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The wait is finally over for Chris Reynolds Monroe III. The NC State alumnus was thrilled to pick up his first 12-pack of Old Tuffy bright and early on Monday morning. Monroe had been waiting months for this special edition lager made by New Belgium Brewing.
“I know I’m not supposed to say this, but this is better than my kids,” he said, while gently buckling the 12-pack into the backseat of his lifted 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali pickup.
“Usually the only thing that gets me up this early is posting at F3,” he added, referring to a fitness group that meets before sunrise in order to avoid dealing with children in the morning.
Monroe plans to spend the rest of the day taking pictures around NC State landmarks while holding the 12-pack. “I saw some influencers posting about it a few weeks before the release and it just inspired me to be a better person,” he said, as he ignored the notification on his phone reminding him to drop his children off at school.
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5 beltline chef and New Belgium Ranger Chris Allen and Tasty Beverage’s Johnny Belflower did it again. For the fourth consecutive year, the team put on a beer dinner unlike any other. Guests left amazed and inspired. Lives were changed. Records were broken. Here is the exclusive story and interview.
The Tasty Beverage New Belgium and Bojangles’ beer dinner was held on Monday night in a boutique vehicle storage parcel that was once home to a railway depot. The similarities between the culinary innovators behind the dinner and the railway titans who connected America using that same depot was lost on no one. A subtle nod to North Carolina’s rich tradition of tailgating, the location allowed guests to dine in an inspiring open world setting atop historic cobblestones laid by Sir Walter Raleigh himself.
Allen and Belflower used sophisticated mouth science to come up with a series of never-before-seen Bojangles’ based courses paired with New Belgium’s finest offerings.
The sold-out crowd of 100 guests enjoyed the following:
Welcome Bite – A Trip to the Gravy Fountain with Fat Tire Amber Ale
First Course – Bojangles’ Poutine with Dayblazer Easy Going Ale
Second Course – Texas Pete Tossed Wings with Ranch with Fat Tire Belgian White
Third Course – The Supreme Supreme – with Citradelic Tangerine IPA
Dessert – Bo-Berry Bread Pudding topped with Legendary Ice Tea Glaze with Wood Cellar Reserve Felix aged in Apple Whiskey Barrels
They even invented a Cheerwine based Sweet & Sour Sauce that left Gordon Ramsay speechless.
Guests left with an incredible gift box filled with an assortment of New Belgium beers, Bojangles’ accoutrements, and more. Stay tuned next week as we auction off one of these boxes AND two tickets to next year’s dinner for Hurricane Florence relief, once we ask Stacy Miller if we can legally auction off alcohol.
As you can see, this was the most innovative dining experience held in the history of Raleigh. Not only did we attend the event, but we got an exclusive interview with the creators.
ITBonappetit: The decision to depart from the archaic culinary tradition of dining indoors was a daring one that ultimately paid off. Was this a statement on the institution of dinner itself or was there another goal in mind?
Allen: A little of both. It’s 2016*, who wants to eat inside of four walls? Beyond that, we are right in the heart of Bo’gate season and everybody knows that you can’t do that inside. We also knew that Bonner would engage the Weather Dome if there was a threat of weather. So there was very little concern for this not being a perfect evening.
Note: 2016 is not a typo. Allen stopped recognizing the passage of time in 2016, “I live in the past and I’m pretty sure I peaked in 2016 with that trip to watch the Panthers play in the Super Bowl.”
ITBonappetit: Praise be to Bonner.
Allen: And also with you.
ITBonappetit: So what went into this dinner?
Allen: As you mentioned, we served 100 guests, which most likely makes this the largest beer dinner in the history of Raleigh, and perhaps North Carolina. To put up those kinds of numbers you’re going to need what equates to a boatload of fried chicken, around 120 Bo-Berry Biscuits, exactly 26 pounds of sugar for the dessert and Cheerwine Sweet & Sour sauce. I thought I would never see what 6 gallons of Sausage Gravy looked like, but that goal was knocked off the list by 6:00 pm. And of course we can’t forget the blood, sweat, and tears.
