A Beautifully Orchestrated Beer Dinner At Volare Pizzeria

by Tom Joe Hops ‘R Better Winer


Volare stepped up their game for this Santa Fe Beer Dinner. And I was truly impressed.

Put on by Volare, specializing in authentic Italian cuisine, located on campus corner in Norman, Oklahoma, this beer dinner was a smashing success. Though the turnout for this event was not as large as their first beer dinner, it definitely surpassed my expectations.  In fact, it was so good that I’ve already made up my mind to attend all of their future beer and food match-ups.

Volare “Beer” Menu – Bringing the Midwest some Southwestern Flavors

I was blown away by the simple, but oh-so-delicious, Southwest-inspired menu that made up the accompaniments to the beers we were served at this dinner. Luckily, I’m always one to try new dishes (nothing “seafoody”, of course), and with Volare, one of my wife’s & my favorite restaurants, it was a great change-up from their regular menu. I can only imagine the kitchen staff must have had fun creating these new dishes as well.

Volare changed up existing menu items and added new items for this beer dinner

Volare changed up some existing menu items and added new ones for this beer dinner

  • Popper Bites – Jalapeno artichoke dip in phyllo dough cups
  • Southwest Salad – Fire roasted corn and onions, tomatoes, black beans, jack cheese, chipotle ranch, tortilla chips
  • Santa Fe Penne – Penne pasta, Santa Fe green chilis, grilled chicken, poblano cream sauce, cilantro
  • Mexican Donuts -Donuts dusted with cinnamon, sugar, and cayenne pepper


My favorite dish, by far, was the Santa Fe Penne – piping hot, delicious, spicy, cheesy – to die for! Good on ‘ya, Chef Anthony Compagni! I just loved how the chicken was diced into small pieces! So much easier to eat and doesn’t take away from the other flavors in the dish.

Santa Fe Brewing Co. Lineup

These beers are like a great defensive line - but their offense, Wet Hops Pale Ale, maybe their new quarterback!

These beers are like a great defensive line – but for their offense, their Wet Hops Pale Ale may be their new quarterback! Notice the reference to football? What can I say?! We ARE in Sooner land!

The spotlight for the evening, though, was always going to be on the beer and this is why I attended and my wife did not (well, she also had to work out of town… her loss!). And hosting this memorable occasion was the Santa Fe Brewing Co. out of New Mexico.

Wet Hops Pale Ale - My Favorite Beer of the Night

Wet Hops Pale Ale

Has anyone else in Oklahoma tasted the Santa Fe Wet Hops Pale Ale? I DON’T THINK SO! The very first keg brought into Oklahoma from New Mexico was served as our “Welcome drink”, and Boy, was it delicious! The hops for this beer were harvested in Colorado, trucked to New Mexico, and then brewed while still wet into Wet Hops Pale Ale all within 24 hours. Yep – 1 day! This results in a really fresh, slightly fruity beer that is very easy to drink. It was my first understanding and tasting of a “wet hops” brew and for sure, I’ll be on the lookout for more.

The “beer” course of the advertised tasting dinner consisted of 5 “regular” Santa Fe beers, meaning beers brewed in the more traditional method of “dry hops” only and had me salivating from the moment I saw the list:

  • 7K IPA – ABV 7.0% – IBU 82
  • Happy Camper IPA – ABV 6.6% – IBU 82
  • Nut Brown Ale – ABV 5.2 – IBU 35
  • State Pen Porter – ABV 6.4% – IBU 50
  • Imperial Java Stout – ABV 8.0% – IBU 50


Happy Camper IPA is always one of my favorites, along with the State Pen Porter and the Imperial Java Stout.

Santa Fe Representatives & The Volare Staff – The “Difference-Makers” of the Evening

What really capped the evening off, however, was having representatives of Santa Fe Brewing Co. available to talk about their beer, how they paired with the foods and providing insights on the different beers you may not otherwise have known about. Many thanks to Santa Fe’s Regional Sales Manager, Josh, for being one of the MC’s during the dinner. Other thanks go to Scott (I believe the prior Regional Sales Manager) and Tristan Torres (from Oklahoma Beer Imports).

Popper Bite

Popper Bite

Southwest Salad

Southwest Salad

Santa Fe Penne

Santa Fe Penne

Mexican Donuts

Mexican Donuts















Going back to Volare’s involvement, the staff on hand were excited and engaged with everyone in attendance. From the evening manager, Kristen (affectionately called “Mom” from all 20 or so staff members), who walked around asking for input and actually sat with me for a few minutes (probably because my wife was not there and she felt sorry for me), to Michael & Theresa who diligently poured the beers and served the food and basically kept the dinner moving along at a perfect pace.

Santa Fe Beer Dinner at Volares - a Perfect Night Out!

Santa Fe Beer Dinner at Volares – a Perfect Night Out!

So, the fee of $40 per person, with entertainment, food, and beer, was well worth the price. Volare and Santa Fe Brewing Co. did a fantastic job and I’m looking forward to the next event!

Remember, it’s all about having FUN with wine! (well, in this case….BEER!)

Signature - Tom Joe





Drink Wine – Drink Wisely!



  1. Its about time, Hops are Better. Why no pictures of you tasting anything. I think your fooling all of us who follow and you don’t even drink wine? Am I wrong we will see if any photos show on the next review…….

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