The Wild Beer & Wild Game dinner at Trinity the other night was a real work of art. There were six courses, each with an element of wild game, with the exception of the fondue and the dessert which used local ingredients. The beers, all ‘wild’ in that they used traditionally wild yeast strains (usually Brettanomyces), ranged enormously from the acetic and sour, to incredibly fruity, to hoppy, to delicate and rosey. Everything was paired beautifully by chefs Brian Blasnek and Chad Conway. I’m going to write about some of the pairings but I don’t intend for this to be a review, just a mouth-watering recap. If you want a review…I give it two thumbs up and I would highly recommend the next dinner.
The first course really set the stage for the rest of the night. The Colorado cheddar fondue sat next to apples, pears, and a couple different types of local breads. It was absolutely delicious. But even more incredibly it paired perfectly with the acetic Old Growth. The beer is perhaps Trinity’s most tart offering, with notes of green apple. The cheese in the dish was creamy and smooth and so nicely cut through the tart qualities of the beer, which was also complimented so nicely with the pear.
After the first course we knew it would be a fantastic night. Troy Casey of AC Golden said something like ‘Well if you ever do this again you can invite us back,’ indicating that he was also really impressed. Troy provided the next beer…
The next beer was AC Golden’s Hidden Barrel Project Apricot. The beer was top notch, the apricots were present in the nose and in the flavor, the tartness level was med-high but not overwhelming, and there was a really pleasant Brettanomyces funk from beginning to end. The finish was slightly dry so it went really nicely with the salad. It was paired with a salt-baked peppered trout salad which had pickled butternut squash that really felt nice next to the fruity softness of the beer. They truly felt as if they belonged together.
|Troy talking about his beer and AC Golden|
Next up was roasted bone marrow with Trinity’s TPS Report 2012. Again these two paired quite nicely with each other. Also as this plate got a little messier than the rest, it was nice to have it with what was perhaps the softest and most delicate of all the beers that night. Normally when we think of beers that use Brettanomyces we think of sour qualities, but the folks at places like Trinity and Crooked Stave are seriously challenging that. This particular beer was aged in Chardonnay barrels, fermented with Brett and Lactobacillus, it had a lemony flavor to it, slightly earthy, and a nice farmhouse layer as well. The beer is really complex but also so subtle, it’s truly wonderful and worth picking up.
The Wild Wild Brett Green from Crooked Stave was paired up with a game hen stuffed with chorizo with mushroom wild rice and kale. This was a very spicy dish and the beer was the hoppiest and bitterest of all, so I liked to think of it as an aggressive pairing. This Wild Wild Brett series is Crooked Stave’s attempt to reeducate people on the qualities and characteristics of Brettanomyces that we don’t usually associate with that particular yeast strain. In this case the yeast is meant to compliment the citrusy Galaxy hops, not just make the beer sour. Last time I tried the beer it tasted only like an IPA, but now there is a definite Brett quality showing up, bordering on exotic fruits. It’s a ton of fun to see this beer change.
The main course was a grilled lamb chop t-bone with red potato and goat cheese au gratin paired with Jason Yester’s favorite Trinity beer The Flavor. The beer sold out within a few days of it’s release so I haven’t even tasted it since then. It approaches higher acetic levels and was brewed with almonds and cherries. The cherries are a lot more forward in the beer than I previously remember and they really worked nicely with the flavor of the lamb. The goat cheese also nicely cut through the acetic quality of the beer. Another beautiful pairing.
|The folks at the dinner were enthusiastic hearing about the upcoming beers.|
The final pairing was with a beer that all three brewers had worked on together, the collaborative Buddha Nuvo, which was paired with a pumpkin and buddha’s hand ice cream sprinkled with peppercorns. The Buddha Nuvo has changed a ton over the past few months and any reservation I once had I now take away. I’d never thought to exactly match the ingredients in a beer with the same food and the result was really pleasant. The Buddha Nuvo, of course, has a lot of pumpkin to create a smooth texture, plenty of the citrusy buddha’s hand fruit, peppercorns, and it was also aged in Chardonnay barrels with ten different strains of Brettanomyces yeast. So the pairing was one of texture, a really nice way to finish the night. I wish we had a suitable picture but I’ll have to leave you with this one, which I’d like to title “The Crowd Goes Wild.”
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