Beers repeating: After poring over Claim Jumper's extensive beer roster, we were inspired to have a microbrew tasting with some old friends visiting from out of town (it's best to do this with people who won't have to leave your house for a while). At the restaurant, we had tried Timberline Hefeweizen, a wheat ale from Mile High Brewing Company that was too far on the sweet side, and the excellent Road Dog Scottish Ale, the sweetness of which was well-balanced by bitter hops. We'd also strayed out of the domestic category with a bizarre Belgian wheat beer called Hoegaarden White, which contained curacao and coriander. We could taste both just faintly, and we appreciated how they enhanced the wine-like quality of the brew.
For our home taste test, though--a very scientific setup whereby we slurped 22-ouncers while playing bocce on a beautiful, sunny day (in France, bocce is called boules, and in this country it's suavely referred to as "lawn bowling")--we opted to stick with Colorado beers. One of our favorites was Ancient Whale Ale, from Atlantis Brewing Company, which hired Lonetree Brewing Ltd. in Denver to do its brewing. This pale ale had an extremely clean finish and was just packed with smooth, hoppy flavor, and it also wasn't as dry as most pale ales. Another pale, Vail Pale Ale, from Hubcap Brewery, got mixed reviews: Half of us liked this super-hoppy beer, while the other half thought it had an unsettling resemblance to grape juice.
The crowd was split once again over the Bitter Amber Ale from Tivoli Brewery Co., with some thinking it was too sweet for a bitter, but the decision was unanimous regarding the Tivoli's Denver Porter, which everyone thought was okay but too light on the roasty tones. The feeling about the same brewery's Honey Brown Lager, however, was much more emphatic: We intensely disliked its resemblance to caramel-coated popcorn, and after taking a few sips, we left it sitting in the yard until it started to attract wasps. Some others that got the thumbs-down: the bland Terrible Ale, by Silver Plume Brewing Company (seems like a foolish name choice to me), and two from Platte Bottom Brewing Co. out of Brighton: the Double Ringer Rye Ale and the Pronghorn Pale Ale, both of which lacked body and had too little flavor.
The two from BackAlley Brewing Company out of Colorado Springs, however, were ones we'd buy again; the Tender Paw Lager had an enjoyable maltiness, and the Beergoggles India Pale Ale had an even taste. We also became reacquainted with Old Scratch, which was sporting a new, hip label of a guy's bicep with a tattoo instead of a dog scratching itself, but the lager inside, brewed by Broadway Brewing for Flying Dog Brew Pub, was still the same pleasantly bitter, yeasty beer with a bite.
And, finally, we drank the excellent Hibernation Ale, from Great Divide Brewing Co. here in Denver. These guys must have a sweet tooth, because this seasonal ale had a honeylike quality reminiscent of their Bee Sting Honey Ale, and their Saint Brigid's Porter has a great sweetness to it, too. This microbrewery is experiencing the sweet smell of success, as well: It was one of very few Colorado microbreweries to win a medal at the Great American Beer Festival in September, a bronze for its Arapahoe Amber Ale.
Talkin' turkey: On November 28, Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe (2005 West 33rd Avenue) will be offering its twelfth annual free Thanksgiving feed--shredded turkey with rice and beans, smothered in green chile. As always, the Aguirre family, headed by Rosa Linda and Virgil, could use your help; call 455-0608. And the Champion Brewing Company (1442 Larimer Square) will be hosting its fifth annual Thanksgiving feast for the needy, featuring traditional fare prepared by corporate executive chef Ray Berman and served by company volunteers. Last year Champion served over 800 people; for more information, call 534-5444. If you're focusing on your own needs that day, McCormick's Fish House & Bar (1659 Wazee Street) will once again offer its Thanksgiving buffet ($18.95 for adults and $7.95 for kids), which will be a good opportunity to check out new chef Paul Warner. Anastasia Vieux Carre (5946 South Holly in Greenwood Village) will offer its popular Thanksgiving meal where diners get to take home the leftovers. And Jus Cookin's (10600 East Iliff Avenue in Aurora), which won a Best Of Denver award this year for its mashed potatoes, will serve up more than 350 pounds of the spuds on Thanksgiving, along with 750 pounds of turkey and 50 gallons of gravy, at a dinner that runs $10.95 for adults and $4.95 for kids (complete Thanksgiving feasts are also available for takeout).
Those who want to celebrate early can down a few glasses and raise money for the Dianna Price-Fish Foundation at the Fourth Story, 2955 East First Avenue, on November 17. The cost is $30 for twenty wines and hors d'oeuvres, and the proceeds will help adults with cancer...The Normandy (1515 Madison) is celebrating the birthday of Auguste Escoffier by offering a five-course dinner through November 17. For $25, diners get foie gras to strawberry charlotte, with crayfish bisque and venison in between. And on November 21 the restaurant hosts a Beaujolais Nouveau welcoming party with a $39-per-person four-course dinner complete with wine-tasting and hors d'oeuvres.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.