Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Birthday Dinner at The Farmer's Cabinet

While Jo and I went to The Farmer's Cabinet for the first time for drinks with my Canadian buddy, I had originally planned to make my first visit my birthday dinner.  Walking into the restaurant the beer bar is on your left with a bunch of bar stools in front of it.  There are wooden signs on the wall with the draft beer options plus a spot reserved for the beers that will be brewed by Terry Hawbaker of Bullfrog Fame which I absolutely cannot wait to try.  The bartender, Chris (who also happened to be Terry's roommate), said the brewing equipment is set up but there are still some things to finish up so it'll still be a bit.  One cool thing was that they already have a rack of barrels set up on the restaurant wall for him to age stuff.  It'll be neat to see when they are full of delicious beer.
We got there a bit early for our reservation so we ordered drinks at the bar.  I started strong with a glass of Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18.
The Ola Dubh is aged in Whisky barrels and the number represents the age of the whiskey that was stored in it.  So the Special Reserve 18 was aged in barrels that held it for 18 years.  Big sherry like aroma, mostly a sour cherry with a hint of caramel and toffee.  Huge flavors of dark fruit (plums and raisins to me) up front, finishing with the sour cherry notes from the nose.  As I drank more of it the sourness faded into oak with a hint of smokiness.  Very good aged old ale with very unique flavors.  Glad I finally got to try it.

After that we sat down in the beer hall part of the restaurant.  It's split up into that and a side with some normal tables.  Not too many people, but it was a Monday night so not terribly surprising.  The bar was pretty full most of the night though.  The menu was a little eclectic, but there was still plenty I wanted to try.  We decided to start with root chips and a soft pretzel.
The pretzel was soft, chewy, warm and so delicious and the lingonberry mustard was really good.  The root chips were pretty awesome as well and since there were four or so types of root vegetables there were lots of different flavors in the box.  Great way to start off the meal.  I paired them with a Nøgne Ø Sunturnbrew, a smoked barleywine.
A bit of alcohol in the nose which is followed by a huge amount of smoke.  Just tons of smoke.  The first sip had even more wood smoke than the aroma with just a little bit of barleywine flavor.  The smoke just coats your mouth and leaves you chewing on it.  Seriously, though, so much smoke.  Jo did not enjoy this one at all and while I didn't mind it, I was quite glad I only got a small glass of it.

Next up was Del Ducato Verdi Imperial Stout which is brewed with hot peppers.
Smelled pleasantly roasty with a hint of sweetness.  Mild roasted notes in the beginning followed by an almost sweet and sour finish.  As I worked my way through it the sourness became more peppery and some chocolate notes began to appear.  Interesting beer and tasty enough, but I wasn't super impressed.

Dinner arrived and so I got another Italian beer, Grado Plato Chocarubica, to go with my rabbit since a chocolate Italian beer totally seems like the correct pairing for that dish.
Now, the BeerAdvocate grade for this beer is pretty terrible, but based on my experience I feel like the bottles must have been infected because Jo and I both thought it was pretty great.  It's an Oatmeal Stout made with cocoa and carob and was really chocolately and tasty.  It smelled of sweet cocoa, very inviting.  Nice mouthfeel.  Some vanilla, a creamy milkiness and milk chocolate all appear.  Jo thought it tasted a little like Bailey's and I thought it was close to a glass of chocolate milk.  I was convinced it had lactose sugar in it considering how sweet it tasted but who knows.  All I did know, at least on draft, it was a pretty great beer.

Finally, since it was my birthday, we finished up the meal with a fancy bottle.  Chris (the bartender from earlier) suggested to us that we try the 2006 BFM Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien, a Biere de Garde, and I figured why not.
Big pungent sour nose.  Smelled complex and fantastic with hints of the burgundy barrels it was aged inside.  A little thick, probably a result of the fact it was 4 or so years old.  Sharp flavors up front, almost acetic, but never quite crossed into pure vinegar.  Sour, but not too overwhelming.  Hints of sour cherry resulting from the Burgundy barrels.  Really, really good beer and a great suggestion to end the night although the 11% ABV definitely kicked my butt the next morning.

Just a great trip to The Farmer's Cabinet for my birthday dinner.  The initial experience at the bar was great, the staff was very pleasant and the ambiance of the place was really nice once you get used to the low light.  It's definitely more expensive as far as food and beers but honestly the beers aren't more expensive than any place that serves expensive food and there is a much larger variety.  I got to try beers from Scotland, Denmark, Italy and Switzerland (4 of the 5 on draft) and how many places can you do that?  Once Terry's beers start flowing this will easily be one of the best spots in the city in my opinion and I cannot wait.

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