of Prussia Post. June 12, 1997
Extravaganza Offers Beer Tasting
Dinner at Valley Forge Brewery Gave Patrons a Chance to Sample a Mix
of Food and Beer
David Biles, owner of the two-year-old Valley Forge
Brewing Company, believes people need to broaden their perspectives
“Most of the American public is used to one type
of beer like a very light, low-flavored pilsener like Budweiser and
Coors,” he said. “That's basically what everyone thinks
of as beer.”
With the goal of enlightening people on the versatility
and “exoticness” of beer, Biles held his second beer
dinner last Thursday, with Beer Historian Richard Wagner as speaker.
The purpose of a brewpub, said Biles, is to educate the
public on different types of beer. He explained that when you mention
ale, people don't think of it as beer. “It would be like
everyone thinking the only kind of wine is a cheap, dry chardonnay
and that every other kind of wine was something else,” Biles
said. “That's not the case of course.”
Valley Forge Brewing Company's first beer dinner was
held last year and didn't have a theme. This year, a colonial theme
was chosen as a tribute to the history of the Valley Forge area.
Melvin Jones, sours chef, was one of the creative forces
behind the evening's culinary and beer exposition. The restaurant
researched authentic colonial meals and found most of the recipes at
Border's in the King of Prussia mall. From there, they perused lists
of foods and finally composed a workable menu they felt would appease
“I wanted to try to be authentic, but cater to the
modern world,” Jones said.
In the course of hunting for ideas, they came across
some foods he knew wouldn't fly with 20th-century palates. There was
pepper pot soup that George Washington served to his troops while
stationed at Valley Forge. It contained ingredients such as tripe and
beef fat he knew people might not find desirable.
Jones said that Colonial cooking was unique for many
reasons, one being that people often had to made do with what food
was available. Jones and other chefs made slight changes to the
meals, adding more spices and flavor than originally was called for,
and the result was desirable.
In order to match the meals and beer,s Jones said that
they cooked the dinners with some of the ingredients from beer.
The dinner included grilled Virginia battered bread
topped with country duck liver pate and apple ginger jelly. A salad
was made with julienne beets, chervil, watercress, red oak and was
served with Thomas Jefferson vinaigrette. A choice of grilled quail
with fried corn cakes and carrot parsnip mash or oven baked shad
topped with Dutch country cheese custard served with sauteed potato
cakes and Yankee baked beans comprised the entree. The dessert
included brandied peach tart-lets topped with peach wheat sorbet
garnished with spiced cranberry sauce.
Each food item was accompanied with a beer set. The
starter beer was the golden ale, the appetizer had the oatmeal stout,
the salad had the American wheat, the entree saw the Maibock and with
dessert was a porter.
“You're seeing a renewed interest in beer,”
said Wagner, who brews his own beer and has spent years researching
breweries around the country.
“This is the first time I've been to a beer
dinner,” said Gus P. Krasta of Wawa, Pa. He had been to the
restaurant before and was impressed. He was looking forward to
becoming more knowledgeable about the types of beers Valley Forge
Brewing Company serves and how they relate to meals.
Wagner explained that in the 17th and 18th
centuries, beer was considered a food and everyone, including
children, drank it. Now people have an image of “Joe six-pack”
as the stereotypical beer drinker, and that's why places like Valley
Forge Brewing Company, categorized as a brewpub, are good. Biles said
that the goal is not to turn a profit from the beer dinners, but to
have a good time.