ITBonappetit: Talk about the Cheerwine Sweet & Sour sauce that you invented. How did that come about?
Allen: As I mentioned at the dinner, the Supreme is already the perfect serving of chicken. So what can we do to showcase that greatness? We tossed around a few ideas and one centered around Cheerwine. Considering that Cheerwine is up there with Julius Peppers, Bojangles’, and manned flight, as the great products to ever come from North Carolina, the choice was simple. It’s also been scientifically proven that the legendary Sweet & Sour Chicken from Red Dragon is the ultimate cure for the Sunday Scaries. From there it was just getting the flavor of the sauce dialed in and the chicken crispy enough to handle the viscosity of the sauce. The rest is history.
ITBonappetit: You’ve captured the hearts and minds of a nation. How does that feel?
Allen: I like to think it’s how Cam Newton feels right after he runs over a Falcons linebacker for a touchdown, drops a Superman, and then gives the football to a child in the stands. Or when Taylor Swift sells out 53 consecutive stadium shows on the same tour and knows she could do another 53 without breaking a sweat.
ITBonappetit: This year saw actual support from Bojangles’ representatives. While you were confident that the great Stacy Miller would be able to handle any potential legal issues, I’m sure it was nice to have their support for the first time.
Allen: One thing is for sure, we couldn’t have done this without our friends from TriArc. They own and operate all of the local Bojangles’ and were great to work with. I also have to give a shout out to first ballot Bojangles’ Hall of Famers – Melissa Chestnutt, Jim Ainsworth, and Tommy Haddock. There was no way that we could have done this without them and we are forever in debt to them.
ITBonappetit: Like a fine Cheerwine, this event has gotten better each year. What’s next?
Allen: That’s the million Chicken Supreme question. Over the last four years, we have had a lot of fun and have always tried to push the envelope. We have to up the stakes from the previous years, because that’s what’s expected from us. Maybe we go tropical, like sand from wall to wall. I know a great sand guy. But for now we are going to take a mental break and regroup after the Panthers beat the Chiefs 35-18 in Super Bowl 53.
Chef Allen shared the following message on Twitter: I don’t know where to begin. Last night’s Bojangles’ Beer Dinner was so f’n awesome. It’s crazy to think that it started out with 20 people, a hot plate, and a microwave. Last night we had over 100 people and by all accounts a great time. The pics and love that y’all shared with Tasty Beverage and myself have been incredible. This is a labor of love for us and last night was truly gratifying for us all. Thank you! I have to give a huge shout out to my @roaringriot family. I mean, y’all started a #KeepPounding chant in between courses. So thanks for coming out and supporting us. We couldn’t do what we do without you guys. If I didn’t get to thank you in person last night, I’m sorry. I tried to get around the best I could, but there were 100 of you! It was all very overwhelming, as were the social media response.
Remember, it’s always #BoTime in your heart. Hugs, C
Welcome to ITBonappetit, our new series covering the best culinary experiences inside the beltline. I know nothing about cooking, but I know what I like. I also know that food bloggers are making a fortune, which is why I’m launching this new vertical. We’ll cover new restaurants, do some ITBrunch tours, hold super exclusive events, and much more. Feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be featured.
“Any asshole can put biscuits on a plate, but it takes a few special assholes to fuck them up and serve them with beer,” said Chris Allen as the dinner came to a close. On Monday night, Tasty Beverage Co. welcomed Chris, a 5 beltline chef and New Belgium Ranger, for the third annual Bojangles’ beer dinner. I attended the dinner, which was held at Jose and Sons as part of Raleigh Beer Week, which runs through Sunday, September 24th. Around 4 gallons of sausage gravy, 100 chicken supremes, 80 cinnamon twists, 40 country ham biscuits, and a lot of dirty rice, cajun pintos, and mac n’ cheese were used to create the six course dinner. Each course was paired with a beer.
Before we get to my exclusive interview with Chris, let’s take a look at the menu.
