As part of American Craft Beer Week, 13 downtown restaurants have prepared special plates to pair with limited-run beers from 12 Springs breweries. These specials run only between Tuesday and Thursday, May 12 to 14. Whether you're meeting for business, impressing a date, or just relaxing after a long day, use this guide to find the proudest pints and plates this side of Pikes Peak.
Pikes Peak Brewing Co. at Bingo Burger
Pineapple IPA paired with a Bingo Burger with candied bacon, pimento cheese, glazed onions and Thai chili ketchup. To meet the big spice of the red chili and Thai peppers in Bingo's offering, Pikes Peak brewer Aly Hartwig says, PPB aged a batch of its flagship Elephant Rock IPA on dried pineapple for 24 hours. "We wanted to highlight both the citrus and the heat in the burger that [Bingo prepared]," Hartwig says. "By infusing [Elephant Rock] with pineapple, the hop character and the citrus character are able to complement these characters in the burger."
The Occasional Brew at The Cheese Grill
26 E. Kiowa St., theoccasionalbrew.com, @CheeseGrillCoS
Maple bacon red ale paired with a maple-braised pork belly eggy in a basket covered with maple-braised pork belly green chile. Chris Crump, sole proprietor of TOB, has pulled hickory-smoked bacon and Grade A dark amber maple syrup into his favorite amber recipe — more English red than American amber, less sweet, and presenting an earthy, floral, noble hop finish. Crump says. "I wanted the beer to carry [the maple and bacon] flavors in it, and not taste like maple-bacon tea. It's a fuller-bodied beer." It will complement Cheese Grill owner Scott Clark's trademark big flavors.
Fieldhouse Brewing Company at Coquette's Bistro & Bakery
Gluten-free nut brown ale paired with a volcano lamb shank served with roasted root vegetables and a beet Brie risotto. To match Coquette's gluten-free menu, Fieldhouse's new gluten-free brown ale is made from millet roasted in Alamosa. "We make all our gluten-free beers with millet," says owner Travis Fields. "You can hardly tell it's gluten-free." Brown ales' toffee, nutty and toasty profiles have complemented meat-and-potatoes dishes since time immemorial, so pairing a perfectly cooked cut of lamb with this one is a solid choice — doubly so given Coquette's signature panache.
Storybook Brewing at The Famous Steak House
Alice in Amberland American amber ale paired with Wagyu beef short ribs with a red plum summer truffle marmalade and horseradish potato foam. American amber ales pair sweeter caramel notes with biscuit-like characteristics, lending more body than a pale ale. At 22 IBUs, Alice has just enough hop to keep everything balanced. But Famous chef Brian Sack is just as excited about the yeast and the biscuit malt. "[Our dish] will complement the yeast [Storybook] is using, and that will complement very well with the plum and the beefy flavors you're going to get. You're going to get a nice beefy, yeasty complement to it."
Il Vicino at Il Vicino
11 S. Tejon St. and 5214 N. Nevada Ave., ilvicino.com
Multiple pairings. On May 12, a house-brewed root beer or Pig Tail blonde paired with a Verdura Fresca pizza of garlic oil, mozzarella, asiago, goat cheese, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, caramelized onions and fresh basil. On May 13, Slow Down brown ale paired with a Finezza pizza of marinara, mozzarella, pepperoni, mushrooms, roasted garlic, sliced tomatoes and green chile. On May 14, Wet Mountain IPA paired with a Quattro Stagioni pizza of marinara, mozzarella, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, capocollo ham and fresh oregano. That's three beers, three pizzas, and a choice for the younger kind on Tuesday.
Great Storm Brewing at Jack Quinn's
AthenRyePA red rye IPA with caraway seed paired with a coddle — an Irish stew of sausage, onions and potatoes. AthenRyePA is at its base an English-style IPA — not as trendy as the big citrus-hopped West Coast varieties, but delicious and maltier, with floral, earthy characteristics from the English hops. Plus, the caraway seed will match the caraway in the stew's sausage. Great Storm brewer Gretchen Foster says, "We liked the rye and the spiciness [of a rye IPA], but we wanted something more traditional," hence the more English take.
