Kava the first
You'll hear it described as a "magical root," a euphoric social drink, and an alcohol alternative with reported anti-cancer and other medicinal properties. You'll also just hear it called "kava," and you may have already tried Yogi Tea's Kava Stress Relief tea, sold widely in grocery stores.
But when Matthew Clark opens Ohana Kava Bar (112 E. Boulder St., see Facebook page) in the coming months, you'll taste a much more potent version of kava, made simply from the ground root mixed with water.
"I've had the Yogi Tea," he says. "It's pretty mild. The strains I'll serve are some of the stronger ones, with higher kavalactones, the psychoactive ingredients."
So that's a loaded P-word, and it's easy to scare yourself online with descriptions of kava's "hypnotic" effects and potential pharmaceutical interactions. But before you hide the kids, read through data and people's kava experiences at bit.ly/1ijrs9I. Perhaps more assuring than that users-generated forum: Clark has worked as an ER nurse for the last decade, meaning he'd be among the first to know if kava were harming its drinkers.
"It produces a feeling of well-being," he says. "People drink a cup or two, or sometimes four or five, and they relax and it increases their social ability — they just want to hang out and talk."
Clark first encountered kava in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he grew up, and where the scene exploded in the early 2000s with more than a dozen shops down the coast, he says. A decade later, stores have popped up in big cities elsewhere. Denver's Kavasutra, opened in 2014, is the fifth location in a chain.
Ohana will host ambient music, low lighting, comfy couches, books and games, Clark says, "to create a nice atmosphere," alongside flavored kavas (cappuccino, vanilla, berry); "hard kava shots" of "earthy"-tasting 30-percent extract; plus a lemon-honey kava paste (absorbed sub-lingually). Clark will also serve Denver's Happy Leaf Kombucha, plus teas and French press coffee.
"I see Colorado Springs becoming a destination to try great beer," says Paul Vieira, co-owner of the nascent Peaks N Pines Brewing Company (4005 Tutt Blvd., peaksnpinesbrewery.com). "The explosion will attract tourism."
Vieira and crew continue to ramp up to a tentative mid-October opening. He began brewing in 1978, spent 20 years in the Air Force, and continues to work in the IT field for the Army while also teaching at Regis University. His assistant brewer, Mike Hagen, coaches baseball and teaches science at Palmer High School.
The two will start with eight taps, to include staple flagships plus seasonals like a ginger-amber. "That one has bite," he says. "Instead of adding ginger exclusively in the boil, I dry ginger hop after fermentation."
Plans call for lagering later, too, on the three-barrel system backed by five three-barrel fermenters.