Review: Young Guns Dinner @ The Kitchen Denver - 10/9/13

Discussion in 'Mountain' started by Cfahooligan, Oct 22, 2013.

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  1. Cfahooligan

    Cfahooligan Events Director (583) Mar 19, 2001 California

    I took a lot of notes from this dinner back during the GABF week here in Denver. I thought I would post them here if anyone was interested in this dinner and did not attend. Compare notes with me if you did attend.

    The Bruery, Jester King, Cigar City, Prairie, Crooked Stave

    Welcoming: Crooked Stave L'Brett D'Plum (Golden sour ale aged in oak barrels with plums)

    My first ever taste of Crooked Stave beers. I am not generally a huge sour fan for physical reasons but Todd had been telling me that this is where I need to go for sours. I love sours and respect the funk, but usually sours can be too sour for me to drink and burn my throat or the funk and bacterias in them are off balance and upsets my stomach. It's unfortunate but a reality for many of out there. Todd had mentioned that this is part of what Crooked Stave tries to avoid and takes great measures to balance their beers more properly. I understood what he meant with this beer. Easy to drink, and gorgeous flavors. Though to me it was much more like guava juice than plums. Lightly sour but good ph for my sensitive throat. Still a very pretty beer and might be my new favorite sour.... That I can actually drink and enjoy for a change.

    La Quercia Prosciutto and Ela Farm Apple Salad with Almonds, Cure Farm Escarole, Grains of Paradise, Cure Farm Honey and Ginger

    Gorgeous salty cured meat with bright apple and ginger salad. The prosciutto was American made from Iowa.



    The Bruery Windowsill 10.5% ( Oak Aged Sour Fruit Ale)

    Not big and boozy as it's abv might suggest. Pairing it with the food drew our more of it's sour features. It's abv tamed the sour but still bright enough to be clean. Full tart and dry aroma, big raspberries. It's taste was full fruits, raspberry, rhubarb, and was actually fairly subtle and soft due to some good dryness and carbonation. The saltiness of the meat and the tartness of the apples helped draw out it's bigger fruitier components. The earthy greens controlled the fruits from becoming too drawn out.

    *Winning pairing.

    Jester King Das Wunderkind 4.5% (Sour/Wild Saison)

    Funk! Aroma is big grassy field, apples, barnyard. It's taste is virtually identical to the aroma. Only the taste gave way to a bigger barnyard flavor as well as the rind on a funky salt water washed rind cheese.

    It wasn't my favorite beer of the night. I appreciate these kinds of funkier beers but generally speaking on the aroma. I don't want my beer to taste like funky cheese rinds and barnyard horse blankets. It did have some bright pops of apples and grass but they were quickly dominated. Perhaps I have it wrong, but in my mind with funkier beers this ripe and strong, I was hoping for a softer taste like a washed rind cheese. Usually it's a ripe nose, but a much softer flavored center. This is not that beer. This is a beer purely for the funk heads who want both taste and aroma. I didn't find the beer worked that well with the food in terms of balancing. Too many same-y elements only lent to their contrasts and leaving a bitter taste especially from the greens on the plate.

    I found the Windowsill a better pairing because they brightened and enhanced each flavors on both plate and in the glass. The funk on the Wunderkind muddled too much of the general flavor profile on the plate. The abv's lent such a different range here too. I almost wish they went a little closer in range on this one. Perhaps some sweeter flavors or a slightly bigger beer would have been a better contrast to the Windowsill.

    Braised Duck Ravioli with Roasted Isabelle Farm Squash, Allspice, Duck Livers, Traditional Balsamic, Pumpkin Seeds, Toasted Wheat and Lovage.

    Perfect fall dish. Nice and flavorful, warming, and delicious. One of my favorite courses. Slight negative, a little bit tough on the ravioli's. The pasta was thick and heavy making it too firm. But it's flavors crushed everything. Really fantastic course.



    Prairie Artisan Ales Merica 7.5% (Single Malt, Single Hop Saison)

    This is the beer I was looking for with the Jester King. Where the aroma doesn't tell the full story of the beer. This beer was great. Very big strong funky aroma of barnyard, sulfur, ass, sour, hops. But it's flavor was fantastically hoppy. Great hop taste, floral, lightly funky. Surprisingly clean. This beer was chosen as the fat buster. Hops, dryness, and clean carbonation to break up the fatty duck and oils. The squash was sweetened and earthier by the hops as well.

    *Winning pairing.

