St. Louis is a beer town. Our past is drenched in pilsner malt and beechwood and our present is soaked in hops, brett and bourbon barrels. So, when Breckenridge Brewery decided they were going to take the spirit of their Colorado brewery on a US tour, our city was a natural destination. The brewery’s Culture Czar (yes, a real title) Todd “Tebo” Thibault has been with the brewery for 21 years said, “Over the last 27 years, many fans have visited our Brewery in Littleton, CO and our Brew Pub in Breckenridge, CO, but not everybody. We’re all about crafting approachable beers and hospitality. We just wanted to bring those two things to the rest of the country.”
What exactly are they bringing to St. Louis this week? Well, aside from last night’s Beer Dinner, there’s already been a kickoff event at Flying Saucer as well as a tap takeover at Global Brew (check our events calendar, people!). No need to panic though because there’s still time to make it to a pub crawl, art show and a free concert. Oh, and beer. They brought lots of beer.
The beer dinner was held at The Tavern Kitchen & Bar in the Central West End. Executive Chef Ryan Stupka prepared 4 courses and each was paired with a Breckenridge beer. Let’s get to the details of how it all tasted, shall we?
Beer: Agave Wheat
Well, it may sound fancy to have “reception drinks” and that’s because it is, dammit. Something light and refreshing makes for the perfect pre-beer beer. The agave wheat was a little darker in color than I anticipated but went down easily and it wasn’t overly sweet. Nice and crisp, it was a nice way to cleanse your palate and prepare it for the upcoming menu.
Smoked beef tongue pastrami, rye steamed buns, ophelia beer mustard
Beer: Ophelia Hoppy Wheat Ale
If your first reaction to seeing “tongue” on the menu was “ewww” then you’re not alone. I told some coworkers about this event and that’s essentially the reaction I got from everyone I spoke with. However, I’ll try any food you give me with an open mind so I was actually looking forward to this one. The smoked beef tongue was savory (and tasted like beef and nothing weird) and the soft, steamed bun contrasted the crunch from the slaw nicely. In my opinion, the slightly spicy mustard was what helped the hoppy flavors in the beer stand out best and the carbonation did a great job of whisking away the savory flavors from the pastrami.
Sesame seared Ahi Tuna, Thai coconut curry, island chutney, mango mosaic buerre blanc
Beer: Mango Mosaic Pale Ale
The first thing I did for this pairing was give the beer a sniff and lawdy did I get facesmacked with hops and fruit. Huge tropical notes came screaming out. Given the plate before me, I assumed the orange sauce would bring some tropical flavors to match the beer and my instincts were correct. For those of you that aren’t huge seafood fans, the tuna had a minimal “fish” flavor and was cooked amazingly. When you managed to fit each ingredient on your fork for a bite, you got a nice mixture of mild sweetness and above average spice from the curry. The coconut and mango flavors in the food matched the beer’s flavor from its mango puree that it’s made with. Overall, the hops helped intensify the heat in the dish but it was never overwhelming and very well balanced.
Stout braised shortribs, barley risotto, pretzel gremolata
Beer: Oatmeal Stout
If you’re a picky eater and haven’t been on board to this point, this dish is for you. The shortribs were cooked using the sous-vide method for thirteen hours. Yeah, it was damn tender. It was topped with pretzels so yeah, it was a little crunchy too. Beneath the shortribs, there was firm barley risotto and snappy pieces of asparagus that sat in some of the juices from the meat preparation. The textures in this dish were wide ranging and made it really fun to eat. When you took a sip of the oatmeal stout after a bite, the roasted malts made the browned meat flavors pop and complimented the entire dish.
Pear mille feuille, caramel and candied ginger
Beer: Avalanche Amber Ale
I’m not even going to pretend that I knew what mille feuille was before attending this. However, when it came out I didn’t care. Look at that thing. LOOK AT IT! The pastry had dollops of cream between layers and was served with caramel ice cream, beer gummies, and candied ginger. They took all of that fun and paired it with…an amber ale? Amber ales aren’t traditionally seen as go-to options for dessert pairings like Belgian beers and stouts are. However, this was my favorite pairing of the night. The beer was sweet and the caramel malts in the beer complimented every single piece of the dessert. Every single one. Aside from the obvious sweet flavors the beer matched with, it also helped drown the ginger spice from your tongue after trying the candied ginger.
Those of you that read about my experience at the Paired food/beer pairing at the Great American Beer Festival last year know that it was my highlight of the entire festival. After that, if there’s a food and beer pairing that I get a chance to attend, count me in. If you haven’t experienced something like this, do yourself a favor and seek one out.
Thanks again to the host of the event Tebo and also to Executive Chef Ryan Stupka and his kitchen staff for a delicious evening of food and beer.