Copper Mountain chef uses New Belgium beers to create variety for beer pairing dinner
While the musicians were tuning strings and strumming songs during Copper Mountain’s ninth-annual Guitar Town event, chef David Taladay was in the kitchen, creating a different type of art.
Teaming up with the Fort Collins-based brewery New Belgium, Taladay created a five-course seasonal menu, pairing each course with a different New Belgium brew. While beer pairing dinners are no longer uncommon, presenting them on level with high-quality cuisine shows just how much the artistry of craft beer is now recognized. No longer is beer simply a cheap beverage to gulp down, but an enhancement to a gourmet meal.
“New Belgium has created unique and individual styles of beers that can be paired with numerous different styles of food and cuisines,” said Taladay, who has worked at Copper Mountain since 2011. “Every single beer is exciting to create food to pair with. We selected some of their new crafts and some of their flagship beers to encourage trying new beers and food.”
The evening began with an appetizer and a glass of Fat Tire, which is the brewery’s best-known beer. It was basic but served as a door-opener, drawing in the potentially reluctant craft beer amateur with a familiar name, while the promise of the beers to come intrigued the rest of us.
The next two courses came with seasonal beers — Pumpkick (just created this summer) paired with a creamy, chilled golden beet bisque and the Rolle Bolle summer ale paired with an arugula salad.
In past beer-pairing dinners, Taladay mentioned working with more typical, mainstream beers, which he said took all the challenge out of creating the menu because of their “repetitive flavorings like coriander and orange.” By having a larger variety of beer styles to work with, Taladay was able to get creative, which created a complex tasting experience for those of us on the other end. The summer ale and salad worked particularly well, the light, crisp taste of each blending with every satisfying crunch.
A fan of IPAs (India Pale Ales) and hoppy beers, it’s no surprise that Taladay chose New Belgium’s Rampant Imperial IPA to pair with his main dish — a braised lamb short rib that practically melted in the mouth, surrounded by an incredible gravy. The bitterness of the beer countered the savory richness of the main course. While talk among tablemates had been intermittent throughout the dinner, it all stopped here, replaced by the clink of fork on plate.
The silence stretched to the final course, marred only by a few aahs of anticipation as the dessert was brought out. Taladay chose the 1554 enlightened black ale to pair with a flourless dark chocolate coffee cake. Each bite of chocolate brought out the malty and coffee flavors of the beer, and alternating sip for bite culminated in a delicious and decadent chocolate dessert.
When asked which of the pairings was the most difficult or challenging, Taladay demurs.
“All were challenging,” he said. “It really is a good feeling when you nail a pairing with beer.”
That good feeling spread throughout the dinner guests, and our taste buds are delighted to hear that the chef is interested in doing more such pairings in the future. If given his choice, Taladay said he’d love to do a collaboration with the Ska Brewing Co. out of Durango, whose Modus Hoperandi IPA is a current favorite of his. But really, he’s open to anything.
“Any food,” he said, “anything that creates a challenge or sparks my creativity.”
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