goose island beer dinner @ touch supper club

Shame on me. I made the mistake of going to Touch for brunch. Not once, not twice, but three times this year alone. And I’ve encouraged others to do the same thing. What was I thinking by just limiting Touch Supper Club to Sunday brunch? Yes – it’s a damn good brunch (and incredibly reasonable), but last night I had dinner for the first time at this Ohio City dance club turned foodie haven, and was smiling all the way home.

It was the Goose Island beer dinner, part of the first annual Cleveland Beer Week. And we were lucky enough to receive tickets to the four-course tasting.

Goose Island is out of Chicago and has been around for 21 years. The original brew pub is still there (apparently there’s a great gastropub) and now a second location in Wrigleyville that serves more deluxe sports food. Their best seller is 312, a personal favorite of Jamie’s, but this dinner focused on their Belgian-style ales.

Before we began, Eddie, the regional sales director, taught us the proper way to taste beer. Under no circumstances, he explained, should you tilt the glass to pour your beer – aka the sorority pour. Speaking of college, salting and putting your finger in the beer are also big no-no’s because head on a beer is actually good. Instead he offered, patience is the key as the head is what releases the aroma.

To properly taste a beer, first look at the color: crystal (Bud Light), cloudy, hazy (like a German Hefeweizen), or opaque. Next look at the color of the head and the bubbles. Then smell and finally taste.

Course 1— Lobster mascarpone ravioli, roasted Ohio corn, lobster jus and cognac cream paired with Sofie. I wish everyone could have sampled these ravioli. Big chunks lobsterof lobster, sweet corn, micro greens from the chef’s personal garden – this dish was absolutely perfect. We were all wowed. I knew from the first bite that I’ve been missing out by just limiting my exposure to brunch. The chef apparently grew up on the east coast and has a real love for seafood, especially lobster. // Sofie just became available in Ohio after an April release. In fact, locally (for now) Heinen’s is the only place carrying it. It’s a bright and refreshing beer with champagne qualities, like little bubbles. At almost 7% alcohol, it can be aged for 5 years. The beer is aged in French oak wine barrels and is 20% aged, 80% fresh. It’s a good beer, really good. I put it atop our grocery list.

Course 2— Smoked suckling pig, shallot confit, pan sauce, grained fingerling potatoes paired with Matilda. This course wins for presentation and comes in second for porkfavorite overall. It was wonderfully savory and interesting, a dish I’d happily order off the menu (along with the ravioli). // Matilda, a pale ale with slightly fruity aroma, also has a 5 year shelf life. This was my favorite beer of the night. Great spice and a really great compliment to the pork. In fact, we learned that any dish that pairs well with chardonnay would pair well with Matilda. I also enjoyed the story of its name. The beer itself is inspired by Orval and named after an Italian countess named Matilda, a strong woman who was having relations with the pope. Because of this, she was forced to go on the run. She eventually fell in love with someone else and married. Her husband was shipped off to war. She stopped at a pond (in what is now Belgium) by a church to pray for his safe return. While praying, her wedding ring fell in. She says to God, ‘come on, you took my husband at least give me back my ring.’ She pledged that if her ring were brought back, she would thank God by building an abbey. Legend has it a trout arose from the pond with the ring on his nose. She thanked God by endowing a monastery and thus earns the distinct honor of having the beer named after her.

Course 3— Corn flake crusted chicken livers, buttermilk squash ragout, Christmas Ale sauce, toasted pumpkin seed oil paired with Christmas Ale. This dish was inspired by a meal chef Jeff Fisher had at Luxe and thought this dinner was a great excuse to try to recreate it. I was mixed on this dish. I really enjoyed the butternut squash ragout and use of the beer in the sauce, but wasn’t necessarily wowed with the livers. They weren’t bad and to be fair, I’m not one to order chicken livers (I blame my mom and her forcing us to eat this as kids; I now have an aversion to liver). // There aren’t any spices added to the beer, all the flavor comes from the yeast. And it’s a lot of flavor. Perhaps some of that flavor is also due to the candy sugar added in the brewing process. Either way, it’s a good, strong beer but not over powering.

