Vail Red, White & Brew: A nutty and smooth Nut Brown Ale
VAIL, Colorado Fortunately for Ska Brewerys standing in my future-purchase mental database, I tried two different batches of Buster Nut Brown Ale before making up my mind about it. The first six-pack was decidedly off, foaming like a rabid dog as soon as the beer hit the glass. It was so highly carbonated that it was almost impossible to enjoy (even after letting the head settle for 10 minutes or so). But the rich, hazelnut flavor seemed worth pursuing.With that in mind, I bought a Ska sampler pack that had a couple of Busters in it. Lo and behold, the Buster Nut Browns were my favorite beers of the bunch.Although devoid of the super-bubbles that marred the first six-pack, the second batch of beverages still had a decent-size head for this style of beer. However, the texture and mouth-feel were more in line with the nut-brown standard, Newcastle: Creamy, medium-bodied and subtly complex.Busters bright-brown flavor is nutty and smooth and theres a touch of chocolate and a generous helping of caramel flavors, but it is not at all too sweet. Instead, its balanced by a combination of different hops including the omnipresent Cascade that gives off just the right amount of lip-licking, hoppy bitterness without shoving it in your face. Bottom line: this sucker is tasty, well-balanced and pretty versatile. It went well with a carne asada burrito and green chili and I also can imagine pairing Buster with a nutty cheese (Asiago, Gruyere) and crackers, steak and potatoes or even a neutral-tasting dessert like cheesecake. My only beef with this beer (as with Skas Working Class Milk Stout, which I nonetheless also recommend) is it can taste a touch watery for a dark beer, and sometimes I find myself waiting for a little more depth that never makes an appearance. The folks at Ska Brewery figured out how to craft a winner of a beer here now they need to figure out how to do it every time.You can find this beer at Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards, Village Warehouse Wines in Avon, West Vail Liquor Mart, Aaron Butzen, Daily Staff Writer
Theres nothing like calling a handful of local liquor stores and stumbling over Laboure-Roi Pouilly Fuisse to make me fully realize my need for a good lesson in French prononciation. All fumbling aside, this is a nice 100 percent French chardonnay. I poured a glass of this pale gold wine after an especially long work day. There are nice mineral characteristics, along with a hint of lemon. Best of all, theres just a touch of oak. All in all, its a very well-balanced wine. One of my favorite parts of doing these wine reviews is looking up how the winery describes their product. In this case it said Bouquet: Distinct mineral notes with nuances of almond, hazelnut, citrus, peach, buttered brioche and honey.So I got two of em right off and after cheating a bit and taking another few sips, I agreed there are some peach and honey notes, but I certainly didnt get buttered brioche. According to Jarrett Osborn of Riverwalk Wine & Spirits, there are five little towns within Burgundy that qualify as Pouilly Fuisse. Most of it is fairly oakey. Its kind of like the Chianti of Burgundy you get a lot of average wine and theyre playing off the name, he said.And while most of the wines from this region range from $20 to $30, its rare to find a good Pouilly Fuisse for less than $20. This is one, Osborn said, and I agree. I paired it with a goat cheese and vegetable omelet (yes, that was dinner, not breakfast) and was very happy. Osborn advised pairing it with chicken and pasta with a light olive-oil based sauce, swordfish or even crab or lobster. You can find this wine at Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards.Caramie Schnell, High Life Editor
Heres a wine worth putting away in a cool place for five to 10 years, but if you insist on drinking it now, youll still be rewarded. This classy blend of cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot and malbec delivers terrific balance and complexity — with flavors of black cherry, smoked meat, chocolate and herbs. Its a full-bodied, layered wine with exceptional potential and all the penetration you expect of fruit from Californias Napa Valley.Visit http://www.buonwine.com for more information. Michael Dresser, L.A. Times-Washington Post News Service
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