During our most recent trip to Cortez, it occurred to us that we had been to every brewery in Montezuma County … except one. To an outside observer, J.Fargo’s Family Dining & Micro Brewery looks like a restaurant. But as its full name states, it is indeed a microbrewery. So we stopped in for a meal and beers.
Coyote J. Brewing, as the restaurant’s microbrewery is called, has four beers on tap at any given time. And they’ll do a tasting flight with four beers, so we tried all of them. At present, there’s a red ale, a nut brown, a white Belgium wheat, and an IPA.
We started off with the wheat beer and were immediately surprised by its bitterness — for an instant, we thought perhaps it was actually the IPA, but mislabeled. On subsequent sips, however, we realized that it was indeed the Belgian one. The bitterness, we suspect, is the result of the Curacao orange peel with which it is infused (and probably the hops, obviously). Whatever the case, the flavor mellows out quickly and opens up to the beer’s spices, in this case, coriander. Once you get into it, it becomes citrusy and slightly sweet.
Naturally, we wanted to see how this compared to the IPA, so we sampled that next. Surprisingly, it was the opposite — it wasn’t very bitter at all. The beer was quite hoppy, but in a more American-beer citrusy way. The soup of the day when we stopped by was a white chili, and it paired beautifully with the IPA. We’re not sure if it was this combination that did it for us, but this one ended up being our favorite of the beers.
Third, we sampled the red ale. This was the first beer that tasted how we thought it would: a little bit hoppy and a little bit malty. In the distant reaches of our palate, it may even have been a little bit buttery. When we tried it against our meal, we noticed that its bitterness, while not intense, lingered quite a while.
Finally, the nut brown was the maltiest of the beers we had. It had a bit of caramel-ness to it. Like the red ale, it had a medium hop aroma and medium hop bitterness. It tasted darker than the other beers, but not like a real dark beer such as a stout or a porter.
For dinner — we were there for a meal after all — we ordered the Rattlesnake “Jake” Burger. (We’re not sure who Jake is, but based solely on the name of the restaurant and the microbrewery, we assume he’s the “J.”) The burger was a grilled brisket/beef burger with blackened seasoning, ghost pepper cheese, tomato, cilantro, red onions, and pico de gallo on a toasted Kaiser bun. The first thing we noticed was that the bun looked, smelled, felt, and tasted nice. The patty was also pretty tasty, especially alongside the other ingredients. Despite the ghost pepper in the cheese and the presence of a salsa on the burger, it was not especially spicy — certainly not the rattlesnake bite we were expecting – but the flavor of the burger more than made up for that.
All around, it was a pleasant burger-and-beer experience.