"I used 317 pounds of honey from Schmidt Apiaries — it's the most expensive beer I've ever made, in 16 years," says Phantom Canyon head brewer Alan Stiles, describing the Jebus Braggot, for which assistant brewer Mike Dee offered the inspiration and recipe.
Traditionally, as Stiles explains, a braggot would be made by blending beer with honey mead, but Phantom's license doesn't allow for making mead. So he and Dee made a braggot the beer way, still using malt, hops and yeast, in addition to that massive amount of bee-made sweetness.
Along with the oak-aged barleywine I sampled last week, the braggot is a sign of greatness to be found in Phantom's seasonal releases. Each mentioned here should hold out another month or so, but you'd be wise to move quickly to ensure a taste.
Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.
2 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 635-2800, phantomcanyon.com
Classic literature and pop culture get nods (see Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Simpsons) via the naming of two recent Phantom concoctions: the 2011 Winston Smith's Barleywine and Jebus Braggot honey beer (both $4.25 for wine-glass-sized pour).
Both are excellent. The velvet-textured barleywine (10.9 percent ABV), brewed in January 2011 and aged for almost 10 months in used Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey barrels, takes on lovely vanilla hints from the oak; crystal malt (often called caramel malt) lends color and a mild sweetness. The 9.5 percent ABV braggot — a style mentioned in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, notes the menu — tastes basically like a light Belgian beer (orange and coriander hints present) mated with a mead. It's not overly sweet, and I found it more enjoyable and dynamic than any straight mead I've ever had. — Matthew Schniper
Leon Gessi New York Pizza
1806 Palmer Park Blvd., 635-1542, leongessipizza.com
While sitting in the 39-year-old pizzeria, taking bites of our cashier's favorite house pizza, the Kitchen Sink ($16.49, 14-inch), I had to take a moment. Did the menu match my mouth? Sausage, bacon, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, meatballs, onions, black olives, tomatoes, red and green peppers and mushrooms all topped the pie. (We also threw on jalapeños because we're sick individuals.)
Unfortunately, it really didn't. I was seeing five kinds of meat listed, but only tasting sausage. I saw seven kinds of vegetables, but only noticed jalapeños. So I took them off, and was back to only sausage. Plenty of color and crunch, just an odd dearth of accompanying flavor overall.
Price, too, was problematic. Soft, chewy crust — perfect — but on the smaller side for more than $20 after tax and tip. — Bryce Crawford
2819 N. Nevada Ave., 634-9946
When you're in Colorado, your slopper is bound to be weighed against that of legendary Pueblo slopper-slinger Gray's Coors Tavern. It's hard to beat, and the newly opened second Bean Bandit location, spawned from the Vasquez family's 46-year-old Circle Drive location, doesn't quite manage to.
But it's by no means a disappointing plate. Derek Vasquez's version ($6.25) centers one hamburger patty between two grilled, open-faced buns. Then comes a great green chile (with pork, unlike his mom's), melted cheddar and sprinkling of slightly opaque white onions. Fries are extra ($1), and served in a paper bag on the side. My minor grievance is that they're crinkle-cut, so fairly mush-middled without a longer fry. Thin, crisp ones would be awesome, a word that accurately describes the perfectly textured flan ($2.25). — Matthew Schniper