Brewery Snapshot: Dead Hippie Brewing

As most regular readers have figured out, I’m a huge promoter of local craft breweries and always try to give positive reasons to try a particular brewery, even if it’s not my favorite. However, a recent visit to Dead Hippie Brewing left me challenged for reasons to recommend it, particularly in light of the half-dozen or more breweries within a 10-minute drive. The highlight for our entire party was the funky, psychedelic taproom with interesting artwork, jam band artifacts and games – not so much the beer.

BEER LINEUP: The tap list covers a lot of ground, from a blonde through several IPA’s, a few Belgians, and couple of dark beers including a stout.  On the surface it sounds like a winning combination, however as our party worked through several sets of tasters we found that almost every beer seemed to be off to some degree from the style noted. Only a few were unpleasant but the descriptor that came up most frequently for the rest was “meh”.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom epitomizes the brewery’s name, with lots of hippie throwback artwork, Deadhead memorabilia and even pinball machines. The taproom and brewery share the same big and airy space. During our visit they had a jam band (big surprise there) but the mixed crowd of younger and older patrons plus a few families seemed to contain few actual hippies. The vibe was chill and relaxed. Dead Hippie serves snacks but has no kitchen and on our visit there was no food truck.

SERVICE: As one might expect, the service was dead-hippie-bar.jpgrelaxed and casual but friendly. The servers seemed obsessed with clearing empty glasses, but a bit more laid back about actually pouring fresh beers.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Dead Hippie is visible from South Santa Fe Drive but only accessible by driving through the big box hell on the corner of Santa Fe and Hampden Avenue. As a point of reference it’s hidden behind a Michaels. I suppose it could be convenient if you wanted to combine beer with some errands, and Boggy Draw Brewery shares the same retail/light industrial complex if drunk shopping is on your mind. Parking seemed decent and there are several restaurants in the area. The brewery is also close to the South Platte River bike trail so biking could be an option, but public transit seems inconvenient.

STANDOUT BEER: The Smoothed Out Stout is a dry Irish dead-hippie-flight.jpgstout on nitro and on the chilly evening it seemed like a comforting option. The dark color and medium mouthfeel give way to a heavily-roasted malt flavor with noticeable chocolate notes. The nitro kept carbonation low and smoothed the feel on the palate.

Weekend Beer Update

Happy Easter weekend! It seems that spring is ever-so-slowly working its way across the Front Range and we’re getting those occasional patio-drinking opportunities. Many breweries are starting their summer fests, with a disproportionate number of crawfish boils coming in the coming weeks so if that’s your thing stay tuned. With the holiday this weekend, a number of breweries are offering family-friendly Easter egg hunts with something for the grownups as well, along with some special releases tied to sweets. 

Friday 19: Head to Highlands Ranch after work lone-tree-sign.jpgfor Lone Tree Brewing Co.’s Crawfish Boil.  Mile High Cajun will serve up crawfish from 4 – 8:30 p.m. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Saturday 20: Start the sugar-filled Easter weekend with a Stroopwaffel pairing at River North Brewery. Good Sugar Baking will create four Easter-themed versions of caramel-filled Stroopwaffels, which will each be paired with a River North beer taster.

Saturday 20: With fun for everyone,  Halfpenny Brewing Company puts on their annual Easter Egg Hunt at 11:30 a.m. Some eggs will have treats for the kids, others will make the adults happy with prizes like beer coins and growler certificates.

Saturday 20: Up north, Kokopelli Beer Company hosts a family-friendly Pancake Breakfast with a coloring contest, pictures with a fire truck, kid-oriented egg hunt and a visit from the Easter Bunny from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For some adult fun, Kokopelli will have Cadbury Milk Stout on nitro and a new beer release as well.kokopelli-taproom.jpg

Saturday 20: If you’ve had enough of rabbits and eggs, hop down to Freshcraft for their Secret Stash Tapping of beers that they’d hidden away for the Craft Brewers Conference last week and are now happy to share with the rest of us. They’ll have at least fifteen beers, all from out of state craft breweries.

Sunday 21: Finish out your weekend with some music and fun at Seedstock Brewery’s Bluegrass Jam from 4-6 p.m. Bring your own instrument to jam out, or just enjoy the show with a brew.

Weekend Beer Update

The Craft Brewers Conference took up lots of people’s 20190411_112941_hdr.jpgattention and maybe wrecked a few livers this week but there are still several fun things going on this weekend, from festivals to live music and more. Since I spent most of the week at the CBC this list will be a bit shorter than normal  . . .

