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Sophisticated Beer And Culinary Pairing Comes To Denver

Sophisticated Beer And Culinary Pairing Comes To Denver


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Denver’s new high-end beer and food pairing event BrüFrou, pronounced [broo-froo], will have something for beer enthusiasts of all stripes. From ales to lagers, over 40 Colorado breweries will be showing off their finest at Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum on Saturday, April 19th. Well known breweries such as Boulder Beer, Left Hand Brewing Company, and Wynkoop Brewing Company will be attending. Other less publicized names of equal caliber include Yak & Yeti Brewpub, Wild Woods Brewery, and Ashar Brewing Co.

Foodies won’t be disappointed either. Thirty two of Denver’s favorite restaurants will also be present. Basta, Jax Fish House, Tag, and The Kitchen Denver are among some of the restaurant highlights. However, BrüFrou is more then just beer and food at the same event. Each pairing has been carefully contemplated and arranged to create an ideal compliment in flavors.

Some of the other restaurant choices may end up surprising guests. “Not everything will be fancy,” says John Heins of An Idea Trading Company, the company producing the event, “but everything served will be good food.” It’s rumored that local favorites Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dog and Masterpiece Deli (also known as Master P’s), both of which fit the good but not fancy food category, will be at the event.

With the microbrewery scene exploding in Colorado in recent years, Denver is really ready for an event with the size and scope of BrüFrou. Wine and food pairing is a well traveled road these days; now people really want to see great pairings between high quality beers and food. BrüFrou will really fill this niche.

Though Colorado already has the American Beer Festival, which is wonderful for beer lovers, it just doesn’t have beer and food pairing. Colorado also has a few quality smaller festivals which do pairings, but just don’t achieve the same variety as larger events. BrüFrou will really be a unique and not to be missed event in this landscape.

BrüFrou will take place one day only, Saturday April 19th, with a choice between two pairing sessions. The afternoon session runs from 11AM to 3PM and the evening session runs from 4PM to 8PM. Each session is four hours long so that guests will have plenty of time to sample everything at their leisure. Tickets for BrüFrou can purchased at the event website. Full pairing tickets run $95 and dinning only tickets are available for $55. Soft drinks and wine by the glass will also available for purchase at the event. A 15% off discount code to use when purchasing tickets can be found at some of breweries and restaurants participating in the event.


12 Things You Should Know Before Drinking A Blue Moon

Even people who aren't beer drinkers can get on board with Blue Moon &mdash who can say no to an effervescent, Belgian-style brew, served with a juicy orange slice? But that's not to say that the beer can't stand up to other big names in the business. The brand has opened some way-cool breweries and tasting rooms, made a name for itself around the world, and consistently experiments with new flavors and ingredients. Here are 12 fun facts to know about the beloved Belgian White.

Over 20 years ago, one creative brewer named Keith Villa started churning out beers at the 2,700-square-foot SandLot Brewery in Denver, CO. Villa would later become known as the brand's founder and head brewmaster.

The SandLot Brewery was the first-ever brewery housed inside a major league ballpark, so it makes sense that the beers on tap were named after the game played there. Slugger Stout and Rightfield Red went over well, but Bellyslide Wit was the hit that changed everything. The SandLot still makes 1,500 barrels of beer per year to serve during Colorado Rockies home games.

You've likely sipped on a Bellyside Wit and not even realized it &mdash now, the brand's flagship beer is known as Blue Moon Belgian White, a name that came to be when someone said, "a beer this good only comes around once in a blue moon." It's stuck ever since, and today, you can find it all over the world.

Blue Moon's co-founder, Keith Villa, knew what he was doing when he started whipping up creative beers at The SandLot. In fact, he got his PhD in brewing in Belgium, where foreign combinations of ingredients inspired his recipe, consisting of malted barley, white wheat, Valencia orange peel, coriander and oats. When he saw European bartenders serving beer with lemon wedges, it struck him that fresh orange slices would complement his Belgian-style wit perfectly.

Bet you didn't know that Blue Moon is constantly creating new varieties of beer! The offerings go way beyond the Belgian White that we know and love &mdash thanks to a pilot brewing system, customers have their pick of more than 20 rotating taps year-round, including kicked-up creations like Iced Coffee Blonde and Chile Golden Ale.

In addition to Belgian White, faithful Blue Moon fans can also find Mango Wheat and Summer Honey Wheat (a current seasonal) on shelves &mdash but what if your long-lost favorite went out of rotation years ago? Lucky for you, the brand occasionally does limited releases, bringing nostalgic picks like Raspberry Cream Ale back for a short period.

Blue Moon Belgian White and Honey Moon have both claimed gold medals in the World Beer Championship and World Beer Cup, respectively, and the brand has experts on staff who know what it takes to make really good, quality beer. Manager of Beer Education at MillerCoors, Daniel Imdieke, is also a certified Master Cicerone &mdash the equivalent of a sommelier in the beer world &mdash of which there are only 16 in the world.