Course 4— Molten bitter sweet chocolate cake with a bourbon caramel and cheesecake ice cream paired with Pere Jacques. Another beautifully presented dish. dessertProps to the chef for creative presentations all around – and even more so for the wonderfully richness of this dessert. You can now count me among chef Fisher fans. We’ll be back – for brunch and then some (I’m told he makes killer beer-braised short ribs). // Pere Jacques is named after a monk who gave the Goose Island brewmaster a tour, which included the first woman ever inside the monastery in over 500 years. The beer, served in a large, heavy challis, was a good contrast with the chocolate.

If you haven’t yet participated in any of the events surrounding Cleveland Beer Week, you still have time (though not much). Click here to learn more about this week’s remaining events, including Brewzilla. There are a number of great tastings, dinners and pairings happening. We were really impressed with this event – it was informative, tasty, fun and introduced us to some new craft brews that we’re eager to buy for home.


  1. debby
    Posted October 22, 2009 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Oh, how I loooove Touch Supper Club. Yummy.

  2. Ryan
    Posted October 22, 2009 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I absolutely love Touch. When you see it from the outside you’re kind of like, “This is it”? However, every time I go there, I am wowed. ‘Hope you got to enjoy some good events for Cleveland Beer Week! So far, I’ve done the IPA Festival at Fat Head’s, and a special Bell’s night at Tremont Tap House. Both were very enjoyable, and I still have an event or to left this week!

  3. Posted October 22, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Glad you made it there for dinner- they do a nice job! The food and chef’s presentations are inventive; he was a wonderful addition to Touch. One question: Can we have Beer Week more than once a year? :) There are some absolutely amazing events going on throughout the city this week!

  4. Posted October 22, 2009 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    You had me at course one.

  5. modmex
    Posted October 23, 2009 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    jeff fisher is really talented / great review too / you gotta check out the brunch at touch / hands down one of the best sunday menus around!


  6. Posted November 7, 2009 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I fell in love with Touch at first bite… I took many friends back to this restaurant… but NEVER again! A few weeks ago, I took two couples to this restaurant and I was embarrassed. First of all, when we made our reservation, we requested a cozy table at the front or the back. Instead, we had two bar tables pushed together. Next, the server was barely competent–at best. She read the specials from a sheet of paper and when asked about the soup she said “if I had to guess, I would say the tomato bisque.” When we were ordering drinks, we asked about separate checks (for 3 couples) and she said “I’ll try.” The wine presentation was non existent. She talked badly about other customers. We ordered appetizers (which took 20 minutes) and when they came out, the frites were cold. After waiting another 20 minutes for our entrees, the server approached us and said “okay, I talked to the kitchen and I just want to let you know… I asked how long it was going to take and he said 15 or 20… so 15 or 20 more minutes. Apparently they are slammed.” Twenty minutes later, two entrees came out. Then we waited for another five minutes before three more entrees came out. Five minutes later the last entree, the hangar steak–ordered medium rare, arrived. As I said earlier, I have been to this place several times and have often used the phrase “the best steak in Cleveland.” Apparently, they forgot about the steak and instead of owning it and doing it right the first time, they slapped it on the grill for a minute each side, sliced it up and sent it out still ice cold in the middle. We spoke with a manager about the service and food, explaining that we had brought our friends here from Chicago, and he was apologetic and compensated us very nicely. When it was time to pay, we had a few gift certificates that we received as gifts (because friends knew we LOVED this place) and apparently we were only able to use one per table… which would have been fine. The manager approached us and said “it says ‘only one per table’ but I’ll use three” and gave two back to us. My friend said to me “you can keep them, because I won’t be back” (because she lives in Chicago) and the manager said “Fine, then I’ll only use one then” and walked away. Had it been left it at “I’m sorry, it says only one per table,” I would think ‘okay, one bad experience, they made up for it, it’s still a great place.’ However, the reaction of the manager was the icing on the cake for a horrible and embarrassing experience.