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Stout Month: A love story

All of the 2009 Chop Month contestants, each longing for the infamous throne.
All of the 2009 Chop Month contestants, each longing for the infamous throne.

The best time to go to the Mountain or Southern Suns is probably right around or after lunchtime, or basically anytime before 4:00, if you’re hoping for a nice relaxed meal rounded out with some of Boulder’s best brews. That said, the best time to go to the Mountain or Southern Suns if you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of Boulder in action is just about any other time, especially late evening or nighttime. You can count on a 10-60 minute wait for a table…and the wait is well worth it. There are plenty of bars in Boulder—scores downtown or within walking distance—so this begs the question: why are the Suns so popular? This Examiner—who has waited 45 minutes or more for a table—is going to try to figure that out.

Locally-owned, locally-crafted, available-nowhere-but-the-breweries finely drafted beers is probably the first reason. With Stout Month a mere 3 days away, the brewmasters at the Sun breweries will share their masterfully-created concoctions, bearing such names as Trickster Stout, Coconut Cream Stout, Nihilist Imperial Stout, Korova Cream Stout and Belgian Dip Stout. Now, I must take a moment here for personal reflection, for while I was a fan enough of the Mountain Sun to stop by there every once in awhile, I frequented plenty other bars and restaurants in Boulder. They’re plentiful, they almost unequivocally serve excellent food and drinks, and when my meager salary would accommodate a night out, I sought variety. At this point, I have a separate, otherwise-untouchable budget for Stout Month alone, and it’s all because of Korova Cream. Korova Cream is, as the name suggests, a milk stout; the name pays further homage to The Korova Milk Bar from “A Clockwork Orange”. Korova might be the richest, creamiest, milkiest stout I’ve ever tried, and I fell madly in love with it on first sip. Since then, while I still frequent other restaurants in town, the Mountain Sun tends to be the favorite gathering place, especially after a long day rock climbing. The Belgian Dip Stout, another fave, is made with organic chocolate, and plenty of it. While I’m personally a huge fan of Young’s Double Chocolate (also featured during Stout Month) from the U.K., the Belgian Dip gives it a run for its money, especially when the creamy, chocolaty brew is mixed in with cherry puree for what I’ve always called the Valentine Stout, though I think its real name is the Cherry Dip Stout.

The food and the atmosphere take a close second to the breweries’ mighty draughts. The food is exceptional, and I mean exceptional, period, not exceptional for a pub. The fare is mostly pub fare, but there are plenty of healthy options on the menu, from the enormous green salad to the hummus, served with chips and brown bread, to the sandwich and wrap selections. Don’t be fooled though; this is no health joint. The Junk Burger may compel you to keep a friend with a defibrillator nearby, although personally I’ve only witnessed that perfectly-blissed-out face one gets when biting into a divinely delicious burger. Similarly, the nachos, the rest of the hamburger lineup, the blackened-chicken quesadilla and plenty of other dishes keep this place a pub. It’s just that it’s a pub with a beautifully diverse menu.

And then there’s the people. From the staff who know your name after your third trip in to the exemplary display of the Boulder community, from families with wee tots running about to couples on their first dates to CU students to world-class cyclists, triathletes runners, to professors and scientists and business-people, on any given day at any given time, you’ll find a hearty crowd of many of the above. Everyone loves the Sun Pubs. How can you blame us?

Waxing poetic aside, if you’re going to check out any of the Mountain Sun’s fine breweries, February is the month to do it. Aside from the excellent stouts being poured all month, February is Chop Month and its culmination is a phenomenal party—two nights in a row, at the Vine Street Pub on the 27th and the Mountain Sun Pub on the 28th—this year where the King of Chops will be crowned, prizes will be awarded, and the taps will flow with an unmatched bounty of stout…until this time again next year.

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