The beer that followed me to Colorado | VailDaily.com

The beer that followed me to Colorado

Krista Driscollkdriscoll@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado

Boulevard Lunar Ale

I moved to Vail from the Midwest in the summer of 2008. Knowing that it might be tough to find a place to live right away, I made plans to stay with some friends for a week or two and rewarded their hospitality with everyone’s favorite social lubricant: beer. I stopped in various places along the Interstate 80 corridor and amassed a collection of bottles from breweries whose reach had not yet extended to the mountains of Colorado. Among these were a pair of six-packs from a Kansas City brewery called Boulevard.We mowed through the beer in a couple of days, and I stared into the bottom of the final bottle, lamenting that it would be quite some time before I could get my hands on another Boulevard beer.A few months later, I found myself wandering amongst the tables at the Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines festival at the Mariott in Lionshead and stumbled upon the Boulevard reps. They assured me that it would only be a few short months until the company would begin distributing in the Vail area. Eureka! Salvation! Starting with their flagship wheat beer, Boulevard Brewing Co. has gradually begun introducing its products to the Rockies. The most recent addition I have come across is the Lunar Ale, an unfiltered brown.In the glass, the Lunar is a medium brown, almost auburn color with high carbonation and a very light head, somewhat atypical of brown ales. The flavor also was different from many brown ales I’ve had, less creamy and more crisp, almost as if it were a hybrid of a brown ale and something lighter. The warm clove and roasted malt flavors were there, but the finish was more acidic along the lines of a red ale. Without the heavy, dark characteristics of the average brown ale, the Lunar is much more versatile when it comes to food pairings. The brewer recommends grilled chicken or seafood. I paired it with homemade beef jerky and a hand-rolled cigar, which was equally tasty.You can find this beer at Avon Liquors and Village Warehouse Wines in Avon.Krista Driscoll, Daily Staff Writer

Merlot is a pretty run-of-the-mill grape, as far as grapes go. It’s consistently one of the most widely grown grapes in the world and dabbles in a wide range of blends, very rarely showing up as a 100 percent varietal. The Robert Mondavi Merlot, for example, is a blend of merlot and Syrah with a tiny dash of cabernet sauvignon and a few drops of Grenache.This is the second bottle of Robert Mondavi that I’ve tried, the first being the cabernet sauvignon. The cabernet was a bit more flavorful and complex when compared with the merlot, but cabs general seem to have more going on than merlots anyway, so maybe that’s not a fair comparison. This wine was unexceptional. It wasn’t too dry, it wasn’t too earthy or too fruity or too acidic, too oaky or too sweet. It wasn’t too much of anything, really. I guess I would prefer it to have some kind of stand-out quality beyond being attractive looking in a glass. There you go. With its deep scarlet hue, this wine is photogenic.I paired it with a New York strip, garlic mashed potatoes and a spinach salad with sauteed red onions, slivered almonds and poppy seed dressing. The wine served its purpose of washing everything down, but the true surprise came earlier when I was snacking whilst preparing my dinner. This wine is fantastic with red pepper hummus. The light spice of the red peppers brought out the juicy, fruity flavors that had been hiding so elusively deep in the bottle. I was somewhat surprised by this, as the winemaker’s notes didn’t recommend any dishes with spice, but maybe the guys over at Robert Mondavi like their flavors to blend a little differently from my tastes.You can find this wine at Beaver Liquors in Avon, Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits, Riverwalk Wine & Spirits and West Vail Liquor Mart.Krista Driscoll, Daily Staff Writer

Let’s talk about legs. Wine legs, that is. The legs that race one another down the side of the glass when you give it a good swirl. Unlike your favorite petite fashion waif, when it comes to wine legs, thicker can be better, and this wine has some thick legs. Throw some of this in a glass and give it a good flick of the wrist, and the light straw-colored stuff climbs to the edge of the glass and creeps down, ever so slowly, to join the rest of its ilk at the bottom. Now that you think I know what I’m talking about, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Those racy, voluptuous legs are a process of evaporation and have nothing to do with the quality of wine you most likely just sloshed all over yourself. So the next time you see someone swirling around a good vino, entranced by way it slops around in the glass, mentally catalog that person as a wannabe wine snob and have a good chuckle to yourself.Gorgeous gams aside, this Orvieto is a pretty fantastic Italian white. I wandered into Beaver Liquors looking for something to pair with some gorgonzola gnocchi takeout from Ti Amo, and David Courtney handed me a bottle of this. The wine did double duty of being crisp and refreshing, slightly dry and a little bit fruity, and also cutting through the richness of the gnocchi. I suppose it makes sense to pair a leggy Italian with a round, buttery Italian, based on my knowledge of stereotypical American TV shows built around that dynamic. I would also recommend mating this one up with lighter fare, such as a seasonal summer fruit salad or some grilled shrimp.You can find this wine at Avon Liquors and Beaver Liquors in Avon.