Black Forest’s first pairing dinner this Sunday

By on March 25, 2015

What does traditional English and Irish pub fare have to do with a brewery inspired by a hiking trail in northern Pennsylvania? Technically little, but the grub is the basis for what has morphed into Black Forest Brewery’s first beer pairing dinner on Sunday, March 29.

“Once we decided on the month of March we went with an Irish/English pub theme,” explained Denise Harter, co-owner of the Ephrata brewery. “I’m pretty excited about it.”

On the heels of a successful beer and chocolate pairing offered during Valentine’s Day, Harter decided Ephrata residents were ready for an upscale, five-course, beer pairing dinner. To create the menu she called in a ringer. Harter, before venturing into the world of running a bed and breakfast (the 1777 Americana Inn) and a brewery, taught home economics. She is still in touch with many of her former students — some even work at the brewery — and when she recently reconnected with Shillington native Mathew Lykens she knew she found a chef perfect for an inspired dinner.

Getting ready for Black Forest Brewery’s first beer pairing dinner.

Getting ready for Black Forest Brewery’s first beer pairing dinner.

“The people in Ephrata want us to step things up a bit,” said Harter. “So, we are!”

Lykens is a recent graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, the country’s premiere college for culinary arts education. He currently is an executive chef with Sodexo where he works primarily with catered events at Juniata College.

“He’s very creative. He’s very enthusiastic,” said Harter. “It’s a very upscale menu. I didn’t want to make it too funky people would be scared of it, but I wanted it funky enough that people are going to want to experiment with it. And [Lykens] nailed it.”

CIA graduate Matthew Lykens. (Photos courtesy of Matthew Lykens)

CIA graduate Matthew Lykens. (Photos courtesy of Matthew Lykens)

The first course of the evening is a baby arugula and spinach salad with rasher (bacon), Granny Smith apples, tomatoes, brown bread croutons, and a black currant, balsamic gastrique. This will be paired with Black Forest’s Whistle Stop Amber Ale. The popular American Pale Ale arrives with the second course and is paired with seared scallops with a potato leek puree and wild mushroom mélange. The third course brings out the Shreck Tavern Stout. The dark beer is also used in the dish as brine for savory porchetta with caramelized onion, parsnip, and stout/onion gravy. Black Forest’s India Pale Ale, 42 Mile IPA, is paired with corned beef confit served with fried Brussels sprouts, heirloom carrots, and roasted fingerling potatoes. For desert, Lykens presents his Banoffee Trifle (bananas and toffee) set in a scone-crumble pie crust with dulce de leche, bananas, dark chocolate coffee ganache, and whipped cream. The sweetness will pair well with a 5 O’clock Heffy.

The dinner will be available for 25 people in the brewery tasting room with two serving times of 1 and 6 p.m. Tickets are $60 per person, which includes tax, gratuity, food, and beer (an eight-ounce pour of all 5 beer styles). The brewery will be closed to the public for this event, which is just the start of things.

“We are probably going to do the dinners every six to eight weeks,” Harter said.

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Michael C. Upton is a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. He welcomes comments at and

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