It's back to basics this weekend, as the ABCs of drinking (ale, beer and cerveza) take center stage, but you'll also find distilleries, entomology and food banks on the agenda. Here are seven of the best food and drink events over the next three days, plus future fun in February and beyond.
Friday, January 25
For the 74th year in a row, the Brown Palace Hotel is welcoming a very unusual guest on Friday, January 25: the National Western Stock Show's 2019 Grand Champion steer. This cowtown doesn't roll out the red carpet for just any cow, though; in addition to being blow-dried and fluffed to within an inch of its life, the steer (as with most creatures that pass through the doors of the Brown, 321 17th Street) has some serious money behind him: Last year's Grand Champion sold for $140,000. The grand entrance into the hotel's atrium happens at 11 a.m., followed by photo ops and, if you're feeling flush, afternoon tea, before the steer of the show departs at 1 p.m.; secure your spot by calling 303-297-3111. Better straighten those pinkies and brush up on your Emily Post if you're going to spring for tea, which will run you upwards of $40; you don't want to look like, well, a bull in a china shop.
Neighborhood associations often seem like the purview of uptight suburbanites living in the blandest of beige homes perched at the end of cul-de-sacs — so it may surprise you that the East Colfax Neighborhood Association (which is definitely not composed of pearl-clutching commuters) is one of the oldest in the city. And on Friday, January 25, the organization is launching a weekly food bank in partnership with Counterpath, the nonprofit printing press and gallery space at 7935 East 14th Avenue. The fledgling endeavor will distribute free food to residents of the neighborhood every Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. at Counterpath; it's also accepting food donations (both non-perishable goods and produce from home gardens) during this time. For additional donation times, visit counterpathpress.org, then go to eastcolfaxneighborhood.org to see if you fall within the association's boundaries, in case you want to become more involved.
It took a whopping six years for Denver Distillery, 244 South Broadway, to open its doors from the time owner Ron Tarver conceived of the space; in contrast, the urban distillery's first year in business has flown by. On Friday, January 25, the bar celebrates its relatively short 365 days of operation starting at 7 p.m., with the first fifty people bellying up to the bar entitled to a preview of the soon-to-be-released four-grain bourbon. For the rest of the evening, settle in with a cocktail (additions to the spirits include unusual ingredients like pecan simple syrup and gunpowder-green tea tincture) and live music; denverdistillery.com has the details.
Saturday, January 26
Waiter, there's a bug in my beer! At Cerveceria Colorado, 1635 Platte Street, that bug is from Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, Colorado's only edible insect farm, and it's supposed to be there. At least, that will be the case on Saturday, January 26, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., as the brewery presents its Beer & Bug Pairing, with three brews, three kinds of edible insects and other food from Comida, one of the city's top taquerias; find tickets, $20 pre-sale and $25 day-of, at Two Parts' website.
If you're going to drink beer outdoors in the middle of a Colorado winter, it's best to dress in layers (of furs) and make sure you cover your head (with a horned helmet). At least that's the vibe at the UllrGrass beer festival on Saturday, January 26, where locals will simultaneously honor both the Norse pantheon and craft beer. For $55, attendees can enjoy live bluegrass and funk at Parfet Park, 701 10th Street in Golden, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., plus unlimited beers from the likes of Station 26 Brewing Co., Prost Brewing and Mockery Brewing from 1 to 4 p.m. Get your tickets at Ullrgrass.com, where you can also opt for a weekend ($120) or VIP ($250) pass. Skål!
Sunday, January 27
Il Porcellino Salumi, 4334 West 41st Avenue, expanded dramatically this year with the addition of a production facility in Basalt, and with its increased capacity, it's also bringing a slew of new products to market. One of those is the meat CSA the Berkeley shop is debuting in 2019. Just think of a typical summer produce CSA, but for carnivores. Each box comes with the makings for two meals for two people, such as polenta, shredded beef in chile sauce and a half-chicken marinated in white wine, butter and garlic. The program will run from January through March, with four boxes each month; customers for February (the first month of the CSA) must order by Sunday, January 27, and can pick up their goodies at the shop each Sunday, beginning February 3. A one-month commitment ($200) is required, so call 303-477-3206 to sign up, then say goodbye to hitting the grocery store and stop fretting about recalled ground beef for the next thirty days.
