Climb Hard Cider

Colorado has plenty of breweries, but luckily I am finding cideries, too. A local one Wilbur’s (ahhh…) told me about was Climb Hard Cider. They are just down the street in Loveland, which means I need to go check them out in person soon.

Picked up a 6-pack of their ‘Apple’ cider. I say that because they have quite a few options available, one being vanilla, which sounds quite interesting. Now, based on their website they have both a dry and semi-dry apple cider. No where on the can does it say which one this is and nobody at Wilbur’s was sure.

Based on the taste, I’m guessing it’s the semi. Regardless, it was 6.1% ABV, 100% real fruit and tasted great. Crisp, refreshing and was too easy to drink.

Check it out if you can grab it at your liquor store. If you’re in the area and want to visit the cidery, let me know.

Cheers!

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Mama Roni’s Pizza, Ft. Collins, CO

A benefit of moving to a new place is that you get coupons for a bunch of discounts and FREE stuff. And I’m not talking BOGO, but just plain and simple free. One of them that I recently took advantage of was the Mama Roni’s Pizza coupon. It was for a medium pizza of any kind.

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Pizza is always interesting for me since I’m the lactard (more commonly known as lactose intolerant). One of my favorite pizzas is one with BBQ sauce and chicken. And, they happened to have it on the menu!

BBQ Chicken — Hand-tossed crust with our own tangy BBQ sauce, chicken, red onions & chopped bacon

What I had to inquire about is whether it had cheese (since it’s not in the description). It did and I was also sharing this pizza with a non-lactard. So, they were awesome and made half the pizza with cheese and half without. I’m also not a huge bacon fan. I love ham, prosciutto, pork tenderloin, just not bacon. So they nixed that.

So, I had the free coupon and it was for pickup. This was not initially a problem. The problem started when I put the pizza in my car and had to drive 2+ miles homes. The smell, the smell, the smell…that was tough. I’m glad I put the box in the back of the car.

Got home, opened it up and off to the eating. Such perfect crust. Not too thick, not too thin and not greasy AT ALL! The ingredients were in perfect balance, too. The cheese side was apparently great, as well. Will have to check this place out, again.

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Laundry

Laundry doesn’t normally sound like a good thing. But in Steamboat Springs, CO it’s something that is not so bad. Visited Laundry Kitchen & Cocktails one evening to check out the latter part of their name.

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We arrived not long after they opened and (nonetheless) had to wait awhile for a couple seats at the bar. Fortunately that gave us some time to pour over the menu. So, when we were able to snag some seats, we were ready to place our orders.

We opted for:

Fresh & 43 — Berry infused vodka, licor 43, fresh lemon juice, orange bitters, soda water, fresh fruit garnish

Smoke & thyme — Finlandia vodka, pear/apple puree, St. Germaine, mezcal, fresh lemon juice with a raspberry, thyme sprig garnish

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Both were amazing. So fresh, so much flavor. Definitely unique. One of the best parts was watching the bartender make them. One of those seasoned guys who can make any and everything and has a great time doing it. We would have loved to stick around for longer and even order some food, but had to get back to the house for dinner. Will definitely head back there for another round and to check out the dinner menu. Cheers!

Bloody Relaxation

You know, skiing can be so hard. So, when 2pm or so comes, it’s time to refuel. And what does that mean? A Bloody Mary, of course! The first time I went to Steamboat, I was told about the best of these drinks. They were served at Four Points Lodge (which can be a bit of work to get to if you’re at the wrong spot on the mountain). This place is ‘located atop the Four Points chairlift on Storm Peak, the Four Points Lodge is a unique mountain retreat restaurant nestled 9,716 feet above sea level.’

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(photo source: steamboat.com)

In this 2 o’clock hour, it can take some time to get the bartender’s attention. Then after what seems like forever, you get to place your order. You are asked how spicy you want your concoction. I tend to go for the milder end, one of the others with me did as well, then another wanted kick. Then the drinks arrive. The adornments are priceless. You normally get an olive, celery and/or piece or citrus at bars. Oh, not here…olive, lime, pickled green bean, pepperoncini, pepper jack cheese, slice of bacon and celery. And, yes, there really is drink there, too.

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Then for the enjoyment. Walk outside, shining sun, and plop down in an Adirondack chair. Have some Bloody Relaxation with adult tomato juice. Can’t get much better than that. Then, just have to get motivated to ski down the hill…

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St. Vrain Cidery

Visited a friend in Longmont, CO not only to catch up with her, but so that we could check out St. Vrain Cidery.

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This place opened in 2014 by Dean and Ciny Landi with cidermaker Dan Daugherty.

Based on their site, ‘the St. Vrain Apple was last seen in 1891 by a farmer taking inventory of Colorado fruits. The name St. Vrain runs deep in the city of Longmont’s history, and our cidery’s name honors this regional apple and our city.’

