Firestone Walker Beer Dinner at Tokio Pub

April 8, 2014

Firestone Walker Beer Dinner Menu
While the majority of my dining experiences take place inside Chicago's city limits, every once in awhile I do find myself venturing out into the suburbs. It usually takes a pretty enticing event to drag me out, so when I was invited to check out the monthly beer dinner at Schaumburg's Tokio Pub, I knew I couldn't pass it up.

Tokio Pub is connected to sister Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant, Shaw's Crab House. I had been to the Schaumburg Shaw's back in July for their Grand Crab & Lobster Buffet but this time around I headed to Tokio Pub for some Asian grub. The restaurant specializes in pub cuisine, blended with flavors from Japan and Latin America.

Every last Monday of the month, Tokio Pub collaborates with a national brewery to offer a four course dinner paired with the brewery's beers. The beer dinner for March was paired with beers from Firestone Walker Brewing Company out of Paso Robles, California. I've had a few of their beers, but was excited to try some new offerings.

During the beer dinners, the entire restaurant is closed for the event and everyone is seated at communal tables. My friend Jonathan and I were seated with two other parties who happened to be regulars of Tokio Pub and the beer dinners. Apparently these dinners have quite the following! The vibe during dinner was trendy and lively, thanks to a live DJ who spins during each month's dinner. We also had the pleasure of hearing from Firestone Walker's Brewmaster Matt Brynildson who was in attendance. Matt gave all of us an overview of each beer, which was extremely informative.

We started out with a pour of the DBA (Double Barrel Ale). While amber in color, the beer was light in body and had a nice caramel flavor. It's aged 20% in oak barrels and 80% in stainless steel, hence the name Double Barrel Ale.

Double Barrel Ale
On Mondays, Tokio Pub also offers $5 cocktails so I tried one that sounded quite interesting. The Pub Tea featured citron vodka, St. Germain, mango puree, and China Mist black tea (which happens to be my fave). It had an interesting way of masking the booze in the drink and made for a light and refreshing drink. Jonathan tried the Ginger Mojito which was definitely on the sweeter side.

Pub Tea
Our first course was a grilled spicy calamari salad, with an emphasis on spicy! The salad had no shortage of fresh calamari, as well as Thai chili, lime juice, and lemongrass. It certainly was spicy but I loved the dressing and the lemongrass. The beer pairing was Pivo, a hoppy pilsner. The beer was perfect because the lightness helped cut away at the spice from the salad's dressing.

Grilled Spicy Calamari Salad
The next course was a Japanese pancake of sorts, stuffed with butterflied rock shrimp, seaweed, cabbage, and egg. Sprinkled on top were thin pieces of fish skin that, when heated from the pancake, looked as if they were dancing. Our beer pairing was Union Jack IPA, probably one of Firestone Walker's most well-known beers. The citrus and hops made a great pairing for the sauce on the Japanese pancake.

Rock Shrimp Okonomi-yaki
Our third course was a grilled rib eye steak topped with a sauce made from soy, garlic, sesame, and apple. The steak was served with grilled kabocha pumpkin and crispy kale. I wasn't a huge fan of the steak, but the sauce was pretty delicious. The sweetness of the sauce was great with our beer pairing, Opal farmhouse ale. I had tried this beer recently at Hopleaf and it quickly became one of my new favorites. The beer contains French saison yeast, a hazy appearance from the wheat, and blanc hops which give it that tropical aroma you'd find in a Sauvignon Blanc.

Grilled Rib Eye Steak with Yakiniku Sauce, Kabocha Pumpkin, Kale
Lastly, we ended our meal with a dessert of ricotta cheese sandwiched between puff pastry and topped with strawberries and chocolate sauce. I have to admit I was expecting something a little more exciting for dessert. That being said, the light and airy pastry and rich chocolate sauce paired well with our final beer, Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout. I never would have thought I'd love this beer so much but it had a lovely coffee mocha flavor. This beer actually was created from the Brewmaster's homebrew recipe when he was living in Michigan.

Strawberry Pastry with Ricotta and Chocolate
I had a great time sipping on some new brews, enjoying the paired courses, and making some new friends in the process. I even got to leave with a poster from the dinner signed by Chef Naoki Nakashima and Brewmaster Matt Brynildson! 

The April beer dinner will feature four courses paired with beers from New Holland Brewing Company in Holland, Michigan. Head to Tokio Pub's website to check out the menu and make a reservation before the dinner sells out (they typically do!). Tickets are just $35--a steal if you ask me!

Beer Dinner Menu Signed by Chef Naoki Nakashima and Brewmaster Matt Brynildson

Note: My meal at Tokio Pub was complimentary, however, the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Tokio Pub
1900 E. Higgins Road
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Tokio Pub on Urbanspoon

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