Weekend Beer Update

This weekend  focuses on a couple of themes – Stout Month and Melvin’s 2×4 day – both of which offer numerous opportunities for adventure and discovery. But if stouts and DIPAs are not your thing, you can always hit a couple of anniversary celebrations or catch some live music. 

Friday 1 – Thursday 28: It’s that time of year again, time 20180115_132222_HDRfor the Mountain Sun Pubs to hold Stout Month. Join them in their Boulder or Denver locations for a rotating cast of stouts to keep you happy and warm for the next four weeks. Peak to Peak Brewery in Aurora also gets in on the action with weekly stout releases all month. Many other local breweries are on the bandwagon too so enjoy a weekend (or month) of cruising your favorite taprooms to see who’s doing what.

Friday 1 – Thursday 28: In a counterpoint to Mountain Sun, Freshcraft has christened February as Sour Month and will have eight sours in rotation all month in case too much malty-ness gets under your skin.

Saturday 2: Melvin 2×4 Day! A number of breweries are hosting events to celebrate 2×4 DIPA from our neighbor up north, Melvin Brewing. All of them will, to some extent, feature Kung Fu, Wu Tang Clan, a bunch of randomness and of course the star of the party – 2×4. Colorado breweries include:

Saturday 2: Celebrate gluten-free at Holidaily Brewing Co.’s third anniversary. Head to Golden for music, food trucks, a special pilsner tapping plus giveaways.

Saturday 2: Celebrate Six Years in the Alley with DeSteeg Brewing. There’s a whole lot going on that day including free swag, free beer and some limited-edition releases. But wait, there’s more! DeSteeg will also host a chili cookoff starting at 4 p.m. Reserve a spot to participate and be judged, and you’ll get some free beer and prizes if you win. Or just 20170305_141942_HDRcome by and taste. Note: Tasting is a ticketed event.

Saturday 2: Down in Castle Rock 105 West Brewing Company hosts rock & world music with Harmony & Brad starting at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday 2 – Sunday 3: If satisfying your sweet tooth is 20190109_182255_hdrmore of a priority, Denver Beer Co. and Cerveceria Colorado will host a Beer and Cookie Pairing all weekend with tasty treats from Victory, Love, and Cookies. The pairing of four beers and four cookies takes place in both taprooms (they are literally next door). Note: This is a ticketed event, advance purchase saves you five bucks.

Sunday 3 – Seedstock Brewery hosts its weekly Bluegrass Jam from 4 – 6 p.m. Bring an instrument to join in or just relax and enjoy the music and a beer.

Learn About Belgian Beers!

20171106_194213_HDRBruz Beers is hosting another round of their Learn About Belgian Beers classes. These classes cover the basics and major categories of Belgian beers and you get to taste a dozen of them while learning about history and characteristics of each. Tickets are $25 for either the February 2 or February 16 sessions, however Bruz typically offers these classes twice a month along with homebrewing courses so no worries if you can’t fit it in your February calendar.  Check out their website for the most up-to-date schedule.

Congrats to Seedstock!

Congratulations to Seedstock Brewery, which scored two brews in Beer Connoisseur’s top 100 of 2018 list! Their Dusseldorf Alt came in at #3 and their Oktoberfest took the 33rd spot. Seedstock was the only Denver-area brewery to make the list and in recognition of the honor has re-released the Dusseldorf Alt, which is currently on tap at their West Colfax Avenue taproom.

Weekend Beer Update

 

Friday 25 – Saturday 26: One of the bigger festivals of the winter – Winter Brew Fest – hits Mile High Station near the stadium for a two-day run. With over 40 different Colorado breweries each evening and 100+ beers you’ll certainly get your fill of craft beer. Several of the breweries change out between the evenings so you’ll need to attend both nights to get them all. Tickets come in a variety of combos, with earliest entry at 6 p.m. Note: This is a ticketed event (and likely to sell out in advance). 

Saturday 26: Turn up the heat at Copper Kettle 20181031_171536_HDRBrewing Co’s Chili Cookoff from 4 – 7 p.m. Sign up on their website to enter for the chance to win prizes and beer, or stop by to chow down and put your vote in for the best and hottest!

