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Blind Pairings: Tastemakers Give Their Suggestions on GABF Beers

 Photo by Emily Hutto
Photo by Emily Hutto

For the grand finale of the GABF Tastemakers series, Eater asked several of Denver's finest pairers to make pairing suggestions for some of the beers at the festival. What follows is a bold approach to some complicated beers. Warning: this list will make you salivate. Enjoy.

Odell Fernet Aged Porter
Brewery: Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins CO
Style: Barrel Aged Porter
ABV: 9.8%
On Tap: Star Bar (Oct 10, 10 PM), Falling Rock (Oct 11, 4 PM), Odell's Tap Room
Booth Location: E1

Andy Sparhawk, Brewers Association Craft Beer Program Coordinator
Sounds like a great aperitif. How about a creamy blue cheese to contrast with, and bring out the herbs and spices. Or how about a hand rolled cigar and a big chair.

Ryan Layman, bar manager of Steuben's Food Service I would love to pair the Odell Fernet Aged Porter with dessert, it begs to be enjoyed with cherry pie a la mode.

Bobby Stuckey, Co-owner of Frasca Food and Wine, Master Sommelier I would pair with a lamb stew, because of the mint, and because the heaviness of the beer would work well with lamb.

Matt Snyder, assistant general manager of Panzano I would pair this with our Chocolate Pate Dessert. The dense, rich chocolate would be enhanced by the Fernet

Jessica Cann, bar manager at Euclid Hall Euclid Hall pairing: chips and dip (duck and goat cheese); outside Euclid: sweet potato fries

Adam Hodak, beverage director for Bonanno Concepts I would go with a Chinese 5-spiced smoked duck served with winter Squash roasted with brussell sprouts and brown butter

Jensen Cummings, Chef/Owner of the Slotted Spoon I'm going in the realm of chicken & waffles all the way with this porter.

Julia Herz, Brewers Association Craft Beer Program Director/Publisher Simple and safe would be a mixed herb dusted bun housing a bison cheese burger with pan fried fennel on the side. Although intensity match might be light so go with an aged cheddar to up the richness factor.

Kevin Burke, bar manager at Colt & Gray I think the roasted quality of a porter combined with the high-overtones of Leopold's supremely-minty Fernet would pair wonderfully with a savory course; especially one that relies heavily on caramelized meats and long braises.

Brian Smith, bar manager of The Squeaky Bean I would love to try this porter with some of Jensen Cummings' harissa lamb meatballs. Shot pairing: A wheated Bourbon, like Parker's Heritage.

Brewhouse Farmer's Daughter
Brewery: Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Loveland CO
Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
ABV: 6.2%
On Tap: Gaetano's, Star Bar, The Yard House
Booth Location: R8

Andy Sparhawk When in Rome, do as the Romans, or in this case the Germans. Pork sausages, pickled red cabbage and sauerkraut. Prost!

Ryan Layman This beer is perfect for a meat-centric meal. Specifically, I would love to enjoy this with a bratwurst and poutine, and maybe a side of chicharones if I really wanted to indulge.

Bobby Stuckey I would pair this with spicy Thai cuisine.

Matt Snyder This would be delicious with our crispy calamari with spicy aioli.

Jessica Cann Euclid Hall pairing: chicken and waffles or bone marrow; outside Euclid: fish and chips

Adam Hodak I would pair with our Smoked Brisket Honey Roasted beets and sour cream potatoes.

Jensen Cummings German style beer hits home with a classic German dish of Hassenpfeffer ("rabbit or hare and pepper"). This classic rabbit stew is hearty yet not overbearing because of the subtle nature of the rabbit meat which will play nice with the easy drinking style of Oktoberfest or Marzen beers.

Julia Herz Everything from nachos with beef to spaghetti and mom's meatballs will tie in nicely (complement) the higher temperature kilned malt flavors in this beer.

Kevin Burke Make a decent grilled cheese on light bread, use some respectable gouda, and call it a day.

Brian Smith A pizza from Pizzeria Basta would be great – delicious, sweet and tangy tomato sauce with sweet sausage and fennel to complement the rye malt; crushed red pepper to cut through the caramel sweetness of the beer. Shot pairing: Averna Amaro, after.

Le Terroir
Brewery: New Belgium Brewery, Fort Collins CO
Style: Dry Hopped Sour Ale
ABV: 7.5%
On Tap: Freshcraft
Booth Location: R1/34

Andy Sparhawk Grilled Leg of Lamb

Ryan Layman This beer would be a fantastic partner to a well-rounded charcuterie plate. It would be really fun to see how it influences different types of cured meat, from pork rillette to foie gras to salt-cured duck breast.

Bobby Stuckey I would pair this with a nice, juicy cheeseburger with Blue Cheese.

Matt Snyder I would pair this with our Ravioli di Ricotta Pecora. The sourness of the beer would cut through the ricotta and lemon emulsion sauce well.

Jessica Cann Euclid Hall pairing: diver scallops; outside Euclid: funky blue cheese

Adam Hodak Think an apple tart with a rich spiced caramel

Jensen Cumming This beer is screaming out for some sashimi.

Julia Herz The white fruit flavors in this beer including peaches and apricot and medium alcohol are our friends when pairing. Pair it with salmon and sliced honeydew on a garlic onion cracker and let fireworks happen.

Kevin Burke Somewhere, someday someone is going to make the best Rueben ever using pastrami made from beef tongue on some dank bread. Until that happens embrace your inner Ron Burgundy, make like Baxter, and eat a whole goddamned wheel of cheese. Preferably Epoisses.

Brian Smith I would just rock a sweet blue cheese, crusty bread and salted honey butter. Shot pairing: High West Rendezvous Rye.

Lilikoi Kepolo
Brewery: Avery Brewing Company, Boulder CO
Style: Belgian Wheat infused with Hawaiian Passionfruit
ABV: 5.6%
On Tap:
Booth Location: E17

Andy Sparhawk I had this at a pairing recently. Euclid Hall paired it with a Cobia and pineapple ceviche. It was great!

Ryan Layman I would love to try this beer with a sharp, dry cheese such as a Pecorino, with sourdough toast points and Marcona almonds. The sweetness of the passionfruit will work very well with these highly savory flavors.

Bobby Stuckey I would pair this with a great big dish of mussels.

Matt Snyder This would pair nicely with our Bombolini. The passion fruit infusion would pair nicely with the lemon and blueberry in the dessert.

Jessica Cann Euclid Hall pairing: fish-which; outside Euclid: breakfast

Adam Hodak Hearts Of Palm Salad and Spelt Berry Salad, Pineapple Vinaigrette, Orange Supremes

Jensen Cummings A big ole piece of pineapple upside-down cake with an awkward amount of whipped cream on top.

Julia Herz Anyone up for lightly butter fried pancakes with honey (instead of maple syrup) and diced passion fruit on top?

Kevin Burke Either sneak some chinese take-out into a bar that is serving it or bribe someone to make a decent pu-pu platter on the line.

Brian Smith This beer screams for dark chocolate, lavender flowers and almonds. Shot pairing: A good aged rum like Scarlet Ibis.

Breakfast Stout
Brewery: Backcountry Brewery, Frisco CO
Style: Milk Stout
ABV: 4.4%
On Tap: Rack House, Mayfair, Frewshcraft
Booth Location: A17

Andy Sparhawk Chicken and Waffles

Ryan Layman Brunch beer! If Pete's kitchen served beer at brunch, I'd love to have this with their Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs? and a side bacon!

Bobby Stuckey A hearty French Pot-au-Feu.

Matt Snyder I would suggest pairing this with our Pastiche. The spicy meatballs and richness of the Bolognese and béchamel sauce would be enhanced by the stout..

Jessica Cann Euclid Hall pairing: waffle ice cream sandwich; outside Euclid: donuts

Jensen Cummings salted caramel pecan French toast with dry-aged cherrywood smoked bacon.

Julia Herz Ah breakfast stout. Good any time of day of course. Flavor matches would be requiring roast (or chocolate) and cream. So pair with coffee cake dressed with a tablespoon of butter milk on top.

Kevin Burke Go to Pizzeria Locale and order the Budino. Actually order two Budinos and then eat them whilst drinking this breakfast stout.

Brian Smith Who wouldn't want some Cinnamon Toast Crunch dessert bars (ala Rice Krispies treats) with this? Shot pairing: Powers 12 year Irish Whiskey.

Elektrik Cucumbahh
Brewery: TRiNiTY Brewing Company, Colorado Springs CO
Style: Saison
ABV: 6.4%
On Tap: Hard to find. Bottles still available in some liquour stores.
Booth Location: A22

Andy Sparhawk Salmon Salad with Purple Haze Goat Cheese on a toasted baguette.

Ryan Layman This beer would be fantastic with Greek-inspired dishes. Roasted lamb, olives, a savory greek salad or hummus. Saison's are generally really fantastic food beers, and the addition of cucumber only makes this pairing a great one.

Bobby Stuckey This would pair perfectly with a great salad course, maybe celebrating the end of the summer farming season in Boulder.

Matt Snyder This would be amazing with our Capesante dish. The crispness of the beer would be delicious with the seared scallops and the richness of the prosciutto risotto.

Jessica Cann Euclid Hall pairing: oysters on the half shell; outside Euclid: smoked salmon

Adam Hodak A mixed seafood ceviche with lemon and lime

Jensen Cummings I want a giant plate of barbecue with this beer.

Julia Herz Saison. An amazing style in a pairing tool kit.

Kevin Burke Make a salad of thinly sliced english cucumbers, shallot, and heirloom tomatoes. Season heavily and allow the water to be drawn out. Lightly dress with sherry vinegar and olive oil.

Brian Smith To keep this light and fun, I would look to pair it with sushi. Not soy sauce- and wasabi-drenched rolls, but the clean gingery-umami preparations that Sushi Sasa excels at. Shot pairing: Mekhong would be killer with the tart fruit character.

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