The Twelve Days of Christmas

Or as Copper Kettle Brewing Company calls them, the Twelve Firkins of Christmas . . .

Forget about silly lords-a-leaping or turtle doves – this’ll get you in the Christmas spirit! Image result for christmas art public domainToday through Christmas Eve Copper Kettle continues their longstanding practice of releasing a firkin a day to count down to the holiday. It’s one of my favorite holiday traditions and the menu looks to give everyone at least one beer to be thankful for this season!

  • 12/13 Black Berliner Weisse w/ Blackberries
  • 12/14 Gingerbread Latte
  • 12/15 Bourbon Barrel Aurora Strong
  • 12/16 Key Lime Wit
  • 12/17 Imperial Smoked Porter
  • 12/18 Passionfruit Charlie’s Golden Strong 
  • 12/19 Eggnog Stout
  • 12/20 Mocha IPA
  • 12/21 Imperial Cafe Con Leche
  • 12/22 Basil Cherry Blond
  • 12/23 Golden Stout (Imperial Cream Ale with Chocolate and Lactose)
  • 12/24 Christmas Spice Strong Ale

Brewery Snapshot: Dry Dock Brewing South Dock

As one of the more established and medal-winning craft brewers in Denver, Dry Dock Brewing just celebrated their 12th anniversary and while you can find a few of their staple beers in bars and liquor stores throughout Denver, their taproom has a wealth of additional beers. The original South Dock is attached to the Brew Hut, which offers a wealth of home-brewing & winemaking supplies and advice.

BEER LINEUP: As Dry Dock has grown, their beer lineup has matured and today provides something for everyone, from traditional light styles to dark, plus specialty beers like sours, seasonals, and fruit beers including their famous Apricot Blonde

ATMOSPHERE: Over the years Dry Dock has expanded their taproom multiple times from a Brew Hut closet and their mountain-lodge-style taproom generally buzzes with activity. The feeling is comfortable and friendly, with guests hanging out chatting, playing games, and making new friends at the bench-style tables. The only critique is that it can get a bit loud inside, although they also offer a reasonable patio in front of the taproom.

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Medal Scroll of Fame

SERVICE: Always great. The staff seems like they are having fun and the feeling rubs off on the whole environment. They’re always very engaging and informative regarding the beer selection and quick to offer suggestions and opinions.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Tucked on the far side of Cherry Creek Reservoir, the South Dock can be a hike for those not in Aurora or Southeast Denver, with access from I225 and Parker Road. The surrounding area is typical suburbia with single-family homes and strip malls, and the strip-mall-heavy corner where Dry Dock sits provides lots of parking along with restaurants offering takeout or delivery since Dry Dock has no onsite food.  The neighborhood doesn’t offer many reasons to linger unless you also have a few errands to run.

STANDOUT BEER: Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. While some may find this beer a little gimmicky I thought it hit the spot on a cool fall day with rich roast malt combined with dark chocolate and peanut butter. The beer had the appropriate deep-brown color and thickness that one would expect for this type. Truly a well-balanced cold-weather comfort beer!

Hilly Southeast Ride

This ride packs in a lot of beers and a fair amount of riding, taking you from Glendale to Aurora via Cherry Creek State park using mostly paved trails. There are several big hills and it is exposed so riders need to be in decent shape and keep an eye on the weather.

The ride starts in Glendale at Bull & Bush Brewery , a British-style venue that offers good parking, nice outdoor seating, food, and of course beer! Bull & Bush has been making beer for 20 years and offers a broad range of house-brewed styles along with bottles and drafts from domestic and British brewers. We visited with a large group and the servers were extremely accommodating and efficient, juggling beer and food orders and getting everything right.

From there we crossed the street and headed south on the Cherry Creek Trail til we turned left at Place Bridge Academy, then right onto a trail that aligned us with E Florida Ave and our first big hill of the day. This portion requires the only (brief) street-riding of the day and after crossing Parker Road and turning left on the sidewalk we quickly arrived at Copper Kettle Brewing Co. In comparison with Bull and Bush, Copper Kettle is a stripped-down craft brewery. The taproom and patio are smaller and food comes from takeout or food trucks. However the focus on beer remains and Copper Kettle keeps crowd-pleasers on tap like the light Helles, an IPA or two, and of course their Mexican Chocolate Stout. They also roll out seasonal and experimental beers so you may luck into something adventurous. Continue reading “Hilly Southeast Ride”

Brewery Snapshot: Dry Dock North Disc Golf

While I’ve been to Dry Dock Brewing Co.’s South Dock in Aurora dozens of times over the years, this past weekend I finally made it to the Canoe Room at the North Dock, partly to check out their taproom and partly to try their disc golf course. The taproom side was much less busy and and more laid back than South Dock but the beer selection didn’t seem to be much different, despite what I had previously heard. The disc golf course was fun but a little rough, located on an old industrial site filled with prairie dogs. If you golf, grab a map from the taproom before starting, since some of the hole alignments are hard to decipher. We didn’t fully realize that until we got back to the taproom and realized we missed an entire hole. There are some challenging placements right on the edge of a ditch that runs through the site, but overall the course is on the short side.

BEER LINEUP: From what I could tell the lineup looked much like South Dock, ranging from light Pilsners through the IPA and Amber range up to a couple stouts and their famous Vanilla Porter. Basically they offer something for 20170610_195333_HDRabout every taste, generally solidly-made.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom had a chill, fun vibe going on in with a graduation party happening as well. Aside from the wood-paneled taproom, the Canoe Room has an industrial back room in the production area featuring couches and games like air hockey.  People kept drifting in and out of the different spaces and the brewery so the whole thing seemed a little more like a college party than people trying to make a scene, as in some breweries in town.

SERVICE: Reasonable. We asked for beer; the server delivered. Not much chitchat but after a hot day of disc golf we happily settled for an efficient beer-delivery mechanism.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Kansas, basically. Clearly a production facility vs. retail, the industrial location east of the airport puts function over form. Don’t count on any food or other local businesses to visit. However it is easy to find on Tower Road just south of I70, with clear signage and ample parking. The truly cool thing about the remote location is that it leaves room for the disc golf course, which is a pretty unique amenity for a brewery.

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STANDOUT BEER: Maybe it was disc golfing in 90-degree weather but the Wheat offered a refreshing and satisfying experience. Normally I wouldn’t get too excited about a wheat but this packed more complexity than your stereotypical light-yellow beer. The maltiness on the front provided a  unique surprise for such a light beer, but then some hefeweizen-like banana esters kicked and pulled it back in the wheat direction. The end result was a beer with a lot going on but ultimately a refreshingly balanced and satisfying beverage.

Ursula Anniversary & Pig Roast

If you’re looking for an excuse to get out and drink beer this Saturday June 3, head down to Ursula Brewery in Aurora and help them celebrate their 3rd anniversary starting at 11:00 am.

They’ll have live bands and a pig roast, along with (of course) new beers on tap and a special release. At 11:00 am they plan to release Angel of the Odd, their new sour

Brewery Snapshot: Ursula Brewery

Tucked away among old army buildings, new hospitals, and big apartment blocks, Ursula Brewery serves up creative beers in a friendly taproom. Ursula seems to focus on experimenting with new ingredients and different production methods to create beers that range from slight variations on typical styles like Renata Passionfruit Kolsch to beers that go completely off-reservation like the Crustless Peanut Butter and Jelly Porter. For me these kind of breweries are hit or miss – you may find great beer combos, or you may leave feeling like you are overstuffed with too many flavors.

BEER LINEUP: The lineup covers the full light-to-dark spectrum from Helles to Russian Imperial Stout, but don’t expect to find a straight-up version of your favorite style. From the Brett Saison aged in red wine barrels to the bourbon barrel aged imperial stout most, though not all, styles have a unique twist.

ATMOSPHERE: We visited on a rainy afternoon and Ursula had a chill vibe and a familiar comradery between regulars and the bartender. The taproom looks part industrial, part rustic, with a sprinkle of a music theme which makes for a relaxing place to kick back with a few beers. You can order food from the restaurant across the street and have it delivered.20170527_141525_HDR

SERVICE: The bartender was friendly, fast, engaging, and knowledgeable.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Deep in the Fitzsimmons construction zone, the area doesn’t have much vibe yet other than “work in progress” so a trip to Ursula is pretty much a destination event. The area offers plenty of two-hour parking amidst the new apartment buildings, vacant lots, and huge hospitals.

STANDOUT BEER: Hope Sour Tart Wheat With Guava. Ursula throws a lot at you with some of their beers and this one came off pretty well. The initial grapefruit nose and sourness gets balanced by the sweetness of the guava and results in mid-range tropical sourness, which is a lot friendlier than many sours. Overall I’d call it an accessible and interesting sour that will please a wide range of palates.

Brewery Snapshot: Launch Pad Brewery

With its quirky space-based theme, Launchpad Brewery offers a chill and comfortable vibe with a diverse beer selection including a good representation of higher-gravity Belgians.  Many folks would consider the far-east Aurora location a downside, but for those living in that brewery-deprived area Launchpad must be a blessing. Regardless of your starting point, it’s worth the drive to give Launchpad a try.

BEER LINEUP: Launchpad offers a diverse array of beers, many of which are experimental versions of traditional styles. In general I’ve found them well-executed, and not too “out-there” but I think it pays to sample before you buy. Though well made, beers don’t always taste the way you’d imagine from the descriptions.

ATMOSPHERE: The space-themed taproom displays model rockets, tvs showing launch video, space-themed beer names, and other launch memorabilia. The crowd seemed friendly and mixed – professionals, families, old, young, etc. – as well as more regulars than visitors. The taproom is rather small and fairly standard with rows of stout tables and chairs. It expands a little during warm weather when the small patio opens. Also, look out back for a food truck. We were hungry and puzzled at first but quickly figured out you have to walk through the production facility to get food. The bar is also dog friendly.

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SERVICE: Efficient. Despite the busy evening and crowded bar, the bartenders kept everything moving quickly in a friendly manner.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Buried in a strip mall far out in Aurora, there’s little charm here so unless you are in the neighborhood you’ll need to make this a destination bar. On the positive side, suburbia offers plenty of parking.

STANDOUT BEER: Key Lime Saison. This light and slightly cloudy beer offered a well-balanced combination between sweet, lightly-acidic key lime and farmhouse flavors. The flavors blended well without any unpleasant takeover by one or the other