Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sipping ales in Salida

Salida, Colo., is not well known. It has only about 5,000 residents. The main attractions are the Arkansas River, for kayakers and rafters, while the nearby Monarch Ski Area draws winter sports enthusiasts like myself.

It's a cool little town. A visit last weekend reinforced the sense that all beer is local, and variety is infinite.

The local craft brewery is called Amicas. It deals pizzas and beers on a brewpub model, with some limited bottling in 22-ounce bombers. For a local joint, the atmosphere is oddly chain-like and unfunky. Diners waiting for a table are given vibrating pagers, and the menus are suspiciously professional and uniform.

I enjoyed a Joe's Porter, a relatively strong take on the style (6 percent ABV), with an almost overwhelming coffee flavor. I have no doubt the caffeine powered me through the long evening.

The customers at Amicas were mostly outdoorsy 30-somethings, a crowd familiar to any Durangoan. A few high-school kids on dates before a formal dance were amusing to watch.

Amicas is probably no better or worse than dozens of other brewpubs. But every town deserves its own beer.

Actually, I prefer Moonlight Pizza in Salida. The pizza is superb, with a tasty thin crust and fresh-tasting toppings. And while Moonlight is not a brewery, it has three well-chosen beers on tap — on my visit, Crested Butte White Buffalo Peace Ale (a refreshing pale ale), Stone IPA, and a Left Hand beer that I can't recall.

Finally, Roxy's Bottle Shop offered an impressive selection of craft and import beers. I grabbed a Whale's Tale Pale Ale, a beer from Nantucket, Mass.; a Boulevard 21st Anniversary Fresh Hop Pale Ale (which I now fear is past its prime) and a French red ale called Gavroche.

No matter where one travels in the United States, the beer differs. It's amazing how a little town only 200 miles from Durango has so many beers not found here.

The independent craft brewer is a holdout for local expression, while so many other forums – newspapers, bookstores, independent retail of any sort – are in decline.

Long live the independent craft brewer.

1 comment:

  1. Word on the Salida street is that Moonlight Pizza has filed a Brewers Notice...