Saturday 26: Add one more festival to the weekend with the Bourbon and Bacon Fest at McNichols Civic Center Building downtown. While technically not a beer event, sipping on a whole bunch of whiskey and chomping on salty pork goodness sounds like an afternoon well spent. Earliest entry is at 2 p.m. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Saturday 26: If neither the chili nor the bacon satisfied you and you are looking for something more exotic, give Cerveceria Colorado’s Beer and Bug Pairing a try. The event pairs three Cerveceria beers with elaborately-prepared tastings of snacks with bugs as ingredients. The event runs all day until 5 p.m. so stop by if you’re out & about.

20161026_200526_hdrSaturday 26: Get a jump on Stout Month with River North Brewery’s SuperStout Party. River North will dig into their cellar to pull out over twenty of their darkest and biggest beers and will rotate through them as the day goes on.

Saturday 26: Head west to Westfax Brewing Company for a free comedy show from 8 – 10 p.m. In addition to their tasty beers. Wesfax will also have a food truck to make a night of it.

Brewery Snapshot: Cerveceria Colorado

Although it shares a location, owner and brewer with Denver Beer Co (DBC), Cerveceria Colorado offers a night and day experience in both atmosphere and beer. Cerveceria Colorado grew out of the brewer’s experiences in Mexico where he discovered unique ingredients and found personal connections and collaborations. The colorful and festive taproom serves up a tap list that showcases unusual and flavorful Mexican ingredients in inventive beers.

BEER LINEUP: Don’t expect to find a menu full of plain-Jane Mexican lagers, or really traditional styles of any form. You’ll certainly encounter stouts, lagers and IPA’s but they’ve all been enhanced with unique ingredients like pineapple, horchata, fruits, pepper, and even nopales (cactus leaves). Many of the beers on the adventurous menu result from Cerveceria’s collaboration with Mexican brewers.

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ATMOSPHERE: The taproom provides a strong contrast to typical industrial-style craft beer locations, with vibrant, bright colors and decorations reminiscent of a Mexican fiesta, complete with bowls of candy. Slightly larger and calmer than DBC next door, the taproom offers a nice place to relax and the spacious patio looks like a great warm-weather hangout.

SERVICE: Both servers who helped us were friendly, 20190109_182239_hdrattentive, and chill. They seemed to have a reasonable knowledge of the beers they poured, along with an enthusiasm for sharing the history and inspiration for the brewery.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Sitting directly on Platte Street, the brewery stands in the thick of a lively neighborhood with restaurants, bars and shops in case you want to go for a stroll, grab some food (Cerveceria has no kitchen) or do some buzzed shopping. It’s also within walking distance of downtown, close to the Platte River bike trail and easily accessed off the highway and major roads. Parking is so-so but usually a handful of 2-hour metered spots are open, and there’s a pay lot beside DBC.

20190109_182233_hdr.jpgSTANDOUT BEER: In the past year I’ve noticed a distinct upgrade in pineapple beers served at craft breweries (yeah, hard to imagine til you try one) and Cerveceria’s offering is no exception. The slightly-cloudy, honey-orange-colored Señor Piña offers a distinct pineapple aroma with a taste that alternates between pineapple sweetness and a straw-like dryness from the mosaic hops. I found the balance very pleasant and every sip was different; sometimes the pineapple predominated, other times the hops.

Weekend Beer Update

TulipThis weekend brings an interesting mix of events across the metro area, from festivals to anniversaries and a few interesting one-offs. If you have some time to kill, it’s also not too early to book tickets to the Day of Dorks at Wynkoop on March 9 where you can geek out to some wild and wacky beers!

Friday 18 – Sunday 20: Greeley’s Wiley Roots Brewing Company just completed their brewery expansion and it’s so big they’ve set aside a whole weekend to celebrate. Starting Friday they’ll begin releasing five new beers accompanied, of course, by brewery tours. Note the new address: 625 3rd Street Unit D.

Saturday 19: Another event up north, Verboten Brewing & Barrel Project in Loveland will turn its taproom into a Stout-lover’s heaven by pouring 20 different stouts at their inaugural Stout Fest. Many of these will be taproom-only pours including small-batch and barrel-aged releases. The ticketing situation is mixed: you can buy an unlimited-sampling ticket, get a 10-beer punch card or go a-la-carte and purchase individual samples.

Saturday 19 – Sunday 20: Up in Golden, Cannonball Creek Brewing Company celebrates six years with special tappings, food, and live music.

