Brewery Snapshot: Gunbarrel Brewing Company

Driving through the farms and fields on the approach to Gunbarrel Brewing Company it seems impossible that you will find anything remotely resembling a brewery, but if you look carefully for an industrial park on the west side of 71st Avenue you’ll get your reward. The day we visited, the cavernous taproom felt very empty and low-energy but the patio was pleasant-enough and the extensive beer list of all styles, combined with great service, encouraged us to linger for just one more.

BEER LINEUP: For a small brewery, Gunbarrel delivers a huge taplist of about 20 beers that cover the spectrum from wheat to stout with a lot of pleasant surprises in between including a saison, several fruit beers, a gose, some IPAs. They also offer several barrel-aged options.20180729_135304_hdr.jpg

ATMOSPHERE: We visited mid-day on a Sunday, which arguably is not the busiest time for any brewery, so we were the only patrons for a while. As such, it’s hard to guess at the normal energy of the place, but for us the huge building was very quiet. The large industrial-looking front room gives way to a gameroom on the back with pinball and pool, and there’s a huge bar for easy access during busy periods. Additionally, they offer a shady patio and seem to have regular food trucks. Naturally everything seemed very laid-back on our visit.

SERVICE: Despite the emptiness of the place, Gunbarrel had several servers working, which probably contributed to the excellent service we received. They were attentive, 20180729_142040_HDRfriendly, and knowledgeable about their beers.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Really none to speak of. Situated in an industrial park surrounded by farms, Gunbarrel appears to be the only retail-oriented business for miles and thus is definitely a destination. The remote location comes with the 20180729_135800_HDRbenefit of ample parking, and the LOBO trail lies about 1/4 mile to the south and offers bikers convenient access.

STANDOUT BEER: Memberberry is a New England IPA heavily infused with berries. The cloudy, reddish-copper color provides a tipoff that this is more than your normal NEIPA, and the berry sweetness provides an interesting contrast to the hoppiness. Raspberry and blueberry predominate. Overall, the light body and fruitiness make for a refreshing summer sip.

Weekend Beer Update

There are a lot of events this Saturday from one end of town to the other, and particularly downtown in between. Given the beautiful summer weather there’s no excuse not to get out and about and explore a new part of town!

Saturday 11: Starting in RINO, Bierstadt Lager celebrates two years of making fine German beers. They’ll have some music, yard games, and Helles specials, but really it’s about – as they explain – “drinking large quantities of pale lager.” And who can argue with that?

woods-boss-beers.jpgSaturday 11: In the same neighborhood, Ratio Beerworks throws down an all-you-can-eat-and-drink Crawfish Boil starting at noon. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Saturday 11: At the other end of downtown Wood Boss Brewing Company will partner with other local businesses to transform California Street into a biergarten with music and special beer tappings all day.

Saturday 11: The final downtown event of the day is Denver Beer Co.’s 7th anniversary party, which will also spill into the street with food, music, games, a photo booth and beer. Note, the party happens at the original Platte Street location.

Saturday 11: The Arvada Center hosts Arts and Ales 2018, featuring local artists exhibiting their wares, beer sampling, food, music, and activities. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Saturday 11: On the opposite side of town in Lowry, Wings Over The Rockies puts on Hops in the Hangar which features beer tasting, a car show, music, games and giveaways all while surrounded by classic aircraft. Note: This is a ticketed event.station-26-taproom.jpg

Sunday 12: The monthly Bluegrass Brunch comes back to Station 26 Brewing Co. with food, music, and of course beer! The fun starts at 11 a.m.

Brewery Snapshot: Tivoli Brewing Company

Located in the CU Denver student union across from the Pepsi Center, Tivoli Brewing Company has a lot going for it with an innovative taproom design, a patio with spectacular views, wonderful service and a German-inspired taplist. The only downside is that it seems kind of stranded, bordered by major streets and highways, far from other entertainment venues and lacking any sort of energy once students go home for the day.

BEER LINEUP: The German-themed beers cover a broad range from traditional German styles to other styles that the brewery has given a German flair with specific hops, yeast, or additives.

