Brats, Beers and Bullet Points, Week 19

Like a startling number of things in my life, Saturday’s basketball game reminded me of a Simpsons quote.

The Bullet Points

  • After Mr. Burns is struck by lightning while flying a kite, he and Smithers exchange the following: “What’s this strange sensation in my chest?” “I think your heart is beating.” “Oh, that takes me back.” That’s pretty much what it feels like to have long-dormant hope in something you care about become rekindled. Of course, it’s still just flickering at this point, with all-too-easy potential to get snuffed right back out, but it’s definitely there. Short-lived or not, it's good to have some hope around these parts for a change.

  • The Pack started off their season-within-a-season precisely how they hoped they would, convincingly beating Air Force 80-62 and moving to 1-0 in Mountain West play. It was a game Nevada should’ve had a much harder time winning, judging from the two teams’ prior records, but when examining how the teams shook out beyond their wins and losses, a Nevada blowout wasn’t all that surprising. The Wolf Pack’s starting lineup has more or less been settled, its players executing with newfound energy and confidence on both ends of the floor over their previous two and a half games. The Falcons, on the other hand, were much less certain with their lineup, and played without their second-leading scorer due to injury. Any newfound surge of too much optimism should be quelled by those facts, yes, but there are other undeniable truths worthy of reminding. The team as a whole is picking better shots — and making more of them — than they were before. Fenner, West and Coleman have all emerged as scoring threats; not quite certified yet, but clearly evolving for the better. Missa continues to contribute beyond his status as a freshman. Criswell has become a fine sixth man off the bench. How far this freshly stoked train of positivity keeps chugging along remains to be seen, but they’ve clearly devoted a lot of effort to putting their non-conference performance behind them, and I’ll try to do the same.

  • And that brings us to their next challenge: a return to the Thomas and Mack Center, last year’s site of one of their finest hours (the first win over Nevada Southern, site of The Dunkening) as well as their most frustrating setback (another first round exit from the Mountain West tournament). The Rebels have the talent advantage at basically every position, and will bring a 6-0 home record into the game, which includes an upset of then-#3 Arizona. This game will test Nevada in multiple ways their recent winning streak hasn’t, and that’s without considering the road environment and revenge factors also working against them. Expecting the Pack to pull out another upset this time around is unrealistic — not impossible, just not something worth fixating on. Of much greater importance is continuing the positive trends of the last three and a half games without letting them all unravel: keep rebounding well, limit their open shots, pick good shots of your own, and keep making those shots. If they acquit themselves well, keep the game close and bounce back against Fresno State at Lawlor the following Saturday, it will have been a productive trip. Coach Carter is game-planning with an eye towards next season, as most of his current team is set to return then. Another win against the Runnin’ Hotel Managers would be all kinds of sweet, but he can’t lose sight of the continued development of his players beyond that. Bad Guys 77, Good Guys 69.

The Beers

The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery (Reno, NV) — Another multi-review column! Back before Interstate 80 was built — when what is now 4th Street was one segment of the transcontinental Lincoln Highway — the huge brick building at 325 East 4th Street was a passenger depot for the Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad. After its use as an office for Western Pacific up to 1975, it passed through a variety of owners, and has sat mostly vacant until the last few years. It was then that several University of Nevada grads (who also own Louis’ Basque Corner next door) began turning the building into the state’s first combined restaurant, brewery and distillery. Their grand opening was on New Year’s Eve last week, and I had a chance to sample their four initial beer offerings shortly thereafter.

Ranch Hand American Ale — A clear, straw-colored kölsch-style ale. Crisp, dry and easy sipping, it’s best quality is its unobtrusiveness. It’s meant to be the most accessible of the brewery’s first slate of beers, and it fulfills that role. I give it three tipsy Wolfies out of five.

Explorer American Pale Ale — A little cloudy, dry, and pretty lightly hopped compared to other pale ales. Also a teeny bit sweet from caramel malt, but just enough to notice. Hopheads accustomed to Sierra Nevada’s take on the style may not like the subtlety, but it worked for me. Three and a half out of five.

Voyager West Coast IPA — Hoppy enough for your IPA-loving beer snob friend, but flavorful enough to interest other drinkers, too. Clear golden color, and tangerine and grapefruit can be tasted in the finish, which is pleasantly bitter without becoming overwhelming. Four out of five.

Blacksmith Stout — My favorite of the four beers I sampled. Brownish black in color with a great balance of chocolate, caramel and coffee flavors. The hops are mild, the malt is sweet and the whole taste is the finest the Depot has put out so far. From what I gather, I’m not alone in singing this beer’s praises. Four and a half out of five.

The Brats

While not a brat, the Depot Burger I had with my beer samples was tasty. The whole place looked amazing while I was there, and they hope to put eight more beers on tap in the coming months. So go already!

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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