I recently had the opportunity to spend a few hours at a nanobrewery with delicious beer and a unique concept – nonprofit, community-supported brewery. Lady Justice Brewing in Mountain View (I70 & Sheridan) has the unusual dual mission of brewing great beer and giving all profits to women-focused charities. Their motto is “Great Beer, Better World” and the three ladies who founded the brewery have a longstanding commitment to building better communities and also to making great beer. Their current model is a subscription club, where subscribers pick up a bomber every month and often a sampler of a new recipe too. The brewery then donates the proceeds through a grant process.
While hanging out with Kate, Betsy, and Jen I had the opportunity to watch them brew, sample some of their beer, and meet their community supporters. They build their beers with the malt as the foundation, then layer on the yeast, and then other fruits & spices. I tried the Sage Saison, Cardamom Porter, and Peach Brown. Both the saison and porter were very clean, with clear, traditional saison and porter tastes spiked with the specific flavors of the spices. Unlike some beers, the flavors didn’t get muddled or distorted by other ingredients or the brewing process. The brown had a similar clean base, but I only got a hint of the peaches. Overall, the beers were very much my style although only half the fun. The enthusiasm and passion of all the Lady Justice ladies, along with their subscribers, made for a truly awesome afternoon of beer and good people.
There’s not currently a taproom so you have to become a subscriber if you want try their beers. They expect to start the next 6-month subscription mid/late spring and you can visit www.ladyjusticebrewing.com to get on the mailing list or just learn more about the cool business model that Kate, Betsy, and Jen have created!
One of my go-to beers and all-around cold-weather favorite is Dry Dock Brewing’sVanilla 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
This walk near the Santa Fe Arts District visits one of the older craft breweries in Denver and one of the newer ones. It also has the option of tacking on a third brewery.
I started at Renegade Brewing on 9th between Santa Fe and Kalamath, but I’d suggest starting wherever you find a parking spot. Renegade has been around for a number of years and has the standard urban taproom vibe – lots of steel & glass, garage doors, a patio, and an open brewing area. Traditionally I’ve found them to be Pale Ale/IPA-focused but on this visit they had broadened their offerings to include things like Pancakes maple porter and Hummer imperial pumpkin spiced Oktoberfest . I mostly found their beers solid but not exceptional with a couple standouts. Despite being open many years Renegade still draws the crowds and has an energetic and hipster vibe. Like with past experiences, the service was very hit or miss.
After the upheaval and ouster of the brewer and Coda name and I was curious to see how things are shaping up at the rechristened Ursula Brewery. I’m happy to report that the beer menu seems to have increased, with the same focus on traditional styles complemented with experimental beers, many utilizing fruit in some fashion. The Scary Stories Porter, though not fruity, stood out with its heavy roasted malt flavors and a significant cholocolate component. The roasted malt even imparted somewhat of a coffee flavor. Definitely a big beer, made bigger by the 8.8% ABV – have too many of those that close to E Colfax and one can only imagine the types of scary stories that could ensue!
I was a little worried when I stopped by Former Future and there were only four beers on tap. Not sure whether that’s a reflection on their limited production capacity, popularity of their beers, or some combination thereof. At any rate, I was very happy to see the old standby Salted Caramel Porter. The color was dark and the first taste brought out deep roasty flavors and even some subtle coffee notes. The beer was thick and syrupy and as I continued drinking the caramel kicked in and blended with the malt flavors. I didn’t really get much salt in there but perhaps it’s the mark of a good beer that it subtly contributed in the background without having to get in your face. The only disappointment was the slight bitter aftertaste, but certainly not a deal-breaker.