Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Continuing Saga of a Wandering Beer Hound: Flights

The last time I was in the Denver airport, I noticed a certain restaurant I would have liked to try… however, I also noticed that I was about 100 miles away from my gate, and only had about Forty-five minutes before the plane left. Today, however, was a slightly different story. Because I was a little bit late to the airport in the morning, I was unable to check in for my scheduled flight. Forty-four minutes, apparently, is not enough time to get from the ticket counter, through a very short line at security, and onto the plane. So, instead, I had to be put on a flight that took off for Denver at just about the same time my co-workers would be landing in Arizona… which is to say, with no transportation at my disposal, and no way to check in for a mid-day flight so early in the morning, I got to find a secluded area of the baggage claim, and lay down with my head on my duffle-bag to catch up on sleep I had lost having to wake up so early. Or at least I would have, if not for the “BING! Security is everyone’s responsibility. Please make sure that all luggage and personal items are kept in view at all times, or they will be confiscated by TSA.” alert going off every five minutes. So, I got to lay there wishing I was asleep for the next three hours until I could check in… then I got to sit around for another two hours before my first flight showed up.

Due to the fact that Page Arizona is not exactly an international city, I’ll be taking one of the two little “bring your own ear plugs” style flights from here… and have to wait four hours between landing and taking off from Denver. This, as you might have guessed, allowed me more than ample time to go to Denver Chophouse Brewery.

It was a really nice place, for being in an airport food court. It was small, but had the feel of an upscale steak house, only with reasonable prices (I’m still angry at you, Ruth’s Chris). The selection of beers was not substantial… but what do you really expect from a brewery inside of an airport? The four beers they offered (aside from mass produced swill) were as follows:

From left to right, Dortmunder Lager, Red Ale, Pale Ale, and Dark Munich Lager

Dortmunder Lager 
this is a blonde lager made in the style from Dortmund Germany. Dortmund is German for Dirt Mound [citation needed]. Featuring German Pilsen, Light Munich, and Cara Helles malts, it smells like Miller High Life mixed with honey apple cider, and has sort of a breakfast cereal taste. However, the Nugget and Mt. Hood hops add a mild bitterness that evens out the over-all flavor. It was very good, as Lagers go, and would perhaps be of good use in converting a Budweiser fan to a craft beer fan.

At this point, I noticed a couple of young women a few tables away watching as I took pictures and notes and I said hi with a dry hopped bitterness and mild hint of roasted malts. The responded with two thumbs up, and I considered going over and giving them my blog address and telling them to read all about it… but then I remembered that there was untasted beer in front of me, and I had more important things to attend to.

Red Ale 
This Irish style ale, while not fantastic or complex, was smooth and had a subtle toffee sweetness. While it may not have been the best of the lot, nor the best red ale I’ve had, it was actually more enjoyable than certain Scottish and Irish red ales I tasted at the San Diego International Beer Festival.

 Pale Ale
This had a very hoppy nose, but was not so strong as to smell bitter. The Simcoe and Amarillo hops were the main elements of the flavor, but were kept well in check by the caramel malt accent. This is not a novice beer drinker’s ale, but should be enjoyable for those with more experience.

Dark Munich Lager 

Though, in the picture, it looks to be the color of the table, that’s really just because of the low lighting. Really, it was more along the lines of a medium strength Jack & Coke. It had virtually no scent, as far as I could detect, and was somewhat creamy on the tongue and to the taste, with a predominantly toasted malt flavor, and not much hops. Made in the modern Munich Dunkel style, they used European Munich, Crystal, and Chocolate malts, and a small amount of hops for flavor.

To wash it all down, I had a bison burger on a toasted brioche bun, with hickory smoked bacon and cheddar cheese. It was soft, tender, and smoky. In fact, it tasted more like beef than beef does, and is better for you. It was excellent with all four beers, but the Pale Ale most of all.

Next time I have four hours to waste in the Denver airport, I am definitely stopping by Denver Chophouse Brewery again. I think it was a much better choice than the McDonald’s and Panda Express that are across the way.