The Remarkable Ales of London
By Jean De Ieso
Mid November may seem a strange time to travel to Stowe, Vermont, most noted for its winter ski resorts and summer balloon festival, but if an opportunity to attend one of Mr. Pickwick’s 2011 Ale Tasting Dinner Series presents itself, one MUST go.
The event, consisting of five courses, each paired with a classic ale, served by candlelight and complemented by the innkeepers story telling, was a once in a lifetime experience.
The restaurant, located in the Olde England Inne, provided charm and warmth reminiscent of earlier visits to England.
Our waiter Andrew, who also hails from Great Brittan, quickly arrived with the first course, a cheddar bacon buttermilk scone, served with Wells Banana Bread Beer. It was just what was needed to get our engines revved. A surprising light flavor made us excited to try the next.
The baked English cheddar leek soup, unlike anything we had ever tasted, was served with a pale ale, Bombardier, once again from Wells, and accompanied by a history lesson from our host.
Next came an English pastry filled with melt in your mouth mincemeat and served with a Fullers offering . Fullers, located in the heart of London and recognized as one of the best bottlers in the world, did not disappoint. Experiencing our first ever Extra Special Bitters, was delightful.
The main event, of course, was roast beef, served with a Fullers vintage. This offering, aged in oak, was complex and very different that anything we had ever tasted. Meant to give us the boost needed to continue to the next course, it succeeded. At 8.9% ABV, the taste buds were awakened, as we neared the end of the feast. How fortunate that our innkeeper was able to secure a goodly number of bottles of this limited brew.
The final act was a baked treacle tart served with another selection from Youngs, Double Chocolate Stout. The perfect ending to a perfect meal.
A quote noted on the menu from William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night “A quart of ale is a dish for a king.”