I had yet to step foot inside the Radisson Hotel since the Valley Forge Casino Resort opened along the Main Line. So when I received word that there was a European Beer Pairing Dinner in the works, well, now seemed a better time than any to check it out!

The European Beer Pairing Dinner debuted on July 11, with the evening’s dishes created by Executive Chef Rob Schoell and the dinner itself hosted in the Valley Tavern – a nice, trendy addition to the revamped hotel.

After being seated, guests were handed a small stack of cards, listing a number of facts about each brew, the ABV (alcohol by volume), preferred food pairings, etc. This was not only informative, but rather accommodating. Our host for the evening, Ken O’Byrne, felt it was a good way to further educate the guests, as well as allow them to remember these beers for future outings – just as a little reminder you can simply place on the fridge.

So let’s get to the fun stuff, shall we!

First Course
Chilled Jersey Tomato Soup paired with Boddington Pub Ale

The first course started with a sample size of Boddington Pub Ale, also deemed, “the Cream of Manchester.”  I’d say this is a solid sessionable beer and the perfect way to start the evening. For those who might ask, “what is a sessionable beer?” Basically it has a high drinkability factor with a low ABV (usually under 5%). Meaning, you could sit back with a few of these and not feel like you’re getting buzzed.

The Boddington is silky smooth, rather light and filled with rich, malty goodness! It made for a great starter much like the first course, a Chilled Jersey Tomato Soup, a perfect summer dish! Truly flavorful and refreshing! This soup was filled with a number of diced veggies, centered with a nicely sized grilled shrimp and pineapple. Just the perfect amount to make room for the next course!

Second Course
Soft Shell of Crab Tempura paired with Stella Artois

Though only the second round, I was pretty excited. For starters, Stella Artois is one of my favorites. It was no shock to me when Ken revealed it’s the largest selling beer in the country. Another interesting tidbit, Stella Artois was once a Christmas beer before going mainstream and available year round. Go figure.

The other part that intrigued me was the usage of “pop rocks” in this platter. Yes, you read correctly, pop rocks. The second course was comprised of a nice variety. The plate was graced with avocado marble, centered with a Soft Shell of Crab Tempura and polished off with sweet roasted corn, mango vinaigrette and applewood bacon “pop rocks”, a surprising touch indeed. And yes, there was popping in my mouth.

Third Course
Szechuan Pepper Crusted Rib-eye paired with Fuller’s ESB

Round Three, and my personal favorite, was the Szechuan Pepper Crusted Rib-eye. And wow, did they pack on the plate. The steak itself was nicely marinated with a layer of Cashel blue cheese on top and stacked with a mound of duck fat fries underneath. The beer pairing was Fuller’s ESB, which stands for extra special bitters. The malt factor and sweet caramel goodness really stands out and the hop factor is very well balanced by the savory flavor of the steak, which seriously, just melted in my mouth.

Fourth Course
Roasted Local Peach Tart paired with Leffe

For dessert, we enjoyed a Roasted Local Peach Tart with vanilla gelato drizzled with caramel sauce and paired with Belgian Blonde Leffe. What a match made in heaven. A nice blend of fruity goodness and sweetness from both ends. And after the previous courses, this hit the spot. Nice way to wrap up the evening.

Once the courses were complete, Ken finished the evening with a raffle drawing filled with prizes. Even if your name wasn’t drawn, each guest walked out with something. Everyone was handed complimentary VIP cards for the casino, as well as bottle openers and glasses from Stella. Nice souvenirs to take home.

I made my way to Vice President of Food and Beverage, Martin Doyle, to find out if there would indeed be another pairing at the Valley Tavern. This happened to be their second dinner event, with Guinness being their first. Come August, they will be hosting an event with Victory Brewing Company and when September arrives, they’ll feature Sam Adams.

Learn more about Valley Forge Casino Resort’s upcoming dinners and events by clicking here.