The Liquid Diet

This Week in The Liquid Diet: We book-ended two Sunday Fundays of epic proportions, to say the least.  The list of beers consumed by the “Knights” this week was out of this world.  The following Sunday was a bit of tried and true along with some new.  Brunch and dinner and lots of it…booze and food, that is!

Sunday October 23, 2011 at 2:38 PM MST:

If any of you have read any of my posts or know me at all, I like beer!  This Sunday was a beer geek’s wet dream, but only mildly in a gross way.  One of our crew, Bryan Turner, is being deported to Ireland (well, he’s moving there for work, but it feels like he is being torn from us by an oppressive government).  We all felt the need to gather our best and brightest bottles from the cellars and send him overseas in style.  We also added an intriguing dimension to our tasting group which was aptly deemed the “Brown Bag Beers,” providing us a chance to blind-taste beers in a brown bag. A blind tasting for us to prove how ridiculously geeky we are when it comes to ridiculously geeky beers. Besides the bottle of Hunahpu’s by Cigar City or the 2007 Dark Lord by Three Floyds, most of the rest of the “brown bag beers” were not our superstars. Many beers we selected would be challenging to distinguish style or country of origin or specific brewery.

Now, back to some of the bad-ass mothers like the Hunahpu’s and the Dark Lord…WOW!  If you got chills when you just read those two beer names, then I am talking to you in this piece.  I’m pretty sure I giggled like a schoolgirl when I sampled the first sip of this King of King beers into my unworthy gullet.  I know I usually have some flowery, weird and/or disturbing adjectives to describe whatever the hell it is I taste, but instead I am just going to list of some of the beers consumed. I hope that your curiosity gets you to put these beers on your bucket list and make some shady deals with seedy hoodlum-type characters to get your hands on these brews!  A couple of the beers didn’t even have labels because they were smuggled in by trusty sources. Some beers that need no pitch…

  • Armand Gueze
  • 09 Le Seprent by Snake River
  • 09 Perfect Storm by Pelican Pub
  • Golden Delicious by Captain Lawrence
  • Oude Gueze by Timmerman’s
  • Abner by Hill Farmstead
  • 11 Dark Lord
  • Bligh’s Barleywine by Dry Dock (local beer and they knocked it out of the park!)
  • Saison Vos by Sly Fox
  • Sorachi Ace by Brooklyn Brewing
  • Can and Ebel by Two Brothers
  • Autumn Maple by The Bruery
  • CBS by Founder’s
  • 09 Juliet by Goose Island
  • Kaffinator by Ithaca Brewing
  • Bourbonic Plague by Cascade Brewing
  • Blushing Monk by Founder’s
  • 09 Kriek by Oude Beersel
  • Isid’or by La Trappe
  • Nor Easter by Captain Lawrence
  • Quadrupel by Straffe Hendrik

…and I think that was it.  It is such an inspiring and humbling experience to be so lucky to taste these beers and pass judgment on them. These are some of the most sought-after and prized beers on the market.  If you are like me and get a little giddy at the whisper of “Dark Lord,” then maybe you and some friends should start seeking out some of these gems.  I am here for you if you need a drinking partner!

Sunday October 30, 2011 at 1:47 PM MST:

It’s not Sunday Funday if it’s without some day drinking with brunch somewhere in the plans.  Today was that kind of day.  Because I poured a few beers into my liver the prior evening, I was not up for exploring new and exciting spots for brunch and booze.  I managed to get my pants on and marched down to Lola, a familiar and fun place, and bellied up to the bar.  Being a rugged and manly man I ordered the Pulled Pork Benedict and a lovely and refreshing glass of Sangria Roja.  Sangria is a great alternative to a bloody.  You have your fruit juice with vitamins and stuff, adding booze and a straw.  All requirements necessary when you’re trying to bring yourself back to life one sip at a time.  The splash of soda is key because it gets that booze into your blood stream faster.  And that’s a tip from a Hangover Recovery Expert.  The Benedict had as much to do with my speedy recovery as the Sangria.  The rich, spicy shredded pork sunk right to the bottom of my belly.  The crumbly biscuit, perfectly poached egg and roasted tomato hollandaise kept it classy.  With straw in hand, guzzling my hangover remedy, I started feeling whole again for the night ahead.

