In journalism, those wishing not to be relegated to neighborhood newsletter-writing generally avoid the "weather lead." That's the empty sentence that starts a gimpy story by talking about the weather, seemingly because there's nothing more interesting to say as an icebreaker.

In actual conversation, though, people use weather leads all the time. There's something about swapping temperature talk before getting down to business that we find comforting ... I guess. It's especially noticeable at this time of the year, when frigidity settles in.

Note how both Bryce and Steve draw upon the season in their write-ups this week, placing their food and drink in the context of the cold. Tacos are an anytime treat, so I had nothing to say of my environs. But I still think the weather chat works here, proving that all rules can be broken, especially when done tastefully.

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Avery Brewing Company

5763 Arapahoe Ave., Unit E, Boulder, 303/440-4324, averybrewing.com

Finding an IPA that goes down like a session lager — a beer you could reasonably drink a few pints of "without overwhelming the senses," according to BeerAdvocate — is hard. But I think that Avery's 8.5-percent ABV DuganA IPA may just make the cut.

Crisp with a nice balance of malt, and coming across clean with a few citrus undertones, this is a delicious double IPA that's earned a solid A-minus score from BA. Currently on tap ($6/pint) at Trinity Brewing Company and in bombers at local liquor stores, DuganA is sure to give hops-heads something to enjoy without nuking the taste buds, as so many ales of high-IBU (international bitterness units) can.

Drink it during this amazingly warm fall, because when the snow flies, IPAs become less appealing than the stouts and porters that warm our souls. — Steve Hitchcock

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Taqueria la Muñeca

200 block of South Tejon Street, 208-1080

To review this addition to the County Courthouse street-vending scene is to actually review East Pikes Peak Avenue's well-regarded Carniceria Leonela. According to cook Jessica Garcia, mother of owner Francis Garcia, almost everything served is purchased (pre-seasoned and -cut) from that Mexican grocery mart, before being prepped out of a 3 Margaritas kitchen.

Passing up torta, quesadilla and burrito options for any of the meats ($3), I went for the $1 tacos, which are the ubiquitous, small, double-layer corn offerings that you garnish yourself with cilantro, onions, a mild or hot (not really) chile sauce and a runny, somewhat vapid guacamole sauce. Among the lengua (tongue), adobada (marinated pork) and chorizo (pork sausage), the third boasted the most flavor.

During this visit, Muñeca bested no other cart in town, but proved perfectly serviceable. — Matthew Schniper

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Shinji's Sushi Bar

308-M S. Eighth St., 475-0669

Many foods seem to shrink during a cold, dark winter night, but a bowl of Shinji Shibuya's miso ramen ($9.50) isn't one of them. The frost cowers from the steaming warmth pouring forth from the large, white ceramic bowl, while the dark recoils against the bright and snappy broccoli and bean sprouts that come piled over a mound of chewy ramen noodles. An almost buttery miso broth wraps everything in its cloudy brown embrace, while three fresh butterflied shrimp crown the bowl.

Not that it's all winter-night poetry: When we ordered, it did take a half-hour for the soup to appear (Shibuya cooks alone), and the dish runs a few dollars high. Still, the chef randomly graced us with a dish of pickled salmon, and also thoughtfully turned up the radio's volume on the Broncos-Chargers game for us. — Bryce Crawford


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