Huge ‘hops’ to Deschutes |

Huge ‘hops’ to Deschutes

Daily staff reportsnewsroom@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado

It almost definitely isn’t brewed by aliens, but Deschutes’ Hop Henge has a mystery all its own – namely, an uncanny drinkability despite a monumental amount of hops (pun intended) and a whopping 9.0 percent alcohol content.This “double” or “imperial” IPA is undeniably well-engineered, pouring a crystal-clear, burnt-orange color with a lacy, bubbly head that is built to withstand the passing of the ages (well, minutes). It has a huge hop aroma, stinking of fresh pine and a plethora of fruit, including grapefruit, papaya and pineapple, as well as a clean, earthy alcohol smell, kind of like a bottle of gin. The taste that follows the smell is similar, bitter but sweet (not to be confused with “Bittersweet” – that’s a Big Head Todd song) with a tropical slant.However, the alcohol that is present in the nose is not as noticeable in the taste, and Hop Henge slips and slides down the gullet like a dream. It has a medium, creamy body and a somewhat sticky mouthfeel with an initial, fleeting burst of flavor, which makes it dangerously tempting (and easy) to drink quickly. With its mix of warming and invigorating characteristics, this beer would be an excellent choice for campsite imbibing – plus, you could drink it as fast as you wanted and not have to worry about driving home.Hop Henge is a refreshing beer in both the literal and figurative senses. Many breweries try to simply manhandle as many hops as they can into their IPAs, often getting the same result Chris Farley got in David Spade’s coat in Tommy Boy – a loss of equilibrium, you could say. Other breweries (i.e., Dogfish Head and its continuously hopped 90 Minute IPA) manage to create something balanced and unique while still pushing the hop envelope, and Deschutes falls squarely into this category with the seasonal Hop Henge. While it’s not my absolute favorite imperial IPA, Hop Henge is a steal for the price (as Deschutes beers are wont to be) and well worth paying a visit to while it’s in stores.This beer sells for $5.49 to $5.99 per 22-ounce bomber and is available at Avon Liquors, Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits and West Vail Liquor Mart.Aaron Butzen, Daily Correspondent

When you’re thinking West Coast wines, your mind probably immediately jumps to the more than 2,200 wineries of California, but if you travel due north, you’ll discover that Oregon wine can certainly hold its own. Oregon ranks third in number of wineries per state, after California and Washington, and drops into fourth behind New York when it comes to sheer volume of grapes harvested. As far as varietals, the leading style to come out of Oregon is pinot noir, followed by pinot gris.What does this all mean? That the Oregonians know wine, and when it comes to O’Reilly’s Pinot Gris, they also know value. This bottle packs quite a bit of bang for the buck. In the glass, it’s a very light yellow hue, almost colorless, with a light, fruity bouquet. The taste is similar to the appearance: very fruity with a crisp finish and virtually no aftertaste. I paired this wine with a creamy herbed cheese spread on crackers, among other things. The herbs in the cheese balanced the fruit in the wine nicely. Although this wine lacks complexity and the strength of its flavors would easily be overpowered by any foods with lots of spice, it’s a good one to have around, as not many people could find fault with its light body and refreshing flavor.This wine sells for $14.99 to $16.49 and is available at Avon Liquors, Beaver Liquors in Avon and Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards.Krista Driscoll, Daily Staff Writer

About 25 miles from Monterrey Bay at an elevation just over 1,000 feet, the Pinot Noir grapes for this Pietra Santa are grown. While the cool ocean breezes and granite and limestone soils make for ideal Pinot-growing conditions, the care the winemaker takes with those grapes is what makes this a rather special bottle.This 2009 is a small batch – only 3,100 cases – and was aged in French oak. The result is a nice, smoky Pinot Noir with slightly tart, pronounced tannins and a very smooth finish. Be careful when first pulling the cork – this one takes a little while to open up. Once it did, though, it revealed itself to be a beautifully made wine with enough acid to balance its fruity top notes. There are strawberries and cherries in here, mixed with an earthiness that gives this bottle an evenhanded complexity that doesn’t overwhelm.For more information on this wine, visit Miller, Summit Daily Editor

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