ATMOSPHERE: The steampunk-style industrial taproom located in the former Tivoli Brewery features a unique seating area spread on several levels among brewing 20180719_200319_HDRequipment, exposed pipes, and other industrial artifacts. However the real star of the show is the patio, which faces the downtown Denver skyline and offers beautiful views, particularly at sunset. On a weeknight the vibe quickly drops off from busy student/staff happy hour time to a virtually deserted taproom with an empty and slightly sad feel after 7 p.m. I would expect that nights of Pepsi Center events present a totally different feel as well. Fortunately Tivoli has a full kitchen so you do not have to forage across campus for food.

SERVICE: Even though we were seated at the far end of the patio, our servers showed up frequently and delivered our food and drink orders very quickly. The servers for both our table and the bar were exceptionally friendly and helpful with beer and food information and recommendations.

LOCATION: Tivoli seems stranded in the middle of the campus and heavily trafficked roadways. It’s really not very walkable to anywhere else unless you happen to be going to a Pepsi Center event. You can access it via light rail and a short walk from either of the Pepsi Center or Colfax at Auraria stops, or pay for parking in the nearby garage or at meters. Realistically, unless you happen to be a student on campus this is a destination brewery.

STANDOUT BEER: Sigis Wildhorse Bock Style Ale. This is 20180719_192320_HDRone of the German-inspired beers and not 100% true to style but still very tasty. The thick-bodied, opaque, reddish/copper beer offered up heavy roasted malt with no noticeable hop flavors. While it is a little darker, heavier, and maltier than I’ve ever tasted in a German beer, it managed to pull through the yeast flavors, carmel sweetness and alcohol of a typical bock. While perhaps this beer would be most enjoyable on a chilly fall evening, it also works reasonably well as summer sipper given the moderate ABV.

Weekend Beer Update

Just a handful of events this weekend including a bunch of anniversaries north of town. Field trip, anyone?

Saturday 4 – Sunday 5: Cool off in the mountains at Keystone’s Bluegrass and Beer Festival, where over 40 Colorado breweries will pour their best. Of course the festival will also have plenty of music and food to accompany the beer. Note: This is a ticketed event.

AverySaturday 4: Carrying over a long-standing tradition from their original location, Avery Brewing Co. goes all-out for their annual birthday bash and this year their anniversary party will be extra-special, as Avery turns 25! They’ll be tapping into their deep reservoir of beer excellence and your ticket gets you pours of over 90 beers, plus live music and a commemorative glass. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Saturday 4: Odd13 Brewing celebrates five years with a street party offering up loads of bottle, can, and taproom special releases.

Saturday 4 – Sunday 5: Even further north, Purpose Brewing and Cellars  in Fort Collins will hold a first anniversary party with music, food, outdoor games, and of course plenty of beer!


Style of the Month: Berliner Weisse

I decided to try out a new type of post and maybe add a little education value to the blog  so starting in August I’ll feature a new style of beer every month. Since August still has reasonably hot weather, a nice refreshing Berliner Weisse seems appropriate.

A typical Berliner Weisse is light-bodied, light-colored, low-alcohol and sour. Most people would describe this wheat beer as crisp and refreshing with low concentrations of both malt and hops. Frequently Berliner Weisse exhibits a slight level of cloudiness. These days most brewers add lactobacillus to achieve the souring vs. the traditional method of letting wild critters in to do the work.  Image result for berliner weisse public use photos

A brief history of Berliner Weisse starts over 500 years ago with tart beers brewed in northern Germany and possibly Flanders. The style really took root in Berlin and thrived for about 400 years until the late 1800’s when it began to lose favor. By the end of the 20th Century only a couple of Berlin breweries made the style. Fortunately the beer was saved from extinction and it has enjoyed a renaissance both at home and abroad, although technically a Berliner Weisse must be manufactured in the confines of Berlin. The recent popularity of sours may also help account for its frequent appearance on craft beer taplists.

The two best-known examples in Berlin are Berliner Kindl and Schultheiss. If you order the beer in Berlin you will generally be offered the opportunity to take it “mit schuss“, which translates to “with a shot” of flavored syrup. Most people drink it unadulterated, though. If you choose “mit schuss” in Germany your two options will be a red, raspberry-like option (Himbeere) and a green, medicinal choice (Waldmeister) that I personally would not recommend. Many American craft breweries have added their own spin with fun flavors like peach and prickly pear.

Overall, a cold Berliner Weisse offers a fresh and sessionable experience for hot summer afternoons, whether doing yardwork or just kicking back on the patio.