Nine million barrels of beer come out of the massive MillerCoors brewery site in Golden, CO every year, but Blue Moon has a dedicated location in the RiNo District of Denver. The tasting room there serves pours of an ever-changing variety of beers, all while tracking sales to test them for success. There's also a Blue Moon TapHouse located in Norfolk, VA.

Thanks to the RiNo brewery's walk-through tour, visitors can peek behind the scenes and check out the equipment that Head Brewmaster John Legnard and other brewery staff use to churn out around one new beer each week.

The RiNo brewery has a full-service restaurant with menu items meant to be eaten with Blue Moon beers &mdash sometimes the beer itself even makes it into the recipes. According to Daniel Imdieke, the goal of a beer pairing is to select a brew that will complement the food, provide contrast to the flavor profile and cleanse the palate.

The brand was the only beer sponsor at this year's FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, where pints were poured alongside dishes from the country's best chefs and culinary experts.

If you're heading to the Strip in Las Vegas, you won't have to look far for a bar with Blue Moon on tap &mdash Planet Hollywood Resort will be home to Blue Moon Bar, where Belgian White will never be in short supply. Customers will also get a chance to sip seasonal, beer-based cocktails at the dedicated watering hole.


Denver Beer Co. Opens Its South Downing Street Location

On Wednesday, March 17, Denver Beer Co. is set to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and open its South Downing Street location. The new spot – nestled within the Rosedale neighborhood – brings more beer options to an underserved area, giving way for expansion and experimentation.

The new location will be the third Denver Beer Co. taproom and is housed in the former Maddie’s Restaurant – a former breakfast joint. The 2,563 square-foot building was acquired in January of last year and has undergone extensive renovations making way for an open taproom, an outdoor patio, a brewhouse, a garden and a full counter-service restaurant.

“The new taproom has plenty of outdoor patio space to ensure appropriate social distancing and a COVID-safe environment. Personally, I’m also very excited for the addition of DBC Eats. Chef Webb’s culinary art will allow us to provide a consistent and customized food experience to pair perfectly with our craft beers, ” stated Denver Beer Co. co-founder Patrick Crawford.

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DBC Eats and will offer “elevated bar food” created by Chef Jeffrey Webb and his team. Chef Webb has previously worked with Denver restaurants such as Fruition, Il Posto and The Kitchen Bistro in Denver. This is the first Denver Beer Co. location to have a fully functioning restaurant within the taproom.

The Denver-based brewery also acquired a 761 square-foot building next door which will be transformed into Denver Beer Co. Ice Cream and is set to open this summer offering sweet treats to go with fresh brews. With almost 10,000 square feet of outdoor patio space in front of the building, you can relax by fire pits, play lawn yard games, sit at beer garden tables and more. The location also offers bike parking for some summertime carless adventures.

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The beer lineup at the South Downing Street location will feature flagship brews such as the Princess Yum Yum Raspberry Kolsch, the Graham Cracker Porter and Incredible Pedal IPA. The lineup will also hold brews specific to the location with sips of a Rosedale Golden Ale brewed with rose petals, an Opacity Imperial Hazy IPA and a Sunrise Sensei Black IPA.

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The South Downing Street location is also home to a brewing setup that can be wheeled out to the patio for some hands-on beer experiments with the community, collaboration brews and possible brewing classes with the University of Denver.

Crawford explains, “after weathering COVID for 12 months, finally opening the doors on South Downing feels really meaningful.”

Denver Beer Co. South Downing Street is located at 2425 South Downing St., Denver.


Sophisticated Beer And Culinary Pairing Comes To Denver - Recipes

Wit is the identification for Belgian Wheat Ales. They are absolutely different from German or US wheat beers. A Wit must be brewed using at least 25 % of wheat malts. Belgian wheat beers are fruitier, with a slight lemony touch, because the use of coriander seeds, orange peels, and other spices is very common.

In Austria and Germany wheat beers are known Weiss. The extreme variation of these beers across producers is a little bit more limited due to the Reinheitsgebot, the German law that requires beer to only be made with water, barley, hops and obviously yeast. Do not let that fool you, these styles of beer are as complex as Belgian Wits. More often than not their complexity comes from the yeast esters that create deep flavors of banana and bubble gum. Some of the best white beers of the world hail from Germany and they strike the balance between depth of flavor and lightness beautifully.

The common thread that runs through this style around the world is that they are meant to be quaffable, refreshing and bright.


Get Cooking With These Seven Culinary Classes

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Spring break is over for most people, which means it's time to hit the books and learn a new skill. In this case, your classroom is the kitchen, and your supplies come in the form of a stove top, oven, knives, a cutting board and a lot of tasty ingredients. From pie workshops to seafood seminars to instructions on how to re-create Chinese takeout, these courses and schools are the places to go to enhance your cooking game. With that in mind, book a class, be sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, then don an apron and get playing with pots and pans.


