Most people think of wine as the supreme accompaniment to a meal, yet many in the beer world disagree. Beer is gentler on the taste buds and isn’t as reactive with foods as wine can be. Indeed, the flavor of wine can prevent some foods from being fully savored and vice versa. Though change is not likely in the near future, the case for beer accompaniment is being made more often as good beers are becoming trendy. With a vested interest in promoting beer as a food companion, brewpubs and beer oriented restaurants often recommend beers to drink with particular dishes. The hope is that while the average diner may order wine because it seems the proper thing to do, in many instances a beer is as good or better.
Perhaps the best argument for beer over wine is made the second Wednesday of every month when John Harvard’s Brew House in Harvard Square hosts its special “Brewery Dinner”. The “by reservation only” event is specially planned and prepared to highlight the skill of both the kitchen and brewery staffs. The five-course meal is above and beyond their regular menu and special beers are brewed to match each course. Each month a seasonal theme is developed that caters to the changes in climate and best availability of fresh ingredients. This is a feast and a pleasure that’ll make you forget wine ever existed.
This April the dinner falls on the 10th. The menu highlights are Atlantic Salmon Salad, Maine Lobster and a Garlic Rosemary Pork T-Bone. The specialty beers include a strong bock and both honey and nut brown ales. Each course is matched with a pint of beer and served with enough time for patrons to eat and drink their fill before moving to the next offering. While 5 pints of beer may seem excessive, the quantity is easily managed when tempered with so much food spread over a multi-hour meal. When you leave the restaurant be prepared to feel full but not overstuffed, as the portions are well sized for the average diner.
If you’re interested, stop in the bar for a look at the menu, it is usually posted near the door. Reservations are limited. While the concept is not unique among brewpubs in the area, John Harvard’s is the only one who hosts these dinners regularly. Besides, its proximity to HBS offers the shortest waddle home after filling up on so much good food and drink.