confection a modern-day spin, with his signature Drunken Date Cake. There’s no rum involved – the sponge cake is kissed with Four Peaks Oatmeal Stout beer and emerges all the better for it with mild, earthy notes and lightly sweet, spicy zing. The secret, Curry says, is to start with the good, local stuff, like plump dates sourced from McClendon’s Select in Peoria, flour from Hayden Flour Mills in Tempe, and duck eggs from Two Wash Ranch in New River. Of course, the beer is integral, too. Curry admires the Four Peaks stout for its great depth of spice, boldness and bitterness that’s just enough to balance the sugary dates. Another insider tidbit: The base of the cake relies on a stable emulsion of the beer and dates that locks in hydration without requiring lashings of butter. As a finishing touch (we had to coax this classified item out of him), Curry dusts brown sugar on double-buttered parchment paper before wrapping the cake and putting it in the oven.
7042 E. Indian School Rd.,
All along we thought we
knew beer, speaking as we do in fancy terms like “balancing malt backbone” or “thick, rocky heads of great retention.” But head chef Nic Patton does us one better, referencing “chef-serious beers” when discussing how he concocts his weekly-special recipes. Beer-battered fish and chips takes on new import when made with Sonoran Brewing Company’s 7 Wives Saison, crafted in partnership with chef Jeremy Pacheco of Lon’s at the Hermosa. The beer includes wheat from Pacheco’s father’s Marana farm, pink peppercorns plucked from Singh Farms in Scottsdale, fennel from Lon’s garden, and mesquite syrup made by Cotton Country Jams in Phoenix. The kitchen also favors Sonoran Brewing and Eddie Matney’s own collaborative beer, a basil-tinged beauty called FFF that Matney uses in his steamed Ipswich clams. For beer cheddar soup, the chef loves 8th Street Ale From Four Peaks, and uses Old Monkeyshine Ale from Nimbus in his popular tailgate chili. Alas, the famous Mo-Rockin’ shrimp in beer sauce uses Budweiser – but the shrimp’s seasoning would crush a better beer’s nuances anyway.
Four Peaks Brewery
1340 E. Eighth St., Tempe
(also 15745 N. Hayden Rd.,
Arizona’s largest craft beer maker isn’t solely about beer – the bustling pub also serves first-rate food, much of it inspired by, and made with, the house suds. Four Peaks churns out some 40,000 barrels a year, but it’s still credibly boutique, thanks to a lengthy list of small-batch offerings and seasonal favorites like Pumpkin Porter. While co-owner/brewmaster Andy Ingram deserves credit for the quaffs, Four Peaks co-owner and chef Arthur Craft deserves kudos for culinary delights like home-baked beer bread, beer-battered fish and chips, and a smooth, chocolately Oatmeal Stout vanilla bean milk shake. But what really strikes our beer-food fancy is the filet mignon, a belly-filling platter of two juicy 4-ounce steak medallions grilled to order and lavished in a Kilt Lifter demi-glacé. The beer adds a full-bodied malty-sweet character and a bit of roasted caramel and barley character to the beef, and a touch of elegance to the meal. To drink alongside, Ingram and Craft suggest another slightly sweet beer: their Oatmeal Stout, or a dry, hoppy IPA.
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