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Nov 22, 2014

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September, 2001

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 end.

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

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