For each Brewmasters Weekend at the Vail Cascade Resort, Executive Chef Todd Bemis and the Atwater culinary team gather to taste the featured brewery's selected beers and create the menu for each "Small Plates & Craft Beer Pairing" event. Each tasting session is different, and has its own vibe. Sometimes it might be adventurous or outrageous while other times it's mellow. While the brewery's brand, image, packaging and beers are key vibe drivers, another significant part is the team's mindset on that day, even at that moment. This vibe can spin in crazy directions within the scope of culinary creativity, and is the intangible "magic" component that arrives on the guest's plate at the event. And this weekend is no different.In 1979, Boulder Beer put a major stake in the ground as the state's first microbrewery. Since then, the brewery continues to grow with a strong, traditional base layered with experimentation and inspiration. Buffalo Gold shines as one of the original products that lit the path for future innovation. For the culinary team, the richness and maltiness of this beer spoke to a richer dish. "The Mountain Lamb Pita," which will also be showcased at the Taste of Vail Lamb Cookoff today and will be added to Atwater's new summer menu, is completed with chopped lettuce, tomato and onion, tzatziki sauce, harissa and shoestring fries. Attendees will enjoy a sneak peak at summer with this pairing.The vibe for this event ultimately came together as a flavor focus; keying in on inspirational flavors and pulling them to the fore with the cuisine. The Boulder Kinda Blue offers such a light touch of blueberry that this fruity hint was the hook for a variety of cheese inspirations, finally coalescing into honey goat cheese with a blueberry earl gray sauce to pull the pairing together. A touch of arugula offers a little spice to the flavor profile.Boulder's Mojo IPA is light and crisp with a perception of green apple and mango floating on the palate. The green apple and mango are reflected and highlighted with a green mango slaw and citrus cardamom, which will be paired with seared black cod.Lavender and flowers are certainly unusual at a beer tasting, but are without a doubt the pairing inspiration for the final course. Boulder's Hazed & Infused showcases a dryness of hops on the palate with lavender and floral notes in the aroma. Together, these notes inspired a lemon balm-and-thyme crumble with dark cherries for an acidic note to stand up to the assertive hops. Ultimately a twist on a streusel, the cobbler really can't be served without vanilla ice cream, which also mellows the hoppy overtones and allows you to taste beyond the hops to get to the other flavors.
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