In the world of craft beer, labels are as artistically unique as the liquid art that pours from each bottle. And for some, it's the deciding factor between buying one beer over another. Playing off of the idea that you drink with your eyes first and then your mouth, the Atwater on Gore Creek culinary team used Ska Brewing's labels, the story behind each beer and the flavor profile of the beer itself to guide their final 2012 small plates and craft beer pairing menu. Jay Spicklelmier, Atwater sous chef, and Adam Smith, Atwater chef de party, honed in on two main themes for developing the menu: local and carnival. Here is information about three of the four courses. "Local" was brought into play particularly with Ska's Local Series On the Sly Weizenbock, a beer brewed in collaboration with a local homebrewer and entered into the Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition. Staying true to the local theme, Atwater Chef de Cuisine Stephen Belie wanted to incorporate a street food element into the pairings and the team created pork chicharon tacos with pomegranate, crispy jalapeo fries and queso fresco wrapped in a thick, whole wheat tortilla. The pork pairing complements the ripe, dark fruit flavors of the beer.The Ska True Blonde Ale also inspired a local, farmhouse sort of approach, with discussions centering on Colorado's honey and classic, simple flavors to lift the delicate notes of the beer. This beer inspired a hand-made and home-made approach, with individual members of the team creating a house-made whipped Colorado honey butter to top handmade lemon and herb Focaccia.The Ska Mole Stout's label inspired the team's carnival theme. Churros and chocolate mousse wound their way through the conversation before the dessert decision was called by Todd Bemis, executive chef, to create a funnel cake with raspberries and milk chocolate to highlight the chili and dark chocolate notes of this seasonal beer.The 2013 Brewmaster's Weekend series will begin in February with Eric Rode from Tommyknocker Brewery. January will highlight a myriad of visiting Brewmasters at the Vail Cascade for the Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival.
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