Rocky Mountain Brewery
625 Paonia St., 528-1651
Three words: World Beer Cup. Rocky Mountain Brewery won both gold and silver last year in the prestigious competition's fruit beer category. So who cares if it's buried in a fairly drab industrial area near PT's Showclub? Master brewer Duane Lujan doesn't — he and head brewer Nick Hilborn stay plenty busy as it is, he says, brewing such fun, off-kilter brews as a Szechuan Porter laced with garlic, ginger, chile paste and toasted sesame seeds. "We're like children with ADD with no access to Ritalin," he jokes.
On a given day, you'll find nearly a dozen small-batch beers on tap, best tried via the four-beer sampler paddle ($4). Our two featured everything from that rightfully award-winning Eat a Peach to a potent, oak-pellet-infused, beet-sugar-amped double IPA and a burly cherry-wood-smoked brown ale. The latter was a stellar pairing with our accompanying B'z barbecue. — Matthew Schniper
B'z BBQ Company
625 Paonia St., 271-6881, bzbbqco.com
B'z, a barbecue trailer connected to RMB's patio for the past five years, dishes meats and sauces that owner Brad Hammond and a former business partner refined over nearly a dozen years competing on the national barbecue circuit — prestigious events like Memphis in May and the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational. Hammond holds his cards close with secret ingredients that influence even sides like an excellent cole slaw, which sports ample tang without being watery.
Scoop the slaw onto the 12-hour-smoked pulled pork sandwich ($7) with B'z awesome, Scovie Award-winning Spicy Peach Habanero BBQ Sauce for a beautiful Eat a Peach beer-paired treat. A Continental Bakery buffalo brat ($5.95) sees red onion slivers over the brown-sugar-sweetened house Carolina Mad Mustard for impressive effect. Between the stellar brew and Q, this is one Springs patio (or taproom) where you need to spend more time. — Matthew Schniper
Stella's Mexican Food
412 Royalty Place, Fountain, 382-4846
Stella's opened last August just off I-25's Exit 128 in Fountain, and already appears poised to knock neighboring El Rodeo Mexican Food out of its tiny corner of the strip mall with expansion of its long, taupe-hued dining area. Prices are cheap, the family is sweet, and a 15-percent military discount caters to the demographic.
But the food lacks spice and depth, with super-starchy, gloopy red and green chilies hardly distinguishable from one another and all things described as "hot," actually not. After a bite, I dump my cup of pork green chile ($2.89) onto my Fountain Stacked Enchiladas ($7.99), where red chile already rests over two corn tortillas and tender but flavorless shredded pork. Refried beans are bland while the Spanish rice bears a modicum of personality, but is uneven and tough, either from a reheat or under-cooking. Salty, house-fried chips help, but everything's just ... so ... painfully ... insipid. — Matthew Schniper