    Cigar City Good Gourd 8.5% (Imperial Pumpkin Ale)

    Sweet, spicy aroma. Very holiday-ish. Like this beer needs to be on your Thanksgiving even Christmas table. Sticky but toasty malts, sweet, squash up front on the taste but then lost.

    This is the one issue I had with the overall dinner. These pairings although good weren't evenly matched as I tried describing with the first course. It felt like a battle after a while and some of the pairings didn't do some of these beers justice. In this case, the Prairie overwhelmingly won this course. And you'd think the opposite because of the fall flavors on the plate and then the fall spices on the Cigar City beer. This course needed a regular pumpkin ale for the course not this super big imperial flavors. Good Gourd is a great beer that this course just didn't do justice in my opinion. This is a beer we should have sipped on after dinner or with a fat slab of cheesecake. Perhaps with the upcoming cheese plate. The fats on the plate and the duck and balsamic just added more sweetness to the beer giving it an off putting syrupy, cloying pairing.

    I am definitely curious to see if anyone thought the same thing on this pairing.

    Beer and Bourbon Marinated Prime Rib with Chantrelles, Cure Farm Cardoon and Apricot.

    Yes! Yes! And YES! to this course. Nice juicy, bloody prime rib with mushrooms and apricots. A good dark and rare piece of meat too. I didn't notice too much of the marinade on the meat which I think is a good think because it was phenomenal Colorado beef that needed to stand on it's on more. They did not go skimpy on my plate that is for sure. Even without the pairings here this was just what we all needed.



    Crooked Stave Nightmare on Brett Grand Cru 9.6% (Sour Ale Aged in Whiskey Barrels)

    Mellow aroma but still tart. Bandaids, medicinal, tart, dried fruits, plums. The sourness of the beer overtakes the whiskey, but still had a sweet fruity taste. Deeper complex fruit after taste.

    The sour and the fruits worked amazingly well with the bloody meat. The apricots added a sweetness on the food a but a bright spot on the dried dark fruits in the beer. This was a straightforward pairing for me. Sour enough to stand up to the gristle-y rare meats and sweet enough to mix with the mushrooms.

    *Winning pairing.

    The Bruery Mash and Grind 12.5% (Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine with Coffee)

    Big full beer. Aroma of coffee grinds and boozy alcohol. Full taste of sweet boozy alcohol, malty, coffee, bourbon, and vanilla.

    This is another case of David and Goliath in terms of pairings. I felt like one beer out shined the other and the justice didn't serve this beer or this pairing. The bourbon on the meat and in the beer should have been the winning factor here, but it's abv was simply too big. It was too sweet and too coffee flavored. The coffee with the flavors of bloody meat should have seemed like it would work too. About the only thing good here was the mushrooms and savory juices with the cardoon. But again the abv was too boozy for this kind of pairing. I wasn't thrilled with this kind of pitting against with beers. Intended or unintended it felt like a mismatched battle on just about every course rather than an enhancing compare and contrast type coursing. The main entree was simple, hearty, and filling. But sadly this left the Mash and Grind out in left field of "too boozy land."

    Roquefort with Ela Farm Pear and Fenugreek and Crottin Du Chavignol with pine nuts and Lavender

    A little intermezzo course before dessert with some french cheeses and local pears. Lavender picked from chef's garden.



    Cigar City Forgotten Island 15% (Belgian-Style Quad aged in Rum Barrels)

    Big boozy rum nose, currants, dried tart fruit aroma once opened up a bit. Another beer way too big for the course. Quads and big sweet belgians generally hold up well to a blue cheese. The steely sweet malts and bold salty blue veins are usually a good match. This didn't work. And it's odd because it's not a cloying beer despite it's giant abv. But it was simply too much. This is where perhaps the Imperial Pumpkin could have benefited. Slightly less strong but the spices and blue veins would have have matched well along with the biscuit-y malts and creamy part of the blue cheese. Not to mention this beer's big rum and fruit flavors. The pears were a nice cleansing part of this paring. Pears and blue are just fantastic together. But they were too soft in both texture and flavor for the beer. And it definitely didn't work with the soft Chavignol. Another injustice to Cigar City. Great beer to drink, just ill matched to these plates.

    Crooked Stave L'Brett D'Blackberry 6% (Golden Sour Ale aged in Oak Barrels with Blackberries)

    Much more softer and subtler beer for this course. This worked gorgeously with the Chavignol and lavender. Sours and double/triple cream cheeses are a great match where you are looking for the sour and the dryness to act like the alpha acids in hops to cut through the fats leaving you the raw taste of the cheese and beer. The blackberries added a nice fruit hit and the lavender tied it all together. It almost seems unfair just how beautifully this pairing worked verses the Cigar City. And Crooked Stave nailed it again for me on it's balance of sour and funkiness. You just taste soft sour ale beautifully balanced with fruits.

