Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

A report on the 5 Guys and a Barrel Beer Dinner in San Francisco

By William Brand
Sunday, April 27th, 2008 at 4:53 pm in Uncategorized.

5 guys and a barrel photo gail williams

Credit: Gail Williams

The brewers and friends, left-right, Vic Kralj, proprietor, The Bistro, Hayward, CA.'; Rod Tod, Allagash, Portland, ME., Adam Avery, Avery Brewing, Boulder, CO.; Tomme Arthur, Port Brewing-The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA., Vinnie Ciluzo, Russian River, Santa Rosa, CA. and Cynthia Kralj. Not pictured, he’s hidden behind Cynthia, is Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head, Milton, DE.

Beer dinner puts the spotlight on barrel-aged beer

I couldn’t attend what, no doubt, was one of the stellar beer dinners of the year, in San Francisco last Sunday, April 20, 2008: Beer Chef Bruce Paton’s Dinner with the Brewmasters: Five Guys and a Barrel dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel.

Fortunately, Gail Williams and Steve Shapiro, the intrepid creators of, the Web site that shows one how to get to most every decen beer venue in the Bay Area by BART, Caltrain, bus and foot, did go and furnish this account.

Gail took the photo above and has more on her Flickr site.
At my suggestion, they went through the courses one by one. Take over the reporting now Gail and Steve:

This was a remarkable event, created by “the beer chef, Bruce Paton,” last week… “Five Guys and a Barrel” a dinner featuring Allagash White, Russian River Blind Pig IPA,Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA , Avery The Maharaja, Allagash Interlude, Russian River Supplication, Port Brewing Cuvee de Tomme , Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, Avery The Beast Grand Cru, Lost Abbey Older Viscosity, then a toast with the intensely sour rustic concoction the brewers of all of the above blended after a trip to Belgium together — “Isabelle Proximus”

Beer Chef’s Hors D’Oeuvre Selection
Allagash White and Russian River Blind Pig

Hors D’Oeuvre — included three intense little soups, two in small glasses and one in white Chinese soup spoons — the artichoke and mushroom was a delectable wonder to behold. beers were Allagash White is a very approachable refreshing beer to have with food… andVinnie’s Russian River Blind Pig — ok, not a lot to say except that this is still my favorite IPA on the planet, not to be dethroned by the lovely IPAs to come..

First Course
Citrus Cured Curraun Blue Sea Trout with Accoutrements
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA and Avery The Maharaja

It was really amazing, sea trout is a form of salmon and it was served with little dabs of sauce. It was a wonderful palate of flavors. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA – a delightful unexpected nutty flavor came thru in
the double IPA in this pairing,

Avery The Maharaja — more floral, perhaps better with the salmon-like dish at hand and the delicious smattering of sauces and roe.

Second Course
Selection of Artisanal Cheeses with House Made Condiments
Allagash Interlude and Russian River Supplication

Both beers were fabulous. And as we ate the brewers were telling stories about their trip to Belgium. Lots of fol de rol and guy stuff. Three amazing cheeses — We’d love to find out what they were.

Allagash Interlude was the more delicate and seductive of these two complex and interesting sour beers, and now I’d try it with any flavorful cheese.

Russian River Supplication was much bolder and more rustic … it did sort of pray for or even demand my full attention, so the name makes more sense to me now. For me, in each course there was a closely paired beer, and an odd couple that sort of triangulated off of the more tightly paired beer. This was an awesome effect.

Third Course
A Study in Duck
Port Brewing Cuvee de Tomme
Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

Various forms of duck including a seasoned”duck ham” with Port Brewing Cuvee de Tomme — the room adored hearing Tomme say “cuvee de me” and Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron — made in a rare incense-like jungle wood container. It’s fascinating that wood is becoming so important in craft beers. Our table loudly wished he’d said “cuvee do moi” but had no complaints with the pairing.

Fourth Course
Warm Chocolate Mocha Cake with Blood Orange Sabayon and Fig Syrup
Avery The Beast Grand Cru
Lost Abbey Older Viscosity

Steve: The Older Viscoscity was wonderful It worked so well with the chocolate. Just a beautiful pairing. They were counterpoints to each other.

Gail: Was that delicious! Avery The Beast Grand Cru — this was the beer I’d have had if I had
skipped dessert, but the Lost Abbey Older Viscosity completely went with the chocolate and citrus — this pairing was one of those amazing combos that knocked both of us out of the park. Again, The Beast became the counterpoint for me.

The final toast
Isabelle Proximus

Gail: Isabelle Proximus is the 5 guys beer — five American brewmasters who play at a high level with Belgian beer styles went to Belgium and brought back some magical mystery bacteria! There’s something so amusing and delightful about the concept.

Isabelle Proximus is complex, intense — tough after the sweet course, but quite the experience! thank goodness I’ve been letting Vinnie, Tomme and all the guys educate my palate in this direction… this was no beginner’s Belgian… It was demanding but terrific. Hooray for five guys plus Bruce!

Steve: There were a number of sour beers. It was a treat. It gave us such a wide diversity of beer styles, big and sweet, intense and sour.

Post dinner: Afterward we went to the hotel bar in order to leave with Blind Pig on the palate. The fact that that beer is nearly always availble from the hotel bar puts the Cathedral Hill Hotel at Van Ness and Geary on the mental map of SF beer fans.

Final note from me: Except for Isabel Proximus, every one of these beers can be purchased here in the Bay Area. Don’t know where? E-mail me at and ask for our 2008 Northern California Retail Beer Store List. Bruce Paton has lots more dinners coming. Sign up for his e-mail list here.

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