Saturday 13: Keep CBC week rolling with more festivities at the Barrel Aged Beer and Whiskey Festival in RINO. The name pretty much says it all – sample all the tasty goodness of stuff that’s spent time in barrels.  Note: This is a ticketed event.

Saturday 13: Kick back with some great blues music from the Dry Creek Duo as Halfpenny Brewing Company hosts Blues & Brews Night from 6-9 p.m.

20170729_132834_HDRSunday 14: Mardi Gras may be long past but that’s not stopping Living the Dream Brewing Company from holding their annual Crawfish Boil. In addition to the tasty crustaceans Living the Dream will have music, beads and of course beers. No need to hurry, as the boil runs from noon to 6 p.m. and you need to reserve your mud bugs in advance. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Sunday 14: The monthly Bluegrass Brunch returns to Station 26 Brewing Co. with a brunch food truck and bluegrass band. The fun runs from noon to 3 p.m.

Craft Brewers Conference

20190408_194358_HDRThe Craft Brewers Conference is in town for their 2019 meeting and hundreds of brewers will be packing the convention center this week for education, networking, and fun. What that means for us Denverites is that loads of local breweries – especially downtown – are hosting after-parties and events. Of course it’s kind of a mixed bag since they’re sure to be fun gatherings if you go, but might also kill any plans you have for a quiet beer. In any event, be warned and maybe try and get in on some of the action. 

Last night’s welcome reception was phenomenal, with numerous Colorado breweries pouring their tastiest beers for attendees, plus a great spread of food, entertainers, and music.

Brewery Snapshot : Blind Faith Brewing

The cottage and beer garden may look the same but the name and beer have changed. With St. Patrick’s moving to a distribution-only model, Blind Faith Brewing has taken over their Littleton brewery and taproom. Owned by the same folks as space-constrained De Steeg Brewing, Blind Faith looks to move beyond De Steeg’s Belgian focus into the full spectrum of brews and also take advantage of the Littleton taproom’s generous size and huge garden area. 

BEER LINEUP: On our visit the brewery was transitioning from St. Patrick’s to Blind Faith’s brews so it’s tough to say what the final tap list will look like. However when we stopped by they offered a dozen or more beers including straight-up traditional styles as well as more experimental beers with fruit, peppers, and some high-gravity offerings. Assuming minimal changes, the menu should have enough diversity to satisfy almost every taste and all the beers we tried were solid.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom opens to the brewery and is divided into a bar, an area with regular tables, a cozy fireplace pit, and a game area with a ping-pong table and other games. The neighborhood and family atmosphere that St Patrick’s fostered continues, with a mix of old and young, singles, couples, kids, and dogs. Most people stopped in for one or two and maybe some to-go beers although the families seemed to be camping out all afternoon. At some points the screaming kids became annoying even in the bar.  For warm weather, Blind Faith also has a huge, shady Blind Faith Fireplacegarden area with picnic tables and outdoor games that overlooks the South Platte River. It seems like they generally have food trucks and Lucille’s restaurant is next door, though the hours don’t overlap much with Blind Faith’s.

SERVICE: At the bar, service was friendly but spotty. On the positive side, the servers were cheerful, informative, and occasionally opinionated about the beers they served. On the negative side, they were easily distracted on a none-too-busy weekend afternoon and we had to call their attention to our empty glasses to get fresh pours.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Located a few blocks outside the quaint downtown core of Littleton, Blind Faith is sort of marooned in the middle of the parking lot it shares with Lucille’s and Dish customer service. While there is no immediate “neighborhood” to speak of, it’s certainly walkable from downtown Littleton and could be a nice stop after strolling the shops. It has a huge parking lot too. The beer garden abuts the South Platte Trail so you could even reward yourself with a beer after a nice walk or ride. I suppose it could accessed via public transit by bus or blind-faith-strawberry-fire-taster.jpga bit of a walk from light rail too.

STANDOUT BEER: Strawberry Fire combines the up-front sweetness of strawberries with a little kick of hot pepper on the backside that quickly fades out. The pepper isn’t overly pronounced so even sensitive palates shouldn’t worry. The clear, light-yellow/straw beer has a light body and few other noticeable flavors besides strawberry and peppers.