    *Winning Pairing.

    Toasted Vanilla Bean Marshmallow with Chocolate Hazelnut Crumble, and Donut Holes.

    This ended up being the right amount kind of a dessert. If we have had anything more decadent, I think we all could of died. This was flavorful all the way around with the salty chocolate crumble and the toasted marshmallow. The donut holes were filled with one cream and one jelly. Pate de fruit on the plate for a last minute hit of tangy fruit. A little all over the place but in the right way.



    Jester King Atrial Rubicite 5.8% (Barrel Aged Sour Raspberry Ale)

    Some fantastic vindication for Jester King after being mismatched in the first course. This beer is a stand out for me. Really amazing flavors here. Sharp, tart, fruity aroma. The taste is big and bright. Sour, bandaids, bright green unripened papaya, huge raspberries, and a little earthy. I loved the way this beer tasted. Very big and fruity, but sour and bright green earthy tones with some funk. It's hard to imagine such a fresh bright tasting sour beer but this is what it is. I loved it. It's fruits contrasted with the salted chocolate crumble but in the way chocolate does with raspberries. The pate de fruit gave the already raspberries a sugary hit, and the donuts cream and jam fillings balanced. The toasted Marshamallow was a little off for this one, but it didn't matter because it's a giant s'more on the plate. I adore burnt sugars.

    *Winning pairing.

    Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb 14% (Imperial Stout)

    Coffee aroma right off the top. Slightly stale aroma with tobacco, a little boozy and spicy aroma too. Made with ancho chilies and THCO chocolate it does have a spicy flavor but not over the top. Good balance and not as boozy as you'd think with it's abv. Great dessert beer and definitely one for the toasted marshmallow. But again another big beer a little too big for it's britches with this course. But not out of bounds as far as the flavor goes with this paring.

    A very filling and awesome beer dinner. Certainly a great day for someone so inexperienced with sours. I wish they put some of these beers more closer together with styles or abv's instead of what almost was like a culinary fist fight. They were too different between courses and ended up not doing certain beers justice that really deserved. The food was fantastic top to bottom. No issues there, I just wished there was more of a balance with the beers. Putting giant avs next to very low abvs impacted a lot. Putting drastically different styles next to one and other impacted and left certain beers out of touch with the pairings. Sometimes you want contrasting beers next to one and other to draw out different flavors on the plate and change directions. But this ended up not doing that but instead leaving some out whack with the courses.

    On a positive note, I am not sure how many can remember the end of this meal with how much beer was being poured. They certainly didn't go skimpy on the beer. Full pours, two at a time. So the little things I am pointing out may not have mattered for most people.
  2. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,243) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I actually liked Das Wunderkind with the salad :wink: The citrusy bretty notes did well with the tartness and ginger spice on my end. Plus, it was a good contrast with the bolder and sweeter rhubarb character from Windowsill.
    Each course seemed to have a milder item that was more for quaffing while eating and a sipper with bolder flavors to infuse some contrast. I found myself getting additional pours of the milder ones and slowly working through the more potent beers. Rather than mixing the flavors, I almost went one at a time with the least after the first sip.
    Good Gourd was the only real miss for me. Not the beer or the food, but just the pairing. Great beer for a nightcap or dessert, but it was unbelievably sweet. It's based on a doppelbock mash and it has spices for it was a monster. I'm sure on paper it seemed like a logical pairing with the squash and spices but that beer trounces all forms of logic if you've never had it. It makes Rumpkin feel tame.

    Agreed on the end of the meal being a blur, though. Big pours and big beers made me glad I was chugging water...but even with that both me and my wife were feeling pretty good when we left.

    'twas a great time for us. I'll happily do this or any other similar events at the Kitchen. Hopefully there will be many more!
  3. Bardwashrind

    Bardwashrind Initiate (0) Jul 1, 2008 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    I can't imagine anything that could have paired with the Good Gourd. The Cigar City beers must have been painful to try and figure out, they certainly were difficult to drink. Roquefort might have been the only realistic offering for a beer as bold as Forgotten Island.

