City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

On Tap with Bob Townsend

Everyone’s favorite beer guy is back this week with some great beer news. Read on to find out about Tom Colicchio’s visit to Craft for a special beer dinner, and … drum roll, please … bacon-flavored beer. You knew it was coming, right?


by Bob Townsend

Tom Colicchio will be in Atlanta/Credit: courtesy of Craft Restaurant

Tom Colicchio will be in Atlanta/Credit: courtesy of Craft Restaurant

Some exciting news for devotees of fine dining and cutting edge craft brewing: On Monday, Nov. 2, Craft Atlanta and chef Tom Colicchio will present a special beer dinner featuring Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver.

The five-course tasting menu, concieved and prepared by Colicchio, will be matched with beers brewed and selected by Oliver, including several limited edition offerings that could rightly be called “culinary.”

Of course, Colicchio has become widely known as a co-producer and judge on TV’s wildly popular Top Chef show. But foodies have followed him for years — from NYC’s Gramercy Tavern to his own empire of  places, including Craftbar, Craftsteak and Wichcraft — drawn by his fanatic dedication to fresh, thoughtfully sourced seasonal ingredients and the kind of no-nonsense approach to cooking that displays those ingredients in glorious ways.

Oliver is craft brewing’s most erudite proponent of bringing great beer and food together. And while he has excelled at making excellent examples of classic styles, more recently he’s gone off in some truly surprising directions.

One of Oliver’s newest experimental brews, The Manhattan Project, has been on draft at a few places around town, including Leon’s Full Service in Decatur, and will be featured with passed canapés at the reception before the Craft beer dinner.

Designed in collaboration with cocktail guru David Wondrich, it’s a strong rye-based beer that was aged in Rittenhouse Rye barrels, infused and blended with herbs and spices redolent of sweet vermouth and bitters, and finished with a touch of tart cherry flavor. The result is a hefty, very aromatic, and full-flavored brew that captures the essence of the classic Manhattan cocktail.

“Dave gave me a list of the essential ingredients in vermouth and bitters,” Oliver reports. “And I worked out the basic recipe from there. The tougher part was dialing in the proportions. We’d spiked some beer with gentian root, some with cloves, etc., and then had to decide what the final blend was. Dave came to the brewery and the entire brewing team spent two hours with him dialing in the flavors and aromas. Dave brought three different Manhattans with him so that we’d have something to work off of.”

But Oliver has come up with an even more unusual beer to pair with Colicchio’s stout-braised pork cheek with sauerkraut and quark ravioli and cracklin’ gremolata. Dubbed Reinschweinsgebot, it’s a brown ale aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, and flavored with rendered bacon fat and smoked malt from Benton’s Country Smokehouse in Madisonville, Tenn.

Wow! A beer and food match made in piggy heaven.

Last week, I spoke with Colicchio and Oliver about the upcoming dinner during a fun, free-wheeling phone conversation. They recalled the first beer dinner they did together at Gramercy Tavern, and reflected on current beer and food connections. You can read all about it in Tuesday’s AJC Living section.

To reserve a spot at the Craft beer dinner with Tom Colicchio and Garrett Oliver, call 404-995-7580 or email Valeria Torres at $155 per person, including tax and service charges.

32 comments Add your comment

Bob T.

October 22nd, 2009
1:30 pm

Mark N.: Manhattan Project is pouring at Leon’s in Decatur, and I hear it will be at a couple of Taco Mac locations, soon, but I don’t have details, yet.

On the $155 comment: I agree it’s steep, but as of right now, I think the dinner is already close to sold out.

The good news is that several of the beers will be available with suggested pairings at Craftbar downstairs, which has great, comparatively inexpensive food, and a really thoughtful, concise beer list:

Thanks for the comments so far. Keep em coming.




October 22nd, 2009
1:28 pm

It’s going to sell out to “foodies,” which is fine. But this is not really a beer event; it’s a food event with a few novelty beers presented by a great brewer. Which, again, is fine. However, those attending are not the future of our beer anything in Atlanta. They primarily will be devotees of Colicchio and his Craft line.

Incidentally, Colicchio is not new to promoting beverages. He is currently in the midst of a massive marketing campaign for Diet Coke.

Knuckle Sandwich

October 22nd, 2009
1:24 pm

*gurgle drool gurgle*

Mark N

October 22nd, 2009
1:19 pm

Bob (or anyone),

Where is Manhattan Project pouring this week around town? Anywhere?



October 22nd, 2009
1:19 pm

The beer crowd can be a cheap crowd, especially homebrewers. Many will spend 40 hours and $10 in materials making what they could buy for $20. That said, I am glad to see our local beer culture reaching out to a larger section of the market. Not going to see too many homebrewers at the $155 dinner but it will sell out. Those customers are the future of our beer culture in this town. Glad to see us making the turn.

How does bacon flavored beer go with waffles? Or would a nice belgian be better?


October 22nd, 2009
1:13 pm

I am certain this will be epic. However, for $155 I’ll just have to hear about it secondhand.

David Granger

October 22nd, 2009
12:50 pm

How ’bout some beer-flavored bacon?


October 22nd, 2009
12:48 pm

Glad to see some beer dinners going on and I would love to go, but $155 a person is beyond exorbitant. I’d have to come home with a couple of cases of beer at that price.


October 22nd, 2009
12:45 pm


Ed Hamrick

October 22nd, 2009
12:22 pm


It should be interesting to taste the “bacon flavored beer”.
Unless the addition of rendered bacon fat is very small compared to the size of the batch, you would expect the fat to kill the head retention.

The dinner sounds great. I may check it out!