3801 18th St., San Francisco, CA, mateveza.com
"Mate provides counterbalance to malt sweetness like hops do, but it's a softer bitterness and rounder than hops," says MateVeza president Jim Woods, adding that lab tests confirm that caffeine and the medicinal alkaloid theobromine do make it through fermentation. A fan of MateVeza's Yerba Mate IPA, I recently picked up Morpho Herbal Ale (around $8.50/22-ounce bomber), originally released as a collaborative one-off in 2011, but turned into a year-round release and restocked here late last year.
The organic, 6-percent ABV brew, inspired by medieval gruit beers which subbed botanicals for hops, features mate, hibiscus flowers and bay leaves, yielding a lambic-like red color and tart, cherry-rhubarb fruitiness. High carbonation ("carbonic bite") creates an enjoyable, tonic-like effervescence. Hops are only added (to qualify it as a "beer") in a final, brief step, resulting in zero bitterness, though the hibiscus is mildly acidic. — Matthew Schniper
Olde World Bagel & Deli
1670 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 527-9651, oldeworldbagel.com
Olde World's lox and cream cheese sandwich ($7.45) starts on a bagel of your choice, but the everything bagel offers an intense crust of spices, toasted seeds and tiny chunks of salt that crunch between your teeth. Things progress quickly when flavor from the layers of brined salmon begins its inexorable roll through your senses, intensified along the way by flashes of capers; a thick smear of homemade cream cheese dials it all up to 11. The ride smooths out some when thin slices of red onion and tomato begin to hit the brakes, though more of the latter would help, and it comes to a complete stop when you're ready to do it all over again with the next bite.
Around you, enjoy the leather and the stonework and the large, round bar. And if you're wondering where the bagels come from, just look through the glass into the kitchen. — Bryce Crawford
Mobile business, 339-7722, thelocalcolorado.com
The Local's trio of truck co-owners recently announced an exciting expansion into brick-and-mortar, a move that wouldn't be possible if their kick-ass signature Local Burger ($6) hadn't already won local hearts and minds. A dense, toasted Old German Bakery pretzel roll sandwiches a grass-fed beef patty (from Westcliffe-based Sangre's Best) rubbed with coffee, brown sugar and adobo chili powder. Then comes a Jack cheese melt, arugula (mine subbed cilantro because they were out) and a fun, truck-made bacon jam smear. From unique bun to quality meat and gourmet flair — not to mention an appreciated wrapping in foil and week-old Indy copies — the burger's truly better-than. Pair one with a tart, lightly honey-sweetened hibiscus tea ($3) that's carbonated and hand-mixed in the truck. Also see p. 25 for the truck's current locations and hours, plus more on the expansion. — Matthew Schniper