When Passions Collide: An Epicurean Delight

Photo by Sugendran Ganess
From 9 to 5 on any given day, one can find local architect Paul Sgroi poring over blueprints and building plans. In the evenings and on the weekends, however, he dedicates himself to yet another passion. After 15 years of quiet, dedicated home brewing, last Friday Sgroi hosted an Artisan Beer Dinner at the Fair Hill Inn www.fairhillinn.com to debut four of his Peace d’Ale beers. Trust me; they were well worth the wait.

The evening’s theme was “Drink Your Passion,” the slogan of Sgroi’s Peace d’Ale brews. Sgroi, a Kennett Square resident with many landmark architectural projects www.bernardon.com in the West Chester area, certainly lives this motto every day. His counterpart in this affair was another man of passion, the Inn’s Chef Phil Pyle, Jr., who offered his culinary expertise to the pairings. Each course of the four-course dinner was well-paired with one of Sgroi’s brews.

We started off the evening with “Golden Funky,” a Belgian Golden Strong ale named for one of Sgroi’s favorites and a local mainstay, Victory’s Golden Monkey. With it, we enjoyed mussels in a coconut curry sauce. Before this meal, I swore that I didn’t eat mussels. These were so delicious that I not only ate everything on my plate, but began picking off my boyfriend’s plate as well.

Next up was my favorite and Sgroi’s flagship brew, an American Double Pale Ale served with braised pheasant and Welsh rarebit. I found this ale wonderfully suited to my taste, and it was expertly paired with the savory pheasant and earthy rarebit cheese.

Following as a third course was Raisin h’Ale – a testament to Sgroi’s sense of humor in addition to his brewing skills – and slow-roasted pork ribs in a cherry barbeque sauce. The Raisin h’Ale was actually brewed with raisins, giving it a wonderfully warm, spiced aroma and taste.

By the fourth course, my senses and stomach were almost overloaded, but the “beef and beer” ending was truly a knockout. Sgroi’s Belgian Trip’ale (a Belgian Tripel) held its own against a fall-apart tender beef served in stout sauce with Belgium-style “stoemp” (a root-vegetable pancake) and brussels sprouts.

When I finally put down my fork, I leaned back in my chair feeling pleasantly overwhelmed and completely satisfied. Several days later, I am still reminiscing about this truly epicurean experience. My only question to Sgroi is, if you’re reading this, when is the next one???