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Vail Daily reviews: A ‘yowza’ of a beer

Vail Daily staff reportsnewsroom@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyVail Valley reviewer says Samuel Adams Utopias is "beer" only in the broadest sense of the word
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Look again at the facts just above. That’s right, you read right – this is a $150 bottle of beer. And that’s the off-mountain price.On the other hand, Utopias is “beer” only in the broadest sense of the word. Sure, it’s brewed with hops, barley, yeast and sugar, but that’s about where the resemblance ends. Utopias is the latest example of Boston Brewing founder Jim Koch’s never-ending drive for more and more extreme examples of the brewer’s art. There are no bubbles in this bottle, and it rings the alcohol-by-volume bell at an eye-crossing 27 percent.First, though, let’s get one thing straight – asking $150 for a bottle of this is just nuts. I know, only 53 barrels of this were made. I know, the bottle – custom-designed with a couple of sliding windows that reveal the happy Sam-Adams-with-mug logo – is a work of art in itself. Still, it’s $150. It’s the kind of money only Goldman-Sachs executives can spend on a bottle of, well, anything.With that said, this is remarkable stuff. It drinks like a cordial or port, and sipping at the recommended room temperature puts a dark, syrupy flow of tastebud-tingling flavor across your palate.Now, this isn’t for everyone. My wife – who favors drinks sweet enough to induce a diabetic coma – took the Tiniest Sip on Record of Utopias. She made the Jagermeister face and, if one could spit out three drops of anything, she would have. But that’s just her.What you need to know about Utopias is that whenever the folks at Boston Brewing are damn fool enough to bring a keg of the latest batch to the Big Beers, Belgians and Brandywines festival in Vail in January, their table is more popular than it usually is.If you do work for Goldman-Sachs, and you’re looking for a unique gift for the beerheads on your holiday list, give out a bunch of Utopias. The folks on your list will probably say about the same thing I did when this bottle showed up at the office – Yowza!Riverwalk & Spirits in Edwards is expecting to receive one bottle – their first bottle ever – today. The rumor is that Colorado is only getting 12 bottles of the Utopias, so it’s a tough brew to score for sure.Scott N. Miller, Daily staff writer

Paso a Paso, meaning step by step in Spanish, is one of the very well priced wines that is brought to us by Jorge Ordonez, one of the leading importers of Spanish wines in the United States. Paso a Paso springs from the finest terroir in La Mancha and is already playing to great critical acclaim. Paso a Paso further establishes La Mancha as a quality wine-producing region for both white and red wines. Paso a Paso’s vines average 40 years or more. Moreover, winemaker Rafael Caizares demonstrates that the great Verdejo variety in La Mancha is now every bit as good as the wonderful Tempranillo that the world has begun to expect from this once-forgotten wine region. This is a world-class Verdejo. The 2007 Paso a Paso can match many of the finer, more expensive examples of this varietal from Rueda, the traditional home of Verdejo. You are immediately greeted with fantastic aromatics upon pulling the cork. The citrus, apple and peach instantly jump from the glass. In addition, if you let this wine sit a few minutes in the glass and shed its initial chill, all kinds of fresh melon scents and flavors emerge, tantalizing the tongue and begging for another sip. There is even subtlety and complexity here. In order to go the distance with this wine, I suggest you chill it moderately and then allow it to evolve in the glass: there is more to this wine than first meets the tongue. Enjoy the trip! The 2007 Paso a Paso Verdejo provides the perfect aperitif. It is also a natural party wine and a superb partner to seafood, pasta and risotto. And with its racy fruit, hedonistic flavor, and crisp finish that quenches the thirst, the 2007 Paso a Paso Verdejo provides a great companion to tapas and the freshest sushi or many types of grilled white fishes. Steamed shrimp, mussels, clams, and oysters provide other good bets with this flavorful, very-easy-to-drink white wine. Cheeses such as Brie and Camembert provide outstanding accompaniments, too.You can find this wine at Avon Liquor, Beaver Liquors in Avon and Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail.- Kevin Lawrence, Avon Liquor

Another nice red from Sonoma County, this oaky Cab comes from one of California’s more venerable wineries. Frei Brothers was founded in 1890, and has been owned by Gallo since the 1970s. Frei is very much its own winery, though, and consistently kicks out nice bottles. The Alexander Valley is further inland, and doesn’t get those cooling ocean breezes as Sonoma’s Russian River and Dry Creek areas. Alexander’s hot, sunny weather is more suited to Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and Frei has a good handle on how to take advantage of that.Even with three years in the bottle already, this one could easily go another 10, improving along the way. A deep ruby with a heady nose of spice, this reserve bottle is full-bodied, bold and slightly more acidic than you’d want for a milder dish (I had it with plain ol’ pasta with red sauce and the wine kicked the spaghetti’s ass – if such a thing is possible). Better to pair this with grilled meat or strong cheese; something to hold up better to this Cab’s outsized personality.All in all, though, this is not a particularly well-rounded wine and probably isn’t a good fit for the more casual drinker. Again, I’d like to revisit this one in a few years and see if its edge has come off somewhat. You can find this wine at Beaver Liquors and West Vail Liquor Mart.-Alex Miller, Summit Daily editor


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