American Craft Beer Week is nigh, and Colorado Springs brewers and downtown restaurants are collaborating to offer one-of-a-kind beers accompanied by carefully planned dishes selected to create the perfect pairing. This year, 13 breweries are supplying their unique creations to 16 restaurants, offering clever, creative options that encompass a wide spectrum of brews and foods. Expanded to five days from three last year, Pints and Plates runs May 16-20, giving diners maximum opportunity to sample the offerings.
Special Pineapple Bristol Wit paired with mac and cheese bites. Old Chicago's popular appetizer features America's favorite cheesy comfort staple breaded, deep fried to crisp perfection and served with dipping sauces. Bristol's special batch tempers the weight of the down-home goodness with a light, refreshing wit featuring a unique pineapple twist.
Double IPA paired with a Bingo Burger with Springside Pueblo Chile Jack, Breckenridge Bourbon glazed bacon, and Pueblo chilei/horseradish aioli. Rich Jack cheese imbued with locally grown Pueblo chiles adorns Bingo Burger's signature patty, which is finished with a kick of aioli. Fieldhouse's Double IPA cools it down with a refreshing beer made with five types of hops: Bravo, Horizon, Mandarina Bavaria, Galaxy and Falconer's Flight 7 C's. Brewer Travis Fields says additional hops are added in the boil, and then the beer is heavily dry-hopped. Fields says the result is a "strong fruity nose from the dry hop and bitter punch up front, with a smooth, malt-balanced finish."
Lemon Kölsch paired with chicken schnitzel with lemon sauce, served with mashed potatoes and peas with bacon and butter. Quinn's hearty, home-style fare is tempered nicely by Fieldhouse's traditional Kölsch-style ale, a light and refreshing summer beer that brewer Travis Fields says is "fermented colder than a typical ale to achieve a clean, crisp malt profile." Fields added lemon to the beer post-fermentation, giving it a hint of the citrus flavor that will also be enjoyed in the schnitzel's sauce.
Pink peppercorn and pineapple pale ale served with savory pineapple upside down cake. Both the beer and the food offer the unexpected in this year's collaboration. The Rabbit Hole has created an unusual twist on the dessert standard in its savory pineapple upside down cake. Great Storm's brew is equally inspired and perfectly suited to the dish. "We are brewing Drink Me Potion, a pale ale with Citra and Cascade hops, spiced with pink peppercorns and fresh pineapple," says brewery co-owner, Lynn Jacobs. "It has a good pineapple nose, with sweet citrus and pepper notes in addition to the usual hoppiness."
Caribbean Lager paired with ricotta cheese ravioli, jerk chicken and a curry-pineapple Alfredo sauce. Rebecca Taraborelli, owner of Rasta Pasta, is excited to pair the restaurant's experimental pasta dish from this year's Food and Wine Expo with Iron Bird's specially brewed light Caribbean lager, Lively Up Yourself. Taraborelli writes, "This off-menu mash-up was a huge success when we sampled it at the expo, so we decided to bring it back for Pints and Plates. We think it will pair terrifically with Iron Bird's Caribbean lager and we can't wait to see what folks think of it."
English Brown Ale paired with a crab cake appetizer with whole grain mustard "beer-blanc" sauce and local mixed-green salad. Brewmaster Chris Crump created the this year's Ritz specialty with ingredients entirely imported from the U.K. "Warm bread, layered caramel and toffee lay the backbone on this amped English brown. It finishes dry for a big version of this classic style." The Ritz also will use the ale to create the base for a lamb shepherd's pie, which will be served with cheddar mash and a brown ale reduction.
Lemon rosemary saison paired with grilled day boat sea scallops, lemon beurre blanc, candied lemon and rosemary foam. Local Relic's saison is brewed with fresh rosemary and lemon zest, a flavor profile that will align quite nicely with the grilled scallops. "It's a French-style saison, mildly hopped with CTZ, Cascade and Calypso hops," says brewer Grant Goodwiler. "It's very dry, especially for the style, which makes it nice and crisp (think a good pre-meal sparkling wine), so it's great for pairing against lighter food, especially seafood. It's 8.9 percent ABV, and served in 500ml bottles, perfect for sharing!"
