Beer for Dinner Before GABF

Originally published in August 2015, view the original article here.

Food and wine go hand in hand. While perusing the wine aisle at the liquor store, you’ll think about what you’ll be having for dinner, and make your selection based on what would pair best. But when it comes to food and beer, pairing beer with dinner is oftentimes an afterthought — or, at least, not as apparent. While craft beer is increasingly gaining respect in the culinary world, there’s a long way to go toward making food and beer pairings second nature, like we think of wine and food.

Chef and Certified Cicerone (a beer certification similar to wine sommelier), Jensen Cummings, is one of the many chefs pioneering the food and beer movement through the creation of his brand, Brewed Food, “a community of chefs and brewers collaborating to push the boundaries of the beer and food movement.”

While there are many beer dinners out there, these events can often be pricey and exclusive. Cummings has decided to shake things up, and is embarking on the “Road to GABF Tasting Room Tour.” The GABF, or Great American Beer Festival, is the largest beer competition in the world and occurs every September in Denver. In the months leading up to GABF, Cummings hopes “to engage (even moderate) beer enthusiasts in an approachable and affordable environment.” The tour will run from Aug. 7 – Sept. 18 every Friday at a rotating brewery.

So what’s the tour all about? Cummings is working with brewers to design one plate of food that will pair with two dramatically different styles of beer.

“Craft beer and food have not created a strong enough synergy. There needs to be more of a cohesive approach and collaborative effort between chefs and brewers,” Cummings says.

Guests will be invited to taste two different styles of beer paired with one single dish. Unlike many pairing events that select beer to pair with the food, during the tour, the food will be created to work well with the beer. Cummings will work to design his dishes based on the two beers each brewery selects to have featured. He will also be showcasing the concept of “brewed food,” in which he’ll utilize brewing ingredients and techniques in every element of his dishes.

He notes that there are many ways to cook with beer outside of simply cooking with finished beer.

“A specific example of ‘brewed food’ is using spent grain as a binder for meatballs. I would pair (the meatballs) with beer from which the grains came from so they finish each other’s sentences with exclamation points of flavor. Pow! I cook with finished beer plenty but not when I am pairing said cooking beer to itself. Of course they pair well together, they taste the same,” says Cummings.

Beyond the stereotypical dark beer with a chocolate dessert, or light lager with Asian food, there are many inventive combinations of food and beer with endless possibilities. The Road to GABF Tap Room Tour hopes to showcase that.

“I want people to say, ‘Oh yeah, I get that.’ It will be innovative in a very approachable way,” Cummings says.

With tickets ranging from $8-$12, it’s possible to attend a few different stops on the tour.

Participating nearby breweries are Crooked Stave, Hogshead, Spangalang, Epic, Trve, Upslope and Oskar Blues. Schedule and event info can be found at More info on Brewed Food and other food and beer projects can be found on

Written by: Tiffany Lutke