Beer Buzz: A Beer Dinner Newbie

October 4 2011, 10:26 AM

As a new transplant to Denver, I’m just starting to dip into the local craft beer scene, meaning that beer dinners (hours-long affairs featuring top-notch courses paired with handpicked beers) are not part of my routine—yet. With the start of Oktoberfest—a German celebration of sausages, sauerkraut, and, of course, beer—an exclusive meal at Ale House at Amato’s hosted by brewmasters Todd Ursy (Breckenridge Brewery) and Doug Odell (Odell Brewery) seemed like the ideal choice for my first beer dinner.

I attacked the meal like a journalist. I listened to introductions and snapped photographs, all the while marveling at the camaraderie of the craft beer community. As a former bike shop employee and all-around bike lover, I find that craft beer kinship is much like that of the cycling community: Everyone loves a different type of bike (or beer in this case), but everyone can add to the conversation.

Two glasses were placed in front of me—Breckenridge’s Agave Wheat and Odell’s Easy Street—as Ursy and Odell both spoke about the brews. Ursy explained that Breckenridge’s wheat uses a different type of agave than what is used in tequila making. Odell pointed out that Easy Street gets its name from the brewers  “taking it easy” and not filtering the beer. The four-course Oktoberfest-inspired meal of fish, elk sausage, duck, and apple dumpling (all of which used beer in the preparation) was paired with beers from each brewery.

By night’s end, I had become the newest member of a Colorado beer culture that is only about as old as I am. But I wasn’t ready to pause my education while waiting for another beer dinner. Instead, I crafted a plan to pair Breckenridge and Odell brews all winter. First up, I’ll compare Breckenridge Brewery's Christmas Ale (available early next month) to Odell's Isolation Ale (coming soon). As the weather cools, I’ll match Breck's Vanilla Porter, one of the brewery’s top-sellers, to the Bourbon Barrel Stout from Odell. Both are dark and delicious, but only one can be the best. Stay tuned for an update on my “winners.”