I have a confession to make: I have never been to Santa Monica, CA. At least, not recently…It’s possible I went as a kid and don’t remember the experience. I was recently invited by the LA Beer Bloggers to attend a beer dinner hosted by Ninkasi at Library Ale House in Santa Monica, CA and I fell in love with the place. If you are into beer you should have heard about Library Ale House due to their collectively impressive tap selection and reputation for delicious food. I think their success has something to do with having a Certified Cicerone, Alex Davis, managing the beer pairing but hey – that’s just my opinion.
We drove from Orange to Santa Monica in about 45 minutes, not too bad considering it was a Monday. We arrived with some time to kill before the dinner so we walked down to the beach as the sun was setting. After spending some time at the beach, we walked up Main street for a bit and came across this crazy/ridiculous/creepy clown statue on top of the entrance to CVS. Apparently that giant clown has been there for a while and some joke that it’s supposed to mean: ”I’m seeing things — time for more medicine.” Whatever the point, I enjoy the creepy clown and insisted we stop for some photos.
We walked back to Library Ale House and had some time to kill before the dinner so we had some beers at the bar. Me and Sean enjoyed a Blind Pig by Russian River while Rooney enjoyed a sour. It was time for the dinner so we headed into the back dining area and staked-out the spot in the back with the best light. Most restaurants aren’t entirely photo-friendly but we got lucky with our table, so much so that fellow beer bloggers brought their food to our table to take their photos! We were provided chips and salsa and water along with some tasters of Ninkasi flagship beers Believer (6.9% ABV Double Red Ale) and Total Domination (6.7%ABV IPA). All the tables had Ninkasi swag including: a sticker, matches, a bottle opener, a recipe booklet, and a button/pin. I can’t tell you how awesome the bottle opener is…plus I am a sucker for a good opener.
We started the dinner with a squash curry with jasmine rice and julienned green apple. It was a cooked squash with rice then a squash curry over the rice with the apple on top. It was seriously good and I ate the entire thing. It had all the flavor of the curry with the creamy squash and the fluffy rice with the cooling, crunchy, and slightly sour green apple that was paired with the Tricerahops IPA (8.8%ABV Double IPA) and Total Domination IPA. It was a great combination because the curry was spicy but the IPA cuts right through it. The second course was a cinnamon and pepper covered chicken roulade with a sweet potato mash. The chicken was cooked beautifully and wasn’t dry whatsoever. I really liked the spice and while normally I am not a fan of sweet potato the mash was pretty good. It was paired with Believer which mimicked the roasty sweet flavors of the dish. The desert was a pumpkin panna cotta with a chocolate sauce and oatmeal cookies. The combination of the cranberry oatmeal cookie with some chocolate sauce and pumpkin panna cotta was just divine. Crunchy, sweet, soft, smooth, spice, paired with the Sleigh’r (7.2%ABV Dark Double Alt) and Vanilla Oatis (7.2%ABV Oatmeal Stout) made it the perfect end to the meal.
The whole evening was a success. Ninkasi has always been one of my favorite breweries and it was nice to see that they will have more of a presence in the LA/So Cal market. They are teaming-up with Strab to bring Ninkasi to Orange County and I can’t wait to see them at my favorite local beer bars. Their beer always consistent, drinkable, fresh, and well-done and I can never get enough! Their IPA’s totally dominate my palate and has made a believer out of me….ha! Don’t I sleigh you?!