Weekend Beer Update

This Friday serves up a double dose of city-wide events with the Rockies home opener and First Friday art walks. Numerous breweries and taprooms in the vicinity of Coors Field are putting out special releases or lining up special brews to help fans celebrate the season opener.  In the evening you can take in the culture of First Friday art walks along Santa Fe, Tennyson Street or RINO, stopping at numerous breweries in each of those neighborhoods. As far as specific weekend events . . .

seedstock brewery photo credit scott grossmanFriday 5 – Saturday 6: Just west of downtown, Seedstock Brewery turns the corner on another year with their third anniversary party. They’ll have beer releases, food trucks, and live music both days. Friday also has a bonus comedy show at 6 p.m..

Friday 5: Try out some of the great Belgian Beers imported by Sheldon Brothers at the Shelton Brothers showcase in the Pour Tap House in Commerce City from 6 – 9 p.m.

Saturday 6:  Get up early and lace up your running shoes for WestFax Brewing Company’s 5k Brewery Run starting at 11 a.m.! The race runs 20181222_212153_HDR[1]through the 40 West Arts District and ends back at the brewery. Naturally your ticket includes a free beer. Note: This is a ticketed event. 

Saturday 6: Be one of the first to try out Lost Friend Brewing Company at their Grand Opening. The Colorado Springs brewery looks set to have nine diverse beers on tap, plus a couple of special tappings throughout the day as well as a food truck.

Sunday 7: For something entirely different and a bit educational, head to Purpose Brewing and Cellars in Ft. Collins for a talk and demonstration by Russ Karasch, a visiting cooper from Squarrel Square Barrels. The event starts at 3 p.m. and although it’s free, please visit the website to sign up to help them plan for the event.

 

Beer of the Month: American Amber Ale

April’s beer is an easy-drinking beer that’s probably familiar to most people and a go-to beer for many. A relative to the well-known pale ales, American Amber Ale has a darker color, fuller body, and a greater malt influence.goat-patch-beer-3.jpg

At the first appearance, ambers will be clear and amber (no surprise there) to copper in color. Most ambers will have a light-to-medium body with medium head, and typically a noticeable, but not excessive, hop aroma.

As far as flavors go, roasted malt/caramel characteristics will predominate but still leave room for detectable hop bitterness that provides a pleasant balance. You’ll find no flavor extremes here. With an ABV that generally falls into the medium/low range, these balanced beers go down easily and are relatively sessionable.

Along the Front Range, most beer-drinkers know Odell’s 90 Shilling and New Belgium’s Fat Tire, which both provide good examples of the style.

 

 

Weekend Beer Update

This weekend is rather slow as far as organized events, though perhaps it’s the calm before the storm, as April looks big. Of course there’s never a bad time to check out your local craft brewery, though the weather’s not looking cooperative for patio afternoons. Maybe that’s a sign to fill a growler and curl up at home with a movie. 

Saturday 30: In north Denver Oasis Brewery celebrates a year of serving beer with their anniversary party featuring food, live music and of course a20190328_091752_hdr.jpg special tapping.

Saturday 30: Down in DTC Two Penguins Tap & Grill will hold their Hop Wars from 3 – 6 p.m. featuring the Imperial IPA Double Smackdown with beers from six local craft breweries. Get a flight and blind-taste all six, then vote for your favorites. Your vote puts you in the running for prizes, and for extra credit you can try to guess which beer came from which brewery.

Saturday 30: If you’re looking for some cheap (free, really) entertainment, Westfax Brewing Company is holding their free monthly comedy show starting at 8 p.m. Get their early for a seat and enjoy some Westfax beers and the food truck.

Sunday 31: Start your day at 10 a.m. sharp in RINO with Ratio Beerworks’ Cool Beans, Beer & Coffee Festival. Your ticket gets you three different coffees to taste, six beers brewed with coffee and tea, breakfast tacos and doughnuts, and bloody beers. As a bonus you can even keep the commemorative coffee mug. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Sunday 31: Head up to Fort Collins for Odell Brewing Company’s 90 Shilling Day. Centered around all things 90 Shilling, the day will offer up beer discounts, merch, giveaways and live music.

Chain Reaction TaproomSunday 31: Hit up Chain Reaction Brewing Company for some laughs starting at noon, with comedian Jon Ham putting on his 100th show of The One And Only Jon Ham. The day of fun will include a special beer release paired with Good Sugar Baking cookies, music, artists, and screen printing.

