Lone Tree Brewing
8200 Park Meadows Drive, Lone Tree, 303/792-5822, lonetreebrewingco.com
The German Beer Institute calls the Helles "the evolutionary epitome" of the country's 3,000-plus-year-old brewing tradition, a blond lager invented by a Munich brewery in 1894 to compete with neighboring Bohemia's Pilsner brews. In Lone Tree's 5.3-percent-ABV Mountain Mama Golden Lager (around $10/12-ounce six-pack cans), the subtle style remains straw-colored with sharp clarity and nice crispness, but holding a heavier, bready form, its malt middle yielding to almost a dry finish with a hint of honey.
Mountain Mama is one of Lone Tree's eight flagship labels, this one bearing a creepily sketched, alien-lookin' beer maid with fine braids but no nose. Though it's enjoyable and decorated (bronze winner in the Light Lager category at the last two years' Colorado State Fairs), I was later told by friends that the Peach Pale Ale is the outfit's superior can to grab. — Matthew Schniper
5047 N. Academy Blvd., 599-0003, mirchmasalaa.com
Opened in 2002, and transitioned to Rajan Gurung in 2006, Mirch Masala remains a contender in a couple-mile stretch that hosts Little Nepal and India Palace too. Service is warm, decor is attractive (with murals, flowers, and a busy altar space), and touches such as free papadum and dips upon seating are distinguishing.
Our overall pleasant meal: a Dirty Masala Chai cocktail ($5.50) of rum and brewed chai thickened by heavy cream (finishing with an intense perfume quality); a super-sweet mango lassi ($3.95); Keema naan ($3.95) stuffed with chewy, gamey, spiced lamb bits; velvety, creamed Paneer Tikka Masala ($12.95), ordered a comfy medium-spice and bearing garam masala's floral qualities; and the Chicken Madras ($14.95), ordered a serious hot-level, with more of a dry-spice and chili bite exuding from a coconut milk bath. At $50 post-tip, our spread for two wasn't cheap, but the daily lunch buffet's only $8.95 by contrast. — Matthew Schniper
The Perk Downtown
14 S. Tejon St., 635-1600
Celebrity-sighting hoopla aside (whatever that's all about), the degrees of separation that most concern me are those between me and my next dirty chai latte ($4.72/16 ounces) here. You get the sweetness of Oregon Chai concentrate cut by a strong shot of espresso, yielding a caffeine punch with a faint cinnamon-spice finish. Iced on the 85-degree day, yes and please.
The spiffied-up spot finally reopened a couple weeks ago after a four-month, fire-caused closure, and new, padded, faux-wood flooring still feels a bit bouncy underfoot. If you care to support The Perk's rebirth — and you should — make your next iced latte ($3.59/16 ounces) one that uses beans from Purple Mountain Coffee Company, a sister business. Then reward your community-mindedness with an airy sugar pillow of soft creamy pastry and goo, i.e. an éclair ($1.89). It's provided by U.S. Foods, but no less happiness-inducing for its commercial origin.