Sam Adams’ Utopias Dinner, Coffee Bar, Indy Spirits Expo, Inspirations of Tuscany Wine Dinner


Beef Tenderloin at Monk's Kettle

Beef Tenderloin at Monk’s Kettle

•  Attending a media-only Sam Adams Utopias dinner was a real treat at Monk’s Kettle on 11/19. Monk’s chef, Kevin Kroger, created a four course dinner of luxurious comfort food, each course paired (and some cooked) with a Sam Adams brew. I must digress to food for a moment: medium rare, ultra-tender Beef Tenderloin Tournedos in classic green peppercorn sauce, were nearly overshadowed by an unforgettable side: Sage Bread Pudding, crispy outside, moist and dense within. Some of us attendees are still emailing about it.

As for the beers, we were treated to seven, with commentary from Sam Adams brewer, Bert Boyce, direct from Boston, who mingled with us, talking beer and the coasts (East & West, that is) over dinner. I’ve had Coastal Wheat, Old Fezziwig Ale and classic Boston Lager before, but we also drank an intense, velvety Double Bock highlighting the purity of malted barley. Then, a rare, beauteous 1994 Triple Bock (17% ABV) with toffee, maple, oak notes, ending with the evening’s centerpiece: Utopias, the world’s strongest beer at 27% ABV. I’ll say, as many others already have, this tastes nothing like beer. It’s caramely, unique, rich – brewed like a beer, though not carbonated, more reminiscent of a fine sherry or port. Ruby black in color, at a few hundred bucks a bottle, it may not make it onto all our shelves, but I’d crave it after any dinner… or for dessert. Sam Adams founder and brewer, Jim Koch, says he wanted “to elevate people’s thinking about beer and to push the boundaries of traditional brewing in order to offer beer lovers an inspired drinking experience“. I would say he has…


Frescobaldi's 1999 Luce

Frescobaldi’s 1999 Luce

•  I’ve been indulging more than once lately in Coffee Bar’s El Diablo.  The smooth mix of espresso, chipotle-infused milk, Guittard Chocolate, rocks my mornings with a subtle heat.
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•  I move from food at the Inspirations of Tuscany dinner at Luce, to the wines… with Frescobaldi estates executive chef behind the stove, what better pairing than Frescobaldi wines? Each ranged from fine to superb, whether a bright, layered 2007 Benefizio or the subtle spice of Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Classico. Forced to choose, my favorites are a 2006 Attems Cicinis, a full-bodied white blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Bianco and Tocai Friulano grapes; and on the red side, a ’99 Luce from Montalcino (I love that idyllic Tuscan village), velvety, tannin-heavy, and well integrated with 50% Merlot/50% Sangiovese.


•  The first annual Indy Spirits Expo was held at Mighty on 11/19 and though I had to miss the VIP hour due to a prior event (sigh), finding the place way too packed and party-like by the time I arrived, I’m pleased at a spirits event showcasing only small batch, high quality artisanal spirits.

J. Witty's Chamomile Liqueur (photo:

J. Witty’s Chamomile Liqueur (photo:

A few were represented I’m already a fan of, like North Shore Distillery in Chicago, and nearby Hangar One and Germain-Robin. Unexpected discoveries came in the form of J. Witty Spirits’ organic Chamomile Liqueur, served by the gracious Jill Witty (founder) herself. It’s even better than it sounds, both straight and in a cocktail. Lightly sweet, aromas of allspice precede a balanced mix of apples, clove, honey, with floral, spiced notes. A number of our fine establishments around town sell or serve it (here’s a list).

I took to the complexity of Corrido’s Extra Anejo, a tequila triple-aged in three types of barrels for a minimum of three years. Vanilla, white pepper, even sour cherry notes, hit my tongue, and the layers keep unfolding.