Fiction Beer Company lists Logic Is Relative as a New England IPA, which differs from the more typical West Coast IPAs with lower floral characteristics and less bitterness. It still contains the hops bitterness one expects from an IPA – just a little more balanced and nuanced. The aroma offers a hint of citrus, which carries forward to the taste. The citrus flavor leans toward the sweeter side – think of oranges rather than grapefruit – without being actually sweet. Logic Is Relative has the typical body and color of an IPA, but with significant haziness. I found this beer to be a refreshing pause between super-hopped IPAs, and it would also likely work as a transition beer between very hoppy IPAs and other beers, or vice versa.
I’ll start off by saying that the taproom description of Comrade Brewing Co.‘s The Spector is rather misleading. They call it a Belgian-style wit ale, but other than perhaps some Belgian yeast there’s not much wit-iness going on; no coriander, orange peel, or cloudiness. However once you get past the words and into the beer things get good fast. The beer has a light body and a color that looks darker than a wit, with some copper and honey tones. The honey theme flows into the flavor, with virtually non-existant hops – just a slight bittering perhaps. Overall it seemed most like a honey wheat beer given the color, body, and flavoring, so if those types of beers appeal to you I’d highly encourage you to get a sample.
Everything about Left Hand Brewing Company’s Fade to Black says Big Beer. A quick look and swirl shows you the thick body and dark color of the beer. That’s followed by the nose, which is deliciously smoky like smoked cheddar with notes of espresso and chocolate. The first taste starts with the same wonderful smokiness, which is soon complemented by dark malt and light raisin flavors, and subtly accompanied by high-alcohol warmth throughout. Finally, the aftertaste of smokiness and roasty malt lingers long after the sample. In my opinion this is the perfect sipping beer to warm up with on a frigid winter evening while watching the snow fall. Hands-down this is the most excited I’ve been about a beer in quite a while, and I don’t attribute that just to the 8%+ ABV, as I made sure to make my tasting notes during the first few sips.
New Image Brewing Co. in Old Town Arvada seems to favor sours and Bretts on their limited house-brewed taplist, but since those are not really my thing I went with the Olde Town Regular. Olde Town Regular is tough to categorize but relatively straightforward to describe. At first it tastes like a Pils both in body and in the slightly bitter, German-hops flavor. However it ends with a bit of floral hops (just a little). The very light yellow color and slight cloudiness make it look more like a shandy or radler than a traditional clear yellow pils. New Image lists it as a German-style lager hybrid, which I guess pretty much captures the challenge of categorizing it, but shouldn’t scare anyway away from trying it. It’s a solid, light beer that’s easy to drink and probably refreshing on a hot day. Note: Even if this beer doesn’t sound appealing or you’re not into sours, New Image offers a full bar and decent list of other beers on tap and in bottles.
Fitting for the season, Declaration Brewing Co.‘s Brewtonium Brown will keep you warm with all the dark-malt flavors you’d expect in a brown, along with with some unexpected bittering-hops notes. As the beer warmed, a little bit of floral hops even started to sneak in. The big picture is a balanced, medium-bodied beer that isn’t as heavy and filling as many traditional browns (translation: you can drink a few of these!) even though the initial glimpse of its dark brown color might make you think otherwise.
On a recent visit to the Stapleton Tap House the bartender recommended the Little Machine Sully Irish Red as a good medium-bodied beer and upon delivery it came across as a solidly-crafted brew. Stapleton Tap serves the Sully on nitro, giving it and exceptionally smooth and creamy body, with light malt and caramel flavors. Aside from these the beer contains no strong flavors or hoppiness, which makes it pleasant and quite sessionable, if unchallenging. Adding to the sessionability is the low (5%) alchohol content
Depending on where you live, Two22 Brew is a bit of a ride, located deep in SE Aurora, but usually good for an adventurous/experimental beer or two. However on my most recent visit I steered away from experimental and tried the Reformation Scottish Ale which I wouldn’t call particularly adventurous, or even that typical of a Scottish. The beer showed the typical reddish-carmel color and had a Scottish-level ABV but lacked the sweeter malty and carmel flavors that I’m accustomed to in Scottish ales. What did come through loud & clear were the dark-roast malt flavors and an unusual bitterness, almost like an English-style mild or bitter. Overall I’d call the beer pleasant but lacking in the “Scottish” part of the ale
Those willing to venture to Parker for a visit to Barnett and Son Brewing will find a relaxed taproom with very friendly staff, along with what I would call “comfort beers”. The tap list contains almost exclusively standard styles with no extreme variations within style or unsual flavor combinations. The ones I sampled stayed true to style – comfortable & accessible with no suprises. In other words no triple-hopped IPA, or chocolate mint stout. I found the Irish Red to be the most comfortable of the bunch – medium-heavy body, light malt, light hops, and a good balance between them. Definitely nothing adventurous but a good beer to settle back with on a crisp fall evening.
In time for Thanksgiving, Halfpenny Brewing Company has released a Cranberry Wheat. Its solid underlying wheat-beer structure supports a very forward tart taste. The beer primarily captures the tart part of the berries, leaving only a faint fruit/berry flavor. In a blind taste test I might guess it as a sour with a slight bitter edge to it. In appearance, the Cranberry Wheat looks like a dark wheat beer, with the common wheat beer cloudiness. It’s definitely an interesting beer and certainly worth a try if you like sours or fruit beers, and even worth getting a small pour if you just want to shake things up.
One of my go-to beers and all-around cold-weather favorite is Dry Dock Brewing’s Vanilla Porter. In my opinion it has the perfect balance of vanilla and roasted malt and perhaps that simplicity is why it’s a favorite of mine. I suspect that if it was a porter alone it would still be outstanding, with a medium-dark malt, chocolaty flavors, and medium body. Adding the slight sweetness of vanilla – enough to notice but not overpowering – offers a good balance and kicks up the interest level. Nothing super-complex – just an easy-drinking beer on a chilly fall day. And unlike some Beers of the Week it’s easy to find along the Front Range in cans, on tap, or at one of the two Dry Dock taprooms