Weekend Beer Update

Sunday is Cinco de Mayo, which of course means no shortage of Mexican-themed celebrations across the metro area and beyond. Additionally, there are plenty of other fun events from anniversaries to Derby parties and it looks the weather will cooperate for some patio beers, regardless of which craft brewery(ies) you venture out to this weekend.

Friday 3 – Sunday 5: Join Dos Luces Brewery to celebrate the Battle of Puebla all weekend with food, music, and plenty of chicha and pulque beers. The highlight will be the release of Moctezuma III, an imperial pulque, on Saturday. The Battle of Puebla has evolved into our current Cinco de Mayo celebration, which commemorates the victory of Mexican forces over the French in 1862.

Saturday 4: Though it’s a day early, Cerveceria Colorado’s combination Cinco de Mayo celebration and first anniversary party doesn’t skimp on the fun and games. In addition to several special releases, they’ll also have Mexican games, Mexican food trucks, piñata smashing and a photo booth.

Saturday 4: Saturday is also Derby Day and Epic Brewing Company will celebrate the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby with their Never Tell Me the Odds Derby Party. Throw on your best seersucker, prettiest dress, and wackiest hat to watch the Derby, drink Epic’s Mint Sour, and take some pictures in the photo booth.  The best Kentucky Derby attire and/or Star Wars costume photo strip wins free beer.

Saturday 4: Crawfish Boil season continues this weekend at Bruz Beers, where they’ll have crustaceans, sides and live music all day. You can buy tickets in advance to reserve your crawfish or just show up and take your chances.

Saturday 4: CO-Brew combines their four-year anniversary with a Cinco de Mayo party that includes music, a nacho bar and piñatas, along with the much-anticipated employee beer competition returns.

Saturday 4: If you’ve had your fill of Mexican celebrations, take a break at Prost Brewing and their Maibock Release/German Night party. In addition to the Maibock, Prost will have specials on their regular beers accompanied by food and music. German attire is suggested.

Saturday 4: Up north in Berthoud, City Star Brewing celebrates their seventh anniversary with music, food trucks, merch, cupcakes and of course beer releases!

Sunday 5: Celebrating the actual Cinco de Mayo, Lone Tree tanksLone Tree Brewing will hold a salsa and guacamole competition with prizes for your best recipes. They’ll also release a Strawberry Mexican Lager Margarita beer and have a food truck with a taco bar. Contestants need to email the brewery at info@lonetreebrewingco.com ahead of time with their name and type of entry.

Sunday 5: Continuing the Cinco de Mayo theme, Ironton Distillery will hold a Viva Cerveza party with guest taps of craft beers from Mexico.

Brewery Snapshot: Dos Luces Brewery

Born out a lifelong connection to Latin America and the traditional beer styles of Chicha and Pulque, Dos Luces Brewery on South Broadway aims to change the way that people think about beer, according to owner Judd Belstock. The brews are created from corn and maguey (in the agave family), ingredients20190118_174407_hdr.jpg available to indigenous peoples in the Americas, but brewed with modern methods. The result is a much different flavor profile and experience than your standard barley-based beer. Judd and his staff are happy to educate visitors on the history and production of their products, as well as to make the argument that these are just a different style of beer. It seems to me that these styles are pretty much love/hate types of brews, but it’s certainly worth it to stop by and experience them in person.

BEER LINEUP: First off, this is not a traditional brewery. The two flagship beers, chicha and pulque, are made with corn and maguey syrup, respectively, and use spices like cinnamon and clove in place of hops. As a result, their flavors have little in common  with barley-based brews and it’s worth describing them in more detail than usual. Both are served in opaque, eight-ounce ceramic vessels. The chicha is medium-bodied with a slightly sweet and un-complex flavor and a bit of cinnamon. The pulque is, as Belstock describes it “a reverse sour.” The initial taste of the frothy brew is mildly sour, fading off into a light sweetness with numerous spice notes along the way; in general, a very complex beverage. Dos Luces also constantly experiments on these flagships by adding spices, flowers and fruits to create completely different-tasting brews (see below). They serve several guest taps for the less-adventurous and chicha morada, a sweet, non-alcoholic traditional beverage made from blue corn. Note: Some people find the smaller pours a little pricey compared to other breweries.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom feels like the courtyard of a hacienda in Costa Rica, with rich, vibrant paintings, tropical plants and patio-style furniture. The crowd seemed a little older and more subdued than many South Broadway drinking establishments, with a mix of people hanging out to converse over drinks and those who stopped in to get a sampler of the unique beers. Overall the taproom had a more sophisticated vibe of discerning and/or curious drinkers.

