Hoppy Daze and Purple Haze Pairing Wins Big in Vail

By Andrew Kaczmarek

Big Beers, Belgians, and Barley Wines Festival in Vail, Colo., once again hosted a CraftBeer.com Taste-Off. This edition of the contest focused on pairing craft beer with cheese.

The tenth rendition of the Taste-Off featured beers from breweries located in Wyoming, California, Colorado and Alaska who were each asked to pair their beer of choice with an artisan cheese. Each of the competing brewers brought a beer that fit into the “big beer” style category.

The Contestants

(Pairings are delineated by corresponding numbers from both lists.)

Craft Beer

  1. Altitude Saison | Altitude Chophouse & Brewery | Laramie, WY
  2. Hoppy Daze Belgio IPA | Coronado Brewing Co. | Coronado Island, CA
  3. Ambition Coffee Stout | Wits End Brewing Co. | Denver, CO
  4. Smoked Porter | Alaskan Brewing Co. | Juneau, AK

Cheese

  1. Cabra Blanca | Avalanche Cheese Company | Basalt, CO
  2. Purple Haze on Raisin Rosemary Crisps | Cypress Grove Chèvre | Arcata, CA
  3. Smokehaus Blue | Salemville Cheese Factory | Cambria, WI
  4. Gjetost | Ski Queen | Norway

The champion, both on paper and on the audiences’ palettes, was Coronado’s Hoppy Daze paired with Cypress Grove’s Purple Haze. The intriguing combination, pulled together by a raisin rosemary crisp, was a sensory trip worthy of a CraftBeer.com Taste-Off title.

“It was an honor being in Vail at the festival, having a chance to compete in the [taste-off] was an incredible experience; we take it very seriously and the win felt great,”said Coronado’s Shawn DeWitt.

Further, when DeWitt was asked about what made the pairing successful he responded: “In our minds it was the rosemary cracker that pulled it all together, and was critical to the pairing. When the staff tried the pairing at the brewery, everyone looked around, reading each others minds and said ‘Wow!’ We would have been surprised if the pairing didn’t win.”

With two Big Beers Taste-Off championships, Coronado Brewing Company is now tied with Steven Pauwels from Boulevard Brewing. DeWitt responded about defending the title: “The staff at Coronado has a great understanding of the pairings and [we] look forward to future competitions.”

Listen to recordings from past Taste-Off events.


Andrew KaczmarekAndrew Kaczmarek, is the current Craft Beer Program Intern, hop farmer, beer writer for the CU Independent, homebrewer and student at the University of Colorado in his final semester. When not pursuing hoppiness, as a Colorado native, he spends his free time skiing, camping or biking in the Rocky Mountains.