They have a large variety of ciders on tap from the state, five of which are their own. While there enjoying the adult apple juice, you can order sampler flights, 4oz, 8oz or 12oz pours.

My friend and I each went with the samplers, which had four 4oz pours.

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I sampled these (ordered one more after the initial tasting, too):

St. Vrain Cidery Dry Apple (Longmont, CO) This refreshing cider starts with baked apple and a hint of tea on the nose. Fresh, dry apple flavors combine with white wine-like minerality from the Winesap apples in the blend. All followed by a clean, crisp finish. Dry. 6.6% ABV

  • Very dry, a bit too much for me. But they definitely didn’t add anything unnecessary to this cider. It’s all apple!

St.  Vrain Cidery Ironface Infusion (Longmont, CO) We infuse our Dry Apple cider with gin botanicals from Anvil Distillery’s Ironface Gin (Longmont), resulting in our first in a series of botanical ciders. Dry. 6.9% ABV

  • You definitely got that hint of gin/juniper. Subtle, unique, nice. Still very dry. I (personally) don’t like sweet cider, but I don’t like it beyond dry.

Summit Hard Cider Pineapple (Fort Collins, CO) Fresh pineapple flavors blend well with apple. Semi-Sweet. 5% ABV

  • Had to try this because I love pineapple and did have my doubts. This ranked #1 for me. I didn’t expect the semi-sweet. I was expecting it to be candy. Delicious!

C Squared Ciders Ella IPC (Denver, CO) India Pale Cider with dry hop aromas of tropical fruit. Melds into green apple flavors with clean, bitter finish. Off-Dry. 6.0% ABV

  • Just a nice basic off-dry cider. Mild on the hops but gave it a nice taste!

Wild Cider Bee Hoppy (Firestone, CO) Refreshing, crisp, dry hopped cider with citrus undertones. Finishes with a kiss of honey. Off-Dry. 5.0% ABV

  • This is the one I got after my initial tasting. Subtle citrus with very mild hop. Then the sweet at the end was awesome. Totally maintained the off-dry level though. Another one that I had my doubts about but it came in strong.

 

Was very glad that I got to check this place out. And, my friend and I happened to get there during happy hour and I think my bill was $8-$10 for all this, with tip. So, next time you’re in Longmont, check this out. Or, if you’re a cider fan, plan a trip there, you won’t be disappointed. Take your growler, too. You can get it filled with one of their five ciders.

Cheers!

Jax Fish House

Slowly but surely checking out more restaurants in Fort Collins, CO. One of them was Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar. It’s a cozy place where you can sit at the bar for happy hour and watch the oyster get shucked or get a table.

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Went on a Thursday night and though we had a reservation, we had a high top-like table facing the bar. It was quite loud and in one of those areas that was sort of ignored because it was almost invisible. It was between support beams/dividers and almost seems like it was more used for people to lean on while socializing during happy hour, but would be used to maximize table space.

We did get some service eventually and chose to start with some drinks while looking over the menu. I chose to go with some bubbles.

When the waitress came to take food orders, I decided to go totally hard core on fish that night for both courses. Started with the Fruit De Mer ($9) – Squid, shrimp, mussels, octopus, basil, jalapeño, red wine vinaigrette.

It was similar to a ceviche. And, there were green olives in there. Bring it on! Good amount for the two of us at the table.

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For the main course, I opted for the Seared Scallops ($32.50) – parsnip hummus, balsamic roasted beets, belgian enive, carrots, bourbon pecans.

Overall, each component tasted fine, but the bourbon pecans did not fit with the scallops. They just went against their taste and texture. The sweet didn’t work. The pecans go with the thought/taste of fall roasted veggies, but not scallops. I was pretty disappointed.

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The other entree ordered at the table was the Cast Iron Seared Salmon ($28.25) –
brown butter cappelini, roasted celeriac, butternut squash puree, crushed hazelnuts, roasted root vegetables, sage.

I was told it tasted quite good. The celeriac was a unique twist on traditional tastes.

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I took quite awhile for these entrees to come out — maybe 40+ minutes. It didn’t appear to be that busy of a night. And just getting our water refilled was a challenge. I was happy to go to the restaurant, there was nothing wrong, cooking-wise, with my food, but it’s not a place I am putting at the top of my list to return to.

 

Elevation 5003 in FC

After a day on the links in Colorado in late November…

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and seeing a beautiful sunset…

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one must cap off the night. Recently checked out Elevation 5003 Distillery in Fort Collins, CO. They make a few spirits, including gin, vodka and whiskey. If you visit the tasting room, there is nice selection of drinks they concoct on site. One that I enjoyed, that is not on the menu anymore, but my friends had the bartender make, was the Timber Ridge Ramble. I just know it had gin, blackberries and great taste. If you live in, or are visiting Fort Collins, check this place out. Or, pick up a bottle of their stuff up or order a drink with it from the restaurant or bar you’re visiting.

