Media tastings are not reviews, but they are a great way for me to learn more about full menu offerings, dish updates, and special events from our local restaurants to share with readers. At this point, media tasting invitations are being accepted from any local restaurant who would like coverage on Feasting Fort Collins – no matter if they’ve been previously reviewed or not.
Media tasting photos are uploaded on Feasting Fort Collins Instagram during (or shortly after) the event, so be sure to follow me on there for the sneak peek before it hits the site.
Last week Mainline hosted their Hops + Vine Spring Beer and Wine Dinner, a first pairing combo for the restaurant. There have been a few beer vs wine dinners at various places over the years, but we typically see primarily wine pairings or really, more frequently beer pairings in Fort Collins. Many of the beer vs wine dinners that have been done are just that – a competition. But this dinner was more about collaboration; how beer AND wine can create complexity in flavor, and how there are contrasts and complements.
Executive Chef Justin Burdick had been working on creating some new experiences for attendees. And I have to say, as a restaurant critic for many years, that’s a hard thing to pull off. But he did it. Molecular gastronomy? Experienced it. Sumac-laced beverages and dishes? Yep, had it. Pork belly steam buns? The best dish of the night, and yes, I’ve had more steam buns than I can possibly count. But romanesco? NOPE. That was the new one! It tastes like broccoli and has the texture of cauliflower. But it’s one beautiful looking vegetable, that’s for sure.
It has been interesting to see how my personal preferences are turning away from beer and inching closer to wine in all of these pairings. While all of the beer that was paired from Horse and Dragon Brewing was lovely, I found myself being more enamored with the wines that Breakthru Beverage Group brought to the table. With the exception of the Scottish Tradesman Coconut Porter. OMG. I’ve ordered that at Tap & Handle during Experience Fort Collins podcasts, and it was just as amazing in this dinner. It was the best beer pairing of the night.
Maybe I’m walking away from craft beer lately because of the crazy leaning toward sours. Sours are not my jam, and there were plenty of beers sipped that evening where that’s all I needed. In fact, table mates would pipe up as beer was passed down the table, “Kristin, you’re not going to like this. It’s another sour!”
I guess these things go in phases. Some years it’s heavy on IPAs. Now we’re all sours. I can’t wait until we’re something else. Until then, it’s wine and tequila for me, thanks.
But overall, I found the wines to be the complement and the beer to be the contrast in each dish (except for the lamb that was just tastebud high-fives all the way around). In a dinner like this, it worked really well as a collaboration to provide a Willy Wonka-type flavor evolving dininger experience.
Dishes and their pairings featured in the photo gallery above consisted of:
First course – compressed fruit salad with fresh honeydew, pineapple, and watermelon with balsamic caviar. Paired with Horse and Dragon’s Preambulation Ale and Big Easy Chenin Blanc, South Africa
Second course – pork belly steam buns, brown sugar pears, and roasted pine nuts. Paired with Horse and Dragon’s Agitated Aardvark IPA and Chime Pinot Noir, California
Third course – Colorado lamb rack, curry whipped potato, and charred romanesco paired with Horse and Dragon’s Scottish Tradesman Coconut Porter and The Pundit Syrah, Washington
Fourth course – strawberry shortcake with white chocolate mousse paired with Horse and Dragon’s Rhubarb Tart Berliner Weiss and 14 Hands Sparkling Rose, Washington