As ticket holders for the Great American Beer Festival gear up for three days of beer saturation, it's easy to see why beer is on our brain. But those who can't make it to the annual extravaganza of fermented beverages should consider eating their hops instead...or at least nibble on tasty snacks that are either inspired by beer or made with the stuff. These five items can all be taken to go, and offer the chance to try Colorado beer without stepping inside the Colorado Convention Center, or a bar, this weekend.
As part of The Real Dill's Briners & Brewers series, owners Justin Park and Tyler DuBois paired with Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project to create the ultimate beer cuke. Enter Colorado Wild Sage Pickles, a marriage of cucumbers with the same herbs and ingredients that flavor the Crooked Stave's Colorado Wild Sage Brett Saison. Like the beer, these pickles feature lemongrass, sage, hops, lemon and a dash of malt to help give them a slightly spicy, tart and mouth-watering quality. They taste like someone marinated a cucumber in a glass of the beer, minus the alcohol. While the pickles are sold out on the Real Dill's website, there might still be a few floating around at retail stores. Or keep an eye out on the website for new beery pickles in the series.
Coffee and beer? You usually don't see these two things together unless it's as a hangover cure or strong breakfast stout, but Phil Goodlaxson at Corvus Coffee decided to add hops to a recent batch of cold brew. "It’s kind of an interesting story about how that came to be," says Goodlaxson. "I was doing a lot of beer events early on, and for one of the South Denver beer fests, I decided to make something more 'beer-y' on a whim, and so we went to a local homebrew store and bought some hops, dry-hopped some cold brew and ordered a stamp to make some pretty basic labels for the bottles." Now anyone can try the stuff by heading to one of the Corvus Coffee shops (1740 South Broadway or 4925 South Newport Street) or seeking it out at some of the city's finer markets. "It was something I was planning on doing only once, and it led to what is now a million-dollar cold-brew business," Goodlaxson says. "I may never have bottled cold brew at all if it wasn’t for that original hopped coffee."
Beer-Infused Ice Cream
Every year, Sweet Action Ice Cream doles out a handful of beer-infused ice creams in honor of the Great American Beer Festival, and this year is no different. The full list of flavors that owner Chia Basinger is making at his Baker-neighborhood shop hasn't been released yet, but in 2016 he whipped up Butter Pecan Maple Porter made with Renegade Brewing's Pancakes Maple Porter; Vegan Colorado Peach Ale with Copper Kettle Brewing's Peach Golden Ale; and Honey Nutmeg Sour Red with Black Project's Voodoo Sour Red. Get the ice cream in a cone or take a six-pack to go. Also whipping up great beer ice cream is Gerry Kim at Frozen Matter in Uptown. Take a pint of the Milk Chocolate Stout (made with Left Hand Brewing's Milk Stout) home, or stay for a beer float, which can be made with any ice cream. It's the best adult soda-shop treat ever.
Salami Laced With Ale
Wine has been used in charcuterie for decades, so it was only a matter of time before someone started using beer to flavor cured meats. You can taste this pairing in the Colorado Sour Ale Salami coming out of Elevation Meats in Denver. Made with Trinity Brewing's Seven Day Sour, the pork-based salami offers meat and beer lovers a tasty marriage of two great products. To try this delectable blend, look for it at specialty shops around town or order online; you can visit The Preservery and Culture Meats & Cheeses to sample before you buy.
Beer Brats: Coming Soon
For a while now, Jensen Cummings of Brewed Food has been working with the folks behind Tender Belly to create a line of beer-spiked brats. The process has been slow, and the team is still trying to perfect it before packaging and selling the meat on the market. "Our IPL [India Pale Lager] brats are not available for retail just yet, and we have only been sampling and testing in very few select accounts," says Stephanie Duffy, Tender Belly's sales manager, in an email. "They will be ready to share with the world soon."
Until then, we can only salivate over what's to come.