SERVICE: On the night I visited there were an abundance of servers (bar service only) who were happy to discuss and educate customers on the unique chichas and pulques on offer.

NEIGHBORHOOD: The brewery is located at the edge of historic South Broadway and offers many options for walking to food, other breweries & bars, and even a little bit of shopping. Arrival by car or public transit is relatively easy, as it is near I25 & Broadway, and you can generally find metered parking within a few blocks. It would be a great inclusion on a brewery crawl.

STANDOUT BEER: The Azteca pulque is the result of one of the continual experiments that Dos Luces undertakes to combine ingredients in unique ways. In this case the inspiration was Mexican hot chocolate and the beer includes three kinds of chocolate plus cayenne peppers. The result is a light, frothy beverage with notes of rich, real chocolate kicked up with a hint of heat from the cayenne. It reminded me very much of some of the best hot chocolate I had in Oaxaca, Mexico. Beer? Perhaps. Tasty? You bet!

 

Brewery Snapshot: Cerveceria Colorado

Although it shares a location, owner and brewer with Denver Beer Co (DBC), Cerveceria Colorado offers a night and day experience in both atmosphere and beer. Cerveceria Colorado grew out of the brewer’s experiences in Mexico where he discovered unique ingredients and found personal connections and collaborations. The colorful and festive taproom serves up a tap list that showcases unusual and flavorful Mexican ingredients in inventive beers.

BEER LINEUP: Don’t expect to find a menu full of plain-Jane Mexican lagers, or really traditional styles of any form. You’ll certainly encounter stouts, lagers and IPA’s but they’ve all been enhanced with unique ingredients like pineapple, horchata, fruits, pepper, and even nopales (cactus leaves). Many of the beers on the adventurous menu result from Cerveceria’s collaboration with Mexican brewers.

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ATMOSPHERE: The taproom provides a strong contrast to typical industrial-style craft beer locations, with vibrant, bright colors and decorations reminiscent of a Mexican fiesta, complete with bowls of candy. Slightly larger and calmer than DBC next door, the taproom offers a nice place to relax and the spacious patio looks like a great warm-weather hangout.

SERVICE: Both servers who helped us were friendly, 20190109_182239_hdrattentive, and chill. They seemed to have a reasonable knowledge of the beers they poured, along with an enthusiasm for sharing the history and inspiration for the brewery.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Sitting directly on Platte Street, the brewery stands in the thick of a lively neighborhood with restaurants, bars and shops in case you want to go for a stroll, grab some food (Cerveceria has no kitchen) or do some buzzed shopping. It’s also within walking distance of downtown, close to the Platte River bike trail and easily accessed off the highway and major roads. Parking is so-so but usually a handful of 2-hour metered spots are open, and there’s a pay lot beside DBC.

20190109_182233_hdr.jpgSTANDOUT BEER: In the past year I’ve noticed a distinct upgrade in pineapple beers served at craft breweries (yeah, hard to imagine til you try one) and Cerveceria’s offering is no exception. The slightly-cloudy, honey-orange-colored Señor Piña offers a distinct pineapple aroma with a taste that alternates between pineapple sweetness and a straw-like dryness from the mosaic hops. I found the balance very pleasant and every sip was different; sometimes the pineapple predominated, other times the hops.

Brewery Snapshot: Atrevida Beer Co.