Sunday October 30, 2011 at 8:14 PM MST:

Since I had spent the morning in a familiar spot, the evening would be spent with some new friends.  We have been down 17th Ave before on The Liquid Diet; tonight, another eatery would continue to build 17th Ave’s street cred here in Denver: Il Posto.  Like all the spots connected on that little strip Il Posto is small and stylish.  I barely stop to talk the host about where we should sit and beeline for the Chef’s Counter.  Being a cook I always want to be as close to the action and the artists as possible.  I settle in and go straight to attacking the wine list.

Italian wines are near and dear to my heart.  When I first began exploring wines, Italian wines were my most trusted guides.  Scanning through Barbaresco, Brunello, Chianti, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Nero…I push my way all the way down to Valpolicella and time slows down.  I am right where I want to be.  The room grows silent my vision focuses and my mind gains a sharp clarity.  As long as my voice doesn’t fail me or the server never comes back for my choice I will be drinking a 2008 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Valpolicella Superiore Monti Garbi Ripasso!  Don’t you love how poetically and dramatically long Old World Italian wine names are?  The labels are so classically striking and elegant.  All the way down to the gold leafing pattern around the outside of the label.  Valpolicella DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata, a classification for wine) is second only to Chianti in prestige in the wine world.  The Superiore classification means it is aged at least 12 months in oak (this one was chillin’ in barrel for 15 months).  This particular vino hails from Veneto, Italy.  Ripasso is a really unique expression of Valpolicella in that it is a blend of new grapes with the dried skins of previously pressed grapes used to make Amarone.  Amarone is a big dog in this DOC and one of my favorite styles produced anywhere on the planet!  The Ripasso, translating roughly to “re-passed or re-pressed” is a bit more delicate with more biting acidity than the Amarone, making it a food-friendly wine.  Fall food is exactly what this juice craves and fall food is exactly what Il Posto gave us that night, one brilliant dish after another.

Pork Belly Involtini with grilled apples and roasted parsnip had the Ripasso showing its earthy strength like a barefoot jaunt on freshly tilled dirt after Quentin Tarantino movie marathon in chronological order.  Later, the Celery Root Soup with hickory smoke and seared foie gras gave way to the biting acidic initial approach of the wine.  It cut right through the richness and got you geared up for another bite like a halftime pep talk from Bobby Knight (in his chair throwing, ball kicking Indiana days of course).  I savored the wine through to dessert, but I would not recommend pairing it with a Chocolate Tort with caramelized bananas and kiwi berries.  Instead, the Vin Santo they sent out did the trick to compliment a dessert that rivaled its savory counterpoints.  Once the dessert and the Vin Santo were demolished, I sipped one last sip of the 2008 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Valpolicella Superiore Monti Garbi Ripasso and let that incredibly long, smooth, dry finish wash over me.

I felt like I was on the path to enlightenment this week.  I found the balanced middle road in spreading my thirst between beer, spirits and wine.  Who knew that drinking copious amounts of booze could be so zen?!  Choose the booze wisely and you are a connoisseur, let the booze choose you and you are an alcoholic.  Write that down, kids!

Quite a week in the life of The Liquid Diet. What will this week hold in store? Stay tuned!

About Jensen Cummings

Jensen Cummings (@JensenDCummings) is the Executive Chef at Row 14 in downtown Denver. He calls his food "Pangean Cuisine" and his teaching style "Fortune Cookie Philosophy" so you know he's a little off his rocker! His side passion project is to collaborate with brewers on chef/food inspired beers meant to be paired with high end cuisine. Jensen is an avid beer collector, student of spirits, soon to be Certified Cicerone and a sommelier in training. Basically, he is just really into adult beverages and super geeky!