Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

August 28, 2014 at 8:41am

Words & Photos: The Swiss hosts Mac & Jack's Brewing Co. for a four-course beer dinner

Keith Carpenter of Mac & Jack's Brewing thanked The Swiss owners Jack and Carol Ann McQuade for a lovely dinner last night. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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As someone who has spent a great deal of time in the company of chefs, the majority are certainly no strangers to beer. Sometimes consumed before (or even during) a dinner service, and most definitely after, it's a part of daily life in the South Sound restaurant industry.

Many incorporate craft beer into their masterpieces. After all, craft beer is lower in alcohol than wine or spirits, broader in its number of styles and achievable taste elements, and more about providing flavor than either of the aforementioned beverages. Craft beer can absolutely enhance the dining experience. Whether accompanying a dish or serving as a flavor-adding component in a recipe, craft beer can and does make a difference. I discovered that last night at The Swiss Restaurant and Pub.

Keith Carpenter, the Mac & Jack's Brewing Company's representing for south and west of King County, dropped by The Swiss Restaurant & Pub to chat up the Redmond brewery's history and pair beers with a four-course dinner. Mac & Jack's head brewer Caleb Osborn made the trip down, too.

Flanking the middle room of The Swiss, diners were treated to Mac & Jack's Serengeti Wheat - a crisp, refreshing unfiltered American style Hefeweizen as Carpenter gave an oral history of Mac Rankin and Jack Schropp's beer company - founded in 1993 in Schropp's garage. Yes, there really is a Mac and a Jack. The flagship African Amber started as a house beer for Bruce Springer's Park Pub next to the Woodland Park Zoo. Springer, who owned the pub at the time, played off the Zoo theme to create the name. The next house beer Mac created for the Park Pub was Serengeti Wheat; it was named in the same fashion. Brewed with plenty of Yakima valley hops, it yields a wonderful citrus finish, which glowed in the sunshine beaming through The Swiss. After the two beers grabbed the state's beer drinkers' attention, in a big way, the two brewers made the big jump, quit their day jobs and moved their operation to Redmond. Solely a draft beer operation, Mac & Jack's recently purchased a small 22-ounce bottling machine and will be bottling occasional special release beers, such as their Bourbon Barrel-Aged Cascadian Dark Ale.

Scott Cleese, chef at The Swiss, came out with a bang. His lamb nachos was just one memorable taste in a procession of courses incorporating Mac & Jack's brews into the recipes, then paired with the beer ingredient. Cleese's ground lamb roasted in African Amber should be placed on The Swiss' permanent menu. Strong flavors such as lamb overwhelm light beers. That's why the complex, heavier African Amber pairs well. Bravo to the lamb, cherry tomatoes and pickled onions piled high on seasoned plantain chips with mint tzaziki. 

Mac & Jack's also occasionally brews some special release beers. The latest is their Ibis IPA, which is a 6.9 percent ABV IPA with 65 IBUs. It is brewed with Amarillo and Mosaic hops.

"Ibis is actually a South American bird. It's one of our first beers that is dry-hopped in tank. It's filtered; it's very floral, very fruity, with a lot of tropical notes," explained Osborn. "A lot of people get pineapple, papaya. It has a clean finish. It's very drinkable."

Staying with the fruit theme, Cleese added the IBIS IPA to his juice potion, creating a flavorful scallop ceviche with grilled and chilled pineapple, mango and papaya.

Course three featured Mac & Jack's more bitter IPA, the Two Tun. According to Osborn, it's generously hopped late in the boil, with a more bitter front and citrus on the end - the opposite of the IBIS - and dry-hopped in the keg with Amarillo hops. Cleese added the IPA to black pepper and peach for a favorable barbecue sauce that coated his fork-cutting, braised short ribs. The couscous arrived perfect, accompanied with roasted baby carrots and edamame.

Where there's smoke, there's usually fire, but in this case there's vanilla instead. Mac & Jack's smoky, coffee-flavored BlackCat Porter was infused into vanilla ice cream; a huge hit among last night's crowd. The beer's mocha head painted a perfect picture.

Don't let a conversation with Carpenter pass you by. After 14 years at Mac & Jack's, 28 years in the beer business, this Mount Tahoma grad has sidesplitting Tacoma stories, as well as a wealth of beer knowledge. As we enjoyed the fabulous Mac & Jack's "farewell beer" - Maker's Mark barrel-aged Cascadian Dark Ale - Carpenter told stories of Tacoma taverns cashing paychecks in the 1980s and brewing beer in Tacoma's Nalley Valley. The best story told last night was Swiss owners Jack and Carol Ann's 3 a.m. exodus from a Gorge concert. Don't play the "Safety Dance" near them.

Mac & Jack's will release the bourbon barrel-aged Cascadian Dark Ale Monday.

SEE ALSO

Georgetown Brewing Company beer dinner at The Swiss

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About this blog

Served, a blog by the Weekly Volcano, is the region’s feedbag of fresh chow daily, local restaurant news, New Beer Column, bar and restaurant openings and closings, breaking culinary news and breaking culinary ground - all brought to the table with a dollop of Internet frivolity on top.

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