Lagunitas Nuevo Noir Ale

Brown is the new black! I was quite surprised to see this brown ale lined up at New Seasons when I stopped by for ‘milk and bread’. I didn’t know that Lagunitas made a brown, even as a seasonal. Lucky me!

This one is pretty clearly done in the Belgian style, which is proclaimed loudly on the label. The bouquet is fruity, the aroma luscious, lighter than a traditional Belgian, tempered by the mild sweetness of an English Brown.

Nuevo Noir is a wonderful brew. While lacking some of the subtle layers of a true Belgian (check out Piraat or Duvel), its honest will take it far. The body is smooth, just frictive enough to slow you pour down to savor the light fruity treasure before it disappears down your throat in a trail of lightly hopped caramel. And while this ale may be a good spot for somebody willingly looking to adventure beyond Hefeweisen or Mirror Pond to explore from, it contains mysteries to please the more worldly connoseiur as well.

Por Que No? Porque.

I didn’t discover Por Que No. I read the review in the Mercury, and as it is my duty to check out all new taquerias, I made it down today. Located on burgeoning N Mississippi, it is across from the rebuilding center, a bit north of Fremont. Good spot. Well, good news first. They are friendly, they care about the food, the location rocks for rockers, and they cater to beer drinkers. Mexican beer, one tap consisting of Full Sail. Also, lime water and some sorta red juicy goodness. Not really any bad news, except that there’s mediocre news. The mediocre news: it’s just not that great. The homemade tortillas are nice. The chips lack salt. Easily added, but come on…do I have to do everything? The red salsa has good smoky flavor, the green is pretty plain, but neither shine. The meats were fine, and prepared with care, but nothing was inspired or better than fine. Which is a little better than acceptable. Because of the care and quality, everything is a bit expensive, $2.50 for meat or veggie, or $3.50 for fish. The fish was the winner I’d say. But you need three, and that’s $10.50, which is a bit much for taqueria lunch…throw in some lime water or a beer, and that’s a vendor lunch. After my three tacos (carnitas, asada, and pollo verde), I stopped at another taqueria for two more…admittedly, I had skipped breakfast. I definitely didn’t hate it, I was just a bit underwhelmed. I know that I’ll be back, because it’s a short crawl from the Amnesia Brewery.


I don’t think there’s an apostrophe in the name. Binks is a sweet little place, with abundant and loyal clientel. The bartenders are cool and nice, and smile. There’s a slick little garden out back that you can see but not get to, but fortunately there’s some seating out front and on the small patio. It fills up quick on nice days, so get there early or good luck. The layout of Binks is a bit different. The main room, where the bar is, has a fireplace, wonderful on cool nights, a couple large (for Binks) tables, a counter seat by the window. Hidden off to one side is a smaller room, dimly lit with two tables, and to the other side is the pool room, with one bar table. The wall of the pool room is a rolling garage door, and it is usually open in the summer. The smaller room is nice, and I’ve found myself in good conversations with strangers on many occasions.

The beer selection is adequate, with five taps, generally featuring an IPA, Summer Wheat (with a slice of orange, it’s great), the obligatory PBR, something dark, and something light. Don’t quote me on that though. When Binks opened several years ago, it was visionary. Now it’s comfortable. Many of its qualities have been duplicated around town. Its atmosphere has not been duplicated, Binks is a really nice and friendly place to grab a beer. The pizzas that they make are good food, not a spectacular pizza, but fun toppings and a good product make them pleasing, and great with a few pints. Binks is a great spot to avoid on Last Thursday if you want a beer or even to get inside, but pretty much any other day a visit will be well-rewarded. They’re at 2715 NE Alberta. It was at the edge of the thick of it, but now it’s more in the middle.