Flagstaff House cancels its beer dinner, but here's a six-pack of other beer-and-food pairings you shouldn't miss

The beer extravaganza of the year is upon us. Starting this weekend, hundreds of breweries from around the country will descend upon the Mile High City for the Denver Beer Fest and the Great American Beer Festival.

With so many rare brewed beverages suddenly available, it takes a lot of willpower to not drink until our livers explode, drifting off into a ten-day bender in which we consume nothing but ales and lagers. Luckily, many brewers have our health in mind, helping mitigate the effects of binge-drinking by holding beer dinners. Because consuming five beers over the course of a meal is totally not the same as consuming five beers over the course of a drunken, debauchery-filled evening. Right?

There are so many beer dinners happening this year, though, that some restaurants are having trouble selling theirs out. The Flagstaff House, 1138 Flagstaff Road, for instance, canceled its pairing dinner with Avery that was slated for September 14.

"People mostly think of the Flagstaff House as a wine restaurant," says Kuvy Ax, who does public relations for the restaurant. "It's hard to sell a beer dinner at a place like that."

To help you choose your food and beer events wisely, we waded through the hundreds of possibilities to come up with our favorites.

Best dinner to taste something that's cultish and hard to come by: Colt & Gray and The Bruery, 1553 Platte Street, September 15, 10 p.m.

We'll be starving by 10 p.m., but we're willing to tough it out for Colt & Gray's six-course beer dinner with the Bruery. Maybe because one of the promised courses includes coffee-rubbed lamb t-bones with cherry & rhubarb compote paired with Oude Tart, a limited edition release that's hard (if not impossible) to come by.

Best place to get beer for dessert: Sweet Action Ice Cream, 52 Broadway

The ice creamery that's earned accolades over the past year for its inventive work with frozen dairy products is taking a little inspiration from beer fest, scooping concoctions made from Colorado brewed ales. Those flavors will be available beginning tonight, and include things like Great Divide smoked porter s'mores and Odell maple pale ale.

Best food and beer pairing excuse for daytime drinking: Steuben's Strange beer brunch pairing, 523 East 17th Avenue, September 12, 10 a.m.

Normally, we limit our daytime alcohol intake to a mimosa, or maybe a lunchtime pint. But sometimes, when there's good occasion, we embrace the chance to get good and toasted in the middle of the day. On Sunday, September 12, Brandon Biederman and his team will cook up a five-course brunch for the sole purpose of pairing each dish with a concoction from Strange Brewing. Drinking five beers at 10 a.m. guarantees we'll be useless for the rest of the day. We can't wait.

Best dinner to blow a chunk of change in the name of good food and good beer: Mizuna Brewer's Dinner, 225 East 7th Avenue, September 14, 6:30 p.m.

Most beer dinners next week are featuring selections from one brewery, paired across several courses. Mizuna, on the other hand, decided to pull in four great beer-makers, pairing selections from each across a multi-course feast. And representatives from Stone, Great Divide, the Bruery and Moylan's will be on hand to geek out about their pours.

Best dinner to sample a Colorado cult beer in a new location: Hops and Hooves at Osteria Marco, 1453 Larimer Street, September 15, 6:30 p.m.

Normally, the only place you can get a Mountain Sun beer is at the Mountain Sun, or one of the pub's sister restaurants, Southern Sun and Vine Street, since the brewery doesn't manufacture kegs or bottles. If you've dreamt of forgoing the pub fare and living room-like atmosphere of those spots, though, while enjoying the ales, now's your chance. The Mountain Sun will pour its beers at a five-course dinner at Osteria Marco, meaning you'll get to enjoy the craft beverages with cured meat and rustic Italian dishes instead of burgers and fries.

Best beer dinner to exhibit Colorado pride: Panzano, 909 17th Street

From tonight until September 19, Panzano will celebrate its all-Colorado tap line-up by pairing the beers its pouring with a five-course tasting menu. So if you're adamant about displaying local pride amid the invasion of beers from other states, this is a chance to taste selections from five different Colorado brewers, including Oskar Blues, Avery, Great Divide, O'Dell's and Left Hand.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk