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It wasn't all about beer at the Great American Beer Festival

Carbo-loaded participants.
Carbo-loaded participants.
Dogfish Head Brewery
Photo by: Melanie Pahl                      Popular craft brewer- Dogfish Head

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Besides the 3,400+ beers that were presented at this year’s GABF, participants were treated to some excellent food and beer pairings. The Beer and Food pavilion offered several sessions on local food, local craft beers and how they compliment each other. While the Farm to Table Lounge had star chefs backed up by the Culinary School of the Rockies serving up fabulous locally sourced food with microbrews. For all you wine snobs out there (myself included), beer is pretty versatile and the audience was amazed how many options there are to get the most out of your menu. Take a look, there was a lot of great information given! Here are a few highlights:

“Local Food, Local Beer”
· Utilize your farmer’s markets- there is a lot of fresh produce available. We have our own right here in Highlands all summer located in front of Vita and Lola on Boulder Street.

Alternatives: Boulder, Cherry Creek

· Colorado is home to over 30 microbreweries, branch out and buy local.
· To incorporate your brew into your meal, use the ingredients that would go into that beer (grains, citrus, spices) instead of actually cooking with beer itself
Example: Arugula salad with grapefruit, goat cheese and red onions, pair this with a Wheat Beer or Hefeweizen. The “flavor bridge” is the citrus and spice (Arugula) present in both the salad and the beer.

“Beer and Cheese Pairings”
· Balance the flavors by matching the intensities.
Example: Haystack goat cheese with Belgium style Saison- the carbonation mellows the cheese and the common element here is the “earthiness” to both cheese and beer.
Example: Triple cream cow’s milk cheese with a Triple IPA- the heavy carbonation will cut through the fat making this a decadent pairing.

“Farm to Table Pairings”  courtesy of the Kitchen and Black Cat Bistro in Boulder, CO.
Example: Colorado Buffalo ribeye and braised Short Ribs paired with Denver's Great Divide “Imperial Stout” – a substantial beer with comfort food.
Example: Braised Pork Cheek with Pepper Jack cheese grits and Guacamole paired with Longmont's Left Hand “Black Jack Porter Ale” – rich pork was tamed by the hoppy ale.

There were several more dishes offered, but the theme was, don’t be afraid to pair beer with your next meal. Also, source your local farmer’s markets and grocery stores for healthy produce and meats grown and raised right here in the great state of Colorado.

Kyle Mendenhall of the Kitchen talks about the Farm to Table lounge:

Not only does Charlie Papazian, Great American Beer Festival founder, write for, but we have dozens of other craft beer experts covering hops and barley. Follow their coverage throughout September of one of the world's largest beer festivals. Click here for Charlie’s take on beer, GABF articles and details on how you can win tickets to the festival!