Cheddar ale soup with hops pesto, beer-glazed Jidori chicken — apparently the “hottest piece of breast in L.A.” — with lemon-thyme IPA jus, and oaked Porter ice cream with root beer cake and bitters chocolate sauce. The menus at Ford Filling Station's beer pairing dinners recently haven't exactly been your standard Monday night football beer-battered fish and chips with any old English ale affairs.

Chef-owner Ben Ford gives credit to his staff and customers for pushing him to experiment with beer at Ford's, both in the kitchen and on the drink menu. “Our young people who are up and coming in management, they seem to have an equal interest in beer as wine or cocktails — that's a big change in the restaurant business,” says Ford, whose most recent brewery-specific tasting dinner was with Stone Brewing in June. “There's also a much broader diversity of what's out there, and a willingness of the consumer to experience a variety of different flavors.”

Ford credits his chef de cuisine, Sal Roldan, as the beer catalyst in the kitchen. “He is definitely one of those young foodie guys and was very instrumental in [our beer dinners],”says Ford. “Using hops as an herb like in that hop pesto [at the Stone dinner] was his epiphany. Hops has that bitter edge, you really have to be careful with it, but what [Sal] did was just amazing.”

The two are hosting a family-style beer dinner with The Bruery in Orange County this coming Monday night, September 13th, (Bruery representative Ben Weiss will be on hand to field your pressing hops questions). And so your beer tasting begins with three cheese-ale fondue, fleur de sel pretzels dunked in whole grain beer mustard, and moves on to a dish of smoked watermelon and sweet onions, ricotta salata, and a Chardonnay vinaigrette (ya, we're curious about that one, too). What follows are beer-inspired excesses, such as short ribs in stout-chocolate mole with various farmers' market sides and desserts (fig tart tatin, strawberry rhubarb crumble). All paired with The Bruery's more wine-like (if you will), beers.

Now, that small matter of finding someone to pay the bill.

Ford's Filling Station-Bruery Dinner, Monday, September 13th, 7 p.m., 5 courses , 7 beers (including seasonal & not-yet-released beers such as 100% Barrel Aged Coton & Gunga Galunga), $108/per person, tax & tip included. For information and reservations, email

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