Red, White & Brew: A smoked beer that doesn’t overpower |

Red, White & Brew: A smoked beer that doesn’t overpower

Daily staff reportsnewsroom@vaildaily.comVAIL CO, Colorado

The fact that I’ve never liked smoked beers has been bugging me lately. I live my life by a strict “everything goes” policy, which besides not being a very convincing excuse to policemen, means that I like to be able to at least appreciate things that are held in high regard by a good number of semi-intelligent people. (Unintelligent people like things like blue Mountain Dew and Justin Bieber – my policy doesn’t apply in those cases.) But smoked beers, which have something of a cult following, have never quite worked for me – until now.Stone’s Smoked Porter has just the right amount of smoke (at least for a smoke noob), and compared with, say Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Smoked Porter, the smoke flavor at first seems almost like an afterthought. But as you float onward, you’ll find the smoke is very intentionally and wonderfully integrated into the beer. This is a terrific porter at its base – with bright roasty, chocolaty flavors and plenty of malt and hop bitterness – drifting down a river of clean, spicy wood smoke. Once the towering, resilient head dies down a bit from the pour, you’ll smell more of the same: roasted malts, cocoa, pine – and, wild card: Worcestershire sauce – but it’s like those aromas just got back from camping and haven’t changed their clothes yet.It works really well, and if all you know are Stone’s famously hard-hitting beers (Arrogant Bastard, Ruination), the subtlety with the smoke here might be a bit surprising. But this is a pleasant, approachable beer, with hints of blackberries and espresso underneath the more prominent flavors. It’s a terrific food beer, pairing well for me with fajitas (with a heavy-handed dose of cumin) and black-eyed peas cooked in the Crockpot with fresh herbs. Grilled or smoked meats or chocolaty desserts would also be good matches – Stone even recommends pairing it with a nice PB&J on sourdough.I’ve seen the light, at least temporarily – I don’t expect all smoked beers to be this good, but I love the bejesus out of this one, and I think that makes me a little more intelligent.This beer is priced at $4.29 to $5.29 per 22-ounce bottle and is available at Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail, Avon Liquors, Beaver Liquors in Avon, Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits, Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards, Village Warehouse Wines in Avon and West Vail Liquor Mart.Aaron Butzen, Daily Correspondent

Parducci has gone out on a limb by pursuing the title of America’s greenest winery, using sustainable farming practices, earth-friendly packaging, water conservation and recycling. It also claims to be the first carbon-neutral winery in the U.S., supplementing its on-site solar resources with purchased wind-energy credits. Though this is great stuff for the Parducci marketing team to throw at potential consumers, what does it mean for the wine? Think about what you know about grapes for a moment. Their thin, permeable skin has the ability to drink in its surroundings. Now imagine that instead of subtle peach notes picked up from a nearby orchard, the wine instead displays gasoline tones from constantly running diesel engines used in cultivating or a corrosive chemical mouth feel from loads of synthetic fertilizers. It makes you think twice about bashing the tree-hugging trend toward biodynamic wines, doesn’t it?There are a handful of wines in the Parducci small-lot blend series, distinguished by their adherence to traditional varietal properties. This pinot noir is a deep cranberry color, with surprisingly skinny legs for a 14 percent alcohol by volume wine. It opens up in the glass a bit, so give it chance to hang out. There are a handful of red wines that I would reach for to pair with “meatier” fish, such as salmon or tuna, and this is one of them. The medium tannins and subtle fruit flavors wouldn’t overpower the meal. Think tuna burger with Asian slaw or salmon steaks with lemon aioli. This pinot would still stand up to a slab of beef, but when you find that rare red that you can throw at seafood, grab it up and go for it.This wine is priced at $11.99 to $13.49 for a bottle or $10.99 for a split and is available at Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail, Avon Liquors, Beaver Liquors in Avon, Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards and West Vail Liquor Mart.Krista Driscoll, Daily Staff Writer

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