A couple of weeks back, my spaceboot and I traveled to Hellas Restaurant and Lounge in Millersville for a Goose Island beer dinner. This wasn’t the first beer dinner I’ve been to for Goose Island, but this one was drastically different.
Before I get my patent-pending ramble-machine going, however, I want to talk about Hellas itself for a second.
You would never guess from looking at their website or Facebook page — or heck, just the exterior, for that matter — that Hellas is one of the best places to get beer in this area, but it is. I went there for the first time with Cassie this past winter, and found myself legitimately shocked by their beer list — from recent craft releases to cellar-aged brews and rarities, both domestic and import. It’s obvious that selecting beer at Hellas is an intensive labor of love. Like every time you order something off their bottles list, you’re getting something close to their heart; something that probably has a story behind it.
And there is something at Hellas for every beer drinker out there. Even if you prefer your beer simple, yellow and fizzy.
Because of this, I’m okay with their ~*~*~mysterious~*~*~ presence on the Internet. (You can’t even view their beer list online.) As much as I’m excited to share my experience at Hellas with you all today, I almost don’t want to tell anyone how awesome this place is, lest it become overrun with beer nerds. I want to be a perpetual hipster about it; I want to be in the “loving it before it was cool” stage of our relationship forever — though I know there are plenty of other folks out there who know how much Hellas rocks.
But since keeping this place all to myself is rude, and I had a great time, I’m not going to give into my kneejerk reaction.
ANYWAY, here was the lineup for the evening. which placed a great emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients:
Greek “nachos” with 312 Urban Pale Ale
Bourbon gold sauce glazed wings with Honkers ESB Ale
Scallops and grits, seared scallops and grilled asparagus with Sofie
Peppercorn-crusted tenderloin, saffron roasted cauliflower with 2011 Pere Jacques
Chocolate cake topped with fudge, chocolate chips with 2013 Bourbon County Brand Stout
Unlike the Equinox dinner, which had a very clearly defined theme and aesthetic — Goose Island’s Belgian-inspired vintage series and vintage game dinner — Hellas’ point of view showcased the diversity of Goose Island’s beer catalog, almost telling story through each course. As Chef Mike and the Goose Island rep talked to us throughout the meal, we were given insight into the history of the brewery, as well as the people behind it. For example, Sofie is named after John Hall's granddaughter. (The more you know.)
I also liked how the dinner illustrated the versatility of beer itself. You can dress it down with some delicious, get-your-fingers-dirty chicken wings — a course that made me appreciate Honkers, a beer I had previously not been too jazzed about — or dress it up to the nines with a 2011 vintage Belgian-inspired brew and a perfectly prepared cut of venison.
Basically beer is always here for you guys, well-suited for any occasion or any mood.
A few other observations from the evening:
- Chef Mike is probably one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I had an opportunity to chat with him at the bar after the meal, and it was such a pleasure to speak with someone who is so talented, but also so friendly, warm, gracious and ridiculously humble.
- There was a woman who attended the event with her husband. He was a big beer person, and she wasn’t. So Chef Mike took the time to personally pair every dish with a different wine. He also spoke with her individually between each course to tell her why he chose a particular wine and to answer any questions.
- The cream that went with the chocolate cake? Infused with Bourbon County Brand Stout. Hnnnghhh.
- I normally don’t eat wings in public because I am… challenged when it comes to not getting sauce all over my face, my body and my clothes. I only recently made my first exception to this rule, and I am so glad I made an exception for the Bourbon gold sauce-glazed wings served at Hellas. Incredible.
- I’ve made no secret of my hatred toward olives. It’s the eternal flame of disdain that lights up the dark corners of heart. But… I loved the olives on the Greek nachos. This is the first time I ever remember liking olives; I don’t even know who I am anymore. It’s like when Harry Potter defeated Voldemort. What do you do after that?
- There was a lot of moaning during the cake course. A lot of moaning. And silence. And more moaning.
- I lucked out and got to sit across from Nathan! One my favorite local buddies — both for beer and for general shenanigans.
- I slept really well when I got home. Really well.
- I could probably have called him “Mike” instead of “Chef Mike,” but… it’s too fun not to. The connotation of “chef" is so darned pleasant.
Thanks for a great night, Hellas. And of course, I’ll be back.