Zquila

While traveling I of course had the opportunity to check out some new restaurants.  First stop was in Ft. Collins, CO at Zquila.  The name alone drew my attention.

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Despite the cold weather, one must order a cold drink at an establishment like this with ingredients similar to the name.  Margarita on the rocks, no salt, please.

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At first glance this drink looked odd, too clear.  But at first sip I was sold.  I could have had a few more.

Ordered some guac to hold the table over and then since it was a cold day opted for some soup;  went with tortilla.

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It was a bit greasier than I expected but still very delicious.  Nice mix of chicken and veggies.  Perfect for a cold day.

This restaurant is totally worth checking out.

Honey Smoked Salmon

Keep hearing these non-stop, repetitive ads for this smoked salmon.  I have worked in radio marketing/advertising and will say they are quite effective.  I also can’t even imagine the cost of them.  Well, the exact brand that is being advertised is Honey Smoked Fish Company ‘available at (all local stores),’ mostly in Colorado.  Was at Costco and had to look for it.  Reasonably priced so decided to pick some up.

IMG_1745[1]You have the normal lox, you have smoked salmon, but I will say, there was something about this stuff.  Totally worth the ads getting stuck in my head swaying me to pick some up.  Could not stop nibbling on it!  Hopefully you live where it’s available and can grab some.  It is available to order on their site, but much more expensive than in store.

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Horse & Dragon Brewery

I’m in Ft. Collins for Christmas and of course have to check out some of the local ‘fare’ — that mostly means good microbrews.  So today that meant a new brewery by the name of Horse and Dragon Brewing Company.

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Wasn’t sure what to get so opted for a sampler.  Ok, sampler?  Six brews of 4oz each for $8 — that is quite the nice pour of some high octane beer.

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The half dozen tastes included:

Fort Kolnz Keller Kolsch-Style Ale — “A grainy sweet aroma holds well with a slight citrus note derived from the moderate hopping. Dry and clean on the palate, bitterness is present but not overpowering. Extended cellaring is evident in the clean crisp finish and despite a very pale straw color and light body our ale has great depth and complexity. Ein Prosit Der Gemütlichkeit! ABV: 5.2%”

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Sage Adweisse Berliner Weisse — “A light, effervescent, slight tart wheat ale that tastes so refreshing that it mush be good for us.  Dominant ingredients are evident from the first sniff; wheaty goodness mixed with traditional German yeast scents and a hint of tartness.  One glass will make you wonder why anyone ever put a lime in a beer, though this beer is sometimes served with dashes of flavored syrup.  Our lowest ABV brew, this is an ale you can enjoy all day.  Sage Adweisse was name for our (well, really, Linsey & Titus’s) brewdog.  ABV:  3.6%”

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Whistle Blast Honey Brown — “A welcoming ale displaying warm mahogany earth tones accentuated by a thin veil of creamy foam head, our Honey Brown Ale is as inviting as the historic English pubs where the style originated. Slight roast malt character leads the nose to a warm sensuous balance of mild hop bitterness and sweet honey malt after notes. A clean, somewhat drying finish allows the sweetness of malt to shine through and remain as a memento for each sip. Quaffable in design, this ale will toast well in any social situation and keep you coming back for more. Cheers!  ABV:  6.3%”

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Picnic Rock Pale Ale — “Picnic Rock Ale aligns itself with recreation in Colorado and our noticeable desire for great craft beer.  Fresh hops aromas likened to lemon, pineapple, and honeydew melon stand out in front of this golden colored ale holding a white laced head.  The aroma taking center stage is then carried into the noticeable hop bitterness.  Malt body is medium-light and complements the bitterness, allowing for a smooth finish with a light floral hop linger.  Let’s go for a picnic!  ABV: 5.4%”

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L3 IPA — “The L3 IPA pours an inviting copper color topped by a strong, slightly off-­white foam. Your first sniff reveals the complex balance between the citrusy, spicy pear hop aroma backed by slight caramel malt notes. Tasting the beer takes you further into a flavorful American hop experience with plenty of hop bitterness balanced perfectly with the sweet malt backbone. This flavorful combination lingers on the palate yet finishes clean and prepares you for another sip. A very drinkable IPA, L3 is hop forward yet balanced. ABV: 7.6%”

L3The Dark Crystal Cascadian Dark Ale — “A relatively recent style that has gained traction in the Pacific Northwest is the American Style India Black Ale, or “Cascadian Dark Ale”.  Deliciously hoppy, also hugely roasty-toasty malty. Get on in here and give it a try! ABV: 6.5%” (forgot to snap a picture  — it is definitely dark!)

