Sunday, September 30, 2012


Ah, Oktoberfest. It took over a couple blocks of Larimer Street in downtown Denver these past 2 weekends, as people drank and ate and ate and drank as much as they could under sunny skies.

Of course we had to check out the stein hoisting competition, where contestants hold out 2 full steins of beer straight out in front of them for as long as they can. You can't spill any beer, lean back or bend your elbows or you'll be out.Winners of the qualifying heats throughout the day got to compete in the final, where the winner won a trip to Oktoberfest in Boston (I think that was the prize. I may have been tipsy when they explained the contest.) In the qualifying heat we saw, the guy in the middle with the black shirt was entertaining, speaking to the crowd and whatnot as he held his steins aloft for 10 straight minutes! Impressive.

Also this past Saturday, some friends entered the bratwurst eating contest, where they had 8 minutes to stuff as many brats as they could into their faces and swallow. The top 3 amateurs won money they could donate to a charity of their choice. A pro eater ("Big Sexy") also competed, but just to entertain the crowd. He ate 23 brats in 8 minutes, and oh my goodness, it was disgusting! His technique involved drinking and stuffing food in his mouth alternately. It all happened so fast that there were bits of brats flying from his mouth, down onto his shirt, along with liquid. Joe (light blue shirt, second from left) took off his glasses to eat. Peter (ponytail, far right) looked like he was in pain the whole time, but ...

Peter somehow managed to eat 18 brats in 8 minutes and get in the money! He won $500 for Aurora Rise, then got to sit back in the VIP tent and get drunk and eat even more weiners for the rest of the afternoon. The top amateur won $1, 000 that he donated to Denver Rescue Mission.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Music from that 3rd Rock From the Sun guy

SO, hitRECord, the collective production company of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, has released Move On the Sun, with songs from various artists. hitRECord points out the title track "Move on the Sun" and "Electric Loss." We recommend both.
>>>Electric Loss
>>>Move on the Sun

Friday, September 14, 2012

Weekend music list

Here's what's been getting our attention this Friday. Happy weekend everyone!

JAMES IHA, "Speed of Love" :: Listen here (scroll down, it's song 4)

VACATIONER, "Good as New (Shotgun Wedding Remix)" :: Find a preview or download here

CHAIRLIFT, "I Belong in Your Arms" (we're going back to the original!) :: YouTube it

Also today is your last day to enter Reyka Vodka's contest for a trip to Iceland!

Obama in CO

President Obama was in Colorado YET AGAIN, visiting Golden this time. We were in the middle of the crowd but still managed to get this wee photo with a phone:

and this one of Romney supporters:

and this one of a sign in town:

The speech was essentially the same as ones Obama has given in Colorado before and at the DNC, but it did include a somber moment in the beginning touching on what happened in Libya.

Thousands of people with free tickets stood in a line that went down the street by Lions Park, around the corner, down a couple blocks and around another corner to get in. At one point, a police officer was asking the guy behind us to make room for a car to get through when the guy said, "Hey, you gave me a ticket the other day!" Haha.

Smashburger beer pairings

Getting a bite at Smashburger

Smashburger has always had beer on its menu, but now it's making it even more obvious by rolling out beer pairings on its menus. Colorado is first up, with Denver-based Smashburger and Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewing teaming to come up with pairings.

Smashburger founder Tom Ryan says the chain hopes to get its name out there, emphasize that it has beer available, and emphasize the concept of "the beer and burger." His idea is to sway people choosing from all the chains that position themselves as "Better Burger" outfits by using beer.

Ryan envisions spreading the idea around the country, with locally based beer companies teaming with restaurants in various cities to work on pairings for localized menus. (He already plans to work with Goose Island on pairings in Chicago)

Here's a look at some of the pairings on the menu at the 16th St mall location in Denver (just a block from Ryan's new venture, Tom's Urban 24, a 24-hour diner that will open this fall in the old Samba Room at 15th and Larimer), with comments from New Belgium sensory specialist Lauren Salazar.

The hops in Fat Tire is understated, so the beer brings out the secondary and tertiary flavors of the burger, Salazar says. Anything with shrooms she generally likes to pair with Fat Tire.

1554 is actually a black lager, so it's smoky but light-bodied, allowing it to balance rather than outshine or get outshadowed by the burger. "The worst thing you can do in a beer pairing is for one to win and one to lose," Salazar says.

The hoppiness of Ranger enhances heat, like the chiles in this burger, Salazar says. 

In this case, the refreshing taste of Sunshine Wheat lends a "helping" hand to the beer. If you're deciding whether to take another bite of spiciness, this beer can help you with that, Salazar says. Pairing this burger with Ranger would've been .... interesting, she says.

Terrific pairing, in our opinion, that makes both the beer and sandwich taste better. Goes so well with the goat cheese and Mediterranean flavors.

 Salazar likes pairing Ranger with bleu cheese, especially the stinky ones.

(This actually isn't our first choice for getting burgers. Cherry Cricket, City Grille and Yard House all have options that we like plenty. But if you're interested, the burgers here start as meatballs that get liberally seasoned with salt, garlic and pepper and smashed to get a sear on the bottom that Ryan says seals in flavor. Buns are buttery and toasted. Really, that's enough ingredients for us at that point, maybe throw in some mushrooms, avocado, cheese or sweet onions every now and then. But there are plenty of Smashburger fans who like the burger offerings here, just proving that taste is personal.)

Monday, September 03, 2012

Mumford & Sons

Kandy and Erin managed to get 6 of us tickets to see Mumford & Sons on Aug. 29. The Tuesday night show sold out so fast, but it's almost better that we got to go the following night because the fantastic Nathaniel Rateliff and his band were opening.


Dawes played in between, but after Rateliff was through, Dawes sounded kind of ho-hum.

Then Mumford & Sons took over. Beautiful lights were set up on stage, and there were tons of cameras recording the concert for a DVD. The crowd danced along. Confetti guns went off over the crowd at the end. All 3 bands were on stage for the final encore, a cover of "With a Little Help from My Friends." An iPhone video with a snippet:

And here's another video from another concertgoer

USA Pro Challenge

This year's USA Pro Cycling Challenge featured a time trial through downtown Denver as its last stage. We got close enough to get a glimpse after the race of Tyler Farrar, Taylor Phinney and overall winner Christian Vande Velde.

Christian Vande Velde
Taylor Phinney
Tyler Farrar