High On Beers Of The Southwest

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - August 03, 2011
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Nice and malty

I’ve just returned from a wonderful trip in the wild Southwestern states of Arizona, Utah and Nevada. I was able to visit some great places with awe-inspiring topography and rock formations including the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to write about in terms of vino wine lists where we stayed were fairly mundane.

But they made up for it with really good locally made beers.

One of the beers I had was the Wasatch Evolution Amber Ale. I paired it with some deliciously ten- der, smoked baby back ribs with Denny T’s signature barbecue sauce. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. The ale had a beautiful hoppy aroma full of caramel and spice. It was quite creamy on the palate, invigorating with a light bitterness and a smooth, elegant finish. It had just the right amount of hoppiness without becoming overly bitter. It really brought out the sweetness of the barbecue sauce and cleansed the saltiness too.

I also got to try Squatters Big Cottonwood Amber Ale which is named after one of Utah’s famous canyons. This beer is nice and malty with a hint of citrus and a round, medium-to-full body texture. I drank this one with a lunch that happened to be a Bison burger.

Beautiful aroma

Interestingly in Utah, there is a law that Bison must be cooked to a certain temperature (well done). So the burger was a little dryer than I would have liked, so the beer really helped me get it down. It was really refreshing, especially since the temperatures were flirting with three digits.

One of the most interesting beers on this trip was from the Grand Canyon Brewing Company. I got a chance to drink the Starry Night Stout, which is only available in the Maswick Lodge at the Grand Canyon. They don’t let you take it out because of local liquor regulations. This brew is deep with cocoa and maybe even a hint of espresso in it. This is definitely not for those seeking something light and refreshing. This was more like a meal in a bottle. It had an almost beefy thickness, but the layers of flavor were quite intriguing. I paired this beer with another slab of baby back ribs, but this one was lathered in a sweet prickly pear barbecue sauce that was applied after cooking. The espresso flavor in the beer really came out with the sweetness of the sauce rounding off the finish. It was more than a match for the sauce.

Believe me, I really looked for some interesting wines throughout the trip. But when given the choice between just ordinary wine and really cool beers that I’ve never tried before, well, you’d best believe that I’m havin’ that beer, pardner!

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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