The first beer of vacation is always the most enjoyable. The promise of adventures to come is loaded into each sip as its bubbles happily pop on their way down your throat, urging you on to new frontiers.
And happy is just how I feel as I sit in the Alamo City Microbrewery & Grill at the San Antonio International Airport with a pint in front of me.
The copper color gleams in the dim room and I have to hold it up to my laptop screen to get a good look at its deep, rich beauty.
There isn’t much of a head, and only the tiniest ring of lacey foam around the top edge. It was probably the way the beer was siphoned from the tap, slow and steady against the glass to avoid as much head as possible. At $6.75 a pint (airport prices, remember), the customers are sure to want every last drop that will fit in the glass.
A sniff doesn’t reveal much beyond a touch of hops, malt and the tiniest bit of fruit. But a sip, followed by a big gulp, reminds me of why this beer from the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colo., is such a pleasure, especially when nothing else is pressing for the rest of the day. The hops and malt, with a pleasant touch of caramel, become much more robust, with the bitterness from the hops disappearing mid-palate into a refreshing, almost water-like flavor, as if it were tapping into some Colorado mountain spring. (It’s not watery, mind you; but it is clean and, to someone as tired as I am, revivifying.)
The finish is odd, yet in a good way. A pleasant hoppy bitterness mixed with a coolly metalic element isn’t readily apparent, yet it makes itself known after a bit and lingers long after the first pint is finished.
You could pair this beer with plenty of foods, from Buffalo wings and chips with salsa, even a habanero salsa, to a mixed grill platter. The New Belgium website offers a recipe for ColoRouge Beer Cheese Soup that would be great any time of year.
Well, one escape has led to another. It’s almost time to board …