Brats, Beers and Bullet Points, Week 17

I’m not looking forward to summarizing the bowl game any more than you’re looking forward to reading it, so let’s get this over with.

The Bullet Points

  • A now-departed quarterback without a bowl win to his name. Another 7-6 season gone from “promising” to “putrid.” Another steaming plate of “Been There, Done That.” The O-line couldn’t block well enough, the D-line was kept at arm’s length all morning long, and the case of the Overthrows plaguing Cody Fajardo flared right back up stronger than ever. Opportunities came and went, and the score said the game was within reach most of the way, but the postgame stats don’t bear that out. From their opening touchdown drive, the Cajuns were in methodical control of the proceedings and never relinquished it. Louisiana luxuriously started the same five junior and senior offensive linemen all year long, and it showed. When compared to Nevada’s hastily stitched-together group of redshirt freshmen and other assorted battlefield promotions, it’s no surprise who ended up winning. If the New Mexico Bowl against Arizona was like a zeppelin bursting into flames mere feet from the landing pad, this New Orleans Bowl was like a hot air balloon pockmarked with patches of duct tape that never had a chance to inflate. Sixteen points is a plenty decent enough effort from a defense, but in retrospect, it was never going to unfold in any other way.

  • “Never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” It was my unofficial slogan for Nevada athletics in the final years of Cary Groth’s tenure, and it’s a convenient summary of how this football season can be looked back upon. Granted, the seemingly requisite heartbreak was interspersed with some truly good moments. Any win over a Pac-12 opponent is important, even if Washington State turned out to be crummy. The come-from-behind win at BYU is still pretty nifty. They finally got over the hump against San Diego State, no extra period necessary this time. And the Fremont Cannon was soundly liberated from enemy clutches and returned home. But all of the usual disappointments came flooding back just in time for what’s become Nevada’s Christmas tradition. Another opportunity to start anew, to blaze a new trail and finally take the first steps toward that elusive Next Level, gone for another year. There was undeniable progress made in Brian Polian’s second season, but hard questions persist. Paramount among them is this one: if Nevada can’t take that next level step with a senior quarterback and a favorable home schedule, when will they?

  • Happier segue: the basketball team won! And a bona fide blow-out at that. Yes, it came on the heels of another frustrating road loss, and nobody will mistake Marshall for a quality opponent. But it’s been a bad enough week in the rest of Wolf Pack Land that I’ll give them a pass. Whatever crazy voodoo magic the team invoked in the second half of the game at Pacific seemed to carry over to this game, with an eight-point halftime lead blossoming into a good old fashioned rout. Remember what those were like? Back when Nevada would boat race the Idahos and San Jose States of the world with comforting regularity? Yeah, me neither. But this one was legitimately nice to watch. I really enjoy seeing A.J. West when he’s on a roll, and Robyn Missa and Tyron Criswell have been the closest things to a pleasant surprise on this year’s team. What’s more, their only game between now and my next column is against Northwest Christian, so they should have a (very, very) modest winning streak heading into conference play! Yeah, that’s a stretch for some good news, I know. The doubts swirling around this program remain numerous, and will likely return in time, but you have to glom on to the shreds of positivity when you can find them.

The Beer

Under the Rose holidaybeer (Reno, NV) — While Reno still hasn’t fully shaken off the recession yet, there’s no denying the positive strides the region continues to make in its recovery. Landing Tesla’s gigafactory was a huge coup, of course. Gaming revenues have stabilized, the unemployment rate continues to decline, and the downtown core is being reforged one converted property at a time. One of these new faces is Under the Rose Brewing Company, and the husband and wife operation is a fitting metaphor of Reno’s continuing revival. A microbrewery occupying what used to be an auto body shop on 4th Street, its fermenting tanks, bocce ball pit and repurposed wood pallet tables feel equally out of place and right at home in its cavernous building. UTR’s holiday seasonal rounds out a modest selection of lower-alcohol “session” beers that include a blonde ale, a chocolate rye porter and a farmhouse ale (my personal favorite of the bunch). Holidaybeer is a cloudy copper out of the tap, and its tastes run the gamut of cinnamon, orange and lemon peels, ginger and clove, with cinnamon narrowly edging out the others in prevalence. None of the flavors are especially aggressive, as all of Under the Rose’s creations emphasize drinkability. But this is a good thing, as it achieves the rare feat of being both accessible enough for craft beer newbies to enjoy and deep enough to appease a more experienced palette. It doesn’t “taste like Christmas” in quite the same way other holiday beers do, but that’s a minor quibble. The fact remains that this is another solid offering from a brewery with several of them already in their corner, so get down to 4th Street (as soon as they reopen on January 2nd) and hope this beer is still on tap. I give it four tipsy Wolfies out of five.

The Brats

The Christmas list I sent to Santa Henderson included some tasty meats. It’s in his hands now.

All fan mail (burning or otherwise), should be sent to:
Andrew Maurins
c/o North RV Lot
Campus of THE University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557

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