VAIL — This holiday season, the Vail Cascade Resort is sharing the gift of hops and sustenance. This weekend, Steve “Fletch” Fletcher from AC Golden Brewing Co. will be in Vail to wrap up the 2013 Brewmaster’s Weekend series for a Meet the Brewmaster social this evening and a seated Small Plates and Craft Beer pairing on Saturday.
Occasionally, menu development tastings for Brewmaster’s Weekends end up with a primary culinary theme; however, in the case of AC Golden, the beers not only inspired an initial Colorado theme, but the beer’s diverse flavors took the chefs in various directions that led to a deliciously diverse ensemble of pairings.
AC Golden Colorado Native was the first beer tasted and was the last to inspire a definite culinary direction. This 100 percent Colorado-made beer inspired a range of flavors that spanned from lamb to jerky and Indian spices, including honeysuckle flowers.
It was after working through the rest of the menu that the team decided on chef de cuisine Jay Spickelmier’s initial suggestion of lamb. A spicy lamb sopa with corn puree, candied jalapeno and cilantro chimichurri will be paired with Colorado Native.
The AC Golden IPL is the second beer in the evening’s lineup. Its grapefruit notes and hoppy profile generated discussion revolving lime, mandarin orange, white and light fish, and vanilla beans. Sous chef Adam Smith suggested the idea of a “beggar’s purse,” which unanimously resonated with the team. The purse will be stuffed with cod, fondue leeks and shiitake mushrooms with a little orange zest for pizazz.
Next up was the AC Golden Framboise Noir. The beer’s bright notes and sour bite brought to mind goat cheese, spinach salad and marcona almonds for executive chef Todd Bemis. This initial concept evolved slightly to incorporate artichoke hearts, resulting in a bruleed honey goat cheese-stuffed artichoke heart with tarragon bacon caramel vinaigrette and toasted almonds.
The final course of the evening was designed around AC Golden’s 100 percent Whole Wheat Bock. This beer elicited a myriad of different ideas, covering many flavors including red stone fruit, a Rueben, hearty game, unripe berries, good coffee, lingonberries and more. The discussion swirled around, eventually evolving into beef stroganoff served in a puff pastry croute, juniper and plums.