Boca Amuser – A Crunchy Taste of Sausage Gravy with Essence of Bojangles and a pork surprise. Paired with Fat Tire Belgian Style Ale. This was a nice way to kick things off. I could’ve eaten 20 of these, but it’s all about pacing.
Aperitivo – Cajun Bean Dip with Tortilla. Paired with Voodoo Ranger IPA. This was amazing.
1st Course – Duo of Pollo Street Tacos – Spicy Chicken Supreme with Pintos and Roasted Chicken with Dirty Rice. Paired with Dayblazer Easygoing Ale. While both tacos were delicious, I preferred the spicy chicken supreme with pintos.
2nd Course – Huevos Con Chorizo Enchilada – Scrambled Eggs, Sausage, Mac n’ Cheese, topped with Spicy Green Chili and Sausage Gravy. Paired with Fat Tire Belgian White. Notice that the mac n’ cheese was inside the enchilada. I will never eat another non-mac n’ cheese enchilada again.
3rd Course – Carolina Cuban – Pressed Biscuit, Pulled Pork, Country Ham and American Cheese. Topped with pickle slice and pack of mustard on the side. Paired with Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA. Obviously, I removed the pickle. The pressed biscuit was a bold choice, but it worked extremely well.
Desiertos – Cinnamon Twist with a Videri Spicy Chocolate Drizzle. Paired with Blackberry Oscar. I ate two of these.
The beers (Fat Tire and Blackberry Oscar not pictured).
The entire experience was also paired with Taylor Swift albums. Final rating: 5/5 beltlines.
After finishing the exquisite meal, I interviewed Chris Allen.
WNFIV: How did this start?
Allen: It all started with a couple of dudes and their love for beer and famous chicken n’ biscuits. Johnny Belflower (of Tasty Beverage Co.), Alex Comisky, Jake Hogan and myself.
WNFIV: How did you come up with the idea?
Allen: We had joked about the idea for a while and one year we just finally did it. I like to think that it was inspired by the millions of Bojangles’ biscuits that we’ve all had as a hangover cure. It’s a well known fact that seasoned fries are a super food.
WNFIV: The meal doesn’t taste like I’m just eating Bojangles’. How did you come up with the menu?
Allen: The first year we basically served plain menu items with beer. People began to expect more from us as the event evolved. A good portion of my life was spent in restaurants, so there is a little bit of experience at play here. I try to come up with stuff that I’d want to try and Johnny has always trusted my judgement. When we found out that our friends at Jose and Sons were going to let us use their space, it was a no brainer to put a Latin spin on the menu.
WNFIV: What went in to the dinner?
Allen: In addition to the gravy, chicken, cinnamon twists, biscuits and sides, the real wild card has to be the Boneless Chicken Bites and BBQ. Most people around here don’t know that Bojangles’ serves those items. I actually had to drive to Mebane and pick them up with a cooler earlier in the day.
WNFIV: What makes this the best beer dinner that I’ve ever been to?
Allen: We just want people to have fun. So many beer dinners become stuffy and pretentious pretty quickly. That’s not a shot at anybody, but we focus on having fun and being whimsical. It’s beer, it’s something that brings people joy. Let the winos out there quaff their cabernet (out of a #ITBlessed glass, of course) with a fish fume. We will jam out some banging street tacos and a can of Dayblazer. There are millions of better food and beer pairings and I know that, but are they as much fun as ours? I don’t think so. Our guests want to come in and have a good time, we like to think we are delivering.
WNFIV: What are the plans for the future?
Allen: As long as people tell us we are doing a great job and they had fun, we will be back in the saddle next year. Although, it may have to be in a bigger space. We had 72 people join us this year and we turned away dozens more. I want to jam in as many people as possible.
WNFIV: Any last words before we go to Boxcar and play NBA Jam and Mario Kart for the next three hours?
Allen: Just a big thank you to everybody who has joined us over the years and made this what it is. And my sous-chefs Tom and Jared who finally got to live out their “Chopped” dreams. And of course to Sam and the crew at Videri for supplying the chocolate. Also, a friendly reminder that the Falcons blew a 25 point lead in the Super Bowl.