Friday, 21 June 2013 13:56

Craft Beer Weekend at the Ace Hotel

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If you’re up for two full days of craft beer, culinary delights and live music with just the right balance of nostalgia and vogue, then Ace Hotel’s annual Craft Beer Weekend is for you. The youthful hotel on the eastern leg of Palm Canyon Drive was the perfect spot for the hipster chic celebration of craft beer.

Most beer festivals that are hosted at fairgrounds, parking lots or large venues may have capacity for large quantities of beer. But the hotel’s Friday evening’s menu and Saturday BBQ and beer tastings were a slightly smaller celebration, by the pool, Palm Springs style. The sun, the view, the water and the California style beers are, in fact, their ace in the hole.

Friday evening, I arrived and immediately greeted Chris Anderson of the new CV Brewing. There were two tables set up with a bar serving a nice selection of craft beer, including Stone’s Enjoy by 7.4.2013. And I did, enjoy the Enjoy by. The printed menus featured the five courses, along with the beer compliment. Even by just viewing the menu, it was apparent a lot of thought was put into the courses. Their beverage manager, Dean McFarlane first assessed the style of beers to be represented at the dinner. Once the breweries were finalized, Chef Brian Kiepler and Beverage Manager, Dean McFarlane worked closely to finalize the pairings. Chef Jennifer Town explained the courses prior to them being served, and if it was possible, her descriptions gave them even more flavor.

The first course consisted of fried camembert – petite herb salad, mango chutney with Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Double IPA. Initally, they were going to pair Coachella Valley’s Big Cat Saison, but later realized after a tasting that the two courses were better served switching the brews. This was a delicious start to the pairings. The mango flavors really complimented the IPA and the hop flavor cut the creamy textures in the dish beautifully.

The second course served was pork belly and clams, creme au pistou with grilled bread. Served with this preparation was Stone Cali-Belgique IPA. This was another home run by Chef Jennifer Town, as it was cooked to perfection. The next course was potato garlic chive gnocchi, served with summer tomato sauce, crisp squash blossom and introducing the regions brand new beer, Coachella Valley Brewing Big Cat Saison. This beer is brewed with local sage, paradise seed, rosemary and thyme. This will brewed for The Living Desert, and a percentage of the profits will go to the zoo and botanical garden.  The white sage and five different yeasts produce a lovely spice profile and paired wonderfully with the summer, herb qualities in the third course.IggyGonzalez AceDinnerCourse

The fourth course was nothing short of spectacular. Muscovy duck leg, polenta souffle, wilted spinach and sweet and sour cherries adorned the tables and was served with none other than Dogfish Head's Black & Blue, a Belgian-style golden ale fermented with blackberries and blueberries. The cherries in the dish paired with the berry beer was refreshing and flavorful, a brilliant pairing. Lastly, the fifth course was a chocolate lover's dream. Served with Ommegang's Three Philosophers, Ace employees brought a chocolate stout pot de creme, malt cookies with mint. Decidance defined.

On Saturday June 15, Craft Beer weekend continued from 2pm-10pm with a pool party and barbecue with craft beer tastings and live music by stringy Shadow Mountain Band, Whispering Pines and The White Buffalo. Tastings were offered by craft breweries including Stone Brewing Co., Dogfish Head (Namaste & 60 minute IPA), Ommegang, Duvel, Eagle Rock, Coachella Valley Brewing Co., Lagunitas, Coronado, Golden Road, Belmont Brewing, New Belgium, Great Divide, Maui Brewing, Babe's BBQ & Brewhouse and Julian's Hard Cider. By the pool, they BBQ'd beer-braised short rib tacos, saison-butter shrimp taco's, beer-braised bratwurst, chicken sausage and chipotle stout bbq pork ribs.

In the evening, there were rumors that Michael Madsen was reading his poetry in the hotel bar.  Had I died and gone to hipster heaven? Not quite. He wasn't actually there, but someone else read his musings, in his place. Had I been able to find my poetry on Poetry.com, I would've gone up to read myself.

As a beer connoisseur, music lover, poet, swimmer and foodie, Craft Beer Weekend was my ideal weekend outing. Cheers to Ace!

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