German hefeweizen paired with a choice of several offerings: Yuzu Koshu cured Hamachi appetizer with apple and fried ginger salad; jumbo shrimp, scallop, and lobster Newberg entree; or a banana dipped in a funnel-cake-batter, deep fried and crowned with ice cream, peanut butter caramel sauce and pineapple topping for dessert. MacKenzie's plans to further this year's ambitious offering with a tiki-style beer cocktail utilizing Nano 108's hefeweizen, described by brewer Keith Altemose as a "pale and refreshing wheat beer with high carbonation, dry finish and a distinctive banana and clove yeast character." The first cocktail is the Nano 108 Barbados Punch made with hefeweizen, Mount Gay rum, Aperol, Orgeat syrup, lemon and orange bitters. The second is the Agave Apple Swizzle made with hefeweizen, Hornitos Reposado, St. Elisabeth Allspice dram, apple, lemon and velvet falernum
Liechtensteiner sour-smoked wheat paired with choice of several offerings: smoked Swiss and turkey with green chiles sandwich or quesadilla; shareable smoky meat and cheese board; or smoked Swiss cheese small board. "Melted to perfection" are the words Wild Goose's Russ Ware uses to describe this cafe's sandwich and quesadilla, both made with turkey and a rich, smoked Swiss, making them a perfect partner for the Lichtensteiner. "A Lictenhainer is a historical German style of beer, brought back to life only recently," says Pikes Peak Brewing founder Chris Wright. "It is a sour smoked wheat beer, using oak smoked wheat to give it just a kiss of smoke taste and aroma. It is tart, refreshing and carries just a hint of umami."
Apricot ESB paired with pan-roasted Arline chicken breast with an apricot gastrique, served over artichoke puree, fava bean and fiddlehead ragout topped with gaufrette potatoes. Chef Matt Wilcoxson had a distinct beer in mind when he partnered with Red Leg this year—an extra special bitter. And brewmaster Jeff Lockhart had just the recipe to make it work. To give the beer the flavor necessary to align with his proposed dish, Wilcoxson provided Red Leg with 12 pounds of apricots, creating an ESB that will make a pleasing contrast and accompaniment to the sweet flavor of the gastrique.
Habanero and mango saison paired with seared scallops with citrus shaved fennel and balsamic brown butter sauce. Brewmaster Jeff Lockhart came up with the idea for this year's beer at the grocery store. "I saw mangoes and thought they would make a great saison," Lockhart says. "Looking around, habanero also came into view and those flavors really complement each other." Lockhart determined that the fruit profile would pair excellently with the natural sweetness of the scallops. Chef Eric Brenner believes the scallops' sauce will accentuate the beer, creating a perfect pair. "The sauce will be made of brown butter to bolster the natural toasty qualities of the beer, and we will add a touch of balsamic to brighten the palate for the next taste of brew," Brenner says.
Smiling Toad's Orange Blossom & Coriander IPA paired with sweet and spicy Baharat lamb chop or Baharat chicken kabob with basmati rice pilaf, roasted beet tahini, hummus, tabbouleh and grilled pita za'atar. Smiling Toad owner Biff Morehead describes this year's beer as one of the brewery's best IPAs yet. "The hops have a special orange note, and to spice it up even more, we have added orange zest and orange blossom water," Morehead says. "We added some coriander to give it even more of a Mediterranean flair. The beer has an orange color, and the orange zest pairs nicely with the hops to give the beer a distinct citrusy orange nose and a sweet caramel orange presence."
Puck's Midsummer Passion Ale. Food pairing to be determined. Puck's is a balanced golden pale ale that uses American-variety hops. Although the hops are distinctive, this beer is no IPA and provides what Storybook calls "an easy drinking balance." The Warehouse was a late entry to Pints and Plates this year, but Chef James Africano, who reopened the restaurant in October, plans to create an offering that will pair perfectly with Storybook's ale.
The Occasional Brew Hefeweizen paired with Huli Huli chicken tacos, chips and salsa. La'au's grilled Huli Huli chicken is marinated in miso and peanut butter and served in corn tortillas with roasted corn and a sweet mango salsa. The vibrant flavor of the mango should blend well with The Occasional Brew's house hefe, which brewmaster Chris Crump (who also brews for JAKs Brewing) describes as a "traditional German wheat beer, both light and refreshing with notes of banana and clove."
Cherry lemongrass saison paired with Chinese five spice chicken with coconut cashew cream and sticky rice. NOSH's light and flavorful dish for Pints and Plates is accompanied by an equally flavorful, bubbly saison created by brewmaster Chris Crump of The Occasional Brew. "To create the cherry lemongrass saison for NOSH, we began with a big, dry saison, dry hopped it with Amarillo and added a custom mixture of organic lemongrass and tart Montmorency cherries puree," says Crump.
318 E. Colorado Ave., triplesbrewing.com
Baltic Brown Ale paired with Baltic Brown Ale-brined pork flatirons, Triple S salad with Baltic Brown glazed baby carrots and a Baltic Brown truffle for dessert. A newcomer to Pints and Plates, Triple S is the only brewery serving its own food this year. Of the beer offering, Steve Stowell of Triple S writes, "It is a Baltic porter brewed to brown ale strength (approx 6 percent ABV), but still has the awesome characteristics of its bigger brother: It has a slight malt roastiness on the nose, with caramel, toffee and slight chocolate in the flavor, rounding out to a smooth, luscious mouthfeel."
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