Saturday 19: Starting at noon, Stem Ciders also celebrates an anniversary; five years at their Walnut Street location in Rino.  They’ll have bluegrass music to accompany their special releases along with free swag for the first 50 attendees. Thought not exactly beer, these guys have some tasty, tasty ciders!

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NOT the rebranded, remodeled patio!

Saturday 19: Prost Brewing hosts a rebranding party starting at 3 p.m. While it sounds like a bit of a stretch for a party theme, who really needs an excuse to check out some delicious Prost German-style beers (not changing with the rebranding) and the new logos and updated taproom?

Sunday 20Seedstock Brewery hosts it’s weekly Bluegrass Jam from 4 – 6 p.m. Bring your own instrument to join in or just kick back and enjoy the jam and a beer.

Brewery Snapshot: The Grateful Gnome Brewery

Located just off popular Tennyson Street in Northwest Denver, The Grateful Gnome Sandwich Shop and Brewery combines a food and beer to create an interesting neighborhood hangout. The New Jersey and West Virginia history of the owners comes through in some of the food offerings, the college football flags, and game-day parties. Because of the emphasis on the food, Grateful Gnome feels like more of a restaurant than a hang-out brewery but they do make quite a long list of beers in a variety of styles.20181220_192947_HDR.jpg

BEER LINEUP: The tap list covers a lot of territory, from a blonde right through a stout, along with a few creative tangents like a gingerbread stout and hibiscus saison. The beers I sampled were solid representations of their style and most beer-drinkers will find something pleasant to accompany their meal.

ATMOSPHERE: The stripped-down industrial taproom has a few quirky decorations but feels a lot like a college sandwich shop. The lively and diverse evening crowd consisted of after-work office groups, families, couples and random 20181220_182108_HDR.jpgfriends getting together. The facility has sit-down table service along with a bar and food takeaway counter. The overall vibe was more restaurant than brewery and it seemed that more people were ordering food than treating it like a beer joint.

SERVICE: Our server was extremely friendly and chatty and seemed to know a lot about the food and less about the beer. Unfortunately all the chattiness got in the way of fast and efficient service and at times we were left waiting for our orders or having to repeat requests. While I wouldn’t count it as bad service, some allowances are required.

NEIGHBORHOOD: The Tennyson Street corridor is rapidly developing, with scrape-offs transforming small houses into packed-in condos. This has accelerated the area’s development with lots of shops, restaurants, and other small businesses moving in. Just across the street from The Grateful Gnome the Oriental Theater remains a neighborhood staple, and two other breweries (De Steeg and Call to Arms) are within a block. The area is great for strolling and with parking at a premium, it’s easiest to find a spot and leave the car for a walk.

STANDOUT BEER: I can’t say that I found one on this visit. All the beers I tried were pleasant but nothing really jumped out as special.

Weekend Beer Update

It’s a festival-filled weekend from the Front Range to the mountains, with three big fests rolling out the welcome mat. However if festivals aren’t your style, the weekend also offers plenty of options from music to brewery-hopping to food-focused events.

Thursday 10 – Saturday 12: Celebrate eight years of sour beers at Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project. Starting Thursday Crooked Stave will offer special beer releases, unique guest beers, food, and commemorative merch.

Thursday 10 – Saturday 12: If you can handle the weekend ski 20160721_201225_HDRcrowds, take a ride up to the Breckenridge Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival for brewing seminars, beer dinners, pairings, homebrew competitions and of course lots and lots of big beers! The main tasting event is Saturday afternoon, with the competitions, seminars, and food events going throughout the weekend. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Friday 11: In the Tennyson neighborhood, the Northwest Beer Fest takes over the Oriental Theater with beers from ten local breweries along with wine and cider. Note: This is a ticketed event.

20180212_171117_HDRSaturday 12: Celebrate five years of beer with Kokopelli Beer Company and enjoy their award-winning beers along with a special release, swag and prizes.

Saturday 12: The LowDown Barrel-Aged Beer Festival comes to South Broadway with 14 brews including several from Lowdown plus eight guest breweries. This festival is a bit different, as you pay for your beers as you go vs. getting one all-in ticket.

Saturday 12: Hop on the January edition of the West Side Brewery Bus Loop which will visit Little Machine Beer, Zuni Street Brewing Co., Joyride Brewing Company and this month’s special guest Briar Common Brewery. From 2 – 10 p.m. a bus will circulate between all the breweries. Tickets are $5 and you get a free future beer for completing all four breweries. This ride’s theme is 1980’s-1990’s.

