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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

Reid in EAV

October 28th, 2009
9:31 am

Those of you looking for a bacon-y beer you can buy retail, check out the Schenkerla Rauchbier, a German smoked-ale, which is usually available at Green’s. (Don’t know about other spots, but I would imagine a Sherlock’s would have it.) While I don’t think there’s any bacon product involved in the brewing, the smoky flavor is certainly very bacon-like.

Kim Huffman

October 28th, 2009
9:25 am

I would put David Larkworthy (chef ) and Crawford Moran ( brewer ) of 5Seasons Brewing up against Colicchio and Oliver in a throwdown. a better use of the 155 bucks is seasonal dinner that Larkworthy and Moran do quite often using local farm to table ingredients. I have eaten at several “Craft” restaurant chains, in Vegas, NY and the one in Buckhead, good yes, but our local boys do it better, and while Garrett is on target with most of his beers, the earlier versions of the Schneiderweiss collaborations were off kilter. Crawford excels in brewing.

Rusty Diamond

October 27th, 2009
3:24 pm

I with Jennifer…events like this just elevate the exciting world of craft beer. And even better that this is happening in Atlanta! I’m a big fan of both Tom & Garrett and only wish I found out about this sooner. Last year during a Brooklyn dinner at Shaun’s, Garrett busted out the 2004/2005 Black Chocolate Stout paired with a chocolate ganache. NO wine on this planet would have worked better.

Bob T.

October 24th, 2009
9:28 am

Thanks again for all positive comments and feedback, keeping the discussion going into the second day.

The dinner is sold out. As I mentioned before, though, you should call and check to see what Craftbar, located downstairs, is offering that night.




October 23rd, 2009
4:05 pm

Was very excited to read your blog entry about this amazing-sounding Beer Dinner. Called for reservations today and it was sold out…very disappointed! We are on the wait list, hopefully we’ll get a call.


October 23rd, 2009
2:06 pm

Sounds like a delightful evening. Gives me something to dream about, waiting for the day when I can drop $300 for a dinner with my wife. Sheesh. But, then again, the steep price keeps people like me away. Guess I’ll have to head over to Leon’s to check out that brew…


October 23rd, 2009
12:52 pm

I’m not sure that I understand the concept of bacon fat or any fat in beer. Wouldn’t it just create an oil slick on top of the beer?

Had the Brooklyn Manhattan last weekend at the Brick Store Pub. Great stuff, but I’m not sure how it compares with a Manhattan as I don’t think I’ve ever had one before.


October 23rd, 2009
10:05 am

“I’m looking forward to Terrapin’s Hopsecutioner — the Athens brewery’s first IPA, coming sometime in Nov.”

I agree 100%, I have begged them for years and was already objected with the IBA and Rye2 are sufficient enough comments.

As for the beer dinner, I agree with the comments from the brewmaster himself. This isn’t for everyone, Brooklyn has been a pioneer in the American craft beer pairing with food sector and Colicchio a pioneer in his own right.

Dinner for two with drinks in $200 easy at Craft, pairing it with some Brooklyn’s secret stash and Colicchio in the kitchen justifies the cost, in my opinion.

Merely guessing, but there won’t be any vacancies.

Ben H.

October 22nd, 2009
9:43 pm

I am really enjoying this coverage by you and the AJC Bob. My wife, an excellent cook in her own right, and myself, much the amateur brewer, have thoroughly enjoyed The Brewmaster’s Table. Unfortunately we are out of town for this, or else I’d consider going broke to attend. The Orval dinner on Monday was fantastic though. Stopped in for a nightcap of Manhattan Project at Leon’s after dinner and was thoroughly impressed. Hope to have Garrett make his way back to Atlanta soon.

Les W.

October 22nd, 2009
8:51 pm

Bring on the “foodies”. The white collar and tie guys have GA state laws that allow them to sell at the winery and take a half drank bottle of wine home after dinner from the restaurant. Maybe we’ll get some of the same support and actually be able to take a growler home some day.

For now, I’ll take my Mahatten with a dozen wings please!