“Because of the time of year, we preferred to use some greens that brought a little bit of bitterness. I believe we used frisée, maybe just a touch of radicchio and a few other greens in there,” Bemis says.
Bemis had already decided that he would be serving ribeye as the entrée course. To break up the richness between that and the preceding smoked pheasant, he looked to classic menu design and inserted a fish course.
He chose an aromatic fresh salmon baked on cedar planks, with saffron butter and a tarragon cherry relish adding some acidity.
He included vanilla in the salmon preparation, and the sweetness was provided by the beers: Breckenridge’s whiskey-barrel-aged Vanilla Porter and Bell’s Black Note bourbon-barrel-aged stout. A light bitterness from both cut the fish’s oiliness while fitting with the floral tarragon and cedar.
The ribeye entrée incorporated curry-based dry rub and chili paste, the modest heat accentuated by two potent IPAs. The final course, a spiced almond mousse, included a slight addition of chili powder to add complexity and tie it into the previous course, while bringing together the disparate pairing of Breckenridge 72 Imperial and Bell’s Sparkling Ale.
The two successful pairing dinners—both the Bemis and Spickelmier dinner and the similarly challenging Calibration Dinner orchestrated by Belie and Sacconi —helped make the craft-beer pairings a mainstay at the resort.
The resort has launched a Craft Beer, Creative Cuisine series, an expanded craft-beer selection, educational seminars with visiting Colorado brewmasters, and learning packages hosted by Lodge, Bemis and Pastry Chef Kendra Hamilton.
“When we started talking about it and really getting involved in the planning stages of the beer festival, we made the decision to start down this road,” Bemis says of their craft-beer initiatives. “It’s become part of who we are.”