Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Beer and Thai Food: Two of Life's Great Joys.

They get along so well, particularly when the dish is spicy and the beer is hoppy. A certain harmony plays out among the bright flavors of many Thai dishes and the floral, citric aromas of big American hops... Meanwhile the bitterness and carbonation help douse and carry away that spicy heat, so you can start all over with another bite. The combination usually lacks subtlety and is not for those who prefer to ignore the taste of their food and drink while carrying on a conversation. Bite, FLAVOR, gulp, FLAVOR, repeat. Whatever you were going to say was not that interesting anyway.

Now: There are pubs and brewpubs that serve a Thai dish or two. There are, thankfully, plenty of Thai restaurants with a decent beer list. However, I can only find one currently operating, honest-to-goodness Thai restaurant that happens to make its own beer: The Thai Me Up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. (If you know others, I'd like to hear about them.) Based on a brief visit in early August, I can recommend Thai Me Up as a joint serving up food with real heat and ales with real hop.

Remember when we talked about auteurs the other day? Jeremy Tofte is the owner, chef and brewer. When you're eating and drinking here, like watching a great film, you're participating in his total creative vision. (Interestingly, the walls feature a tasteful selection of vintage movie posters.) When I spoke with Jeremy, he was proud of not being another Jackson Hole "trust fund kid" who bought a restaurant with his parents' money. He said he worked his way up in the restaurant business and had been a homebrewer for years. Thai Me Up is the culmination, then, of his experiences and ideas. And you can either like them or not.

Four of us shared a platter of what the restaurant claims is "some of the best larb gai in the world." I'm not a larb gai connoisseur so I can't dispute the claim, but we enjoyed it. Think chicken with chilies, lime leaves and lime juice. Bright and hot and thirsty. The 2x4 Quadruple Pale Ale that washed it down was über-zesty, juicy, lively enough to lift away lingering chili heat and hop resin off our tongues--and at 9.5%, dangerously drinkable.

Clearly, we left our interest in subtlety at the front door. We said "wow" a few times. Otherwise, nobody talked much.


  1. sounds seriously heavenly, but a terrible name/pun for a restaurant!

  2. Like arn said, sounds fantastic, but I otherwise disagree. There's no such thing as a bad pun.

  3. I have to post again. When posting comments here, one has to do one of those word verification things to stop the bots. The word it gave me was "precoma". How appropriate.

  4. Next time you make it by - we now have a 3 barrel system with 4 fermenters and a brite tank. 10 beers on tap now instead of 2! Jeremy Tofte