The Tastiest Events on the Culinary Calendar This Week

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Restaurants are slowly getting back to business &mdash and the possibility of 100 percent seating capacity &mdash with the lifting of restrictions this past weekend. You can catch a movie in Larimer Square or dive into a tiki drink on South Broadway you can also avail yourself of gyoza, green chile and good times in Golden this week.

After you've chewed over all the possibilities during the next few days, get out your calendar and begin blocking out dates for all the upcoming events you won't want to miss this summer.

Monday, May 17
Head to Golden for bargain drinking and dining this week. May is Golden's Restaurant Appreciation Month, and for the next two weeks, you can get free swag just for spending your coin at the city's restaurants. Bring a restaurant receipt for at least $10 and dated in May 2021 to the Golden Visitors Center, 1010 Washington Avenue, to redeem it for commemorative glassware, the Golden Ticket and other deals. You'll get one-stop shopping at food halls Golden Mill (1012 Ford Street) and Tributary (701 12th Street), as well as all the other eateries around town. Find out more at Visit Golden.

Dinner at Bistro Vendôme, the Best French Restaurant in the Best of Denver 2021, is that much better when you can get dinner and a movie during the Monday night film series. Head to Larimer Square at 6 p.m. on May 17, when you can enjoy The Joy Luck Club as well as a five-course, prix fixe menu for $55. There's an at-home option, too find out more here.

Tuesday, May 18
You've paired everything you can think of with wine and whiskey, and you're well on your way to covering your bases with cider and seltzer. Time to add sake to your paired tasting repertoire. On May 18, Colorado Sake Co., 3559 Larimer Street, is offering sake and bonbon pairings from 4 to 9 p.m. Pre-order your tasting on Eventbrite, and for $20 you'll get four pours of sake and four photogenic chocolates from Colorado Cocoa Pod. Sake flavors haven't yet been announced, but the brewery regularly turns out creative flavors like Green Machine (with cilantro and ginger &mdash our fave!), lychee, lavender and horchata.

While it hasn't exactly been patio weather lately, Adrift Tiki Bar & Restaurant is looking forward to sunnier times ahead and bringing the beach back to South Broadway, with a new summer menu debuting May 18. &ldquoWe want our guests to be fully immersed in our vibrant space and transported to another world,&rdquo says Adrift owner Loren Martinez. &ldquoWhether it&rsquos through the tropics or wandering through street food corners, every bite and sip at Adrift should feel like a vacation that takes you on a culinary adventure.&rdquo Just a sip of the Dirty Dan is quite an adventure: The dark piña colada is twisted with the addition of Mezcal, grapefruit, housemade Mole syrup and Fernet. Or try a Flamingo Lingo, which features pineapple, Paranubes Rum, watermelon juice, guava, rhubarb, coconut and Aquavit. Adrift is open from 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Wednesday, May 19
If your brain turned to mush during 2020 and has yet to recover its pre-pandemic acuity, Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse, 3636 Chestnut Place, has the summer film series for you: Sandler Summer. Starting Wednesday, May 19, the tasting room will show the high points of Adam Sandler's oeuvre every other Wednesday, with seating beginning outside at 7:30 p.m. and screenings at dusk. The first installment is Billy Madison subsequent movies include Happy Gilmore, 50 First Dates and The Wedding Singer. (Props to the distillery, which decided to leave the comedian's more cringe-worthy efforts &mdash like I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry and The Ridiculous 6 &mdash on the cutting-room floor.) Tickets are just $5 and available on Eventbrite.

Thursday, May 20
Izakayas are more familiar to Denver residents than they were a few years ago &mdash but even if you can navigate menus of Japanese drinking food with ease, you may not be as comfortable turning out karaage, pork gyoza with dipping sauce, garlic and ginger beef yakatori or udon noodles with bok choy and shiitakes in your own kitchen. Centennial's Uncorked Kitchen, 8171 South Chester Street, is here to help with its Japanese Pub Food class on Thursday, May 20. The lesson runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and is designed for couples, so grab your best drinking buddy and learn to make all of the above &mdash plus green tea ice cream! &mdash for $275 for two (that price includes a bottle of wine). Register on Uncorked's website.

Friday, May 21
Still setting out bags of Tostitos and grocery-store tubs of salsa when your friends come over? Get it together, friend. You're an adult, and it's time to start entertaining like one. If you have no concept of how to step it up (other than transferring the chips and salsa to bowls), consider the Seasoned Chef's cocktail party cooking class for two on Friday, May 21. The school at 999 Jasmine Street will equip you with grown-up recipes that you can make ahead of time, so you'll spend more time hanging out with your house guests than hovering over your cooktop. The six-course menu includes green chile crab cakes with chipotle aioli and lemon cubes, cucumber avocado gazpacho shooters with grilled-lime cream, and steak skewers with ancho steak sauce. Sign up for the 6:30 p.m. class, $180 per pair, on the Seasoned Chef's website.