What have you been binge-watching since November? The only correct answer is The Great British Baking Show. With its quirky judges, oft-incomprehensible yet always unfailingly polite bakers, dramatic score and complete lack of any manufactured sexual tension, the show is a balm for our fractured souls that can't bear another Twitter meltdown. And if you've been a dedicated viewer from the beginning of the series, no doubt you've already mastered Victoria sponge and savory biscuits and are ready for a challenge. Enter Stir Cooking School's Advanced French Pastries class on Sunday, January 27: From 4 to 7 p.m., students will tackle croissants, pain au chocolat, mille feuille (Napoleons), and palmiers (crispy, laminated elephant ears) in the kitchen at 3215 Zuni Street. Tickets for the class are $80 at Stir's website. Note that you must have a strong basic knowledge of baking techniques to enroll, and if you don't, God help you. We can't guarantee your instructor will be as wonderfully civil as Prue or Mary (Paul can suck an egg).
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Friday, February 1
Before chef Carrie Baird took over the kitchen at Bar Dough, she was on a little TV cooking competition. You may have heard of it: season fifteen of Top Chef, which was filmed in Denver in 2017. Now Baird will join fellow competitors Brother Luck (of Colorado Springs's Four by Brother Luck) and mustachioed top three finalist Joe Sasto for a Top Chef alumni dinner at the restaurant, 2227 West 32nd Avenue, on Friday, February 1. The six-course menu and wine pairings will run you $130 ($90 without booze), or splurge on a seat in the eatery's private room, which includes a chance to chat with each chef, for $150. Expect Baird's signature fancy toast, two pasta courses from Sasto and dessert from Luck, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting victims of California's devastating Camp Fire. Call 720-668-8506 for your chance to channel Tom or Padma.
Tuesday, February 5, and Wednesday, February 6
Get ready for some Big Easy eating at Jax Fish House in February. Founder Dave Query and culinary director Sheila Lucero are bringing in New Orleans chef Ryan Prewitt for two five-course dinners, one at Jax in Boulder (928 Pearl Street) on February 5, and the second in LoDo (1539 17th Street) on February 6. Prewitt, director of operations for the Donald Link Restaurant Group, won a James Beard award for Best Chef South in 2014, and one of his restaurants, Pêche, won Best New Restaurant in America from the JBF the same year. These mark the first in a series of guest dinners with New Orleans friends of Query and Lucero's coming to Jax to cook. The five-course dinners are $85 each ($125 with wine pairings); reservations can be made by calling the Boulder Jax at 303-444-1811 or the LoDo Jax at 303-292-5767.
Friday, February 22, through Sunday, March 3
Denver Restaurant Week is coming, so clear your calendar from February 22 through March 3; you'll want to visit a different eatery every day. Hundreds of Denver’s top restaurants will offer multi-course dinners for three tasty prices ($25, $35 or $45) during the fifteenth year of the wildly popular week. Participating restaurants and menus are up on the Visit Denver site; be sure you book your first choices right away, before someone else nabs your table. Find out more here.
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Sunday, May 19 and Monday, May 20
Chefs and aspiring charcutiers will want to plan ahead for a Denver visit from the maestro of meat, Brian Polcyn, who will lead a butchery course next spring at Stir Cooking School, 3215 Zuni Street. Polcyn and author Michael Ruhlman will spend two days teaching students how to break down hogs using both USDA and European seam butchery techniques; how to work charcuterie into menus; and how to properly dry-cure and smoke cured meats. Recipes for pâté, fresh sausage and offal will be provided, as well as a copy of one of the duo's books (their third title, Pâté, Confit, Rillette, will be released May 19), a private cocktail hour and dinner with the pair. Tickets are $800 and are on sale now at Eventbrite.
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