Brewer’s Table at Surly

Last night I had the pleasure of dining at the new Brewer’s Table restaurant at Surly’s new(ish) brewery in Prospect Park. Brewer’s Table, as we learned from our server/beer advisor, is one of only two restaurants in the country that specialize in beer pairings with meals. I’ve been drinking Surly for ages but never thought of it as part of a culinary experience – it’s usually more of a thirst-quencher alongside my Buffalo Tots at Blue Door. However, the inventive and creative dishes at Brewer’s Table made me forget my usual beer accompaniments (curds) and shed a new light on the gourmet side of beer.

The menu is designed for sharing, so we opted to start with a snack platter and then split two larger plates. Our only request beer-wise was to taste brews we couldn’t get elsewhere, so our server recommended a variety of choices to go along with our food. To start, we had the snack platter accompanied by 4 small beers – each beer paired with one item on the snack platter. Luckily I was with very close friends so we had no qualms about sharing everything, so we all got to taste all the pairings.

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Duck tongue with a bourbon tamari sauce, black sesame seeds, and curry pickled cauliflower paired with Cacao Bender beer

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Fried green tomato (soaked overnight in Frank’s Red Hot pre-frying) with pickled king crab and Cholula aioli; paired with Misanthrope (I think…it was all a beautiful blur); cameo by Katie’s fingernail 

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Reuben with corned beef heart and house made Thousand Island on rye bread (blackened with charcoal for a smokey flavor); paired with Dampfbier

Little neck clams in radish vichyssoise (which I learned is a special type of potato-leek soup) with wasabi oil, dill, and sunchoke

Little neck clams in radish vichyssoise (which I learned is a special type of potato-leek soup) with wasabi oil, dill, and sunchoke; paired with Overrated

For our main course, we split two larger plates and got additional beers. One additional perk of the focus on beer is that you can order many different sizes. All the beers come in 4 oz, 8 oz, and 12-16 oz servings priced accordingly. This was a great way to not completely fill up on drinks but still get a good buzz going and taste lots of different beers. Once again, our server recommended the best beers to pair with our foods, and even came up with recommendations for my dear friend who described her beer preferences as basically any beer that contains alcohol.

Octopus with white bean puree, olive tapenade, chorizo oil, fried potatoes, and romesco sauce

Octopus with white bean puree, olive tapenade, chorizo oil, fried potatoes, and romesco sauce

Cauliflower with carrot puree, Thai vinaigrette, peanuts, mint, and cilantro

Cauliflower with carrot puree, Thai vinaigrette, peanuts, mint, and cilantro

The beers we had with these were more Overrated and Todd the Axe Man (both IPAs). We also had a Witch’s Tower, which was particularly relevant since our table on the balcony had a view of the beer’s namesake. The Witch’s Tower was a really interesting beer. While it was super dark in color and was brewed with cardamom, it had a light taste and was actually very refreshing unlike many other dark and/or spice-infused beers.

Finally, we arrived at dessert, which ended up being one of the most memorable parts of the meal. After such delicious savory courses, we waited in anticipation as our server approached our table with the dessert menu. We decided on the most decadent: a chocolate peanut sphere that came with a special beer pairing. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the beer, but basically the only time you can get it is with this dessert. For good measure, we ordered two to share among four people and it was the best choice I’ve ever made.

Truffle-like sphere of peanutty chocolatey goodness coated in pale green "food makeup," with a chai semifreddo, the smoothest chocolate shmear, almond powder, candied peanuts, and "bubble chocolate" which is chocolate that goes through a whipped cream machine and thus has bubbles in it.

Truffle-like sphere of peanutty chocolatey goodness coated in pale green “food makeup,” with a chai semifreddo, the smoothest chocolate shmear, almond powder, candied peanuts, and “bubble chocolate” which is chocolate that goes through a whipped cream machine and thus has bubbles in it.

Our server advised us to taste the beer at three points throughout our dessert experience: first, when it is really cold and has more of a bite; second, when it has warmed up a little and caramel notes begin to come through; and third, with the chocolate, which brings out the more chocolatey notes in the beer.

Our server advised us to taste the beer at three points throughout our dessert experience: first, when it is really cold and has more of a bite; second, when it has warmed up a little and caramel notes begin to come through; and third, with the chocolate, which brings out the more chocolatey notes in the beer.

This dessert was life-changing; it was right up there with Revival’s fried chicken on my list of the world’s greatest things. I’ve never put much thought before into pairing my drink with my meal, especially when it comes to beer, but Brewer’s Table is proving that beer can be just as fancy and integral to a meal as wine. It was amazing how the flavors of the food and the beers complemented and even changed each other throughout the meal. Kudos to you, Surly, for amazing beer and equally amazing food.

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