Somewhat in the spirit of pop-up dinners
, most prolifically pushed locally by chef Kevin Campbell
and pals, a new, monthly dinner series has emerged under the care of the folks behind Common Cause Catering
It's called The Beer Dinners
, and technically produced by an arm of CCC called Local Relic
. What sets these events apart are a move beyond mere craft beer pairings per course; instead, beers are homebrewed specifically for these meals (and provided for free as part of the ticketed meal, which we explain below).
Here's how brewer Grant Goodwiler
describes the format to Focus on the Beer
While most beer dinners are showing off beers that are commercially available, Local Relic is crafting five beers expressly for each dinner. Our philosophy is to avoid ‘flagship’ beers, instead focusing on crafting what is both seasonal and just ahead of the curve. The beers created for each dinner are unique, creative, and exclusive. You can only try them with us, and if you miss trying them at the dinner, you’ll have missed out forever!
The third dinner in this series took place this past Saturday evening inside of the Colorado House and Resource Center, a residence run by the local nonprofit Partners in Housing
. CCC, set up as a social enterprise, partners with the organization, which works to help transition people out of homelessness, via its Partners in the Kitchen
program, which teaches "critical life skills related to the kitchen," essentially showing folks how to cook nutritiously for their families, on a budget.
Explains CCC co-owner Melissa Lofton
This location is private and secure to protect those living there. We do not, nor plan to open this location to the general public at any point in time.
We are not selling beer!!! We are simply giving away the beer to our guests, who are only paying for food. We love getting feedback from them on each style, and hope to someday open a space that can hold a liquor license so that we can sell the beer. For now, this is a private dinner event that is not open to walk in diners from the general public, but requires a ticket purchased in advance for food only.
We want to operate within the law and provide a great experience to all our guests. Being able to expose them to the great work of Partners in Housing is a bonus.
paid for me to attend, a $50 fee which includes tax and gratuity for a five-course, (mostly) beer-paired meal (i.e. one of our courses sported a wine). Below, I'll share photos from the evening, as well as more info on the players and potential for these Beer Dinners to grow into another drink-driven eatery in town.
Melissa Lofton, 34, met her husband, CCC co-owner Jeff Zearfoss
, 32, while volunteering at the Marian House Soup Kitchen, where he ran Wednesday service (as "Chef Jeff") over the course of eight years as a volunteer. She has a background in finance and business, while he studied hotel and restaurant management and counts time at three Broadmoor eateries among his experience.
Chef Corey Hoff
, 24, grew up in the Springs and came up under the ProStart program
, then the Broadmoor's Culinary Apprenticeship Program
(where he met Zearfoss). He later spent time on the East coast, including working under Bryan Voltaggio
, runner-up on season six of Top Chef
. Hoff joined CCC this past November, and hopes to work closely with Goodwiler, Zearfoss and Lofton on a future fine dining beer house.
“I want to grow social enterprise as a market segment,” says Zearfoss. "By going with us, you get value added."
"Grant looks like a brewer. He is a brewer," jokes Lofton during his introduction. Goodwiler is 31 and has been brewing since he was 21. He spent 2 1/2 years working at Rocky Mountain Brewing
and then three years ("off and on") at Brewer's Republic
, where he co-launched the short-lived Battle of the Brewers
series. He says he brews traditional beers with untraditional ingredients (basically the Field Beer category at the GABF
), and for these dinners, makes 5-gallon batches to serve around 35 drinkers per course.
The next Beer Dinners are on Saturday, Aug. 9 and Saturday, Sept. 20. Tickets
for each event go on sale the day following the previous. Folks attending a dinner have a chance to buy tickets early, following the meal.
32-year old Anastacio Garcia
, currently working at the Little London Cake Shoppe
, joins Local Relic for the Beer Dinners. He says he's been working with sweets since age 10, and studied at Johnson & Wales in Providence, R.I. He says it was particularly difficult to pair his dessert course with Goodwiler's lemon-ginger IPA, but all in attendance seemed to agree that he pulled the task off quite well.
Overall, our meal was quite good, starting simple and light on the first two courses and building in complexity into course three and four, with nicely layered flavors complementing the beers. The duck and grits was my favorite course, with a fun, 10-percent ABV strawberry lemon wine pairing, though the final IPA proved to be my favorite standalone beer. The Christmas in July
was also a treat (with ingredients that include honey, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and nectarine), as were the opening two beers, with clean, forward fruit flavors.
The crew appeared polished and especially comfortable with public interaction, making the whole evening feel like a community hangout more than a stiff fine-dining meal. They floated often through the dining room to chat with guests and tell stories about one another, also floating the plans for their future offerings, should everything fall into place as envisioned.