They were all quite unique — have to love microbrews.  My favorite two were the Picnic Rock and L3.  We decided to leave with a growler of the latter to enjoy some of before dinner and to have on hand the balance of the week.

And the beer goes on…

Had to continue enjoying the local brews while in Ft. Collins.  One must take in as much as possible when not at home.  So I took one for the team…

Brewery 5:  Odell Brewing Company.  Sample — $4!  For 6 tastes!  This is another one with the whole (unfortunate) issue of 5 oz pours, 6 beers, 5,000 ft elevation…  This was my first stop of the day.  Hey, I was fresh right.  I had to be so careful and drink responsibly in the sense that there was more to come.  My total favorite was Levity with several close runner ups.

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Brewery 6:  Fort Collins Brewery.  Good name considering where I was.  I found another chili beer here.  After sampling a few I ended with this amazing smoky beer, that was that chili one — Mesquite Chili Lime Ale, part of their Out of the Ashes Smoke Beer Series.  Not describable in words.  Go to the store to find it, or better yet, just head out there to have some (limited edition though, so hurry)!

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Brewery 7:  New Belgium Brewing Company.  This is one of my favorites!  Went on the brewery several years ago and the twirly slide at the end if priceless!  This time I just went to sample.  So many options, so little time.  Many new Lips of Faith to try, other random stuff to sample.  It was packed that it was tough to even move.  I just had sips of some new stuff then finished with my favorite Fat Tire.  Oh happy day.

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All good things must come to an end.  I eventually had to get on a plane and come back east.  I do have a brewery tour scheduled at Flying Dog soon.  Looking forward to that!

I’m in a Colorado State of Beer

I had Billy’s Joel New York State of Mind rolling through my head so couldn’t think of a better title for the post.  So, after visiting wine country in Oregon, I headed a time zone east and a couple states south to check out Ft. Collins, Colorado.  I had my fix of wine so hit the breweries this time.

The problem when you go to breweries (proper) is that there are too many choices.  Sometimes overwhelming.  I tried to do samplers at most of them when possible.  The other problem with beer?  *NOTE — I am not dismissing beer, turning it down, or crossing it off my list at all!  Just making travel notes for future reference. Unlike wine where you can spit, that’s not really an option with beer.  Proceed with caution.  And jumping three days forward, my hosts mentioned that when they moved to Colorado they noticed the beer hit them much more quickly (than when at sea level) for awhile.  Thanks!  You couldn’t have told me that when I got here?  I wasn’t going to say anything…

Anyway….

Brewery 1:  Black Bottle Brewery.  Too many, way too many, beers to pick from.  I honestly can’t remember which one I finally opted for to enjoy over dinner, but it was good!  Some of the beer names are great, Social Insecurity being my favorite.

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Brewery 2:  Cooper Smith’s Pub & Brewing.  Great place to both enjoy some great food and beer.  I had a sip of several before deciding what to have.  I do remember one that had the name ‘chili’ in it.  You could taste that green chili in there — it wasn’t necessarily hot but you knew it was there.

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Brewery 3:  Pateros Creek Brewing Company.  It’s a little bit hidden, so you have to know where to find it.  They apparently have great social events in the evening, FYI, if you’re a local.  It’s a small place, but nice brews.  I happened to get there right before a downpour so spent a little bit of time there chatting with the beermaster.  Aside from that conversation, I think I  found that CO, or at least Ft. Collins, has a like of chilis, because they also had a beer with some kick.  Hmmm…  They also make gluten free beer.  I have several friends who would be thrilled.

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Brewery 4:  Equinox Brewing Company.  Sampling flight = 6 beers in 5 oz. pours at 5,000 ft. elevation.  That’s where that whole idea/thought of no spitting/dump bucket REALLY came into play.  I loved the (light) IPA.   I say light as in I didn’t feel like I was bouncing off the walls, on a trampoline or on those OLD SCHOOL pogo sticks.  Just a nice amount of hops.  There was a red on there, too.  Dang!  The weekend I was there, the Great American Beer Festival happened to be in town (Denver, close enough) and many brewers were near the bar so I shared my sampler with them and it was very interesting getting their feedback/comment/sipping notes on the beer.

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More to come…