Red, White & Brew:Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red has a poignant back story
In honor of this week’s Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival at the Vail Cascade, we chose to review a big, beautiful red head with a memorable back story.G’Knight is a dry-hopped imperial red and an employee favorite at Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons and Longmont, said Chad Melis, of Oskar Blues.”That beer used to be called Gordon, but it was renamed to G’Knight,” Melis said. “It was named after Gordon Knight, who was a very influential craft brewer who died fighting forest fires outside Lyons.”Knight, 52, died on July 30, 2002, after his helicopter crashed while he was fighting the Big Elk Meadows forest fire just outside of Lyons, according to the beer’s dedicated website. Knight, flying a 32-year-old French helicopter, was dropping water on hot spots in the 4,400-acre blaze for the Boulder County fire department, the website says.”It’s a great story behind what we feel is one of our favorite beers,” Melis said.This tribute beer swaggers in at 8.7 percent alcohol by volume and 60 international bittering units, with a rich amber color and a medium head. For such a big beer, it’s very approachable – the hoppy backbone gives way to a smooth finish and a bitter-in-a-good-way aftertaste. It was my first beer after a New Year’s Eve-induced drinking hiatus and helped welcome me back into the fold with open, sticky arms. I paired this beer with a breakfast burrito (yes, beer for breakfast, don’t judge), and the aromatic brew added a hop-fruit compliment to the savory bits in the burrito. I could also see this beer pairing well with heartier fare, such as tender lamb chops or some fatty, smelly cheeses. With gold medals at both the 2008 and 2010 World Beer Championships, this beer is distinctive among its imperial peers and does an outstanding job of honoring one of craft brewing’s finest.The beer sells for $11.99 to $12.50 per four-pack and is available at Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail, Avon Liquors, Beaver Liquors in Avon, Village Warehouse Wines in Avon and West Vail Liquor Mart. Or head to Saturday’s Commercial Tasting at the Big Beers Festival and sample G’Knight, along with about 200 of its sudsy friends.
I have learned not to make reference to the label on the back of a wine bottle. Invariably, I’ve been told, the notes listed there are written by public relations professionals with little or no knowledge of wine, vintners, etc., chosen for their flashy words and ability to make even the harshest, head-drubbing vintages sound like exquisite masterpieces. That said, I still always read the back label on the bottle, out of blind curiosity, and this one piqued my interest. As it goes, “Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle is the great granddaughter of the creator of the French liqueur Grand Marnier.” … And then it continues with the typical, mind-numbing, not-at-all shocking descriptors: citrus, freshness, goes great with seafood. But let’s back up for a second. Grand Marnier? Why even mention the correlation when this bottle was birthed thousands of miles away in Chile?Name dropping aside, this wine has been added to my list of reasons to seek out South American wines: They have a lot of pizzazz, and the price tags are incredibly reasonable for what you get in the bottle – think French character without the patronizing silent letters. This one was multilayered, with haughty earth tones, which are blanched by pairing with any kind of savory spice, such as basil or thyme, leaving more of a sweet-grass flavor on the palate. This wine is sold for $10.99 to $12.99 and can be found at Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail, Avon Liquors, Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards and West Vail Liquor Mart.
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