Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Craft Beer Heaven at Cask Republic Stamford

If you love craft beer, bourbon, whiskey, rye or scotch, or all of the above, then get down to Cask Republic Stamford.

Cask Republic Stamford is brought to you by Skål restaurant group, the folks behind Ginger Man SoNo and Greenwich as well as Cask Republic New Haven. Here you'll find elevated pub food matched with a seriously extensive list of craft beer and a vast selection of amber spirits.

We were already fans of  Cask Republic New Haven, so we were delighted to be invited to their new spot in Stamford. Plus, how could we resist a special dinner featuring an introduction to their spirits selection and a beer-food pairing menu.

Atmosphere
Dim lighting, chunky wood accents, a giant bar flanked by a dazzling array of taps (over 50 of them) and a fireplace immediately make Cask Republic Stamford feel like home. There's high-top tables, communal tables, booths and living room style seating by the fireplace.  Just past the bar on the back wall is a glass-front beer cellar of sorts, where they age special brews.

Drinks
The folks behind the bar at Cask Republic are encyclopedias of cocktail knowledge. If you're not sure what to have - just ask them.


I chose to imbibe the C-R Old Fashioned made with Bulliet Bourbon, simple syrup, oranges and a Luxardo maraschino cherry. Renato had the Rye Manhattan with Redemption Rye Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, Woodford Reserve Spiced Cherry Bitters and a Luxardo maraschino cherry. Both cocktails were strong but not overpowering and paired really well with all the appetizers (more on that later).

In addition to specialty cocktails, Cask Republic also offers a few house-made infusions.

Menu
Everything they serve at Cask Republic is made in-house, all the way down to the condiments. The menu is broken broken down into: Snacks, Boards (meat and cheese), Small Plates, Large Plates, Wood Fired Pizza, Burger and Sides. Most items are meant to be shared.

To go with our cocktails we noshed on four appetizers:


Spiced Butternut Squash Soup with maple glazed pepitas
The soup was a nice combination of sweet and spicy. I loved the crunch and saltiness of the pepitas in contrast to the smooth soup. I knew this soup was going to be good. It won second place at this year's Chowdafest.


Smoked Short Rib Meatballs w/ SeaHag IPA BBQ glaze and crumbled Maytag bleu cheese
After the first bite, I was hooked. This platter easily could have been my entire dinner and I'd have been happy. The meat is seared, then mixed with a secret blend of spices and cooked again. They were smoky, spicy and moist with a hearty texture. This was my favorite appetizer of the evening. I will be ordering them again.


Soy Glazed Wings with jalapeno ginger-lime sauce
The flavor of these wings was great - tangy, savory with a nice little kick. But, I have to say, I wasn't a huge fan of them. I need my wings to be crunchy. The skin needs to crunch. These wings were meaty, but lacked any crunch factor. For me, no matter how good the flavor if there's no crunch I'm just not that into them. So while the flavor was awesome, these wings just didn't do it for me.


Bacon Popcorn
Do I even need to say more than that? I mean it's bacon and it's popcorn. This is a perfect nosh with a pint of beer. Not only is there bacon bites, but I found out the popcorn is popped in bacon fat and then they season the finished product with bacon powder. It's three times the bacon. Insert picture of Homer Simpson drool here.

For dinner, each course was paired with different beer. Before I go into details, I just want to say that these pairings were so thoughtful. If this is on par with their other special event beer dinners - we'll be there.


Tuna Tartare with sesame-soy. oranges and Nori fries paired with Clown Shoes Clementine a Belgian Witbier
The tuna really drew out the beer's spice and citrus notes. The melt in your mouth, dare I say creamy, tuna was balanced with the light crunch of the Nori fries. Like the beer, the tuna featured hints of citrus and coriander, but with a late bit of spicy heat.


Slow Roasted Wild Canadian Salmon with green crust, butter beans, tomato, little onions and sherry paired with Blue Point Brewing Co. White IPA Belgian-Style IPA

The butter beans lent a creaminess to an already buttery, flaky salmon. The pesto breadcrumbs (green curst) offered a pop of fresh herbs for balance. This pairing was a bit of a surprise. I wouldn't think to drink an IPA with seafood, but this match was really nice. This IPA doesn't have the bitterness of a traditional IPA. It didn't detract from the food, but rather filled in the flavors.

To cleanse our palate before the next course we had their Kale salad with radicchio, lentils, cranberries, walnuts and creamy ginger vinaigrette. This was a fresh, clean salad course. I love the ginger with the hearty earthy kale.


Dry-Aged New York Strip with braised kale, ham and cheese croquettes and tomato jam paired with Founders Brewing Co. Russian Imperial Stout

A hearty stout and a big steak just go together. The steak was cooked rare, just how I like it. The croquettes were exactly would you'd expect - crunchy, molten cheesy little bundles. This course was classic winter comfort food.


As an added bonus they also served up their Bar Fries. There were three flavors: asian with a nori, soy aioli, truffle aioli and adobo vinegar. The asian fries were a unique, fun take on fries. My favorite though were the adobo vinegar. I find vinegar on fries irresistible.


Chocolate Espresso Creme Brulee paired with Willet Distillery, Rowan's Creek, Bourbon
On top of the brulee was a touch of peanut butter whipped cream and almonds. The dessert was not too sweet but with a rich chocolate/coffee taste. I would have liked the crust to be a bit more robust, but I'm picky that way. The bourbon was served neat. It was really strong for such bourbon newbie like myself, but I did like the flavor - vanilla with what I'd say was a hint of caramel. It was definitely a nice flavor companion for chocolate.

As expected, Cask Republic Stamford is a craft beer heaven. It's a great spot to gather with friends, have a nosh and sip some great beers and cocktails.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. The meal was free of charge. The opinions contained herein are my own and reflect my experience. Your own may differ.

Cask Republic Stamford
191 Summer Street . Stamford
(203) 348-2275
caskrepublic.com
Facebook: Cask Republic Stamford
Twitter: @TheCaskRepublic

Hours
Mon-Wed - Kitchen: 11:45am-10pm, Bar: 'til 1am
Thurs-Sat - Kitchen: 11:45am-11pm, Bar: 'til 2am
Sun - Kitchen: 11:45am-9pm, Bar: 'til 1am

Cask Republic on Urbanspoon

Photos by Renato Ghio
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