Charles Lamchops: OC Beer Week Preview

By Charles Lam

OC Beer Week will be taking place this week, from the second to the eighth, all over Orange County. The event, which takes the place of the fall restaurant week, involves over 100 of Orange County’s best restaurants, many of which are very near to campus. The restaurants have each debuted special menus designed with specific beer pairings in mind.

The menus vary in price from the $20 range all the way to the $50 range and include some of my favorite restaurants.

On the cheaper side, Chapter One: The Modern Local, located in the Santa Ana arts district, is offering a bar-bites type of menu, focusing on smaller plates with well matched beer pairings with a median price of $10 per dish.

Plates of note include the “Etouffee Fries,” a take on Cajun chili fries served over Chapter One’s rock-solid duck fat French fries. The dish is paired with Bear Republic Brewing Company’s “Red Rocket Ale,” a sweeter starter amber ale with caramel and pine notes that any beer drinker will enjoy.

Also interesting is the “Mini Mac & Cheese,” a white cheddar and fontina-based macaroni and cheese fancied up with some fried onions, truffle oil and a panko crust. Paired with “La Fin Du Monde.” a well-spiced Belgian trippel strong ale, the combo is perfectly balanced.

For those looking to spend a little bit more, the Yardhouse locations at Fashion Island, the Irvine Spectrum and Triangle Square are all offering a three-course dinner menu for about $30 before tax and tip.

Unlike the other restaurants, Yardhouse offers you the choice of picking your own beers from their extensive menu, only recommending the type of beer to pair their course with.

Dishes on the must-try list include the Chocolate Souffle, Truffle Fries and the Pepper Crusted Burger.

Finally, for those looking to indulge or impress, AnQi, the little brother to House of An flagship Crustacean, well-known for their $5,000 bowl of pho and some of the best Vietnamese fusion food in California has also released an impressive menu, possibly the most exciting of the entire week.

A $50, four-course prix-fixe menu, the Vietnamese influence is muted, though the flavor is not.

The first course is a crispy lobster with toasted garlic and white truffle paired with “Hue,”, an imperial lager out of Vietnam, largely unknown in the United States.

The second course is a Korean based “Bo Ssam,” a pork belly lettuce wrap, that include grilled prawns,  oysters and a burst of heat from red jalapenos. The paired beer, Kirin Ichiban, a well-known Japanese lager is dry and refreshing, a perfect partner to the briny sea food and rich pork belly.

The third course, steamed mussels in a coconut broth, is paired with Delirium Tremens, a Belgian strong-ale voted best beer in the world in 1998 at the World Beer Championships.

The meal finishes with a duck fat-fried chicken served with Boont Amber Ale out of Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, California, one of California’s strongest breweries.

The full restaurant list can be found on www.ocwineandbeerweek.com, as the restaurants discussed here are only those they caught my specific eyes. There are also notable menus from other restaurants, such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the Newport Brewing Company and the OC Brewhouse. Beer week won’t be coming around again until next year, so make sure to take your opportunity now to enjoy some good food and even better bear.