The Liquid Diet

This week I introduced my mouth to a new beer from a familiar brewery that is a must try if you know a great beer from…(insert superlative). I also stumble upon a hidden gem, like really hidden, like in a strip mall in Greenwood Village hidden.

Sunday January 8, 2011 at 7:23 PM MST:

If you consider yourself an aficionado of craft beer or haven’t lived under a rock for the past decade then you know about Victory Brewing Company out of Downington, Pennsylvania. A stone’s throw from West Chester and within driving distance from Philly, these boys have been cranking out some of the country’s best since 1996.

They started out really focusing on session beers with a lot of German influence, but have evolved like so many of the best breweries in the states and have elevated and rounded out their game. The recent trend in the craft scene has brought us a cornucopia of big beers aged in barrels, and the King of the Barrels is the Bourbon barrel! Dark Intrigue takes one amazing elixir and ages it in a barrel formerly occupied by another amazing elixir and the result is a rich and roasty brew as black as the night and just as mysterious. The Dark Intrigue is the barrel aged version of Storm King which is Victory’s Russian Imperial Stout. It is coming in at 9% ABV and packs a punch of caramel drenched bitter chocolate with a vanilla candle burning a hole through your hand widdled oak end table. It is like a raging campfire meets dessert at Grandma’s house with a couple snorts of Granpa’s cough syrup. The crew at Victory Brewing have really taken to kicking ass and taking names quite well and I suggest you take notice!

I drank this beer at home. In the dark. Tears swelled with thoughts of innocence lost and dreams deferred.

Just kidding. This shit was delicious.

Monday January 9, 2011 at 8:14 PM MST:

One of the things I like about Denver is that the food scene is pretty scattered around town. There are a lot of nooks and neighborhoods that house some of the best eateries around. You are going to find great spots from Larimer Square to the Highlands to 17th Ave to 6th Ave to 14th Corridor to Cherry Creek, but there are some places that you don’t expect to find a great meal and drink.

One such place, The Wooden Table, is sandwiched between some pretty run of the mill suburban shops in Geenwood Village. Not holding out much hope for a “blue blood” strip mall restaurant, it definitely caught me off guard when between the excellent (affordable) wine selection and mildly nuevo Italian menu was a great experience to be had.

Since I was going to be eating my way through Italy I figured drinking a part of Italy was in order. I went with a bottle of 2008 Damilano Nebbiolo d’ Alba. Nebbiolo is the undisputed champ of Italian grapes. Versions of this wine date back to before 1 A.D. when Pliny the Elder wrote about them. This grape is responsible for wines Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara and Ghemme, which are some of the most respected wines of Italy. Nebbiolo is known to age extremely well, unlike a lot of other Italian varietals which tend to peak as much younger wines. Nebbiolo tends to be tannic and aggressive when its young and strong and smooth when it gets older. It’s like a snot nose teenage punk boy that grows up to be a smooth talking man about town.

This bottle is still a bit wound up but has great structure and acidity, which made it great with the pile of three giant meatballs over house made bucatini and a simple tomato sauce. The meatballs of pork and beef were so rich and well…meaty that they really complimented the mouth feel of the wine. The sweet and sour balance of the tomato sauce helped to balance the biting acidity of this youngun.

My favorite part about pairing young Nebbiolo with tomato based pasta dishes is the traditional use of basil, which has a faint anise flavor to it, and there is something about the terrior of Piedmonte that seems to give these young wines a slight herbaceous quality that is heightened by fresh herbs in food. Next time you have a Nebbiolo in front of you put this theory to the test and tell me if I’m lying. If you have yet to have a Nebbiolo, then what the hell are you waiting for?!

Something worth mentioning that I suggest everyone in the industry take notice of…upon leaving The Wooden Table, our server, a busser, the manager and the host all thanked as and said goodbye. This a strong sign of individual and team understanding of hospitality that is far too often forgotten today.

This week the morals of the story are simple yet powerful… bourbon makes it better and never judge a book by its cover.

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!

  • Noah

    Thanks for sharing the post about Victory Brewing! I am headed to Philly soon to visit a friend, so I will go check them out!