Craft Beer, Fine Wine, Artisan Spirits, and Mouthgasmic Food.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

GABF 2010 #5 - Media Lunch, Tears, and Stranahan's

As a media guest, I was invited to the media briefing luncheon which included lunch and a presentation. Throughout the lunch, brewery representatives shared many of their personal stories about the challenges and triumphs they encountered so far.  The central theme of the presentation was that craft beer was reclaiming it's place at the dinner table.  Wine is no longer the only seemingly sophisticated pairing beverage; beer's reputation is growing at an exponential rate. 

The first course was wild forest mushroom strudel with frisee salad paired with Dry Dock Brewing Company's Bismark Altbier and Duck-Rabbit Schwarbier.  Kevin Delange of Dry Dock started his presentation with a word about the craft beer industry in Denver.  He called is "amazing" and it is.  Paul Philippon of Duck Rabbit (and I quote) said "the national brewing community is a$$hole-free."  Craft beer communities are awesome, and these were great statements to begin the lunch.

I very much enjoyed the wild mushroom strudel (above).  The filling was incredibly woody, earthy, and I found that it complimented the Schwarzbier's smooth, malty, and full mouth feel.

I'm not really sure what this means, but my notes read Steve Diderit - Twisted Pine heart dogs.  Next dish up was the lemon-ginger-lavender sorbet paired with the Twisted Pine Le Petit Saison (below).  I found that the pairing was refreshing, citrusy, with a bite and a kick at the end.  I'd have that Saison again. Perhaps next to a pool and a waterfall.  It was quite enjoyable.

Next up at the microphone was Bob Pease to chat about the Brewer's Association.  The association promotes and protects the industry by increasing sales, educating media, importers, and distributors.  Some very interesting numbers about the industry were revealed.  Did you know that since 2003, American craft beer exports have increased by 246%?  31% of our exports go to Sweden, and 18% goes to Canada, and 18% goes to the UK.  I wouldn't have guessed Sweden as such a large importer of American beers.  Did you know that the sales of wine and spirit sales in the US still don't match the sales of beer in the US?

Next up on the plate was the miso salmon beside double bone-in pork chop stuffed with pink peppercorn and apple relish, served with cabrales pumpkin mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables (below).  It was paired with the Alchemist Ouroboros Double IPA and the Cigar City Humidor Series IPA.  This was probably the only dish I did not like.  I loved both beers, but the dish itself was much too sweet.  The sauce and the pumpkin mashed potatoes did not pair well with the under seasoned meat or the beers.  It almost made the beers taste like a sweet syrup.  The blandness of the pork chip and salmon did not offset the sweetness of the sauces either.  The food did the beers a great disservice.

However, to make up for the overly sweet main course, John Kimmich of Alchemist pub gave a moving monologue about his love for craft beer.  He spoke about how he discovered beer and developed a passion for it.  He met his future mentor, the late Greg Noonan, and begged for a job so that he could learn the art of brewing beer.  That first job was as a waiter, and well, it didn't work out so well for John, the waiter.  John, the brewer was another story.  His story of Greg Noonan was so moving that there were some wet eyes around in the room. 

We rounded out the lunch with a milk chocolate cheesecake with dark chocolate ganache and raspberry (below).  It was paired with Choc beer Company's Signature Dubbel and Oakshire Brewing's O'Dark 30.  I really enjoyed the Signature Dubbel as it was extreme on the caramel, smooth, and with an apple-y and pear-y spiced finish.  That was one delicious and complex beer.

After the luncheon, @Hopsafari and I went for a ride on the media tour.  We checked out Breckenridge Brewery and a really active batch of beer.

We got to sample some Lucky U, which was really Lucky me!

And then we visited Stranahan's Distillery where they have some gorgeous steampunky equipment. 

They make whiskey here, fine whiskey.

What I didn't know when I was visiting Stranahan's was that they were featured in a book I was reading.  I came home from Denver and saw a familiar photo (below) on the back of my review copy of Food Heroes by Georgia Pellegrini.  That man looks familiar.  Closer inspection revealed that it was Jake Norris from Stranahan's.  What a delight to get to meet and learn about the distillery, and then read about it.  Also, I really like the Food Heroes book.  The author chronicle 16 culinary artisans and includes a recipes with each chapter.  I've already made the homemade cheese recipe, twice!   

A big thanks to the Brewer's Association and the City of Denver for hosting the lunch and bus tour. 

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