The last two servings were surprise combinations. The first, a triple threat beer/music/chocolate combination, was not revealed until it was ready to be served. When folks checked in, they were given a single chopstick with no explanation. It remained a curiosity throughout the tasting, as none of the staff explained the purpose, except to say it would be needed later.
The beer, a favorite of mine and named after me, was Hair of the Dog’s Fred (24.8 P, 10.3 percent ABV, 50 IBU), a strong golden ale from that tiny brewery here in Portland. Fred is a distinctive beer.
I chose a common chocolate bar, not a Slow Food staple, but one found in any grocery store. It was not a difficult choice, because any chocolate bar would have sufficed. What I had really wanted was a good-quality Rocky Road from a local chocolatier. None was available! I settled for Hershey’s Symphony Almond & Toffee Chips Milk Chocolate bar.
Our third element in this three-way was Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major K.622 II Adagio, an unearthly beautiful piece, smooth and sophisticated. It is a work from Mozart’s final years—one of great maturity. Listening to this piece, it is very hard to resist the urge to “direct.” That’s why we issued conductor’s batons, which guests may have perceived as half of a set of chopsticks. I told them, “Stand up with me and ‘conduct.’ This a long piece, but I don’t care; you’ll just have to bear with me. This sublime music belongs with this beer and this chocolate—so take your time. The Fred is a beer Mozart would have loved, not to mention the chocolate.”
We reserved our second surprise for the finale. This was a beer/ice cream combination in which Rogue Shakespeare Stout (15 P, 6.2 percent ABV, 69 IBU), one of America’s finest, was paired with Ben and Jerry’s vanilla bean ice cream, as a beer float.