Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's Forbidden Ale
You know that when something expressly says “forbidden” on its label, everyone is going to want it. My memory even houses a soundbite of Homer Simpson slurring, “Mmmm… forbidden.” Cheers to Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for implementing a pretty brilliant marketing move — although that’s certainly not the whole story behind Forbidden Ale.
"Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing" makes its debut on Oct. 18, showcasing portraits, costumes, furniture and other artifacts from the Ming and Qing dynasties. It’s the first time that the VMFA will exhibit Chinese art directly from China, and what the Palace Museum is sending should be spectacular. Roughly 14 million people visited the UNESCO World Heritage site last year, if that gives you a clearer picture of how important these works are. Of course, you have to be interested in things like Grand Sacrifices to the Cosmos. (That is undoubtedly one of the most piquing phrases I’ve ever heard.)
Fittingly, for the Forbidden Ale collaboration, Hardywood experimented with Asian dragon fruit. “Although peculiar looking, dragon fruit lends a pleasant, sweet flavor and subtle aroma," notes Hardywood's head brewer, Brian Nelson. "In a Belgian white ale, dragon fruit complements the wheat overtones … and changes the color to a bright pink.”
Pink beer! That might be featured in its own museum exhibition in a few hundred years.
The VMFA’s fine dining eatery, Amuse Restaurant, will take inspiration from the exhibit as well: Chef Greg Haley will team up with Peter Chang at the upcoming Fire, Flour & Fork event to create dishes that will influence Amuse’s fall menu, and a Forbidden Ale cocktail creation is slated for the Amuse bar.
You can head to Hardywood and grab one of their very first frosty glasses of exotic pink beer at the launch party on Oct. 4, where local jazz outfit Arizal will be playing a custom soundtrack written specifically for the event. Or you can hibernate until it hits markets (Whole Foods, Shields Market) a week later. What you cannot do is bring a six-pack of Forbidden Ale into the "Forbidden City" show “to enrich the authenticity of the experience.” I already asked.
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery: 2408 Ownby Lane, 420-2420 or hardywood.com
VMFA: 200 N. Boulevard, 340-1400 or vmfa.museum