Denver is a craft beer mecca, sure, but those living South of I-25 don’t have the luxury of strolling down the street for a Red Rye Saison or authentic German Hefeweizen. Due to a lack of not only breweries, but also bars serving local or craft brews in the suburbs, fizzy yellow beer has become the beverage of choice.
That was until Renegade Brewing Company owner Brian O’Connell and his wife Khara opened Renegade Publik House, a craft beer only bar, on April 30. Located right around the corner from the University of Denver, the Publik House’s 25 rotating taps (featuring at least five Renegade brews) plus can and bottle list fulfills the cravings of beer enthusiasts who prefer to hear crickets and dogs bark rather than honking horns and the opening of squeaky bus doors.
Despite only being open a few months, the Publik House has established itself as a neighborhood hotspot, which isn’t hard when the taps change several times per week – since April, Renegade Publik House has had over 130 different beers on draft – and the food is as much of a draw as the beer.
On Tuesday, the Publik House hosted its first beer dinner featuring five courses each paired with a different brew from Fort Collins-based Funkwerks Brewery.
At 7 p.m., 36 lucky guests were greeted with a goblet of Funkwerks Nelson Sauvin – a saison usually only available at the taproom – and directed to the large banquet table featuring several wheels of warm brie topped with a fresh strawberry-peach champagne jam.
The Publik House regularly dishes up innovative grilled flatbreads like the Goldeneye – prosciutto, grilled asparagus, grilled zucchini, lemon zest, parmesan, truffle oil and topped off with a sunny-side-up egg – but Executive Chef Tim Hefty was given free reign over the pairing menu, allowing him to put his creativity to the test.
Hefty, whose resume touts Rioja and Foolish Craig’s in Boulder prior to leading Renegade’s kitchen, stuck with subtle Asian flavors like ginger and sweet soy that paired nicely with the bright floral notes of Funkwerks’ saisons.
The grilled peach salad was a refreshing start to the meal, starring a perfectly-charred Palisade peach on a bed of bitter arugula, crunchy bean sprouts, and drizzled with a lemon-ginger vinaigrette that played off the jasmine in Funkwerks’ Saison with Asian tea.
Then there was the spicy curried carrot bisque made with lobster stock for a thicker consistency and topped with toasted almonds, crème fraiche, cracked black pepper and fresh cilantro. While the curry packed a serious punch, Funkwerks’ White Ale, which co-founder Gordon Schuck said was brewed using a step-mash and ingredients like chamomile and orange blossoms, mellowed the heat and refreshed the palate.
The highlight of the meal was the main dish, a melt-in-your-mouth roasted pork tenderloin that Hefty marinated for 24 hours in a harmonious blend of honey, orange, sweet soy, shallots, ginger, cilantro, and garlic. Served on a bed of soy-braised bok choy and topped with savory mango chutney, green onions, and garnished with a charred lime slice, the pork paired perfectly with Funkwerks Tropic King Imperial Saison, which bursts with tropical fruit and ginger.
The portion sizes throughout made tackling dessert a breeze and, honestly, who would pass up homemade gingerbread topped with bourbon cherry cream cheese frosting and oh-so decadent chocolate-dipped, bourbon-soaked cherries? Yum. Paired with Funkwerks Dark Prophet brewed with coca nibs and aged two months in bourbon barrels, bliss doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling.
Stay tuned for future beer dinners and tap takeovers at The Publik House. RPH will also be starting lunch on Friday, August 23 at 11 a.m. with special flatbreads, salads, and small plates.