    Great dinner, thanks for keeping notes and posting photos of the courses. I hope breweries tone things down with what they submit. Lower alcohol and less intensity should make for a more pleasant interaction of flavors. The prime rib was a marvel of an experience. I can't wait for next year.
  4. Cfahooligan

    Cfahooligan Events Director (583) Mar 19, 2001 California

    I think you can go big with pairings but I think the mistakes here were drastically different ends of the spectrum pairings. Example, why didn't they pair the Prairie coffee beer with the Bruery Coffee beer and see which one drew more flavors or lent a better balanced contrasting pair? If that makes sense at all.
  5. Cfahooligan

    Cfahooligan Events Director (583) Mar 19, 2001 California

    I think you can do a lot with Cigar City Beers. I just think they sort of haphazardly threw them into this dinner and they didn't fit in the places they put them. Dessert pairings and bolder or bigger blue cheese pairings for the Good Gourd. I had this issue with my own beer dinners and trying to make Southern Tier's Creme Brulee happen for this soul food beer brunch I hosted one time. I knew I had to use this beer as a piece de resistance, but how was I going to pull it off without the cloying reactions? So I threw the sweetest thing I could think of at it. Bourbon Pecan pie with a pure butter crust. It worked like a charm. The excessive sugars in the pie completely mellowed the big cloying beer and allowed that good burnt sugar taste to round it all out. It was a fantastic pairing for such a big sweet beer.

    Now I am reminded of the time one of our foodie buddies here on BA user Juzy from Alaska needed to pair a beer for a blue cheese cheese cake with a hazelnut crust. Cigar City beers come to mind for something cool like that too.
  6. chefdennis

    chefdennis Initiate (121) May 13, 2009 Colorado


    Thank you all for coming and for the feedback. It is very much appreciated. This was my last beer dinner cooking at the Kitchen, sadly, and I had a good time.

    These beers proved to be very tough to pair. When we do the tasting, what I usually do is begin breaking the beers off into what course they would best represent. So for Bomb!, there was just no way to pair it with a savory course. So it goes to dessert. I follow suit from there, changing my mind here and there as I sip. Some beers really call for a cheese course. Some ask for salad, etc...

    I like to propose complimentary as well as contrasting pairings for each course so that it remains exciting to eat and drink through from start to finish. For example, to contrast Bomb!, we did Atrial Rubicite as well with dessert.

    The biggest challenge for this dinner was the amount of big, boozy, sweet beers. Where are they meant to go? Certainly not with a fish course (i didn't even try to serve seafood, whereas usually it's my favorite). Not with a salad. Some of the suggestions that Cfahooligan brings up leads us to a dinner with three dessert courses. This is not a dinner that is a pleasant succession of eating. Do I think that Good Gourd could have been better with cheese or dessert? Maybe. But that skews the rest of the pairings even more.

    I am not able to choose the beers. The brewers send them and then it's mine to take to task. To have matched the weight of all of the beers with huge, heavy food would have left us with a dinner that is just not pleasant to eat. But that's what this is about. We try. We find what we like and dislike. We like some things better than others or think things could have gone a different direction. I assure you that I am my own worst critic, and everyone will walk away with slightly different experiences and enjoyments. That's part of the fun. The goal is to cook nice, drink good beer, enjoy the environment and people you are with. As with a lot of scenarios in the beer world, we often become over-analytical and lose sight of what we love about this culture and community in the first place.

    Thank you all so much for coming and sharing your feedback. It was a pleasure to cook for you.
    Elicoleman, kkrez, Domingo and 2 others like this.
  7. chefdennis

    chefdennis Initiate (121) May 13, 2009 Colorado

    Also Crottin de Chavignol is not a double or triple cream cheese.

    And that Roquefort is about as big a blue cheese as you can get.
  8. chefdennis

    chefdennis Initiate (121) May 13, 2009 Colorado

    Because then you would blow me up for one being so much better than the other.
    coreymcafee likes this.
  9. Cfahooligan

    Cfahooligan Events Director (583) Mar 19, 2001 California

    There are some pretty big and spicier American Blues that would have been better. Roquefort is classic of course. I am more partial to Bayley Hazen and some giants from Rogue creamery in Oregon. Especially given some of these beers. My mistake about the Chavignol. It sat like a creamier cheese.

    You did a wonderful job with this dinner. I hope you don't feel like this is an indictment of any sort. It's my first beer dinner in Colorado to attend and getting to see how you all roll. I also wanted to talk about this dinner because it was the one everyone was talking about on the street. They were tough beers to work with but I think overall you did exceptionally well with them.

    I would have talked about them the same, which one paired better, but the idea of the pairing would have made more sense to me.
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