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Beer tables: Under the Sun

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UNDER THE SUN / ASHLEY DAVIS FOR DRAFT

It’s not the Mountain Sun you’re used to: Here, the wood’s good for more than just beer.

By Sarah L. Stewart

The patriarch of Under the Sun greets guests before they even open the door, his comforting wood-smoke cologne wafting into the parking lot.

“His name is Woody,” smiles executive kitchen manager Annabelle Forrestal. “He likes oak.”

Weighing more than a ton, the barrel-shaped oven presides over a bright, elegant dining room, putting his wood-fired stamp on nearly every dish served at this latest addition to the Mountain Sun family of brewpubs in Boulder, Colo. Pork chops, chicken and mussels take a turn in Woody’s 1,000-degree depths; portobellos, sweet potatoes, cauliflower and beets pass through his fiery door before appearing on salads and sandwiches. Woody even bakes the house oatmeal-chocolate chip cookie.

Though the oven is the driving concept behind the 98-seat restaurant that opened early this year, he’s not the only star of its menu: The offerings also draw on ales from the restaurant’s three sister brewpubs, which only pour within the Mountain Sun family.

“When we cook with our beer, it allows us to cook things you can’t get anywhere else,” says managing partner Tim McMurray. The beers (some brewed as nearby as Southern Sun Pub & Brewery, directly upstairs) appear in about a third of the dishes, from fried Brussels sprouts battered in malty Annapurna Amber to a saison-infused buffalo chili. The bar also features 21 Mountain Sun taps, like the crisp 5%-ABV Big Krane Kolsch and creamy, nitro-poured Java Porter, plus 10 guest taps that rotate through a Colorado-centric lineup including Avery, New Belgium and Funkwerks.

Aesthetically, Under the Sun’s stylishly lit, hardwood interior and Euro-style, open-air front seating area channel a rustic-chic vibe far different from its funky sisters. But Forrestal and McMurray insist that it’s still casually come-as-you-are.

“It seems a little classier, maybe, but that’s not what we’re trying to do,” McMurray says. “We’re doing the exact same thing, we’re just cooking different food, with different equipment.” Cheers, Woody.

UNDER THE SUN AT HOME: Re-create the restaurant’s updated rustic classics.

Chili doesn’t need to wait for winter: Seasonal veggies and a summery saison (Forrestal uses the brewery’s own Capital City Saison) make this buffalo version perfect for warm-weather cookouts.
Pairing the grill and a standard oven mimics the effect of Under the Sun’s wood-burning oven; brine the bird, and the meat’s ultratender.

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