Brewery Snapshot: Twisted Pine Brewing Co.

As one of the older breweries in the metro area at almost 25, Twisted Pine Brewing Co. brings a wealth of award-winning experience to their large tap list. The comfortable and relaxed taproom also serves up great food in addition to their wide variety of tasty beers.

BEER LINEUP: Twisted Pine’s extensive tap list covers the spectrum from light to dark standards and then mixes things up with fruit beers, barrel-aged offerings, various hop additions, and of course their famous chili beers. The taproom wall displays the numerous major awards they have collected over the years and that pedigree comes through clearly in the beers.20181214_130804_HDR.jpg

ATMOSPHERE: As one might expect from the name, the large taproom has lots of wood and a ski lodge feel. On weekends it gets a little more hectic but on weekdays it has a great kick-back-and-chill feel. In the warmer months the front patio adds extra hang-out space. Unlike many Denver-area breweries Twisted Pine has a full kitchen and everyone in our party thoroughly enjoyed their food.

SERVICE: Predictably for Boulder, the service is very relaxed in a sort of stoned snowboarder sort of way. It might take an occasional reminder to get someone to 20181214_122312_HDRbring your beer, but the friendliness and warmth of the servers somehow makes that easy to overlook.

NEIGHBORHOOD: The immediate area around Twisted Pine has the characteristics of many brewery neighborhoods – industrial parks and little else except great parking. However a couple blocks west you’ll find various big-box stores and restaurants. In sum, I wouldn’t call it much of a walkable area and I’d classify Twisted Pine as primarily a destination brewery.

STANDOUT BEER(S): Though not for everyone, Billy’s Chilies and it’s hotter companion Ghost Face Killah rock my world. Both beers start with the same light-colored, light-bodied wheat base and Billy’s adds five different peppers for a medium level of heat that allows you to taste the complexity that each pepper brings to the beer. Ghost Face gets the addition of one more – the ghost pepper – which gives it a blazing level of heat that somewhat obscures the subtlety of the other peppers but will warm you up and get you sweating just a bit even on a cold winter day. Handle with care!

Brewery Snapshot: Upslope Brewing Company

While I’ve had several of Upslope Brewing Company’s widely-distributed brews, heading up to their Flatiron Park taproom in Boulder offered a whole new perspective. The smallish space in an industrial park serves up a much more expansive and creative menu of beers than I would ever have expected based on what’s available in bars and liquor stores.

20181214_132257_HDR.jpgBEER LINEUP: As a well-established brewery, Upslope’s tap list covers all bases: light, hoppy, malty, sour, special & seasonal, etc. Based on my limited experience just with what’ scanned and kegged I was blown away by the variety, creativity, and range of the the tap list. Upslope definitely has something for everyone.

ATMOSPHERE: On a Friday afternoon the taproom had a relaxed atmosphere of people playing hooky from work or just chilling out before weekend fun. The smallish taproom fits the bill for brewery design: steel, concrete, wood, a view of the brewing operations. They also have a patio for warm-weather fun, and both the patio and taproom have great foothills views. Although Upslope doesn’t serve food, they frequently host food trucks.

SERVICE: The bar-only service was efficient and the servers seemed relatively knowledgeable about the beers. 20181214_132737_HDR.jpg

NEIGHBORHOOD: The Flatiron Park location resides in standard brewery territory – namely an industrial park that requires a bit of a drive. There’s little else in the neighborhood as a draw, but if you go you’ll find ample parking20181214_142309_HDR.jpg. Alternately, it’s right off the Boulder Creek Trail for bikers.

STANDOUT BEER: The 2017 Christmas Ale comes on with dark color and a thick body as one would expect, and the subtle spice with significant malt character makes for a satisfying holiday experience.

Weekend Beer Update

Hopefully by now everyone has recovered from their Great American Beer Festival hangover and perhaps found a new favorite brewery or beer at the Fest. Life goes on, and this weekend offers up a number of fall-themed brewery events including several Oktoberfests across the metro area.

Friday 28 – Sunday 30: Munich comes to Boulder at Avery Brewing Co.’s Oktoberfest, with a special beer menu and free Kaiser for anyone in a traditional German outfit.reichstag-entrance.jpg

Friday 28 – Sunday 30: If RINO is more your scene, Black Shirt Brewing Co. celebrates their sixth anniversary all weekend with special releases (actually starting Wednesday), creative beer slushies and cocktails, Beer, Bacon and Bluegrass on Saturday, and brunch on Sunday.

Saturday 29: Oktoberfest makes a stop at Seedstock Brewery from 5-11 p.m. with a special Hell tapping, plenty of Oktoberfest beer, polka music, contests and free mugs for those in traditional German attire. A meat-heavy food20170808_182550_HDR truck rounds out the Germanic picture.

Saturday 29: Join Brewability Lab in celebrating their second anniversary with music, a mobile cigar lounge, a yoga bus and a pop-up shop.

Saturday 29: Load up on numerous can and bottle releases at Fiction Beer Company’s fourth anniversary party. In addition to the takeaway options,  enjoy special tappings, live music and limited-edition glassware on their special day.

Saturday 29: Howdy Fest Rides into Lafayette with music, food, and a special release briar-common-sign.jpgfrom The Post Brewing Co. along with pours from a number of other area breweries.

Sunday 30: Enjoy a preview of Briar Common Brewery’s upcoming anniversary beers at their five-course beer-pairing dinner. The first seating starts at 4:30 p.m. but if demand calls for it they will add a later seating. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Brewery Snapshot: Bootstrap Brewing Company

Located in sleepy Niwot, Bootstrap Brewing Company embraces the friendly and slow-paced small-town feel. With a fittingly rustic taproom and a large patio with a grass game area this  brewery seems designed for families and locals stopping in for a pint and friendly chat.  The taplist is sufficiently broad to offer at least one option for any beer drinker and the bartender wasn’t shy about playing mix & match to create even more tasty concoctions.

BEER LINEUP: Bootstrap serves up a moderate number and variety of beers, consisting solely of light-to-medium beers. All the beers I sampled were good, but dark beer lovers be warned that the darkest on the menu was a red. The menu contained mostly traditional styles with a few experimentals like pineapple and chili. In all fairness I believe they rotate in a couple of darker styles seasonally.20180729_144122_HDR

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom echoed the feeling of the small town of Niwot, with friendly regulars hanging out and chatting with each other, the bartender, and newcomers like us to create a truly welcoming feel. The wood and metal taproom can get cramped during busy times but creates a cozy feel even when not full. Additionally, Bootstrap has a large patio for games and families.

20180729_144234_HDRSERVICE: The bartender was super-friendly and helpful in making beer recommendations and suggestions including a special combination of two beers (see below).

NEIGHBORHOOD: You definitely feel small-town Colorado in Niwot and the relaxed pace encompasses both the old-fashioned downtown and the brewery. Everything is nearby so you can easily stroll around and grab food or do some shopping combined with a Bootstrap visit. Needless to say, parking is plentiful and free.

STANDOUT BEER: Per the bartender’s suggestion, I tried a half & 20180729_144945_HDRhalf of Backfire Chili and Chillax Pineapple Gold. Both beers were awesome in their own right, with the Backfire bringing on intense heat and Chillax serving up light pineapple sweetness blended perfectly into the base beer without off-flavors or weirdness that I’ve found with most pineapple beers. Together they make something truly amazing. Each sip starts sweet and gives almost the full pineapple flavor and then after a few seconds the pepper catches up for a spicy finish without being as intense as straight Backfire. It may be the best beer mix I’ve ever had.


Weekend Beer Update

I’m going a little light this week, partly because I’m simply feelingCrate Brewery Beer -Brick Lane London lazy and partly because it’s Labor Day – there’s already plenty to do!

Monday 3: The Rocky Mountain Beer Fest Tour, second stop, comes to Boulder. The first stop was Louisville earlier in the summer and now it’s Boulders turn for beer sampling from over 20 breweries, music, and lawn games. Notes: This is a ticketed event. This coincides with the Boulder Creek Hometown Festival.