Keep reading for future food and drink happenings.

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Saturday, May 22
The love affair with adding bacon to everything seems awfully 2012, but this year's Bacon and Beer Classic will bring back a welcome taste of pre-pandemic times. Guests will be ushered along a path at Kennedy Golf Course, 10500 East Hampden Avenue, where they'll pause at stations to throw back beer, cider and pork products. This year's Classic also touts full-sized, bacon-based dishes instead of sample sizes. Purchase tickets ($79 or $59) on Eventbrite, where &mdash like any bacon-munching, beer-swilling golfer &mdash you'll need to pick your "b" time (11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) to start your beer and bacon death march. Visit the event website for details.

If the only things you know about Ukraine are its figure skaters and land wars, you're missing out. On Saturday, May 22, find out exactly what you're missing at a Ukrainian cooking class. From 2 to 6 p.m., you'll make borscht (beet soup) potato, cabbage and mushroom varenyky (similar to pierogi) banush (a cornmeal dish traditionally topped with bacon, cheese and mushrooms) and syrnik (a cross between a cheese souffle, pancake and cheesecake). The class will run you $45, which also includes wine, and is being held at the Retreat at Solterra, 15250 West Evans Avenue in Lakewood visit Facebook for details, then purchase your ticket here.

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Sunday, May 23
Sip sweetly on Sunday, May 23, at the launch of the Family Jones's limited-edition honey liqueur, Nectar Jones. The beverage was created with the help of artist Kristen Hatgi Sink, whose 2018 MCA exhibit, Honey, included photographs and videos of honey being dripped over people and objects, as well as a memorable in-person installment of a leotard-clad woman writhing about in a tank of the sticky substance. That honey was ultimately used to make Nectar Jones (germophobes, no word on whether the full-body honey was utilized in distillation). The event takes place at Grow & Gather, 900 East Hampden Avenue in Englewood, from 4 to 7 p.m., and your $80 ticket includes a full-sized bottle of Nectar Jones, small bites, cocktails, bee education and a silent auction. Buy tickets now on the Family Jones website.

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Sunday, May 30
If your idea of brunch is less "I need some hair of the dog" and more "I've been partying since Friday night &mdash why stop now?," Munchies and Mimosas is the event for you. After over a year on hiatus, the party is returning to the Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora, for a brunch event with bottomless bubbly and a banger vibe. For $40, from noon to 6 p.m. you'll get a brunch spread, all the mimosas you can drink and over a hundred people dancing to tunes from DJs KScott, Simone Says and KDJ Above. Visit the Munchies and Mimosas Instagram for details, then snag tickets on Eventnoire.

For a weekend celebration that will be just as messy as a bottomless mimosa brunch (but in a very different way), go west &mdash to the VFW Post 4171 at 15725 West Tenth Avenue in Golden. Chef Jeff Stoneking (formerly of ChoLon and LeRoux) is putting on a seafood boil from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 30. The main attraction is the aquatic spread &mdash mussels, clams, shrimp, oysters, crawfish, crab cakes &mdash but there will also be burgers, hot dogs and chicken to nosh on, drinks from the VFW bar (no $13 cocktails here), live music and a guitar raffle. Local vendors including Moon Raccoon Baking Co., Mama Sue's Kitchen (chili oil), DittyPop Smoothies and Sasta's Shroom Shack (mushroom tacos and quesadillas) will also be on hand. Admission is free, though you can pre-order a plate for $30 that includes seafood, slaw or salad, a glass of booze and a raffle ticket on Stoneking's website.

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Friday, June 4
Nothing says summer like pink patio pounders &mdash and Carboy Winery's Denver outpost, 400 East Seventh Avenue, is bringing together a pack of producers for its Rosé La La La festival on Friday, June 4. In two sessions (3:30 to 5 p.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m.), you can sample rosé wine from thirteen Colorado wineries, including the Storm Cellar, Sauvage Spectrum, BookCliff Vineyards, Jack Rabbit Hill Farm and Chill Switch Wines. Admission is a steal at $38 &mdash which includes apps and a stemless wine glass to take home &mdash but finding your perfect post-COVID summer wine is worth its weight in gold. Visit Carboy's website to learn more and secure your spot.

Thursday, June 17
Restaurant and bar workers need a party after the last eighteen months (hoo boy, do they ever). Enter Drink Red Wear Red, an industry bash on Thursday, June 17, that is even more impactful in 2021. That's because the event, put on by the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) and Foundation (CRF), benefits the CRA Mile High Chapter's Hardship Relief Fund as well as the CRF, which administers the statewide Angel Relief Fund. (Both assist hospitality workers facing hard times.) This year's party is an open-air celebration at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, and includes wine (red, or course), cocktails, bites from a dozen Denver restaurants (including the Bindery, Esters, GQue Barbecue, Maria Empanada, the Pig & the Sprout and Comida) and live music from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets are currently $45 or $125 VIP tickets include 5:30 p.m. entry as well as a rooftop reception with views of City Park and downtown Denver. Get your tickets on the CRA's website before prices go up on June 1.

