Beer Dinners - a party for your mouth
For those of you who haven’t been to a beer dinner, it's time to hop on board. (pun intended) Most people have heard of wine and food pairings, but if you want to be truly avant garde try a beer pairing. In the words of Garrett Oliver: “[real beer] can make every single decent meal you have an interesting and memorable flavor experience. It can be something that will light up your senses and make you actually want to pay attention to what’s happening on your palate.” I couldn’t agree more. Beer has just as vast a variety of flavor profiles as wine and when paired with the right foods, beer will create a party in your mouth.
There are a few reasons we over here enjoy beer with food much more than wine. The first is that there is a beer that pairs well with almost any meal you can think of; wine not so much. Wine people can never seem to find wines to pair with smoked meats, spicy foods, and chocolate. No matter what anyone tells you - chocolate and wine is a tough pairing. You could try pairing it with a sweet port, but you risk diabetic shock. I can think of 10 beers I’d love to drink with chocolate - Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout, New Belgium’s Transatlantique Kriek, or our very own Kenya Karatina Coffee Stout would all make delicious combos.
Secondly, beer is budget friendly! Want to impress your date with a fancy dinner? For $25 dollars you can buy the fanciest barrel aged imperial stout in a 22oz bottle to share and for $10 you can buy some of the finest 6 packs of beers available. Compare that to $50+ for a nice bottle of wine. I’ll take beer over wine, any day.
Over the last week, Charlie and I have had the pleasure of imbibing at three delicious beer dinners. All three were a blast and included unique food and beer pairings. The first dinner was our very own. We partnered with Mikes2 Kitchen who served a delightful seasonal menu for 30 guests in our taproom. The second beer dinner was for over 2000 people at the Craft Brewers Conference - not exactly intimate! The third was hosted by The Kitchen, one of the Front Range’s favorite dining establishments, where we joined 15 others at a communal table to share one of their renowned ‘Community Night Dinners’.
Curious about what we ate? Here are some of my favorite pairings from the three dinners.
My favorite dish from Mikes2 was a piping hot bowl of steamed clams, spicy spanish chorizo, and Fresno Peppers, served with a garlic crostini. Mikes2 paired this bowl of fun with our Sunnyside Hefeweizen. The tasty little clams and light broth played well together with the hefe, it was a light easy pairing and a wonderful spring dish.
The awards gala dinner at the World Beer Cup kicked off with a charcuterie and cheese plate paired with a bubbly Belgian strong ale, Malheur Biere. There is nothing like a solid pork pate, gouda, and olives to start off a big night. Combined with the Malheur, a light, effervescent, and bubbly brew reminiscent of champagne, this appetizer combo was fit for a king.
The chefs and cicerone at The Kitchen turned traditional beer pairing on its head. Traditional dessert beers showed up next to the savory dishes and your typical strong starters were served with the final course. We usually see Graham Cracker Porter served with dessert, but at this meal we had our beloved campfire in a glass with smoked oysters and fresh bread. Following the chefs served a wonderfully simple arugula salad and asparagus with tarragon and chive blossoms. With this salad course we enjoyed our lemony Saison - the funky flavors of the yeast met the spicy arugula and strong herbal notes of the tarragon and chive for a real dance party on the tongue. Finally for dessert, we enjoyed the Incredible Pedal IPA with a scrumptious, chocolately hop brownie covered in smokey ice cream. It was hands down the best dessert I’ve ever eaten. And such a surprise as we usually see IPA’s paired with meats and strong cheeses.
So bottom line - come grab some growlers and try a beer dinner. You are certain to enjoy a flavor fête and though your palette might have a bit of a hangover afterwards, it’ll thank you for the fun night.