Nano 108 Brewing Company at MacKenzie's Chop House
Smoked porter paired with a dry-aged ribeye with caramelized shallot and wild mushroom marmalade, French blue cheese and potato croquettes. When told he would be pairing his beer with food from MacKenzie's Chop House, Nano 108 owner/brewer Keith Altemose says he "thought about open-flame grills, char marks, steak, dry rubs — lots of shallots, caramelized onions, blue cheeses on his menu." The decision to put together a big, Baltic-sized porter with plenty of roasty coffee notes, American hops and a whisper of smoked Bamberg malt came naturally. On tasting it, MacKenzie's chef Pete Moreno told Altemose that smoked porter is exactly what he'd hoped for.
Fieldhouse Brewing Company at McCabe's Tavern
Traditional dry Irish stout paired with cod sliders with avocado slaw and sweet potato fries. Dry Irish stouts are the standard-bearer for stouts, boasting a dark-roasted malt as the dominant flavor, a thinner mouthfeel to keep things drinkable, and enough hop to produce an overall balanced flavor profile. According to Fieldhouse owner Travis Fields, this stout is "nice and roasty, nice and dry, and really traditional." The cod sliders are a preview of what's to come from McCabe's — it's overhauling its entire menu soon.
Smiling Toad Brewery at Odyssey Gastropub
Watercress pineapple wheat beer paired with pork cheek pho. Brewer Fred Davis has never heard of watercress in a beer before — he couldn't even find a good starting point in his research. But Odyssey chef Matthew Wilcoxson suggested they try it to balance out what is traditionally a spicy and complex dish, and Davis rose to the challenge. With the pineapple for citrus brightness, Davis has prepared a light but complex wheat beer with enough space for delicate flavors to come through. "Speaking as a chef, not a brewer," says Wilcoxson, "I like watercress, and I was hoping for something clean and bright to contrast the spicy broth and the earthy flavors [in the pho]."
Iron Bird Brewing at Rasta Pasta
Fruit saison with grains of paradise paired with jerk shrimp in a spicy red wine tomato sauce. The saison will feature a fruity aroma — probably peaches, though Iron Bird co-owner Aaron Celusta has been testing a few fruits to keep the sweetness in check — with floral notes and a slight peppery finish from the grains of paradise. Rasta Pasta co-owner Matthew Taraborelli wants to put forward a spicier, big-flavored dish to play with the fruit and pepper elements in the saison — hence the strong jerk flavor with shrimp and a spicy but balanced tomato sauce. Celusta says of the pairing, "After the seafood, this will have a nice dry finish that will also quench the heat."
Fossil Brewing Co. at The Ritz Grill
Jalapeño blonde ale paired with beer-battered jalapeño cheese sticks, beer-steamed mussels or tavern burger with beer-cheese sauce. Fossil's offering has a big jalapeño flavor sans the usual pepper bite. The blonde ale allows the jalapeño to take center stage by emphasizing its mild sourness with a light malt and a little hop bitterness. And Ritz kitchen manager Mike Stoecker isn't just pairing — he's using the beer as a major component in all three dishes, to help emphasize the jalapeño flavor in the beer. "It's a really prominent jalapeño taste without any of the spice. It's wonderful for cooking with."
Bristol Brewery at Springs Orleans
Belgian pale ale paired with barbecue shrimp. The Belgian pale recipe is actually a Bristol adaptation of one of Springs Orleans executive chef Jason Miller's homebrew recipes. The yeast is a blend that results in a more wine-y, grassy beer. The shrimp are braised in beer, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon, rosemary and spices, then finished with butter. Miller says, "The garlic and the spiciness and the richness of the butter in the dish work in synergy with ... the grassiness of the yeast. Plus there's a lot of tropical aroma in the beer that just naturally works with shellfish."
Red Leg Brewing Co. at Wild Goose Meeting House
Alternative Monk Belgian pale ale paired with wild boar apricot cranberry sausages, jalapeño cheddar elk grilled cheese or wild Ruebana (see below) sandwich, all served with Alternative Monk sauce. Red Leg brewer Todd Baldwin's brew is a deep golden pale ale with strong floral qualities, with notes of pear and white grapes balancing a sweet, caramel malt character that finishes dry with a spicy noble hop kick. The hops will cut through fat for a clean taste, leaving fruity notes to complement the next bite. Try it with Wild Goose co-owner Russ Ware's fusion of Reuben and Cuban sandwiches, featuring locally sourced corned beef and in-house sourdough raised with local yeasts.