The main dining room on the second floor of 82 Queen was as packed as it’s ever been on Friday night, so says Stephen Kish, owner of the historical restaurant downtown. The restaurant hosted a sold-out craft beer dinner with superb food prepared by Chef Steven Lusby and beer parings courtesy of Widmer Brothers Brewing.

The décor in the room was definitely focused on beer. Even the nametag holders were creatively constructed with bottle caps.

  • Bottle cap name holder

The dinner started with an opening beer as people filed into their seats (I chose the easy-drinking hefeweizen). Five courses came out promptly with an elegant presentation.

  • Duck bratwurst, braised cabbage, marble rye, green peppercorn dijon – O’ryely Rotator IPA
  • Shrimp, chips, bacon aioli – W’12 Dark Saison
  • Scallop, young greens, manchego – Drifter Pale Ale
  • Apple smoked venison short ribs, acorn gratin, brussels – Barrel Aged Brrrbon
  • Black Forest Cake – Pitch Black IPA

All of the pairings seemed to work well except for the seared scallop and the Drifter Pale Ale. The dish alone was one of the top two of the night, but the hoppiness of the beer overwhelmed the delicate flavor of the dish. Either way, the dish was still a winner.

The standout of the night was the apple-smoked venison short ribs with a sweet, BBQ-like blackberry-ancho sauce that came with a acorn squash gratin and Brussels sprouts. This was originally paired with the Pitch Black IPA, as per the menu, but a wise decision was made to serve this with the Barrel Aged Brrrbon, which was such a wonderful combination.

Bon Dodler, the brewer, was on hand to talk about the various beers and answer questions, and a special guest was present. Daniel Bradford, publisher of All About Beer Magazine, played a key role in helping organize the Great American Beer Festival in the ’80s. This guy knows beer.

I left the event satisfied and with a final thought — Chef Steven Lusby can really cook. He’s been flying under the radar the past couple years, but his food speaks for itself and he definitely deserves some attention. Job well done.