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Thursday, August 12
Treat yourself to a long, boozy weekend in Vail from Thursday, August 12, to Sunday, August 15, at the Vail Wine Classic. The fest &mdash which was one of the very few events that didn't go digital or "postpone" (aka cancel) its 2020 iteration &mdash is putting on a pair of two-hour grand tastings at 1:30 and 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets will run you $99 for GA $129 for thirty minutes early entry or $225 for the aptly named "double trouble" pass, which gets you into both sessions at the early entry time. The tastings are an outdoor affair at Vail Athletic Fields, 646 Vail Valley Drive. Details about wine dinners, seminars and the inevitable day-after brunch are yet to be announced, but you can visit the event website for complete info and Eventbrite for tickets.

Know of an event that belongs on this calendar? Send information to [email protected].

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Beer and food pairing: US vs UK

The UK is now home to the most breweries per capita in the world, but we’ve still got a way to go when it comes to matching beer and food. Lotte Peplow takes a look at how the British craft beer scene differs from its US counterpart.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Enjoying a pint with a meal has been woven into the fabric of British society for centuries, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that matching the versatile and complementary flavours of beer to a range of different foods became popular and started to infiltrate the high-ground held by wine. Nowadays craft beer is a booming trend with more breweries per capita in the UK than anywhere else in the world – a trend that has been fuelled by small and independent American craft brewers who are widely credited with igniting the global craft beer movement.

Much of British cuisine lends itself to beer – think hearty winter stews, casseroles, pies, Ploughman’s, steaks, ribs and burgers. Restaurants and pubs are innovating with beer and food pairings and exploring the huge range of flavours beer has to offer, but will it ever usurp wine at the dinner table? The answer lies across the Atlantic.

In America, beer and food pairing is a sophisticated, highly developed art form involving culinary skill and brewing expertise. It is also uniquely collaborative with small brewers working together with independent suppliers from the local community. Five-course beer and food pairing menus are commonplace and nearly all establishments from basic bars and diners through to white tablecloth restaurants offer an extensive beer list alongside menu suggestions. Special beer and food pairing events attract interest from all over the world.

The Brewers Association, a not-for-profit trade organisation that promotes and protects small and independent American craft brewers, organises Paired (part of the Great American Beer Festival) – a feast of sumptuous taste sensations involving twenty-one chefs and twenty-one breweries who each make two bite-sized delicacies perfectly paired with just the right flavoured beer. Tickets costing the equivalent of £120 sell out very quickly and 1,500 people attend per night. Adam Dulye, executive chef of the Brewers Association and mastermind behind Paired, recommends that beer should be one of the flavour components of a dish the only difference being it’s in a glass, not on the plate. ‘Hops are insanely food friendly,’ he says. ‘They don’t need a lot of fat, they don’t need a lot of heat but they do like to be lifted up and play with the roof of the palate, across your tongue and on the nose. We’re looking to challenge people in a way they never have been before and create excitement about beer and food. The quality of beer from the brewers and ingredients from the chefs are changing people’s perceptions of how the two can go together.’

The wildly diverse range of beer styles in the States and constant innovation in the brewing industry is the ideal bedrock for such marriages of flavour. Americans are truly passionate about their beer and food culture. Anyone thinking a pint of bitter and a Ploughman’s is a good match should try a Maui Blood Orange Lorenzini Double IPA (7.6% ABV) made with Azacca hops, containing a bergamot character similar to Earl Grey, paired with ham hock terrine, buffalo sauce, dehydrated blue cheese, micro celery and a sprinkle of sweet, crispy carrot cake! Or New Holland’s Incorrigible, a 4.5% ABV white sour ale made with Michigan blueberries and blackberries, to complement and cut through the oily richness of a smoked salmon tartare, dressed with horseradish cream, shallots, capers and a blackberry.

So how would an event like Paired go down in the UK? Tomos Parry, award-winning head chef at the highly acclaimed Kitty Fisher’s restaurant in Mayfair, says: ‘We have a different relationship to beer versus Americans because we’ve had beer in pubs for hundreds of years and there will always be that pint drinking mentality. Americans are not so rooted in tradition so it’s easier for them to innovate. I think British people are coming round to the idea of beer with food more and more, especially in cities with amazing beer scenes. Beer is more accessible than wine and the variety is incredible.’

Nicholas Balfe, head chef of Salon in Brixton, London, adds: ‘In America the craft beer market is more mature than in the UK and the wide diversity and huge range of beer styles make food pairing easier. As UK craft brewers push the boundaries of beer flavours, chefs will take beer more seriously as an option for pairing. It may be some time before we see an event like Paired in the UK but it would work well alongside a food festival such as Meatopia or Taste of London.’


