Saturday, October 6, 2012

Food ... and BEER!

Do you know what these are?
I've had a lot of people comment on how strong I've been during my husband's hospitalization. Maybe that's because I only post when I'm sane. Trust me, there have been times when I've been a babbling idiot or a lump of nothingness curled up in a chair.

But to keep myself at least a little bit sane, I've been trying to do at least one normal thing each day. Some days, that means a couple loads of laundry. Some days I cook something interesting. Some days I do more, and some days loading the dishwasher is about all I can manage.

I've also been trying to do at least one "social" thing each week. I get a teeny bit guilty that I'm out in the real world, but the next day I feel a little more energized. A few hours of "me" time is a good thing.

My life isn't going to be completely normal for a long time, but I think it's good to have pieces of it that are somewhat normal.

So this week's social interlude was a blogger event sponsored by Steve and Leslie Kaczeus of Bootstrap Brewing along with a bunch of Niwot restaurants. We sampled seven beers made by Bootstrap, paired with food from five restaurants - or, technically, four restaurants and Niwot Market.

Here's how it all went:

First up was the 1956 Golden Ale paired with two different appetizers. First we had French Vietnamese stuffed chicken wings. Nicely spiced, with lettuce and juliennned vegetables for crunch.

That was followed by linguini with clams. It's hard to argue with that. Both appetizers were from Trepedda's Italian Ristorante. The beer is a pilsner-like beer (but still an ale, very light and smooth. Easy to drink.

Next was the Oktoberfestbier, a German-style Marzen. This was paired with roasted pumpkin spaetzle from Niwot Market. There were bits of pumpkin in the sauce along with toasted pumpkin seeds. Nice toasty malt flavor in the beer. I'm used to spaetzle being rather plain - just buttered - so having it sauced was a nice touch.

The Merlot Aged Boomer Brown Ale is aged in ... you guessed it ... Merlot barrels - for two months. The wine flavor was there, but not overpowering. The beer itself has a malty flavor that I really liked. That was paired with port-poached pears with prosciutto on toasted ciabatta bread with blackberry balsamic reduction. The wine in the food highlighted the wine flavor in the beer very nicely. Presentation of the food was lovely, courtesy of Niwot Tavern.

The next beer was the Insane Rush IPA. I'll have to admit that IPAs are not my favorite beer. I prefer malty over hoppy beers, but this one was interesting and not as bitter as some. The hops used had a piney flavor. Not like chewing on trees. Think of pine nuts. This was paired with Kobe beef sliders on brioche buns with horseradish havarti cheese and a tomato slice, courtesy of the Garden Gate Cafe. Mighty fine little burger.

Backfire Chili Beer was next, and this actually the 1956 Golden Ale infused with spicy Fresno chilis. The first sip of this beer packed some heat, but then I went back for more sips. Paired with food, it was good, but this isn't a beer I'd sit back and drink. I do think I'll be cooking with it, though. This beer has a lot of potential as a marinade or a braising liquid. The beer was paired with chicken flautas and shredded beef flautas from Ajuaa! The guacamole that came with the flautas tamed the beer nicely.

The next beer was a palate cleanser - Flagstaff Amber. It was a nicely balanced beer with neither malt nor hops overpowering. Good flavor. Slurp, slurp.

Last beer of the evening was Mo-Mentus Fresh Hopped Imperial Amber. A sweet, malty beer named after the brewmaster Dave Mentus, this was a perfect dessert beer. He explained that fresh-hopped beers have hops added within 24 hours of the time they are picked. Since the hops were very local, they arrived at the brewery within 6 hours of picking - plenty of time to spare.
Cascade Hops. Pretty little things, aren't they?
With an ABV of 10.1 percent, the Mo-Mentus not something you'd want to drink too much of, but it was a good beer to end the night. This came with some coconut macaroons, but I don't do coconut, so I passed on that opportunity. I did sneak an extra flauta, though.

For a little more about Bootstrap Brewing, check this out.