At an extra $55 on top of the $60 you spend to get into the Great American Beer Festival, the additional cost for the ticket to the Farm-to-Table pavilion is a little hard to swallow. But each year we attend, we're more convinced that it's worth it: It's a meal ticket, a respite from the chaotic beer hall in the Colorado Convention Center and a chance to sample some geeky beers all at once.
This year's event was the best (and best organized) yet, featuring some stellar bites from local chefs as well as samples from restaurants from Chicago, San Francisco and Portland, which, for the first time in the pavilion's three-year history, were able to grab tables among the Colorado eateries.
Once the restaurants and breweries had been established, brewers decided what they'd be pouring and paired up with chefs, who had to come up with a food pairing to go with the beer.
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"Sour said cured meat to me," says Theo Adley, executive chef of the Pinyon in Boulder, who cured country ham and wrapped it over pickled watermelon to go with Jolly Pumpkin's Weizen Bam, a saison with some tartness thanks to wild yeast. Other chefs created dishes they hoped would bring out flavors they tasted in the beer or worked with brewers to come up with something inspired by them.
Last night, twelve restaurants and twelve breweries presented a total of 24 beers and 24 food pairings. And if you weren't there, here's a taste of what you missed: