Craft Beer Summer School

20180729_145939_hdr.jpgIt’s back for 2019! Twelve of Denver’s best breweries will make learning fun with this year’s edition of Craft Beer Summer School. Starting June 6th and running into September, you’ll visit a different craft brewery each week for in-depth education on ingredients, fermentation, adjuncts, international beer styles and more. The program is broken into three different themed tracks for various interests or you can take them all to become a true expert. Finally on September 7th Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project hosts a graduation party. Check out the website for full information on costs, schedule, and the three tracks. Participating breweries are listed below.

  • Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project
  • Spice Trade Brewing
  • Jade Mountain Brewing
  • Alpine Dog20180527_143822_HDR
  • Baere Brewing
  • Woods Boss
  • CO-Brew
  • Bruz Beers
  • Dos Luces
  • Jagged Mountain
  • Bierstadt Lagerhaus
  • Burns Family Artisan Ales

 

 

Happy National Homebrew Day!

Tomorrow is National Homebrew Day! Time to grab some supplies at your local homebrew shop and fire up a boil to make something tasty! Many craft brew supply stores are having special events and demonstrations so even if you’ve never tried it before, tomorrow’s a great day to learn first-hand what goes into making a great homebrew.

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The Brew Hut in Aurora will host one particularly large event: Big Brew Day. They invite current homebrewers to bring their equipment and do a boil from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m, or for anyone with an interest to come, hang out, swap ideas with other homebrewers and  learn from homebrewing demonstrations. As an added bonus they’ll have special sales on brewing equipment and ingredients.

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: 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.

Colorado Pint Day!

20170103_210350_HDRTomorrow is Colorado Pint Day! What does that mean for you and me, you might ask? It means almost 100 breweries serving up pints in commemorative glasses that cost just $1 and help support the Colorado Brewers Guild. Many breweries are also offering beer discounts, special releases, or other events for the day and throughout the week, as March 16 – 23 is Colorado Craft Beer Week. 

Beer of the Month: Stout

20180106_150906_HDRFebruary has become Stout Month thanks to the designation invented by the Mountain Sun family of pubs. Despite the somewhat Hallmark Holiday feel of it, they do make a good point that it’s a great time to drink this hearty winter style.

Stouts actually cover a lot of territory so first let’s talk about commonalities. Stouts are dark-colored, from brown to almost black, with significant roast malt flavors. You’ll find no noticeable hops, sourness or anything in that realm. They are generally low-carbonated, medium-bodied beers but can range up though full-bodied, and the frequent addition of nitrogen can impact their mouth-feel. Regular Stouts usually have low/medium alcohol content, but any time you see “Imperial” be prepared for a high-gravity treat. As a category I think of Stouts as warm, comfort-food beers for the cold dark nights of winter.

Getting into the nitty-gritty on some of the variations, Irish Stouts and Dry Irish Stouts are likely to be  familiar to almost everyone. These beers showcase the chocolate, roast, 20180527_134925_HDRand coffee characteristics of the malt and downplay the sweetness. Alcohol tends to be low. The best-known (though definitely not craft-beery) example is Guinness, which also figures into the origin story of Stouts. Stouts grew out of porters, where stronger porters were designated Stout. Guinness adopted this practice in their Extra Stout Porter but eventually dropped the “porter”, and their wide distribution network helped popularize Stout as a unique style.

English and American Stouts have many similarities to Irish Stouts with the key differences being more sweetness and potentially slightly higher20181205_185334_HDR alcohol. If you see a craft beer listed simply as a “Stout” on the menu, then likely it is one of these. One key note in this category is that brewers like to experiment. Craft breweries have added everything from cherries and plums to vanilla and pumpkin spices. Several have even combined peppers, chocolate and cinnamon for a tasty Mexican chocolate stout.

In addition to adding flavor ingredients, some recipes make more fundamental changes to the beer. Oatmeal Stouts add oats to the mash for a nuttier, bready flavor and a much smoother, fuller body. Milk Stouts add lactose sugar for a sweeter and somewhat smoother beer.

Finally, the royalty: Imperial Stouts. There really is a royal connection, as these were brewed for the Russian Imperial Household back when Russia had that sort of thing. Perhaps the bitterly-cold Russian winters required offsetting warming beverages, because these thick, almost-syrupy, high-alcohol beers will certainly heat you up. These very dark, full-bodied brews intensify the standard Stout flavors of roast, coffee, chocolate and sometimes dried fruit which ideally balance the higher alcohol for a  smooth and complex-but-pleasant quaff.  You may see the terms Russian Imperial or American Imperial but they are very similar, and barrel-aging has become popular as  a way to add even more complexity and alcohol.

 

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.