Stuck in the corner of an uninspiring strip mall, but with a focus on small batch production and creative twists on traditional styles, Atrevida Beer Co. is kind of a sleeper in my book that greatly exceeds outward expectations. Add in the funky Mexican taproom and friendly staff and and Atrevida rises pretty high on the must-visit list if I’m in Colorado Springs.

BEER LINEUP: Atrevida’s small-ish taplist covers a lot of territory, from standards like a brown and pale ale, through a tasty strawberry cream ale, to beers with pineapple and lemongrass. You’ll definitely find the basics, but be prepared to also have your horizons expanded – in the best possible way of course.atrevida-taproom.jpg

ATMOSPHERE: The small taproom has a chill Mexican theme going for it and feels a lot more comfortable than it looks from outside with a lot of bright colors, murals, and interesting decorations. There’s a definite industrial undertone of steel-and-concrete and on one side are racks of equipment producing the small-batch and experimental beers. The brewery also has a rather stark, sunbaked patio out front. Overall, the mashup of different elements works to create an unpretentious feel for hanging out. atrevida-brewing.jpg

SERVICE: Our server was very friendly and fast, both at the bar and the table.

LOCATION: There’s not much to recommend the atrevida-exterior.jpgindustrial-park neighborhood next to a busy highway except the plentiful parking. Atrevida is most definitely a destination brewery.

STANDOUT BEER: The Bouriqua Belgian Blonde with pineapple and citrus takes a solid, golden Belgian blonde and spices it up with a tasty balance of pineapple sweetness set off by lime-flavored citrus. Overall a very refreshing beer.

Brewery Snapshot: Cheluna Brewing Co.

Brewery or cantina? Cheluna Brewing Co.’s beer list reads like a craft brewery but the taproom looks like an industrial cantina with steel, Mexican tilework, and Lucha Libre masks. With a beer list that goes far beyond Mexican-style beers and a location in the latest trendy Denver-area entertainment development, Cheluna seems poised to succeed once the buildout is complete. Even though many business are still under construction, the whole Stanley Marketplace complex was busy on a random weeknight. Parking was already becoming scarce, so if you want to check out Cheluna, now’s probably the time before the area becomes unbearably popular.

BEER LINEUP:  With more than just the light lagers you’d expect from a Mexican place, Cheluna covers a good chunk of the style spectrum by offering IPAs, a saison, a stout, a porter, and even an adventurous gose. Bottom Line: If you like more robust beers than Mexican lagers you’ll find them.

ATMOSPHERE: Like the Stanley Marketplace where it resides, Cheluna feels busy and vibrant but still trying to find its niche. The diverse crowd of young, old, singles, couples, and families seemed like they were checking out the next new thing and once the initial interest passes many will move on and leave Cheluna with a set of regulars. Cheluna’s space gives off a funky vibe that mixes modern touches with traditional Mexican decor (and some cheesiness). The taproom flows nicely into the larger building and has the obligatory brewery windows, but also features an ample balcony on the second floor. It seemed like one-beer place for most patrons, perhaps before or after dinner at one of the marketplace eateries (though you can bring food in too).

SERVICE: Cheluna is bar service only, and the bartender was reasonably efficient and friendly.

NEIGHBORHOOD: The neighborhood is a 20170719_195209_HDRstudy in contrasts. To the west lie new/pretty/expensive Stapleton suburban homes and to the south/east you’ll find old-school Aurora with a mix of smaller, older buildings, by-the-week motels, ethnic neighborhoods, and questionable-looking apartment complexes. Regardless, the marketplace is isolated in a field and not convenient to the surrounding area or transport.  I’m betting 99% of the visitors drive or uber in, do their thing, and drive out.

 

 STANDOUT BEER: Ok, not my absolute top taplist choice but seeing as how it’s a Mexican joint I feel the need to mention the very solid Lowrider Mexican Lager. The beer met my normal Mexican lager expectations but also contained a pleasant surprise with a bit of extra maltiness and a fuller body than you normally find – sort of a Mexican lager with a bonus (or maybe just a typical Vienna lager). Overall it’s a very smooth, easy-drinking beer especially on a 90-degree day.