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Finding the inner caramel-lover

Daily Staff ReportsVail, CO, Colorado
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Baileys has a long-standing reputation as a chick drink. So much so that guys call it the old panty dropper. Sweet and deceptively boozy, the liqueur that inspired the Buttery Nipple also comes in a somewhat obscure caramel version that would likely make girls swoon if only they knew it existed.On the rocks, Baileys Irish Cream with a hint of Caramel is a lot less delicate than I expected. It goes down smooth, but the Irish whiskey emerged as a strong aftertaste. With 17 percent alcohol content, Baileys is more than three times stronger than a beer, though less than half as potent as Jack Daniels.The liqueur works well as a topping for ice cream, particularly flavors with caramel swirls. But its unclear under what circumstances anyone would need to douse their ice cream in booze.In other experiments, it seemed like a good idea to pair the Baileys with Irish-cream-flavored cappuccino from the gas station, but the result was nasty.Drenching everything I ate or drank with Baileys caramel quickly became a compulsion for review purposes, of course. One day, I rationalized spiking my morning coffee with the stuff by making important-sounding observations into my tape recorder (research).Other good pairings include raspberry cheesecake, chocolate cake with caramel touches, hot chocolate and milkshakes, according to Daniel Edward Ryan, night manager of West Vail Liquor Mart in West Vail.Locally, people are acting skittish around flavored Baileys. Not many people know about them, and they are very comfortable with the regular Baileys; they know what it is. Theyre sticking with their guns, I guess, Ryan said.Feeling shy, local residents are experimenting with caramel minis before buying a whole bottle. And I think thats a good strategy.Baileys Caramel is fine as a dessert, but its so rich, you cant drink a lot of it. If you try, you pass out instantly only to wake up several hours later feeling as guilty as you felt after your last caramel-corn binge.In conclusion, I applaud Baileys for branching out with the caramel flavor. Its never good to stagnate, and the brand showed gumption when it unveiled mint- chocolate and caramel versions in March 2006 after clinging to its original recipe for more than 30 years.Then again, the New-York-based company responsible for Baileys, Jose Cuervo and Captain Morgan has always nudged its customers toward self-discovery. These people emboldened me to discover that I have a little Captain in me. Now, I owe them for encouraging me to muscle past my id and ego to find the repressed caramel lover within. Sarah Mausolf, Arts & Entertainment Writer

Wychwood Brewery has created the perfect line of ales for Halloween, even if they are all brewed year round. Created in Oxfordshire, England, the Wychwood Brewery hand brews about 50,000 barrels of traditional ale each year, and their spooky theme of witches and goblins makes it the perfect choice for the fall and winter season.With titles such as Hobgoblin, Scarecrow and Wychcraft, one might think them too strong to enjoy casually, but as C.R. Goodman representative Chris Assad said, Even though they have scary labels, people should not be afraid of the beer.This is excellent advice for those hung up on American beers with little in the way of taste or substance.Scarecrow is golden pale ale made of all organic ingredients. There is a spicy, smooth taste and texture to it, almost creamy. It wont tax your taste buds, and is a nice, easy beer to break into more adventurous territory. Assad recommends pairing it with a bread or pretzel.The blonde beer, Wychcraft, is a little heavier, but still not too weighted down. It also has a creamy texture, with a strong taste of hops. Its a happy-medium between the pale ale and the dark ale. Paired with roasted butternut squash, you cant lose.If heavy and dark is your thing, then try Hobgoblin, a very strong, bitter ale that bites back. Its full-body goes down smooth but the aftertaste lingers with an almost roasted appeal. Hobgoblin should pair nicely with roasted garlic pasta.The whole Wychcraft line is very approachable. Beers from England are usually very balanced, said Assad, who recommends any of their line-up for a comfortable beer that goes good with foods.For somebody whos never stepped into the micro-brewery realm, these would be good beers to get into, he said.Local stores Grappa Fine Wine and Spirits, West Vail Liquor Mart, and Avon Liquors all carry Wychwood products.Charlie Owen, Arts & Entertainment Writer

This intense, ruby-colored wine has dark fruit aromas like blackberry, plum, black cherry and currant. The first sip of the wine reveals deep blackberry flavors and a long pleasant finish. After a long Monday work day, I enjoyed a glass of this wine, which is a little softer than most cabernets Ive tried.(Freemark Abbey) makes a real, European-style cabernet, real lean style. When a lot of people hear lean they think, uggghh. But really it has nice cedar, herbal characteristics and some real solid tannins on the finish, said Jarrett Osborn, wine guy at Riverwalk Wine and Spirits in Edwards. Unlike a lot of Napa cabs which have big dark, rich fruit flavors, instead of dark cherry, its more like a dried cherry flavor.The herbal characteristics in the wine pair well with lamb, especially when grilled, Osborn said. Theres a touch of oak in the wine so that plays off the grilled flavors.Freemark Abbey was one of the first wineries in the Napa Valley in the late 1800s. Joesephine Tychson, the owner at the time, was one of the first women to own and operate a winery in the valley. Today the winery features three Cabernets this Napa Valley Cabernet, and the vineyard designated Bosche and Sycamore Cabernets. Caramie Schnell, Arts & Entertainment Editor


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