Pikes Peak Brewing Co.
1756 Lake Woodmoor Drive, Monument, 208-4098, pikespeakbrewing.com
Pikes Peak Brewing Co.'s 4319 Smoked Red ($4.50/pint) is a seasonal tribute to the brave folks at Firehouse 4319, in the brewery's hometown of Monument. PPB's take on this light amber ale (amber is a shade of red, right?) is crisp, but lacks bite and has a flavor profile that made me immediately think of liquid smoke — and not in a good way.
After some research, I discovered that the 6.1 percent ABV ale garners its flavor from the grains being smoked over cherry wood, which is certainly respectable and cool. But at day's end, it of course needs to be pleasantly drinkable — especially as a tribute brew, when the intent is to honor your own. Unique as the flavor is, it just doesn't live up to the cause.
Brutally honest: Though PPBC generally crafts fine ales, 4319 would rate as a standard one-alarm fire, and nothing more. — Steve Hitchcock
El Tamale Loco
26 S. Wahsatch Ave., 418-2486
Having never seen the phrase "all-you-can-eat" paired with huevos rancheros — at the low price of $3.99, no less — I had to give it a try at El Tamale Loco. And initial skepticism yielded to pleasant surprise, as the simple corn tortilla and fried eggs under a nice, hot green chile were perfectly serviceable with rice and rough refried beans (as in, some chunks left in the mash).
Rather than punish the deal, I followed my first plate with a single red chile pork tamale ($1), which sported a good, moist masa body, served with steam pouring off it. The red chile was pleasantly hot, too. But the goodness stopped there: The house-made horchata ($1) registered as overwhelmingly sweet and lacking in cinnamon influence, and the flan ($1.25) resembled a neutral-flavored egg Jell-O more than properly creamy custard.
So far, looks like the "Loco" part's limited to the great prices. — Matthew Schniper
823 N. Tejon St., 578-9443, wooglinsdeli.com
My previous meals at Wooglin's — a longtime deli favorite of the Colorado College-minded — have been hit-and-miss. But apparently those folks are at their best when getting their asses kicked by an unexpected Thursday afternoon crowd of teenagers who've descended on the area for something called the "Knowledge Bowl."
For it was on said Thursday afternoon that I ate the T.A.B. ($7.49) and the face-meltingly hot Reuben ($7.99). Both of them actually seemed "overstuffed," as advertised. The T.A.B. blissfully brought juicy shredded turkey, avocado, thick bacon, lettuce and Provolone cheese together on a fluffy, house-baked walnut wheat bread; the Reuben combined loads of moist pastrami from Sara's Sausage (in Palmer Lake) with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut on a super-dark house pumpernickel that was in dire need of toasting, and little else. — Bryce Crawford