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The Black Gryphon Beer Pairing Dinner

My fiancée and I attended a beer pairing dinner at The Black Gryphon in Elizabethtown, PA on August 6, 2012. The Black Gryphon typically hosts four dinners a year, varying from wine pairing to spirits and cocktails pairing dinners. One of the proprietors, Toeny, is an avid beer lover and an even bigger foodie. If you ever get a chance to stop by his restaurant, do it. The unique part of this menu is that Toeny had the owner of The Porch in Myerstown, PA match beers to the food, and in a month they will switch roles and restaurants for another beer pairing dinner.

Course 1

Food: Chilled estate heirloom tomato bisque with a goat cheese crostini and cracked black pepper
Beer: Brasserie Lefebvre Blanche De Bruxelles

I’m going to come right out and admit I love a cold soup. I’m not saying I like my chicken noodle soup cold, it’s just that typically these soups are crafted with extra care and spices and they always amaze me. This estate heirloom tomato bisque was no different, and the fresh tomatoes played really well with the light refreshing flavor of the Blanche De Bruxelles. I thought that the beer on its own has a creamy mouthfeel, but the soup killed dampered it down greatly and made it much easier to drink. (Pairing Score: 5/5)

Course 2

Food: Seared salmon, wakame, grilled romaine, and curry vegetable
Beer: Weyerbacher Last Chance IPA

It has taken some time for me to begin to like fish, but I’m learning that I think I was eating poor quality (read: fishy fish) while growing up. I have been able to try some better fishes as of late, and this seared salmon was quite delicious. The vegetable medley that accompanied it worked so well with the Last Chance IPA. The romaine and curry vinaigrette courted the bitter hops to made it pop, leaving pepper flavors on the tongue throughout the experience. I can’t say the salmon did anything for the pairing, but it was very good. (Pairing Score: 3/5)

Course 3

Food: Grilled Groff’s apple sausage with Shropshire blue milled potatoes
Beer: New Belgium Trippel

One of the cooler aspects of this dinner was that Toeny substituted items on the menu for people who couldn’t eat certain things. My fiancée doesn’t eat pork and the girl sitting next to her didn’t eat meat, so he whipped up vegetarian options that produced similar flavor profiles. As for the sausage and mashed potatoes, the drizzled honey pulls coriander and peppery spices out of the beer. A light funk also emerges from blue cheese contained in the potatoes, and this was a top-notch pairing. (Pairing Score (4/5)

Course 4

Food: Wild game slider, dubliner, romaine, dijon, sweet ketchup, and toasted tin bread
Beer: Duck-Rabbit Duck-Rabbator Doppelbock

How fancy can you make a slider? I would have thought not very much, but this treat that was served as the main course was fancy and overly tasty. The gherkin wasn’t as sweet as expected and gave the whole ensemble a bit of a dill flavor which cut into the doppelbock, and the dijon helps pop the flavors. Smoky and chocolate flavors come flying out of this pairing, which you wouldn’t expect from either the beer or the slider on their own. (Pairing Score: 4/5)

Course 5

Food: Chocolate swirl crème brûlée and dark chocolate biscotti
Beers: Ballast Point Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter and Clown Shoes Vampire Slayer Imperial Stout

The dessert course served for the pairing dinner was a crème brûlée that consisted of both vanilla and chocolate flavors. Serving the food with bold, chocolaty, and coffee-like beers was the way to go here. However, the beers were very complimentary and didn’t pull out extra flavors. I wouldn’t say this was a bad pairing, I would just say that there may have been a beer match of beers. But I also wouldn’t turn down a Victory at Sea at any point in time. (Pairing Score: 3/5)


For $40, this was an excellent dinner that provided five courses and six beers. I will definitely be attending another one of these at The Black Gryphon, and I hope to attend the one at The Porch as well. It should also be noted that this dinner gets extra props for Toeny willing to substitute items for those that can’t eat them.

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Written by Jeff Kupko

Jeff is a traffic engineer that loves his beer, and especially loves trying new beer. As a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Yuengling was a staple and the beginnings of liking something better than fizzy yellow water. This has evolved into an entire hobby, with Jeff keeping a blog of all of the beers he tries. Vacations most certainly involve at least one brewery or bottle shop visit to gather a region’s coveted fruits. Now, Jeff has ventured into homebrewing, and there is probably no saving him from being engulfed entirely by beer. While Imperial Stouts and IPAs rank highest in Jeff’s eyes, sours are sneaking up on those styles, and Jeff loves to try all different styles. Find Jeff Kupko on Google Plus

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