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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Evil Czech's 2nd Annual Stalin's Dark Side Release Feast

Evil Czech
530 S. Ohio St. | Culver, Indiana

Early, last month I attended Evil Czech's Second Annual Stalin's Dark Side Release Feast. While this post is a little delayed, I think it will be a great reference for next year. 

Evil Czech releases this beer to commemorate the death of Joseph Stalin (March 5, 1953). It's a Russian Imperial Stout aged in Journeyman Whiskey barrels for three months. I bought tickets not being sure what to expect. I'd had their beers here and there and tried some sips at brew fests, but I'd never been to their pub. I'd heard great things about the beer, food, and atmosphere. I was looking forward to checking it out. 

A release party is different than just a visit to the pub. I've been to ranges of beer dinners served family style and with plated servings. I've been to crowded release parties and have stood in line for beer. As much as I looked, I couldn't find much about it online. I just found articles about its existence. It was on a Sunday in a somewhat rural location, so I was hoping for a smaller crowd.

Even if it was crowded or a family-style dinner set up, the price was right. It was $63.50 a ticket for a four-course dinner and a bomber (22oz) of the limited brew to take home. I've spent more on dinner and beer, and this was a special treat!

It was a great event that exceeded expectations. It was well-organized, the atmosphere was relaxed, the food was delicious, and the beers were paired nicely. 

We got there a half hour early to head off any lines, but it was entirely unnecessary. We walked through the doors 15 minutes early and were seated right away. The place settings were labeled, which was great to prevent confusion and wasted time trying to seat everyone without empty chairs. We were meeting up with another couple, and the staff let us shift around name tags so we could sit together. The tables were comfortable and not too crowded. They had candles on the table to make it even more cozy.

They started pouring drinks right away. They walked around refilling cups and making sure everything was satisfactory. Before each course they would talk about the food and brew. The speaker would break in with little factoids too. Apparently, General George Patton liberated the city of Pilsen during WWII going against orders. The first course was paired with their General George Patton Pilsner.

The timing was good. I didn't feel rushed to eat, but I did not feel like I was waiting too long between courses. I was having a great time and was one of the last people to finish each course! The portion sizes were good. It was enough to fill you up, but wasn't so much you felt sick. It was plated, so I was able to take a little bit of the main course home. I definitely wanted to save room for dessert. All of the courses were full of flavor and showcased the main ingredients well. 

We lingered at the table and finished catching up. We noticed some posters in the backroom for their beers. Their poster designs are eye catching. We put our name on the list for labels (printing issue meant they would send them later) and ended our evening. We got home in plenty of time for me to get a good night's sleep before an early flight out Monday morning. 

Overall, the food was good, the beers were nicely paired, and the atmosphere was laid back. I can't wait for next year.

Aperitiv: Stalin Brat Pierogi paired with General George Patton Pilsner
over Caraway Sauerkraut
The pierogi seemed deep-fried. It was very crunchy. It was like a tiny empanada/pastelito. The caraway sauerkraut was a nice layer of flavor and complemented the pierogi filling well. The lighter, grassy brew was a nice pairing for the sauerkraut and spiced flavors.

Polévka: Harcho paired with Rooster Brown Ale
Ossobuco with notes of dill, cilantro, and garlic

This stew was so warm, thick and hearty for that cold winter day. It was spicier than I'd expect for something served to a larger group. The spice was nice and warming too. The sweet onions balanced out the spice. The addition of the cilantro added a lighter note to the hearty stew that was a little surprising. The brown ale was a great pairing for this. It was biscuity and sweet. It was like bread served along side the stew.

Večeri: Kotlety paired with John the One-Eyed Belgian Dubbel
Russian Mince Cake served with Blackwater sauce

This wasn't your standard meat and potatoes. This mince cake was like a meatloaf. It was made with ground bison and served with potatoes, green beans, and half of a green pepper. The vegetables were stewed/sauteed with fresh cracked pepper. It had a sweet and savory sauce that I ended up sopping up with some of the potatoes. The sweetness from the dubbel balanced the cracked pepper and went well with the sauce.

Dezert: Stalin Cheesecake paired with 2014 & 2013 Stalin's Dark Side
with pretzel crust
Out of this world is the best way to describe this cheesecake. It was so rich, yet light enough that I devoured it (despite the fact that had my share of food and drink that night). I never thought to use pretzels in a cheesecake crust. The crust tasted like it was mixed with brown sugar and browned butter. That mix of sweet from both sugar, cheese, and malt, the bitterness from the chocolate, and the saltiness of the pretzel crust was a wonderful way to end the night. Let's not forget the sauce and chocolate shavings all over it. I'm sure I wasn't the only one that wanted to lick the plate. It nearly overshadowed the limited-release RIS served with it! The beer was as complex and rich as I'd expect for a special RIS. The thick booziness and chocolaty flavors matched this dessert well.

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