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|April 9-15, 2009
• Add Spanish flair this Passover
• The color purple: disease fighter
Violet veggies are an excellent shade of health
by Janet Helm
The pub abides
The Mountain Sun rises through the times
by Clay Fong
When I moved to Colorado in the early ’90s, I lived outside of a Western Slope resort with an exceptionally high cost of living. Living on a modest salary, that town’s chichi dining establishments were economically off-limits to me, and so I contented myself with dining in brewpubs — which weren’t nearly as common as they are today. These establishments featured reasonably priced menus of burgers and nachos, as well as artisan brews that put cut-rate frat boy kegs to shame.
I recently took an unexpected diversion down Memory Lane with my friend Alan during a visit to Boulder’s Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery. Reminiscent of the hangouts of my misspent youth, the atmosphere was bright and sunny, with walls adorned with folk weavings and DayGlo Jimi Hendrix posters. At 1 o’clock in the afternoon, this brewpub, packed with sporty fleece-wearing types, made it hard to believe that an economic downturn might be impacting business.
True to brewpub form, the menu features numerous simple but comforting choices, including sandwiches, soups, salads and burgers. House specialties include such Mexican-influenced dishes as chicken burritos and quesadillas. There’s also a rotation of house beers, including Illusion Dweller India Pale Ale, a blackberry wheat brew and an Isadore Java Porter. Hitting the milder stuff, I enjoyed a $2.50 Magic Root Beer, which is a cut above typical soft drinks with a flavor that’s much less sweet than mass-market sodas. It possessed the color of black coffee, and a heady, almost woodsy taste that makes it a delightful non-alcoholic thirst quencher.
We began our meal with a classic starter of $3.25 chips and salsa. The chips were nothing outstanding, although they were certainly crisp. The thick salsa was rich in tomato flavor, albeit dominated by a heavy hand with the cumin. One could argue that this sauce was less authentic than what you’d find in a straight-up Mexican joint and more the product of a counter-culture cookbook. But if you’re a cumin lover, you’ll likely find little to fault about this dip.
Alan ordered a $5.95 combo, which offers a choice of two of the following: soup, salad or a half sandwich. Comfort was what Alan sought as he selected a basic tuna sandwich, sided with a helping of vegetarian black bean chili, one of the soup options. The sandwich came loaded with tuna, and a crisp garnish of dark green lettuce that was a cut above iceberg. While the tuna wasn’t earth-shattering, it was exactly what Alan expected and wanted. The chili was warm, filling and seasoned so as to offer some spice without being frighteningly hot.
Carnivore that I am, I ordered a $6.75 basil blue cheeseburger with fries for a dollar upcharge. The fries were passable, and were softer than I prefer. Unlike a regular cheeseburger where the dairy product is melted atop the meat, the sandwich was liberally garnished with salad-like dressing of basil and blue cheese. While this approach made for a bit of a mess, the tang of the cheese and the basil’s bite created an enjoyable contrast to the satisfying taste of the natural Colorado beef. For the money, it’s a good value and an improvement over most chain burgers.
Times may have changed since the early ’90s, but an affordable brewpub with comforting fare such as the Mountain Sun abides.
Photo: Charles Loughliin
Clay’s obscurity corner
While brewpubs have gained in popularity since the early’90s, this beverage phenomenon is a throwback to the Middle Ages. Early brewing was literally a cottage industry, commonly practiced by farmers with surplus grains. Then, monasteries began to provide brews and the first-written references to the inclusion of hops in beer. Small-scale commercial brewing thrived under the watchful eyes of alewives, who would put alewands outside their establishments to indicate when beer was ready for purchase. While the 20th century saw the rise of large-scale industrial brewing, the return of brewpubs harkens back to the decentralized alewife tradition.
Pub & Brewery
1535 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-546-0886
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