The Wine Pairing That Changed the Way I Think About Wine Pairings

Never get the wine pairings. That’s what I had always been told, at least. You’re paying too much for the wines you’re given. You’re getting too much or too little to drink. You’re asking to have your meal interrupted by some ego-tripping sommelier. Who wants any of that?

But then I booked a solo meal at Beckon in Denver, a 2019 Top 50 finalist and tasting menu-only sister restaurant to 2018 Hot 10 winner Call, while I was in town visiting my sister last spring. It was one of those new fangled ticketed sort of deals—pay upfront for eight courses, whatever additions you want, tax, and tip—and I opted to add the (very affordable!) $65 wine pairing, mostly because I was tickled by the idea that I wouldn’t even have to take out my credit card to pay for drinks at the end of the meal. Aside from thinking that it sounded extremely convenient, I didn’t give much thought to the fact that I was doing exactly the opposite of what I had always been told. Which is particularly funny, considering the thing I’ve been thinking about for the better part of this year is actually the wine pairing by Zachary Byers, Beckon’s sommelier.

To be clear: I loved the food at Beckon. Every course that chef Duncan Holmes and his team passed across the counter to me was fresh and fascinating, made with equal parts care and creativity. But for the first time in my life, the wine I was being poured positively electrified the food. Barely cooked California spot prawns lolling about in a verdant green spring gazpacho was delicious on its own but transcendent alongside a salty, floral albariño from Monterey, California. I went from standing on a cliff overlooking the Pacific to hang-gliding over it. Monkfish in a gripping mussel broth found its voice in between sips of an off-dry Alsatian pinot gris, its honeyed sweetness just evanescing off the brine of the seafood. The experience of each course in its totality was so captivating that I kept forgetting that there was more to come.

But the brilliance of Byers’s pairings went beyond the gustatory they made me think. And not because he was speechifying with every pour—he deftly dispensed just enough information about each wine to clarify without confounding—but because I was experiencing something new with each glass. Come to think of it, I hadn’t had albariño from California before. If I’m not a person who “likes sweet wines,” then why was that pinot gris so damn delicious? I thought about how special and rare it was to drink wines made by two female winemakers in a row—and then thought about how depressing it is for that to be special and rare. It’s easy for one’s mind to wander when dining alone in a situation like this, but I was riveted, present, there the entire time. All that for the price of a middling bottle at another restaurant? Yes, yes, and yes!

When I talked to Byers later about my prejudice against wine pairings and how surprised I was by his, he confirmed that this was all by design. “Beverage programs are responsible for a lot of the profit at restaurants, and a lot of people take advantage of that when it comes to wine pairings,” he explained. “I’m trying to bring that cost right up to the limit, and I feel like I would be cheating people if I didn’t do that.” And in trying to keep the wine affordable, Byers often ends up seeking out high quality, off-the-beaten-path bottles that don’t command the exorbitant price points of more recognizable grapes and regions. “It’s fun to get to play with people’s preconceived expectations,” he shared. “One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that there’s a good version of everything and a perfect context, and when you can get those things together, you can really open people’s eyes to something special.” I wasn’t just presented with the wines that I should be drinking, in that particular moment with that particular plate of food, but the amazing wines I could be drinking if I got out of my comfort zone, thought a little bit harder, explored more boldly.

More than anything, my meal at Beckon was a reminder of how rewarding it can be to take a chance, to put yourself in someone else’s hands and have the gamble pay off. “Trust is such a huge thing, and a really fragile thing,” Byers said. “If someone is giving it to you, then you have to make sure not to mess it up.” And if more sommeliers start thinking like that, then there are going to be a whole lot more wine pairings in my future.


Oskar Blues Chef On the Perfect Burger & Why Never to Cook With Beer

Pour that IPA into a donut batter and you’re asking for it.

Oskar Blues, the craft beer brand famous for being the first to can their homemade Dale’s Pale Ale, has expanded from humble origins operating a bar for the locals of Lyons, Colorado, to a mini-empire of fooderies that celebrate the good things in life: craft beer and burgers.

Enlisted to marry Oskar’s beers to their perfect burger and fry pairing, Chef and Partner of Oskar Blues Fooderies Jason Rogers dishes on making the perfect burger, NOT using beer in everyday recipes, and the juicy new CHUBurger opening in Denver at 3490 Larimer Street (packed with 30 craft beers on tap).

EXPERT CHEF:

After starting his career at 13 washing dishes for a small Chicago restaurant, Rogers went on to become (most recently) Executive Chef at JW Marriott Denver Cherry Creek and Culinary Director at the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder and Aspen. He met Dale of Oskar Blues while living in Lyons and was enlisted to band up with the renegade beer company. “It took some real soul searching, but nobody was eating finer dining,” says Rogers. “It’s all became about cool, simple food made with good ingredients— food trucks and ethnic cuisine especially.”

