The Great American Beer Festival highlights chefs as well as brewers at its Paired pavilion (formerly known as Farm to Table), which matches food and beer from around the country. This year's pairings were coordinated by Brewers Association executive chef Adam Dulye, and six Colorado breweries and twelve Colorado chefs were part of the mix featured at two dinners — one last night, one tonight. (Both sold out.) Each restaurant and beer maker provided two dishes and two beers, so there were plenty of samples at last night's inaugural event to help convince lucky ticket-holders that beer is a great option for bringing out the best in a wide variety of culinary styles.
Chefs and brewers had about six weeks to come up with their combinations; many of the chefs said they were given the beer first and then had to come up with flavors to match. A few lucky Colorado chefs were assigned Colorado breweries, which meant they could sample a little more and meet with the brewers before coming up with ideas.
For example, chef Daniel Asher represented Ophelia's Electric Soapbox (sibling restaurant of Root Down and Linger) and was matched with Boulder's Twisted Pine Brewing. He used the beers in his recipes, creating a chocolate truffle infused with Northstar Imperial Porter and a scallop ceviche doused with Agaveras Agave IPA. Although Ophelia's doesn't stock Twisted Pine regularly, its beer list is made up entirely of Colorado beers, so diners can create their own pairings at the restaurant.
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Chef/restaurateur Kelly Whitaker, who owns Boulder's Basta and RiNo's Cart-Driver, was assigned Elevation Beer Company from Poncha Springs. The beers Elevation provided were Signal de Botrange (a farmhouse ale aged in chardonnay barrels) and Fanboy (an oak-aged double IPA). To go with the first beer, a delicately flavored ale, he created black cod rillettes with matsutake mushroom panna cotta. For the second, more powerful beer, he made duck and foie gras hot dogs served on buns from the Grateful Bread Company. Both pairings proved that Colorado can hold its own with the rest of the country in food as well as beer.
Chef Jordan Wallace represented Pizzeria Locale; he's helping the fast-casual chain, spun off from the Boulder original owned by Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, grow beyond Colorado. Local beers are a big part of Locale's beverage program, so Wallace says that new locations in Kansas City and Cincinnati will both feature beers from those regions. His pairings with Utah's Uinta Brewing proved that Pizzeria Locale would be a good fit for that state, too.
Keep reading for more photos of Colorado beers paired with national chefs and Colorado restaurants matched with beers from beyond our borders at the September 24 event.