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Phantom Canyon Brewing Company

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Do you ever get that feeling of impending doom? The one where the bottom drops out of your gut and you hear faint music that makes the Jaws theme sound like a lullaby? It's the feeling you have when your significant other leaves you a hang-up message at work after you showed up at her place the night before, profoundly hammered, smelling like cheap perfume and glowing in the dark from the glitter all over your body (you guys know exactly where this comes from). It's the feeling you have when you get pulled over by the cops even though you're on your way to church and haven't had anything to drink for several days, but you know that you'll fail the field sobriety test because you're nervous, and deep down your body rebels against such an asinine, subjective test by making you look like you have some sort of neurologic disorder or at least a sixpack on board. Then again, this particular feeling could just be a heart attack.

We recently loaded up the family truckster and headed to Colorado Springs to see an old Air Force buddy. Our destination alone gave us good reason to feel doomed: As graduates of the Air Force Academy, we find it difficult to return to the area and not worry about somehow showing up late for curfew or getting the dreaded "alcohol incident." And I was doubly nervous to visit this guy and his family, because he and I had once lived together in North Dakota -- where there is little to do other than drink, look for sex, and marvel at the locals staying of their own accord despite the arctic weather (I think they have brain damage from all the booze/anti-freeze, sex and cold) -- and had established ourselves as accomplished drinkers capable of putting away more than is socially acceptable but still thinking it was okay to perform large home-improvement projects involving heavy machinery.

As we drew nearer to our destination, I noted in the rearview mirror a large structure on the hill behind us with a sign reading "Focus on the Family." The dull throb in my head grew to the intensity of a constant yet silent explosion between my ears, my vision started to blur, and I thought for sure I was dying. Focus is a Christian organization that promotes family values, as exemplified by Dr. James Dobson (not a real doctor) and other guys like him who have perfectly parted haircuts, white teeth and no gum disease. To me, they are about as nuts as the Scientologists but far more dangerous, because they have more political connections than the Democratic Party.

But the legions of buttinskis have not quelled the need for good bars, and Colorado Springs has many. Unfortunately, Focus's influence on sexual abstinence was all too evident, as the first bar we went to closed at eleven. So we tramped down the street to the Phantom Canyon Brewing Company (2 East Pikes Peak Avenue). Although it was still open, the place was pretty dead -- but that just meant my beer arrived very quickly, and my headache disappeared just as quickly. I'm a particular fan of the IPA, though it took some futzing to get the right temperature glass so that the beer wasn't too warm.

The table next to us had stopped caring about drink temperature or taste several hours before. The only party in the bar other than ours just happened to be a 21st-birthday celebration, which had most likely driven all other patrons from the Phantom. At least, that's the effect all of our 21st-birthday parties had on their settings. After 21 shots or beers, there's not one of us who hasn't peed in his closet, thrown up on his buddies, streaked through his living quarters, then planned an elaborate murder-suicide for his "friends" of the night before. This birthday girl was well on her way to that same condition, and the only thing saving her was her grandmother -- who had probably been tapped to hold back her hair later that night.

It was good to see that old-fashioned family values remain intact. "I don't want no ugly grandkids," Grandma said at one point. "You just get him to buy some beer goggles." I think I may just submit this heartwarming story to Dr. Dobson and his band of Cleaver clones. Maybe beer goggles are the answer to all the world's problems.

 
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