What’s the perfect food to pair with beer? It’s okay if you don’t say a burger.

It’s got to be a burger. No matter where I cooked, burgers were always on the menu and always #1. I say the burger is what keeps you employed as a chef. My go-to is a Dale’s Pale Ale with a Burk Burger. It’s a super-rich, sweet, salty pork with smoky bacon, sweet and sour onions, and pungent cheese. Dales has that awesome bitter hop, not too floral, and yet it’s super dry and refreshing so you can wash down that burger. It highlights all the sweetness and sourness.

  • Ground Berkshire pork patty
  • Half blue cheese and half herbs butter mix to spread on bun
  • Bacon
  • Balsamic onions cooked down with vinegar
  • Honey wheat bun
  • An ice-cold Dale’s Pale Ale

Any tips on cooking with beer?

The number one tip for cooking with craft beer is don’t cook it. Honestly. When you have an awesome IPA, a beer you want to put in a mayonnaise-style sauce or vinaigrette, even a donut batter, if you really want to feature the flavor don’t cook the beer. Cooking it bitters the hops, which make its floral taste. You heat that up and it instantly loses its aroma.

So… we should stop cooking with beer then.

There have been cook books that include recipes with belgiums and sours, but when you’re talking American craft, don’t cook them. Unless its Oskar’s Scottish ale Old Chub—

A low hoppy beer. It does cook up and gets rich like a veal stock.

What are the food trends you’re seeing today?

What’s old is new. The ethnicity food scene in Denver in general has come such a long way. So many people are doing really cool, deeply soulful food like Work & Class. It’s about harvesting your roots on the plate, not serving greasy tacos in a Styrofoam box. CHUBurger was initially a food truck, born from the idea of making a great In-N-Out style-burger with craft ingredients. It’s americana. It’s for all of us. The new RiNo location opens January 20, with a Hotbox Roaster CBD (coffee, beer, donuts) in the same space. Hotbox is driven by two things: hand-made donuts and nitro cold brew (also canned like the heritage Pale Ale). *The Manual Recommends The Homer donut with strawberry lemonade glaze.

The booths at CHUBurger Denver

What about beer trends?

In Denver, beer trends are flying by within five months of starting. Mexican lager is doing awesome. But everyone’s pallets are becoming hyper specific to what they like. Those who love sours, absolutely love them. Double IPA followers, love them. Weird infused stuff like graham cracker porters or our Death by Coconut English porter, love them. That’s why every brewery in Mile High has 20 different specialty beers.


Beer and food reaches parts of the brain that beer alone cannot. – Randy Mosher

At the 2015 Craft Brewers Conference in Portland, Ore., Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers Association Julia Herz moderated a panel of sensory specialists from the beer world as well as the scientific community including Randy Mosher, Pat Fahey, Lindsay Barr and Nicole Garneau, Ph.D.

The purpose of this sensory culinary working group was to examine how and why we perceive flavor and other important aspects of food and beer (like texture or mouthfeel), how to standardize a lexicon describing those perceptions, and how to spread that information to the larger beer and food worlds to create more mindful pairings.

While this seminar went in several interesting directions, one, in particular, caught my attention: the concept that sensory science supports the idea that pairing food and beer can elevate each into something more than the sum of its parts.

Master Cicerone Pat Fahey, also the content creator for the Cicerone Certification Program, notes, “When you put two things together and get something that wasn’t there before, those are some of the most interesting beer and food pairings–when we’re able to create something new through the pairing.”

As a Louisiana beer writer, I’ve long advocated that underrated local beer needs to be paired with food to realize the true potential of beer brewing and drinking in a food-focused culture. And now, science supports that.

“Science can support intuition in some cases,” says panelist Lindsay Guerdrum Barr, Sensory Specialist at New Belgium Brewing Co. “We’re just trying to put science behind what we intuitively know in the beer-food pairing world.”

For example, IPA and potato chips have been proven to interact in a sense-pleasing manner. “The reason we like that [pairing],” Guerdrum Barr says, “is because of the peripheral interactions that happen at the taste receptor level between the saltiness of the chips and the bitterness of the IPA.”

It’s in this context that often overlooked styles can really shine in food pairings elevating the pleasure derived in drinking them by matching what’s happening on a chemical and biological level with the right dish.

Brown Ale

Adam Dulye, executive chef for the Brewers Association and CraftBeer.com, points to the humble brown ale as an often overlooked sleeper of a beer style, “the pinot noir of the beer world.”

“You can drink it on its own you can pair it with fish, poultry, game or beef. A lot of that is due to the Maillard reaction in the malt,” which references the chemical process which transforms enzymes and carbohydrates through heat to a highly aromatic compound, adding flavor to meat, coffee, bread, and beer.

Dulye says that the brown ale style contains the same range of flavors on the palate as the receptors of the Maillard reaction, hitting the “sweet spot” right where people perceive that chemical interaction. He recommends a roast duck breast or confit to complement the fruit undertones of the darker malts in the beer.

One revelatory pairing I had at Restaurant August in 2013 was roasted lamb with green garlic-oat risotto served with Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan. I lacked the terminology at that time to adequately articulate the reasons for the pairing’s success–if I tried it now, I would likely point to each component enhancing the other in the roast/Maillard chemical similarities specifically. Also, the increased malt sweetness of the beer style balanced the gaminess of the lamb and the sharp freshness of the green garlic, creating a harmony that remains to this day the best combination of food and beer I have ever had.

Southern Pecan is not a flashy, sexy beer. It’s a 4.4 percent ABV brown ale with sweet malt notes and caramel undertones. It gets fair ratings on various beer sites, but because the style is so standard, it doesn’t get much attention. It could be considered, as Chef Dulye says, a “sleeper” beer, but pair it with the right food and it becomes divine.

Saison

Another often overlooked or misinterpreted style that tends to work well with food is the saison. Dulye enjoys using it for pairing because it’s a good gateway beer for those who are new to beer or beer-food pairings.

He notes, the citrus/lemon notes from the yeast along with the high level of carbonation typical of the style is great with food and dishes like asparagus or a scallop-English pea risotto. The ocean sweetness of the scallop and the bright, fresh peas along with the effervescence and lightness of a saison creates a “springtime party in your mouth,” he says.

Also, risotto has a rich, creamy, fatty rice base, and according to Nicole Garneau Ph.D., Director, The Genetics of Taste Lab at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, “Fat can be scoured by CO2. We use the language ‘palate cleansing’ because CO2 is one of the best ways to scrub the palate.”

Smoked Beer/Rauchbier

The almost savory aspects of a smoked beer come from the brain’s association of smoke with meat like bacon or barbecue. This can make the enjoyment of these types of beers difficult since the dominant flavor targets a sense memory not typically associated with beer or any beverage.

Dr. Garneau calls this kind of cognitive association congruence, and it is a significant aspect of sensory interaction since the brain is what takes all the input from the senses and makes a decision based on that information. It also makes smoked beer, which can be an acquired taste to drink on its own, perfect for pairing with food.

In a recent interview, Dr. Garneau noted that the aroma of smoke has been associated with meat and the cooking of protein over fire throughout human history and evolution. “Smoke isn’t a flavor, it’s an aroma,” she adds.

Specific cultural and nostalgic associations with smoke aroma layered on top of the more broadly based cognitive recognition create a cross-modal interaction, Dr. Garneau says, which is a point in the brain where two or sense memories come into play to make an even stronger connection to the flavor or aroma in question.

Grilled foods also trigger that cultural and evolutionary association. Also, foods rich in umami, “the fifth sense” that recognizes savory glutemates, also carry that sense memory. Mushrooms, Parmesan, cured meat, and fermented fish sauces or Worcestershire sauce are examples of umami.

According to Karlos Knott, co-founder of Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville, La., when developing their smoked beer in the early days of the brewery’s founding, “We wanted to create a beer that reminded us of my grandfather. When we were thinking of what style to brew, we all said at the same time, it has to be smoked, because he smoked almost everything he butchered on his farm.”

Thinking about how the beer would affect food pairings, Knotts says that while developing the recipe, he and his family wanted a much lighter smoke profile in the beer than the traditional German Rauchbier. “Cajun food is pretty complex with the roux, pork fat, smokiness from the meat, onions, garlic, cayenne pepper and such. You really need beer in South Louisiana to be a supporting partner to the meal, not a standout.”

Chef Dulye says, “Generally if I am working with a smoked beer I will let the smoke in the beer be the only smoke in the pairing. Pairing a smoked beer to a smoked dish can overwhelm the palate as well as make it harder to discern where the smoke notes are coming from.”

Pairing is Personal

Beer is more than the sum of its ABV and IBU numerical parts. The potential to make significant, scientifically sound cognitive connections through the five senses is significantly increased by adding the right flavors, aromas and textures to the equation with food pairings. The number of outcomes exponentially increases by the fact, as Herz says, that “perception is personal, and therefore pairing is personal.”

So in addition to scientific facts and culinary intuition, Dr. Garneau says, “At the end of the day, if you like it, you like it. And it’s not just based on your ability to detect and perceive, but also your experiences that are personal or cultural: social context, where you’re eating, nostalgia, emotions.”

The sensory pairing team of beer and scientific experts that presented at last year’s Craft Brewers Conference has been continuing its work and will be holding another seminar at this year’s conference in Philadelphia to bring the brewing community up to speed on its progress.

“Crowdtasting: A New Approach in Beer and Food,” will be held on Thurs., May 5, and will feature several original members of the group: Julia Herz, Randy Mosher, Pat Fahey, and Nicole Garneau, Ph.D.


Watch the video: Best Beers for Your Food (May 2022).