Every few months or so The Mainline Alehouse, in Old Town Fort Collins, hosts a beer pairing dinner with a local brewery. Past paired dinners have included Funkwerks Brewing, Jessup Farms, Odell brewing and others. On Friday February 10, 2017, the alehouse hosted a dinner with Black Bottle Brewery (BBB).

BBB is a Ft. Collins brewery located on the South West corner of Prospect and College. They have received many accolades over the past few years. Most notably, in 2015 the brewery was awarded a Great American Beer Festival bronze medal for their “Friar Chuck” German Kolsch and most recently took home a GABF silver for their Belgian Tripel in 2016.

The dinner began with a generous pour of BBB’s Lavender Saison, named “There Goes the Neighborhood”. This was paired with seared ahi tuna, lavender sticky rice and sweet soy sauce. Head Chef Justin Burdick mentioned that he was careful not to over do the lavender essence in the rice, because there was already lavender in the beer. In our opinion the delicate balance was a success, as neither the lavender in the beer or in the rice overpowered our palettes. This “amuse” course, as the name implies, is meant to awaken your senses and create a sense of hunger before the main courses are served.

The next course featured a root salad with pistachio goat cheese and herbed yogurt. The presentation of this dish was something exquisite. A medley of various root vegetables were carefully set on across a plate with a spread of high quality yoghurt, goat cheese, pistachios, and edible flowers. The colors of this plate were immense, as the orchid and snapdragon blossoms sat next to colorful root vegetables like watermelon radishes and purple carrots. The overall cleanliness of this dish paired with BBB’s Friar Chuck German Kolsch left our palettes ready to go.

The second course was a presentation of U10 diver scallops with bacon beurre blanc and arugula pickled onion slaw. A quick google search reveals that the U10 designation simply means there are 10 or fewer scallops per pound, and diver scallops are those harvested by hand – by a diver. In essence these scallops were larger and of higher quality because they were harvested by hand, making them less gritty than conventionally harvested scallops. This course was paired with BBB’s Neon Mamacita, which is what they refer to as a “wine ale”. This 6.5% ABV beer was aged in Sauvignon Blanc barrels and as the chef pointed out, his favorite pairing of all time is a nice white wine with seafood. Neon Mamacita came across as it should – big white grape, a small bubble fizz – it felt as if one were sipping on a champagne of sorts. Together with the scallops it could not miss.

The main course was a whole quail stuffed with wild mushrooms and leek, plus fried sweet potato risotto as a side, altogether paired with BBB’s award winning Belgian Trippel. This course was insanely rich, the fattiness of the quail acted as a transportation method for all the flavors locked inside the meat and the stuffing. Though not gamey in the least, the well-prepared bird alongside the fried risotto bites left one needing a beer big enough to stand up to all the umami going on. The organizers had our back and with a sip BBB’s Belgian Trippel, one could sit back and take a break.

Four beers and just as many courses deep, it was time for dessert. Stuffed to the brim, a deconstructed s’more was placed in front of us. Chocolate ganache, housemade toasted marshmallow, and spun sugar, was paired with a beer of equal richness. BBB’s Tele-Porter, is their American Porter made with Nutella. The dessert was over-the-top sweet and delicious, and paired with an over-the-top sweet and delicious beer, made this final course a challenge. Following the rather heavy main-course, this writer had to tap out and request a to-go box.

The overall theme of these Mainline beer pairing dinners is that of exploration and community. Guests are encouraged to mingle with other guests, there is no reserved seating and there are only four large community-style table settings. It doesn’t matter where you sit, everyone there is present for the same reason. A great group of friendly beer drinker’s seeking to expand their experience and talk beer. The chef and brewers are there as well, they mingle, share knowledge, and trade stories – making everyone feel as if this were an event put together just for them. Great service, plus great food and beer, a must try for any foodie or beer geek.

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