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‘Best Beer in America’ dinner features four courses

Take a beer excursion of the country during the “Best Beer in America” beer dinner.

The event will be held on Thursday, Jan. 17, at O’Niell’s Pub in Nob Hill. Guests will be welcomed with an Abita Amber from Louisiana’s Abita Brewing Co. The amber has a smooth, malty, slightly caramel flavor, according to the brewery’s website. Guests will learn about Abita’s history and how it was affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

J.K.’S Scrumpy Hard Cider will be part of the “Best Beer in America” beer dinner on Thursday, Jan. 17. (Courtesy of J.K.’S Farmhouse Ciders)

“Abita has survived so much as a brewery,” said Katixa M. Mercier, sales representative for distributor Favorite Brands. “To start and share the story of Abita, we thought would be such a cool way to kind of start not only the first beer dinner of the year with (O’Niell’s) but to share a story of such resilience and share the story of how much Abita has been through and been destroyed through natural disasters but also the sense that they’ve rebuilt and come back and they are stronger for it.”

Guests will later be served a dinner featuring four courses paired with craft beers and a cider from different parts of the United States. It begins with Cascade Brewing’s The Vine paired with herb warm goat cheese and fruit compote bruchetta. The Vine is a sour beer aged in chardonnay barrels, so it has the characteristics of wine.

“Cascade is from Oregon,” Mercier said. “They are a really cool, geeky little brewery. … They really specialize and cultivate and celebrate sour beers.”

The second course features J.K.’S Scrumpy Hard Cider from J.K.’S Farmhouse Ciders of Michigan.

“Scrumpy is really cool,” Mercier said. “They use all organic apples and make their cider in an old farmhouse. … It’s really cut and dried, and making things not complicated is a very easy way to make things very good.”

The cider will be paired with a butternut squash soup.

“We can still indulge without it being a very heavy meal,” Mercier said of the soup. “There’s still a lot of indulgence and still a lot of lavish qualities.”

It would not be a beer dinner in New Mexico without an India Pale Ale, so Clown Shoes Space Cake Double IPA was added to the mix. Space Cake contains citrusy Mosaic hops and an immaculate West Coast-style malt backbone, according to the Massachusetts brewery’s flavor profile. It will be paired with spicy orange duck street tacos.

“We wanted to celebrate something that might not be too familiar to some people and hopefully turn people on to something new, so we decided to go with the Space Cake Double IPA, tasty stuff,” Mercier said. “(The spicy duck pairing is) just a natural fix, especially in New Mexico, where we’re so IPA-centric in this state and we’re very much spicy food-centric. We’re just hoping for a home run for a very classic and New Mexican pairing in the sense that it’s spicy and it’s an IPA, so hopefully we will sing to people’s spirits there.”

A malted chocolate mousse paired with Prairie Double Dunk Stout from Oklahoma’s Prairie Artisan Ales finishes the dinner.

“They took a significant amount of Oreo cookies and put them into the stout and brewed it together,” Mercier said. “It’s pretty decadent, and then to go with a little extra chocolate it’ll just kind of be a really cool experiment of the senses to be drinking chocolate in a beer form and then consuming it in a mousse form.”