Brewery Snapshot: Finkel & Garf Craft Beer

In addition to an unusual name crafted out of the last name of the father & son owners, Finkel & Garf Craft Beer also stands out with their attractively-designed taproom and outdoor space that offer plenty of reasons to stick around for just one more pour. Located just a few minutes from downtown Boulder they seem to attract an energetic crowd with a reasonably-diverse set of beers.

BEER LINEUP: The taplist should offer something to satisfy about every palate, from a light Cream Ale to a dark Stout with some hop-heavy options along with various seasonal beers. Finkel & Garf does not appear to focus on any specific 20180729_163326_hdr.jpgstyle.

ATMOSPHERE: Finkel & Garf has created one of the more unique taprooms I’ve visited. All of the decorations and displays seem heavily curated and the industrial-style taproom really pops when you walk in. Combine that with numerous outdoor games on the large fake-grassy patio, active indoor games and traditional board games and the taproom draws young professionals and families that make for an active and fun atmosphere. They sell snacks and food trucks seem to be a fixture as well.

SERVICE: The lone employee working the taproom seemed rather indifferent to the task of serving customers, sometimes focusing on the patrons and other times on her tablet. While functional, the service certainly did not stand out.


NEIGHBORHOOD: The taproom sits where industrial parks and strip malls give way to residential neighborhoods so it’s relatively quiet and easy to access, with great parking. While there are eateries in the general vicinity, walkability will depend on your level of ambition and sobriety. On a side note both Asher and Avery are just a few minutes away.

STANDOUT BEER: Rye Saison. This beer captured all the spicy and bready goodness of the saison style and accentuated it with even more spice complexity and subtle hints of rye. The dark color and noticeable maltiness were a bit unexpected but neither detracted from the overall enjoyment of the medium-bodied beer. As an honorable mention the barrel-aged Bourbon Stout served up a smooth and syrupy experience where the bourbon blended seamlessly with the dark stout flavors. The balance was great and despite the high ABV there were no overpowering hot-alcohol or liquor flavors.

Brewery Snapshot: Gunbarrel Brewing Company

Driving through the farms and fields on the approach to Gunbarrel Brewing Company it seems impossible that you will find anything remotely resembling a brewery, but if you look carefully for an industrial park on the west side of 71st Avenue you’ll get your reward. The day we visited, the cavernous taproom felt very empty and low-energy but the patio was pleasant-enough and the extensive beer list of all styles, combined with great service, encouraged us to linger for just one more.

BEER LINEUP: For a small brewery, Gunbarrel delivers a huge taplist of about 20 beers that cover the spectrum from wheat to stout with a lot of pleasant surprises in between including a saison, several fruit beers, a gose, some IPAs. They also offer several barrel-aged options.20180729_135304_hdr.jpg

ATMOSPHERE: We visited mid-day on a Sunday, which arguably is not the busiest time for any brewery, so we were the only patrons for a while. As such, it’s hard to guess at the normal energy of the place, but for us the huge building was very quiet. The large industrial-looking front room gives way to a gameroom on the back with pinball and pool, and there’s a huge bar for easy access during busy periods. Additionally, they offer a shady patio and seem to have regular food trucks. Naturally everything seemed very laid-back on our visit.

SERVICE: Despite the emptiness of the place, Gunbarrel had several servers working, which probably contributed to the excellent service we received. They were attentive, 20180729_142040_HDRfriendly, and knowledgeable about their beers.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Really none to speak of. Situated in an industrial park surrounded by farms, Gunbarrel appears to be the only retail-oriented business for miles and thus is definitely a destination. The remote location comes with the 20180729_135800_HDRbenefit of ample parking, and the LOBO trail lies about 1/4 mile to the south and offers bikers convenient access.

STANDOUT BEER: Memberberry is a New England IPA heavily infused with berries. The cloudy, reddish-copper color provides a tipoff that this is more than your normal NEIPA, and the berry sweetness provides an interesting contrast to the hoppiness. Raspberry and blueberry predominate. Overall, the light body and fruitiness make for a refreshing summer sip.