Last Wednesday, arts editor Edie Adelstein and I traveled to Denver's Mile High Station to experience Firestone Walker Brewing Co.'s dinner with Colorado chef Hosea Rosenberg, thrown, like the parties mentioned in this fun bit from Focus on the Beer, in honor of the Great American Beer Festival. (You may have heard of it. If you're sick of our posts on the topic, feel free to tell us here, here and here.)
"The Lion, the Bear and the Brewmaster," as it was called, was exciting not only because our $75 tickets were comped, but because Rosenberg had already made a name for himself by winning the fifth season of Top Chef, and his food would be paired with some of the rarest beers FW makes — its Anniversary series, which blends of some of the brewery's best stuff. (Released annually, the previous Anniversarys aren't on shelves anymore, but XVI is coming up, and an employee at Coaltrain Wine & Spirits says he expects the store, and a handful of others, to receive a small shipment around the beginning of the year.)
The dinner's name refers to co-owners David Walker and former winemaker Adam Firestone — a Brit and Californian, respectively — and master brewer Matt Brynildson. (Check out just some of the trio's accolades, and our interview with Walker when he stopped by the Blue Star, here.) All were in attendance, and offered anecdotes and answers to audience questions, while servers ran small plates to a crowd of around 250.
Despite the menu's ambitions, the night came off pretty casual; the two partners act a lot like brothers. Of course, in a legal sense, they are: "Pick your partners carefully; I didn't pick mine, my sister did," joked Firestone to a room of laughter. "She's a charming lady, but weak in judgment."
"He's very lucky that I sleep with his sister," replied Walker. "She keeps the dialogue very civilized."
Drinks-wise, the Anniversary beers we sampled — XII, XIII, XIV and XV and the coming XVI — were high-alcohol, Earth-moving swigs of dark brown bourbon-y stuff; very much like a mellow barleywine, almost wasted on any food that covers up the roasted-toffee-brown-sugar music being made. I can't emphasize this enough: Get some when it comes out.
Here's how the website describes the series:
Since founding our brewery in 1996, we have specialized in the rare art of brewing beer in oak barrels. In the fall of 2006, we released a limited edition oak-aged strong ale called 10 to commemorate our 10th anniversary. The experience was greater than any one of us could have ever imagined. We now present XVI, our seventh release in what has become an annual autumn rite at our brewery.
We took a lot of pictures of the event's participants, pours and food, but the lighting was terrible and our camera just wasn't up to the task. (Basically: Our pictures are bad and we feel bad.) What follows below are the most presentable.