And we all float on…

I love summer. Well, let me back up, I know it’s not officially summer yet, but it feels like summer (June 21st, if you want to mark your calendar) so I’m going to clarify that I am  loving this summer. I’ve had so much fun already this month, so I’m absolutely giddy that there’s still really a whole summer left. My last week of classes is this week–one more written final and a kitchen practical–and then I have three glorious weeks off to really revel in this wonderful sense of freedom that comes with warmer weather and sitting on porches and balconies and decks and patios just whiling the time away with a cold beer and some delicious snacks. Oh, and the parties!

I was lucky enough to kick off my summer party season with an invite to the Great Divide Brewing Company’s 20th anniversary party.

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I had a blast! So much great beer… It was impossible to try them all, but as evidenced by all the slightly blurry photos, I sure did give it my best effort! It’s BeerGoggle-vision!

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But it didn’t stop with the beer. Oh, no! There were food trucks as far as the eye could see, all serving up some really yummy munchables. Each ticket came with the opportunity to sample from one of the trucks, and on my friend Dan’s recommendation I made a beeline for the Burger Radio truck for one of their EBS burgers. That stands for Emergency Bacon System, if you were curious.

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Let’s not forget some great music (bands outside and a DJ spinning some seriously fun Motown inside), and cute babies!

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Even when the weather went all wonky on us… no one seemed to really mind.

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Breweries really do throw some kick ass parties! The folks at Great Divide did such a wonderful job with this one. It was held at the site of what will be their 2nd location, in a growing part of Denver called River North. If you’re a Denver person, you probably already know what’s going on up there, but if you’re ever in town from somewhere else, definitely look up what’s happening in the RiNo area. It’s kind of becoming food/beer heaven up there. Speaking of food heaven, let me show you something that I believe should be on everyone’s summertime menu at some point this year– beer floats!

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Stop making that “yuck!” face!!! If you’ve never experienced this treat, I know it might sound a little weird. But, when I say beer float, I’m not talking about throwing some store brand, fake vanilla wanna-be ice cream into your Bud Light. Don’t you dare! For this dessert, it’s only the good stuff. If you’re not going to make your own vanilla (or chocolate) ice cream, get some really good quality product. If you have a local ice cream shop that makes their own, that will work. If not, just make sure you’re getting something that is made from real ingredients. No fakers here!

Now, as for the beer– there are two ways to go here. The first, and most popular, would be a dark beer like a stout or a porter. Guinness would work quite well, but if you want to expand your horizons, there are lots of other ones to choose from. At the Great Divide party, they made theirs with Yeti Classic Imperial Stout and White Whale vanilla bean ice cream. There’s also a Yeti Chocolate that would work well with this. A couple of other good options from Left Hand Brewing would be the Lugene’s Chocolate Milk Stout, or the regular Milk Stout. Kona Brewing makes a Pipeline Porter brewed with Kona coffee that would be absolutely delightful in a float. Anyway, you get the idea. Something dark, with chocolate, vanilla, or coffee flavors combined with a rich, good quality chocolate or vanilla ice cream.

A second, and equally wonderful option would be to float your vanilla ice cream in something fruity. The best one I’ve tried so far was made with vanilla bean ice cream and Lindeman’s Framboise Lambic. Lots of lush, ripe, raspberry flavour that could be punched up even more by adding some fresh raspberries on top. Twisted Pine’s Raspberry Wheat Ale, or a Cuvée René Gueuze Lambic would also pair well.

Seriously, do this. You won’t regret it. In fact, I suspect it will become one of your favorite grown-up summertime treats.

Happy Summer, ya’ll!

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