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Torchy’s Tacos

Just moved to Fort Collins, CO and a friend came to visit. She said we had to go to Torchy’s Tacos for lunch. And, I happen to live just over a mile away from this place.

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Well, we were able to snag great seats in the bar section (vs. just the stand-in-line-and-place-an-order one). At this type of place a margarita is a first order of business. I got their ‘lite’ (or not regular) one and it was awesome. Not super syrupy – which my friend said hers was. We also had to start the meal off with some guac (no picture). This is a place that adds cheese to everything. Had to ask them to bring one sans-queso after it arrived with it on top (lactard speaking).

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There were so many choices on the menu, I was a bit overwhelmed. For a tex-mex place, there was a lot of fried stuff, which I was surprised about. I ended up getting the:

Brushfire
Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapenos, mango, sour cream and cilantro with diablo sauce (got it without sour cream and diablo sauce on the side).

Mr. Pink
Gaujillo seared ahi tuna, cabbage fresca, cotija cheese, cilantro & a lime wedge with chipotle sauce (nixed the cheese and chipotle sauce).

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Fried Avocado
Hand-battered fresh avocados fried with vegetarian refried beans topped with pico de gallo, lettuce & Freshly grated cheddar jack cheese with poblano sauce.

Trailer Park
Hand-battered fried chicken, green chiles, lettuce, pico de gallo & Freshly grated cheddar jack cheese with poblano sauce. “Get it trashy” – take off the lettuce & add queso.

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There was some spice/heat involved in these guys. And dang these tacos are filling! The two of them maxed me out (not to mentione there was guac before hand). Great place to check out for awesome tex mex food in Ft. Collins.

Prost Brewing

Last time I was in Ft. Collins was able to visit another new (to me) brewery — Prost Brewing. They also have a location in Denver. To find this place, you have to walk down crazy back alleys and around corners. Sort of hard to find, but very fun.

They have a huge menu of German-style brews, and offer all of them in small pours (as well as quite large ones), so you can get a good taste range. They have based what they offer on quite a history of alcohol & beer in the US. The way they craft their suds is from German influence and you get great bier satisfaction at this place. And, they welcome dogs. How can you go wrong with that?

There were a few of us there and we ordered several small pours to share. I know I grabbed the Weißbier and Kölsch. Both just great. The others around the table were equally as enjoyable. Glad I was able to check this place out.

Prost!

 

Big Beaver Brewing Co.

When recently in Colorado, I of course had to try a new brewery. This time I checked out the Big Beaver Brewing Co in Loveland.

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Wanted to get a taste of all their beer so opted for a sampler — the Beaver Teaser. They give you hefty 3oz. of 8 beers for $6.50. They say it’s only supposed to be 2oz each but that doesn’t happen. All the beers have great names, as noted below to the left.

A description of the beers, per the brewery:

Wonder Weiner Wheat: This beer is brewed in the Bavarian tradition with notes of cloves and bananas. No, we do not put bananas or cloves in the beer. The aromas are produced by special yeast that are neither lager nor ale yeast. ABV: 4.6%, IBU: 10

Bust-a-Nut Brown: Our most popular beer, this brown ale is brewed in the Northern England malt forward tradition. A light, sweet malt flavor with a clean, nutty finish. ABV: 4.6%, IBU: 10

Shaved Tail Ale: This classic Belgian ale is brewed with Belgian yeast, hops and malt. It contains a minimal amount of hops, which gives it a crisp finish without the bitter bite. ABV: 6.0%, IBU: 10

Juicy Peach Ale: A sweet twist on Belgian ale, this beer has the light aroma and flavor of a ripe peach picked right off the tree. A subtle citrus flavor balances the peach and hop bitterness. ABV: 5.8%, IBU: 10

Amber Was Her Stage Name: Amber was her Amber’s bright copper in color with a golden head, medium bodied, and smells of fresh biscuits. She’s made of flaked barley, has a moderate amount of Horizon hops for bittering, and a slight residual sweetness from caramel malt. ABV: 5.8%, IBU: 35

Whiskey Dick Stout: Bourbon soaked French oak chips are used to make this well balanced stout. Finishes smooth and the bourbon is not overwhelming. And darn it all… who took a sip of the stout before I finished taking the photos? ABV: 6.0%, IBU: 17

Screw the Pooch Ale: This American Pale Ale is a 100% domestic ingredient beer, made with hops and barley grown in Washington State. Citra hops produce a citrus aroma and flavor. Crisp finish and a pleasant bitterness will make even non hop lovers’ palates tingle with excitement. ABV: 5.7%, IBU: 24

Potent Peter IPA: This IPA is nicely balanced with a moderate dose of bittering hops and crystal malt. A variety of hops are used to dry hop this beer, which produces unique aromas and flavors. ABV: 5.7%, IBU: 42

The Wheat was nice and I loved the Peach — would be perfect during the summer. The Shaved Tail was also a nice standard beer. The others were good to try but not ones I would reach for all the time. Overall, though, nice beer making and glad I checked this place out.