's male half was literally my husband's skinnier personality clone! They laughed it up and even coerced the waitress to bring them an extra beer LOL.
There were paper menus for each person to look over. The chef's and someone from Short's Brewery did announce each course but it was nice to be able to look over the menu in case we forgot what we were eating/drinking. We were started out with some phenomenal beer bread. I can still taste it and wish I could have taken a loaf home! Ahem...a good idea for the next Short's dinner would be to send each guest home with a loaf of beer bread *wink-wink* and a case containing one of each beer.
Course #1: Blood Ale shrimp shooter paired with Short’s Bloody Beer - a lighter bodied beer with an appealing ruby red glow and aromas of spicy tomato juice.
I believe that this shooter contained some cilantro and I am not a cilantro fan. Other than that I adored how fun this appetizer was. My husband commented that he could eat several in a row, it was his favorite part of the whole meal. He would not have normally liked a bloody Mary flavor but the pairing made it work and it was perfection. The Blood Ale had a very peppery smell and initial flavor which was followed by a salty tartness.
Course #2: Autumn Ale bisque with Short’s Autumn Ale London ESB. This was a roasted fall vegetable bisque with parsnips, rutabaga, carrots and acorn squash. Paired with: Short’s Autumn Ale - a london extra special. The beer is bitter (ESB) that is true to style, medium bodied, amber color, and full flavor.
I've never had a better bisque, it was so earthy and beautiful. I took some of the beer bread and dipped it into my bowl. The bisque reminded me of the fall and I enjoyed the peppery greens that had been placed over the top. The Autumn Ale had a coriander kind of taste to me. I think that at first I did not like it at all but then I gave it a minute. After a few small sips further I noted a fruity citrus type flavor. This beer did not necessarily remind me of a fall flavor but it worked well with the fall bisque.
Course #3: Kind Ale salad with Short’s Kind Ale cooked apple slices on a bed of arugula, apple and kind ale vinaigrette, topped with Zingerman’s ”Detroit street brick” goat cheese. This salad was paired with: Short’s Kind Ale - straight from the fields on Leelanau Peninsula to the kettle. The local hops impart a mellow earthiness to this ale that lead to moderate bitter tones and a subtle sweetness in the finish.
This was the best salad I had ever had the pleasure to enjoy! I probably enjoyed it so much because I am a goat cheese lover and on the side were two huge slices. Although I have eaten a wide variety of goat cheeses I'd never had one that was so creamy and flavorful. This cheese was better than butter! Zingermans goat cheese is not your ordinary goat cheese, this stuff was heaven sent. I did wish there was more apple on the side. I ran out of apple even though I was carefully trying to divide everything up into even bites. I loved the Short's Kind Ale, it was probably my most favorite of the bunch. It definitely had an earthiness to it and a touch of malt at the end.
Course #4: Short’s Black Cherry Porter braised short rib with braising reduction served with roasted fingerling potatoes and local baby carrots. This was paired with Short’s Black Cherry Porter - made with local northern Michigan sweet black cherries, eight different malts, in conjunction with three varieties of hops, with soft hints of roasted chocolate and pleasurable black cherry flavors.
This porter was rich and felt almost thick as it washed down the back of my throat. I could definitely taste the cherry and chocolate hints in it with a bit of a smokiness. The meat melted in my mouth and perhaps the black cherry porter made it taste more meaty if that makes any sense. The roasted fingerlings were so creamy and had soaked up the full flavor of the reduction. I wanted more and more and more!
I had first heard about the Short's Peaches and Creme Ale when my husband and I stayed at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa (blog post here). We completely ran out of time to purchase some and the thought of it would not leave my mind for weeks. The wait was so worth it. This ale rocked my socks off. It's peachy sweetness was nice but it was not too sweet as the finish had some bitterness from the hops. The first smell was so much like biting into a fresh juicy peach. I could see someone that does not like beer that much trying this and converting! I could not find a link for this beer online. I do hope that they are still brewing this golden goodness.
The little dessert was so light and had all of the right textures going on inside of it. See the little dots of peach caramel on the plate? Yeah I wanted to just lick up every last drop, it was divine! The perfect ending to the most perfect meal. I don't think I have ever been more satisfied from a meal in my life.
I would definitely recommend attending one of the Short's Brewing Company dinners. It's something that everybody should experience at least once. You can check the Short's website for their live entertainment section or Grand Traverse Resort for any upcoming beer dinners on their dining events page. I know that they have been doing these dinners all over Michigan at all different locations with different menus.
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