By Bobby Bush
Friday morning coming down, lunch time on the horizon. This first full day of Great
American Beer Festival-associated events began with a little free time in Denver. A
delicious beer-battered rock shrimp appetizer at Wynkoop Brewing and a cask
conditioned IPA started the day. Topped by a thick white head of foam, this medium
bodied ale had a teeth-warming effect, malty with strange hop (not Cascades) flavor at the
For the year, nine months at that point, Wynkoop had brewed 2,290 barrels of
beer. The ten-plus years old brewpub has, for years, ranked number one or two in the
nation for brewpub output. Joined by former-Celebrator writer Nico Freccia, now owner
of 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco, I had time for one more pint, choosing
the very-burnt caramel maltiness of the cask Scottish. The busy Wynkoop lunch crowd
had many fine brews from which to select, including Boxcar Kolsch, Railyard Amber Ale,
Eli’s Cream Ale and Patty’s Chili Beer.
A brisk walk over to Flying Dog Brewpub, where beer is great and service is
unattainable, brought another tough decision. Artichoke Dip ordered, only to arrive as I
scurried out the door, I sampled many of their eight creatively-named and labeled Flying
Dog beers: Doggie Style Pale Ale, Road Dog (hybrid Scottish and Porter), Tire Biter
(Kolsch), Old Scratch, Snake Dog (IPA), K-9 Cruiser (strong Winter Ale), Railyard
Amber (same recipe as Wynkoop’s) and Barley Wine (8.5% abv). Several guest beers
were also on tap.
Already late for another program, I rushed across town to the 2001 GABF Media
Gathering. Tom Nickel, of Stuft Pizza & Brewery near San Diego, presented a well
research talk on Beer & Food. Focused on chocolate & desserts, the small group sampled
several chocolates paired with various beer. We also enjoyed a thick reduced wort
(unfermented beer) syrup served over chocolate ice cream, cookies with chopped hops in
the batter, cookies sprinkled with crystal malt, cookies made with dry malt extract and a
delicious stout ice cream float. You’ve got to try one to appreciate this delicious dessert.
Remember, brewing beer is a form of cooking. Beer can be used as an ingredient
in many ways, especially as a substitute for wine. Fruit can be soaked in beer before using
in a recipe. Porter or stout can be added to chocolate candies and desserts recipes. Beer
ice cream, shakes and floats are scrumptious. Beer reductions can be used in place of
wine. Unfermented beer and malt extract work well in recipes too.
Pairing beer and food can be just as innovative. From Tom’s presentation we
learned that beer is more complementary to food than wine. Originating in Mediterranean
countries, wine easily pairs with the foods of Spain, France and Italy, but not with others.
Many more cuisines are beer friendly. When mating food with drink, one of three
methods are used. Cleanse, complement or contrast - cleanse, as in a refreshing pilsner
when eating sushi; complement, as a hoppy IPA with spicy Mexican fare; and contrast, as
in the stout, vanilla ice cream float. Some beers, such as Dogfish Head’s exuberant,
chewy World Wide Stout, stand on their own. Try a Pale Ale with green salads, fish, pork
and hamburger. Brown Ale works with chicken, salad and pork. The opulent taste of
Porter pairs well with cheese, beef, barbeque and fruity or creamy desserts, while dry
stouts complement shellfish and rich meats, as well as chocolate and rich desserts.
I left this all-too-brief presentation with a smile and a handful of recipes featuring
such delectables as Ginger Beer Snaps, Beer-a-misu and Ballast Point Bread Pudding with
Porter Sauce. And for the main course, try Beer Baby Back Ribs, Cumin Cured Lamb
with Beer Glaze or Beer, Black Bean & Beef Chili. Pumpkin and Beer Soup with Spiced
Walnut Cream sounds yummy too. For these and other recipes see www.nbwa.org.
My head was swimming, not from the effect of alcohol, but from the amazing array
of flavors that had been presented at this eye-opening session.
Next up for this waning afternoon was another Realbeer.com event. A 4:00 bus
ride with other invited writers and dignitaries to Fort Collins, Colorado for the 5th annual
Realbeer.com Vertical Tasting. We’ll get to that next
This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.
© Bobby Bush