Elk and rabbit and duck: Oh yeah!

Curious folks eating game and drinking beer at @theCorner in Litchfield, Conn.

Curious folks eating game and drinking beer at        @ the Corner in Litchfield, Conn.

I love a good beer pairing dinner, and on Wednesday I had a chance to drink some hophead gold and eat… elk.

It was a game dinner at @ the Corner, a fantastic restaurant in Litchfield, Conn. The staff had the brilliant idea to pair the courses Stone Brewing beers.

At first, I was surprised at the choice. Stone is known for bitterness especially popular among breweries in the San Diego area. I would not have expected that to go with the sweeter, fall-inspired fare.

However, it worked, due I think it part to the ingredients that went with the courses. For example, the rabbit wontons with a mushroom consomme had a spiciness to it that paired well with Stone’s Levitation Ale. Levitation is an amber ale that is only 4.4 percent alcohol-by-volume (ABV), which is surprising given how much of a punch it packed. It’s balanced, with some citrus that lingers.

This was followed by Hudson Valley Duck, with autumn greens and stone fruit relish. Pairing it with the Stone IPA worked only because of how hot the relish was; the IPA put out the fire rather quickly, then came back to your tongue for an encore.

The grilled elk was what I was most nervous about. I figured it would be the “gamiest” of the bunch. And frankly, it was, but the fixin’s balanced it out. The pumpkin polenta, roasted brussels sprouts, and maple candied pumpkin seeds added enough sweetness to complement the Australian elk (which tastes a bit like lean pork, in case you were wondering).

The elk was paired with Arrogant Bastard, a brute of a beer. It was a bit strong for the elk, to be honest, but since I was already in a hoppy mood, it worked for me.

By dessert, I was thoroughly stuffed. I was positively groggy, and more than a little buzzed. So offering up a 10 percent ABV monster like Stone’s Russian Imperial Stout with a black forest torte was almost over the top.

But the courses were served a nice pace, and a Stone Brewing representative broke things up well with information about IPA basics and San Diego beer culture. The chef was also on hand to discuss his pairing choices. (The dinner, by the way, cost $48).

If you’re in the area, stop by @ the Corner. It’s got a small but craft-friendly draft selection (which Mike the bartender said will be expanding), and you can get the formal in the dining room and the laid-back in the bar.

@ the Corner

3 West St.

Litchfield, Conn.

(860) 567-8882

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