We were invited to attend a Lakewood Brewery Happy Hour on Sept 29th, and were we in for a surprise. Having never toured the facility or even heard of Lakewood Brewery, we headed there excited to try some new craft beers and, more importantly the food pairings they had planned for us.  They had four beers lined up for us, each with it’s own food pairing provided by Wholefood’s specialists, to be followed up by a tour of the facility.

We started off with the Lakewood Lager Vienna-Style Lager, which has a subtle caramel aroma, light malty sweetness, and a noble hop bitterness with a coppery pour.  They paired this lager up with a with a creamy French Brie topped with sweet fig spread, Classic Cheddar and Monterrey Jack Cheese cubes, and fresh grapes, berries and assorted crackers.

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The pairing was interesting.  We have done a number of wine pairings, always with various wines and cheese and meats.  First time that we have tried a beer pairing with cheese.  The results, however, were above our expectations.  The lager tasted great to begin with, but the cheese really brought out the subtle flavors that made the beer all while diminishing the hops.  It made for a very satisfying combination that left us wanting not just more beer, but more cheese and crackers!  Sadly, we only had an hour and half and three more beers to try!

From the lager we moved on to the more holiday spirited Punkel Pumpkin Pie-inspired Dunkel, which had a dark copper hue, toasted caramel malt, pumpkin pie spicing, and a light to medium body.  This they paired up with a 12-hour house-smoked sausage bite and spicy country and Dijon mustard for dipping, made by Wholefoods specifically for this event.

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We don’t even know where to begin with this beer and pairing.  The pumpkin beer was simply amazing.  With a touch of pumpkin sugar on the rim, this would have been like eating a pumpkin pie.  It was delicious, amazing, and the sausage pairing  was delicious.  We sat there eating, devouring the sausage with the two mustards that they provided, and couldn’t get over how good the pumpkin beer was.  The pumpkin spice and caramel malt was a perfect blend of fall season tastes, and the sausage was so good we went back for seconds, just so we could keep eating it with the the pumpkin beer.

Next on the agenda was the Hop Trapp Belgian-Style IPA, a hint of red wine in the aroma with mild lingering flavor of cherry in an IPA, paired with Sharp Cheddar and spicy foods.  There wasn’t a whole lot of spicy foods to pair it up with, but the Sharp Cheddar definitely helped tame the hoppy bear.  It wasn’t quite a “slap you in the face” IPA, but a good blend of a flavorful IPA.

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Next up…was a raffle.  As we are standing there, my buddy leans over, and tells me that I’m going to win.  Having just suffered through a pool tournament loss, I wasn’t feeling overly optimistic about winning anything.  I’m holding number 16.  First number is:  six….ty-four.  No Bueno.  Second number is Six….  Again, no luck.  Third number is forty-four, and … no one claims.  Good for our odds of winning!  Next number is….six…teen.   Sixteen!!  We won!  Walking triumphantly to the stage they have setup at their outdoor pavilion, I happily claim the basket of free beer, t-shirt, and gift card from Wholefoods!  After securing the basket in my car, we move on to the final beer:  The Milk Stout.

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We all head indoors to the bar where they are serving the The Temptress Imperial Milk Stout as a beer float, complete with vanilla ice cream and our choice of hazelnut, raspberry,  or orange and ginger chocolate.  The Temptress Imperial Milk Stout is thick, rich milk chocolate head, sweet caramel notes, and a touch of vanilla.  Let’s just say this was not only unexpected, but heaven.  We were having an adult version of an ice cream float, and the results were amazing.  The first taste that hit you was the Stout, strong with sweet touches of caramel and chocolate.  But then the vanilla ice cream hits you, sweetening over the stout and creating a culinary dessert in your mouth.  Quite a creative touch to a traditional beer you can find in any good bar.

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Afterwards, we were able to take a tour of the facility and see how everything was made and put together.  If you’ve never had a chance to go to Lakewood Breweries, we highly recommend hitting them up and trying what they have on tap.  It changes depending on the season and depending on what their creative minds are concocting in their secret brewery laboratories.

Thank-you Lakewood for inviting us to your wonderful happy hour event, we look forward to enjoying more of your craft beers!