Ashley’s Trappist Beer Dinner

On Thursday night, my wife & I attended the Trappist Beer Dinner, the kickoff event for the Belgian Beer Festival at Ashley’s Restaurant in Westland. The eleven day event is the Midwest’s largest Belgian Beer Festival, and one Ashley’s owner and management work tirelessly for months to make the high quality event that it has become.

The festival features over 160 Belgian Beers, including over 40 on tap at a time. Many of the beers features are first-time Michigan or Midwest releases. The festival’s website contains a complete list of the beers available.

The evening’s dinner was hosted by John Staunton, Midwest sales manager for Merchant du Vin Importers. John provided entertaining stories from his experiences visiting many of Belgium’s famous Trappist Breweries.

Belgian Endive Rockefeller

The first beer of the evening was Greens Tripel from the DeProef Brewery, an exclusive for this dinner. This gluten-free beer is considered one of the best tasting gluten-free beers available. It was served with our Hors d’oeuvers, potato & endive soup, Belgian Endive Rockefeller, and cocktail shrimp in sour cream and dill, served in an endive boat.

Country Terrine & Orval Cheese

Our appitizer was Country Terrine, which is similar to pate, and Orval Cheese. The beer served with it was Orval, from the brewery inside the Abbey of the same name located in the Gaume region of Belgium. Many critics consider this Trappist Beer to be one of the world’s finest.

The design above comes dirctly from the legend of how the Orval Monestery was founded. The following is taken directly from Orval’s website-
The monastery was born of an act of gratitude : Matilde was a widow and her wedding ring had accidentally fallen into the fountain. She prayed to the Lord and at once a trout rose to the surface with the precious ring in its mouth. Matilde exclaimed : “Truly this place is a Val d’Or! ” In gratitude, she decided to establish a monastery on the site.

Next was served the Salad Brabaconne, a curly endive salad with duck confit, black pudding, potatoes, oyster mushrooms and a Dijon Vinaigrette. The salad was excellent, a true compliment to Jeff More, Ashley’s owner, who told us during this course how hard it was to locate authentic, quality ingredients for this salad.

 The salad was served with Lindeman’s Cuvee Rene. John explained to us that this sour Gueuze Lambic Beer is often mixed with many of Lindeman’s famous fruit lambic beers to allow the drinker to control the sweetness of their beer.

The seafood entree was Waterzooi de Lotte et Moules, or Monkfish and Mussel Waterzooi. Waterzooi is a traditional Flemish soup. It was served with another Trappist beer, Westmalle Tripel, which is credited as being the first beer of it’s kind, since having spawned many copies, including one of my favorite beers, La Fin du Monde, of the Canadian brewery Unibroue. While La Fin du Monde is one of my favorite beers, it was quickly apparent to me that Westmalle Tripel was, in quality, leagues ahead of any other tripel I have ever tasted.

Our meat entree was a Braised Pork Chop with Black Current & Mustard Sauce, potato au gratin and Roasted Brussel Sprouts in beer. This was complemented nicely by the Rochefort 8, the final Trappist Beer of the evening.

Our desert was a Belgian waffle, topped with chocolate sauce, candied walnuts and ice cream. This was served with Lindeman’s Cassis, a black current lambic, from Lindeman’s excellent selection of fruit beers.

We had a great time at the Trappist dinner. We were able to try new foods and beers, which we were quite impressed with. I knew Janeen would like the Lindeman’s Cassis, but she was also enjoyed a few of the other beers, which is the ultimate compliment since she is not really a beer drinker. I enjoyed all of the beers, but especially the Westmalle Tripel and the Orval. Even for a relative novice to the world of Trappist beers, it was easy to taste why these breweries have attained the international reputation they have. The thing I enjoyed most about the evening was how well the beers & food complimented each other, with the perfect beer being chosen for each course.

Ashley’s Belgian Beer Festival runs though February 19th, and has a few more special events planned along the way. For beer connoisseurs, the festival is a must-visit. Here is a link to Ashley’s Belgian Beer Festival’s website.

9 Responses to “Ashley’s Trappist Beer Dinner”

  1. eriksmithdotcom says:

    Quebec should be proud of Unibroue, it is a great brewery- absolutely my favorite!

  2. eriksmithdotcom says:

    Very helpful, Kris, thanks. I always learn from looking at your pics. 

  3. What a fun event that must have been.  There are so many tasty Belgian beers and the food looked delicious.  Glad to see they had La Fin Du Monde in the mix.  Unibroue is something Quebec is quite proud of. 

  4. Kris Koeller says:

    Hi Eric.  These are nice photos (and I do like beer, so its a captive subject). I don't do a lot of food photography, except for the usual iPhone foodspotting.  When I had, I recommend using a prime lens with the aperture fully open to give you great depth of field and selective focus.  These shots from our cooking class in Morocco are taken with this approach: http://www.kriskoeller.com/blog/2011/07/30-photo-of-the-day-moroccan-cooking-class-in-marrakech.htm.  There's a woman in Brooklyn named Monica Lo, who has a food blog dedicated to the love of bacon. Stay with me here.  She works (I'm assuming) as a food photographer and has some amazing shots on her blog at http://www.lobesity.com.  Follow her on Instagram, it will both inspire you and whet your appetite. 

  5. eriksmithdotcom says:

    The beers were awesome- and unique. I'm disappointed I didn't know about Trappist brews during my trips to Belgium years ago. I was too busy drinking Heineken since it was so cheap there compared to here. A return visit to Belgium is in order I think!

  6. Ayngelina says:

    Ooh I'd love to go to an event like this, the beer looks fantastic.

  7. eriksmithdotcom says:

    It is a great gluten-free option. 

    Thanks for the kind words. After reading hundreds of 'foodie' post, I figured I should give it a try!

  8. This looks incredible.  My mom will be especially happy to know about the gluten-free beer!  What wonderful pictures as well, it made me hungry, but mostly just thirsty for delicious beer!

  9. Roy says:

    Awesome pics. Thanks!

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  1. Where Everybody Knows Your Name | Michigan Beer and Beyond - […] Ashley’s became a regular spot, and in February of 2012, Janeen & I went to their Trappist Beer Dinner,…
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