Five Observations from the Northern Brewer Paired

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Paired underground dining series took its chef + art show on the road to the Northern Brewer warehouse in Roseville last night, gathering up 28 guests, Chef Chris Olson and his Paired posse, tattooist David Dettloff (of the Ink Lab), and pro-level homebrewer Kevin Horkheimer of Northern Brewer.

Five brief observations from the evening:

1. Beer-Cheese Soup Can Actually Be Fantastic

Even at its best, beer-cheese soup tends to be a jolly abomination, a bastardized nacho dip tainted by MGD. The version served at Paired had a ringingly clear cheddar cheese flavor, but was surprisingly light; the beer was a gingerly applied finishing touch, and the accompanying fresh homemade soft pretzel was tender and delicious. Not merely a salvaged version of a bad idea; actually bona fide good eats.

2. It’s Tricky to Pair Too Much Stuff

At the previous edition of paired, the rabbit meat / small animal organs of the food complemented the bizarre stuffed animal / animatronic art quite literally and clearly. At this edition of the dinner, the five varieties of beer seemed expertly paired with the food, but the food and the art didn’t seem to directly relate… unless black currants cooked in wine are meant to evoke tattoo ink, which is conceivable but a bit of a stretch. It would’ve been nice to have seen a bit of edible ink applied to something at some point.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

3. Homebrewed Beer is Lightning in a Keg

Like drinking rare vintage wine, when you taste great homebrewed beer, you’re struck by two immediate and conflicting emotions: joy at drinking such perfectly made beer, and bittersweet sorrow at knowing you’ll never really have that same beer again. The Saison du Baud served at Paired was feather-light, assertively but not overly spiced with coriander and a hint of fruit, and shockingly pleasant for a beer partially modeled on an American Pilsner.

4. People Need to Use Lemon Curd More Often

Dessert was lemon curd bread pudding with a bit of barley on top (again, a beer tie-in). So simple, so damned tasty.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

5. Ditto Currants

Lamb, wine, and currants are ideal partners in crime, the slightly tart and fruity punch of the wine and currants playing nicely against the more earthy, meaty pull of the meat. Verdict: Currants are chronically underused.

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