Choclorado Seasonal Beers and the Dark Season

Darkness, darkness, be my pillow

Take my head and let me sleep

In the coolness of your shadow

In the silence of your dream

Jesse Colin Young - Darkness Darkness

‘Falling back’ with our clocks makes me call the next three months the ‘dark season.’ Nothing we can do about the reduced hours of daylight, the coming of winter, and the cold and snow. Funny how we all have varying opinions about the seasonal changes. Winter would not be so bad if it were light outside for longer hours in the day! But that’s not how the World turning works. I know people who embrace the dark season by chasing snow. Ski instructor in Colorado during our winter and then they head south to Chile or New Zealand for their winter.

How do people in the San Luis Valley embrace winter and soothe what medical experts call Seasonal Affective Disorder? Check online to read medical suggestions or continue reading here for edible and drinkable ‘medicines.’

Jamie Greeman, former director of the Alamosa Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, has opened Lolly’s Sweet Shoppe, an old fashioned candy store. Upon entering, the sweet smells of old fashioned candies greet customers. Visually, the multi colored delights, caramel corn, chocolate varieties and even beef jerky flavors all offer a kaleidoscope of colorful treats. Why? According to Jaime, she is filling a niche for locals and tourists. Her store is like nothing else in town and provides a unique shopping experience for everyone. For kids, the bulk candy bins are an eye popping delight. Older people may get nostalgic at finding their favorite saltwater taffy flavors. Taste sensations in a blast from the past! Others may migrate to the caramel corn flavors, beef jerky, or for me, the dark chocolate! Gifts for all ages and occasions. Oh, and by golly, then there is the lollipop rack!

As I asked her about all of her creative displays, she told me that many of them came from the local Habitat for Humanity Store or garage sales. What a creative way to recycle! She also is quite artistic with old pallets. Coming into Colorado on most state highways, no one can miss the classic brown wooden signs that say WELCOME TO COLORFUL COLORADO. She makes a miniature take home version. As a kid on vacation, the signs always gave me goosebumps. Still do. She has those signs for sale as well as others such as ‘Home Sweet Home.’ Pop in for a sweet treat at 510 San Juan Avenue. lollyssweetsshoppe.com. 719-589-6773

Need an adult treat and taste sensation in dark form? Around the corner and across the street on Main is Square Peg Brewerks. Having only been open for five months, Derek and Mark, co-owners, entered a beer named Waverly Tulip in the Great American Beer Festival. The category is called Historical Beers. The beer, when I first tasted the ‘Tulip,’ from an Old Dutch Recipe, is actually how I would have imagined a beer tasting if I were to have walked into a European brewhaus several hundred years ago! You will have to visit to ask them about the rest of the name.

If darker beers during the cold months are your quarry, presently on draft is ‘Night Thoughts,’ a pleasant dark Belgian Ale with malty overtones of dark roasted barley and dark fruit flavors, summed up as ‘yum.’ Upcoming will be a Mexican Chocolate Stout. More dark beers for winter will also be coming down the pike and into the taps.

For a wonderful road trip with both culinary and flavorful sensations, head to the Crestone Brewery. Numerous dark beers are on tap including a pumpkin stout called Dagda’s Cauldron. Soft and subtle spices in the dry stout paired well with one of their many sandwiches on the menu. Many of their beers have a dark theme. As a hophead, I particularly liked the Recurrence, a dark red IPA. NOTE: For craft beer drinkers who need gluten reduced beers, Crestone Brewing is using a product called Brewers Clarex, a magical enzyme that precipitates out the large gluten molecules from the beer. The process does not affect the body or the flavor.

For fun, try their homemade kombuchas and sodas. For those with English blood, try The Roots - a brown ale brewed with local burdock root that imparts earthy and malty flavors reminiscent of an English Pub. Their local food? Spectac.

For candy fiends, foodies, and beer lovers, you cannot go wrong in the San Luis Valley. Make the most of the upcoming ‘Dark Season.’