Saturday 12: Get your gourmet fix at Living The Dream Brewery’s Charcuterie at the Brewery. From 3 – 4:30 p.m. enjoy a pairing of five beers with specialty meats and cheeses from Whole Foods. Note: This is a ticketed event (buy at the door).20180527_134218_HDR

Sunday 13: Bring a dish to share and enjoy live music at SomePlace Else Brewery’s Thom & Coley Concert and Potluck. It appears that the duo plays country music. The fun starts at 6 p.m. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Sunday 13: Enjoy food and music starting at noon at this month’s Bluegrass Brunch brought to you by Station 26 Brewing Co.

Brewery Snapshot: Iron Mule Brewery

After purchasing Castle Rock Beer Co. over the summer, Iron Mule Brewery held their grand re-opening in late October with a completely redesigned beer menu and totally new taproom vibe. The tap list now features a wider range of styles and the taproom has a completely different energy, both of which encourage checking out Iron Mule if you find yourself in Castle Rock.

20181215_150357_HDRBEER LINEUP: While still a bit limited at six beers, the tap list covers far more territory than the British-style brews of the previous owner. It sounded like beers rotate on and off fairly quickly so it’s hard to make a full assessment of what you’ll encounter at any given time. However between what was on tap and what the owner said they had brewing it appears that Iron Mule will usually have a decent variety of brews: a light, some IPAs, and a dark at least.

ATMOSPHERE: On a Saturday afternoon the small, round taproom was packed and energetic with a diverse crowd including older couples, young families, groups of friends and several dogs. A display of several live birds of prey from a local raptor non-profit rounded out the mix. For food, Iron Mule has some pre-packaged snacks but also hosts frequent food trucks. It appears that the outdoor space is still in flux but perhaps by the time warmer weather arrives this will be fully sorted out.

SERVICE: The bar-only service was enthusiastic and friendly, 20181215_163953_HDR.jpgwith the owner joking with patrons as he poured beer while the brewer roamed the taproom and chatted. Both seemed excited to talk about their beers, the changes that have come with the new brewery, and upcoming plans.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Just a block off Wilcox Street in Castle Rock, Iron Mule provides a pleasant diversion while strolling downtown and visiting restaurants, stores, or one of the many festivals Castle Rock hosts. You could easily double your brewery experience by walking one block to Wild Blue Yonder on Wilcox. There’s also easy highway access for a five-minute detour if you’re heading either direction on I-25. Clearly, Castle Rock is 20181215_151552_HDR.jpga driving destination for most people and fortunately the surrounding area has plenty of free parking.

STANDOUT BEER: The Ears to You Champagne beer stood out as a truly unique beer.  The light-golden, slightly-hazy beer hides a surprisingly full body with lots of biscuit and malt. The beer also exhibits a dry crispness, likely from Belgian and/or Champagne yeast. The overall experience is an interesting contrast to typical craft beers.

Beer of The Month: Scottish Ale

While traditional style guidelines allow for a wide range of ABV, many Scottish ales that you’ll find in craft breweries come in at the higher end of that spectrum so it seems appropriate to feature this warming winter beer in January.Copper-Kettle-Christmas.jpg

Scottish ales stick to the darker side of the color spectrum, from dark amber to dark brown and similarly have a medium-to-full body with some of the strongest even getting a little syrupy. The common thread running through all Scottish ales is sweetness and caramelization built on a malty base. There is a wide variety available including some very malty examples with a hit of caramel & sweetness and others that taste very caramel-forward. Occasionally these ales will have some peaty-ness or smokiness to 20160721_201225_HDR.jpgthem due to smoked malts, and especially with higher-alcohol varieties you’ll find dark-fruit esters (think raisins or plums) but the one characteristic you definitely won’t find is hoppiness.

From a historical perspective, Scottish ales were traditionally fermented for longer periods at relatively low temperatures given the climactic limitations of the area. Likewise, the significant maltiness and minimal presence of hops reflects the reality that Scotland is great for growing grains, not so much for hops. The beers are frequently listed with a “shilling” designation (70/80/90) with the highest-gravity versions titled “wee heavy”. Without going into a massive history lesson, suffice it to say that increasing shilling values reflected higher alcohol percentages and thus higher prices.

A couple of local examples that you can find easily are Bristol Brewing Company’s Laughing Lab and Odell Brewing’s 90 Shilling Ale.