Using a powerful combination of a Ouija board, Magic 8 Ball, calculator, ruler and a Slap Chop, the Dine & Dash powers that be have formally decided to include more beer in the column. (Yeah!)
Considering that we live in a state ranked in the top five for breweries per capita, the notion wasn't a hard sell. As such, we've elicited writing contributions from local outdoorsman, nonprofit leader and blogger Steve Hitchcock, who also happens to be a homebrewer and regular beer reviewer on his site, upadowna.com. For the uninitiated, that stands for "up a mountain, down a beer."
So, looking forward, expect more reviews of brews here, including specialty beers on tap locally in addition to seasonal six-packs and bombers.
Ska Brewing Company
225 Girard St., Durango, 970/247-5792, skabrewing.com
Boasting malts grown in Alamosa and hops from Hotchkiss, Ska Brewing Company is at it again with its seasonal wet-hop IPA, Hoperation Ivy #20 ($7.99/22-ounce bomber).
A wet-hopped or "fresh-hopped" beer is made with hops harvested shortly before brewing, meaning they bear more water weight (and aroma) than regularly used dried hops, which deliver a higher concentration of bitter flavors. Distributed only in-state, #20 offers a welcome balance of juicy hops and citrus featuring a light head, amber body and filling bitterness.
The promise of a "hop bombshell" is certainly overstated, but this is a decent beer that drinks well, and stays true to the grassy undertones one expects to emerge from the brewing process. — Steve Hitchcock
La Perla Tapatía
4737 N. Academy Blvd., 228-6006, laperlatapatiacs.com
La Perla Tapatía's recent move from the west side (nearby me) to North Academy (farther from me) was a blow from the start, since chef Sergio Laureano dishes the best tacos in the city. But it's only been made worse now that, on a recent afternoon, I found the best Mexican dish I've ever eaten.
La Perla's tortas de pierna ($7.99) starts with shredded pork shoulder marinated in chipotle peppers, tomato sauce, garlic, salt and pepper. It's then added to a huge, grilled hoagie-like telera roll, and topped with lettuce, salsa fresca, shredded Monterey Jack cheese and crema espesa (Mexican sour cream).
The result is an incredible, smoky, barbecue-sauce-like blend of back-of-the-throat heat, super-tender pork and creamy counterbalance bliss, all framed by the chewy roll. — Bryce Crawford
1005 W. Colorado Ave., 487-1933, blacktiegourmet.com
Despite three spellings of the name on the website (is it Terrazza, Terazza or Terrazzo?), the Black Tie Gourmet folks behind the deli front manage to get the details mostly right on the house Reuben ($8.95). I say "mostly" because I could've gone for a thicker sauerkraut layering, but otherwise, all the standard elements showed up: corned beef, a slightly sweet house thousand island sauce, a nice melted Swiss cheese sheet, and a fine marble rye bread.
It's a perfectly average rendition of a sandwich favorite, neither the worst nor best I've had, but plenty pleasing if you're in the neighborhood. No alarms, no surprises. A "Caesar pasta salad" follows suit with more likeable ubiquity and wet, fusilli-esque gemelli noodles enlivened by a shredded Parmesan sprinkling. — Matthew Schniper