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) http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/25191/100923 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. http://laquercia.us/ Beers: The Bruery Windowsill 10.5% ( Oak Aged Sour Fruit Ale) http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/16866/98980 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) http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/24018/66752 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. Beers: Prairie Artisan Ales Merica 7.5% (Single Malt, Single Hop Saison) http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/30356/91331 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) http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/17981/47020 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. Beers: Crooked Stave Nightmare on Brett Grand Cru 9.6% (Sour Ale Aged in Whiskey Barrels) http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/25191/95446 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) http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/16866/96224 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. Beers: Cigar City Forgotten Island 15% (Belgian-Style Quad aged in Rum Barrels) http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/17981/97669 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) http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/25191/100921 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. Beers: Jester King Atrial Rubicite 5.8% (Barrel Aged Sour Raspberry Ale) http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/24018/94634 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) http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/30356/94350 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.