 

Brewery Snapshot: Old 121 Brewhouse

Taking over the former Caution space in Lakewood, Old 121 Brewhouse held their grand opening this past Sunday with seven of their own beers, a collaboration and a handful of home-crafted sodas. Short-version, Old 121 is your standard suburban brewery; great if you’re in the neighborhood but not worth crossing town and passing a dozen other craft breweries. The taproom is little-changed from Caution and stayed full all afternoon and evening, with crowds spilling onto the patio.  Given that many breweries take a few months to really hit their groove I’ll definitely look to re-visit and reassess in six months or so.

BEER LINEUP: The seven-beer taplist mostly stuck to the light/medium styles and seemed pretty typical for opening-day; stuff that could be done quickly and with less margin for error. Everything I tried was pleasant and I’m sure like most breweries, time and experience will let Old 121 experiment and expand their offerings.

ATMOSPHERE: Opening Day is atypical for any brewery, and Old 121 certainly had a big opening day. The taproom was packed and the energetic crowd spilled out onto the patio. It seemed like a younger, neighborhood crowd with some families included. There was a lot of turnover with people dropping in to check it out and then moving on. The taproom itself retains the charmlessness of Caution and doesn’t try to hide that it’s a plain-vanilla slot in a suburban strip mall. Decoration is non-existent and furniture is bar-101; hard-surfaced bar stools along with basic tables and chairs. There are several food business in the nearby strip malls including a wing place and a pizza joint that provide food for eating in the brewery.Old 121 Taps

SERVICE: Old 121 seemed to have smartly staffed up for Opening Day and the servers were busy but still relatively efficient and very attentive.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Located in a strip mall near Wadsworth Boulevard and Jewell Avenue, the area around Old 121 is exactly what you would expect. The neighborhood contains the standard strip malls with the usual mix of chain and local businesses, surrounded by mostly single-family housing. Unless you live closeby, there’s not much to draw you to the area except, perhaps, Old 121. Most people will find Old 121 a driving destination and happily there is plentiful parking. It can be easily combined with a trip to Landlocked just down Wadsworth.

old-121-lager-mug.jpgSTANDOUT BEER: In all honesty I didn’t find a beer that blew my mind, but given their newness I thought that the Lager turned out pretty well. The light-yellow, slightly-cloudy beer had a thin mouth-feel, as one would expect. The flavor profile was significantly more complex than your average lager, however. I detected alternately a little sweet, a little sour, and a little hoppy. While I wouldn’t necessarily call it balanced as the flavors never seemed to blend, it made for an interesting and easy-drinking brew that will be a great thirst-quencher this summer.

Brewery Snaphot: Cerebral Brewing

One of the numerous breweries sprinkled along East Colfax, Cerebral Brewing isn’t content to just let nature take its course but instead uses a scientific approach to brewing in order to create exactly the beers they envision. Based on the beer lineup, the brewers mainly have visions of IPAs and other hoppy creations while they dream, which are served up in a hipster-friendly taproom with a large patio.

BEER LINEUP: Most of what’s on tap tilts toward hoppy including lots of IPAs and hoppy versions of other beer styles. You will also usually find a sour or brett, along with one or two darker/high-gravity offerings. Cerebral offers a large can and bomber selection that branches out a little further into darker styles, collaborations, and other exotic creations.

ATMOSPHERE: Even though it’s in an older building the taproom has a relatively modern feel to it and contains a number of long communal tables with built-in display boxes for various  beer ingredients, along with a small bar and a few other individual tables. The taproom opens to the brewery to display the brewing equipment and barrels, and there’s a generous patio out front.  On a Friday evening the taproom was high-energy and loud, but I’ve also visited on weekend afternoons that have a much more lazy and relaxed feel. The place was somewhat of a hipster haven and seems to have a relatively upscale, younger neighborhood crowd.20190308_192833_HDR

SERVICE: We received rather hit or miss service, likely because we visited on a busy Friday night. The bartenders were hustling and reasonably friendly, but with everyone packed in around the small bar there was a certain level of disorganization and getting a beer could take a while.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Near East Colfax and Monroe Street, Cerebral shares the area with a whole host of restaurants, bars, shops, tattoo parlors, and other interesting businesses. The Bluebird Theater is just a block away, which can make parking a bit of a challenge particularly on concert nights. Be careful, as much of the street parking is permitted although Cerebral does have a small lot. Given the Colfax location, public transit or ride-sharing are both viable options.20190308_194342_HDR

STANDOUT BEER: International Waters Pils. This light-yellow, light-bodied beer offers up everything that’s good about pilsners: crisp, hoppy, refreshing. While not overly complex, International Waters makes for a pleasant, easy-drinking beer that can also be somewhat of a palate-cleanser between some of Cerebral’s hoppier creations.