Beer is the ultimate comfort food. Whether it’s hoisting a cold one after squeezing in one extra run before après or cuddling up in your pajamas with a book and a brew, beer helps take the edge off your day as it wraps you in its bubbly embrace.
So it’s only natural that when the culinary craftsmen at Twist Restaurant in Breckenridge wanted to create a pairing dinner, they looked past wine and spirits and chose beer to marry up with their menu of comfort foods. The restaurant’s Elevation Beer Co. beer dinner on Wednesday, Feb. 26, is its first foray into beer-inspired dining.
“We’ve talked about it a bunch, and Elevation has a really great lineup of beers,” said Anna Frank, restaurant manager. “It does stay with the theme of the restaurant very well. It’s definitely a twist on some things and it’s fun, approachable, but something different, modern.”
Not a ‘nothing beer’
Chef-owner Matthew Fackler and his team did a tasting of Elevation Beer Co. brews and then imagined the dishes that could be paired with them.
“I went down to the brewery, tasted through the whole list that they had on tap and picked the ones that I thought were best suited for a coursed menu,” he said. “And then I bought one of everything and brought them up here and one Friday night after service, we tasted through everything and started scheming ideas.”
Fackler said he rates a brewery based on what it can do with “nothing beers,” lighter, easy-drinking styles that often get overlooked by craft breweries, and he was first impressed with Elevation’s 8 Second Kolsch. This bright, crisp beer was created as a sessionable beer for rodeo-goers and will be the featured offering for the BeerTail Hour, prior to the first course of the meal.
From there, Fackler dives into the bigger brews in the Elevation line, starting with the Black Diamond Series Wild Flowers Imperial Saison, paired with Old Bay brioche crumb roasted California halibut. Elevation distributor Ariell Ayalon said consumers are often misled by this beer’s moniker.
“There aren’t actually any flowers in the beer,” he said. “The idea is that it was named for the flowers that grow wildly through Colorado, especially down in Salida, where it’s a little warmer.”
The sunny saison is deceptively light and smooth at nearly 8 percent alcohol by volume, with a bit of citrus that will complement the halibut and a delicate floral and spice scent.
The meat of the menu
For the second course, Fackler cooked up wild boar sausages in Elevation’s Little Mo’ Porter and rolled them up in pretzel dough: pigs in a blanket, meet beer and pretzels.
“We wanted to do some sort of pig in a blanket, and the Downpour Ale is a different style of beer to me,” Fackler said of the second-course brew. “It’s a fresh-hopped beer, so that’s an interesting characteristic, and it needed meat because of the hops in it, but it’s also bright and it’s not so hoppy that you’re like, oh my god.”
The dish is finished with curried scalloped sweet potatoes and karashi kolsch mustard. Under the description for Elevation’s Oil Man bourbon-barrel stout, Fackler scribbled one phrase on his tasting menu: Short rib!
“As soon as I tasted the Oil Man, I thought, this has to have short rib,” he said.
Fackler’s version is a stout-braised Colorado beef short rib with toasted faro, blue cheese risotto and pecan horseradish gremolata. The menu strolls on to the dessert course, tres leches cake with mole ganache and expanded honey paired with the Elevation Senorita Horchata Porter. Horchata is a very traditional drink, Ayalon said, typically nonalcoholic and made with sweetened milk, cinnamon and chocolate, and the beer reflects those characteristics, with a hint of vanilla malt flavor and a tiny bit of bitterness.
The evening closes with Fan Boy oak-aged double IPA and Frank’s own handmade white chocolate and blood orange and rosemary vanilla truffles. Fackler said he was inspired by Elevation’s line of brews.
“From start to finish, there isn’t a beer there that I wouldn’t just sit down and drink,” Fackler said. “I couldn’t find a bad one, top to bottom.”