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: Alternation Brewing Company

Although open a relatively short time (Dec ’17), Alternation Brewing Company has established a presence on South Broadway with a large and solid taplist and active taproom. One would think that South Broadway already has more than enough breweries, but Alternation has staked out their own neighborhood and filled a gap between Black Project and Grandma’s House, making them perfect for a Broadway brewery crawl.

BEER LINEUP: For a relatively new brewery, Alternation offers 20180317_171056_HDRa broad taplist of approximately 10 beers ranging from hefeweizen on the light end, through IPA, all the way to stout on the dark end. There is a definite Belgian focus – saisons, farmhouses, dubbels. All the beers I tried were solid and tasty, though perhaps not 100% style-specific.

ATMOSPHERE: Given that we visited on St Patrick’s Day things may have been a little crazier than usual. The narrow taproom features three small sections: a bar area, a seating area in the brew tanks, and a newly-opened outdoor patio with games. All three areas were  energetic on St Pat’s, with people spilling onto Broadway for the food truck and heading to the patio for the bands. Overall, Alternation has a friendly vibe and we watched as the afternoon family crowd gave way to the younger brewery-hopping crowd in the evening.

SERVICE: Hard to judge, given the holiday crowds but overall the servers were efficient and pleasant even in the face of green-clad, beer-loving hordes.

20180317_190050_HDR
Tanks, Band, Patio

NEIGHBORHOOD: Parked right in the middle of Antique Row, Alternation lends itself to a leisurely few hours of shopping, dining, or brewery-hopping at nearby establishments. The area is most definitely pedestrian-friendly, transit-friendly, and even has reasonable street parking options.

STANDOUT BEER: Cooper Approved Oatmeal Stout. C’mon, could there be anything else on St. Pat’s? Seriously, the deep chocolate and roasted malt flavors in this beer would be good any day and were enhanced by the low carbonation. The typical dark-brown color gave way to a thinner body than might be expected, but not that unusual.

Brewery Snapshot: The Brew On Broadway

Part of the renaissance of The South Broadway Mile in Englewood, The Brew on Broadway (BoB) nicely complements the neighborhood of small retail business, restaurants, and The Gothic Theater. BoB’s comfortable taproom and large patio fit right in with the pedestrian-friendly vibe of the area and encourage a stop for a quick pint.

BEER LINEUP: BoB’s beers are not overly adventurous but each offers a generally pleasant experience of its style. The menu clusters around IPAs and fills out both ends of the spectrum with a few examples of both light and dark beers along with a few speciality beers like a sour, and imperial stout, and a seasonal Thanksgiving porter.

ATMOSPHERE: The good-sized taproom offers 20171209_152459_hdr.jpgvarious seating options including couches and feels like an industrial/ rustic combination with lots of exposed brick and wood. Outside there’s a large patio with a firepit. The mixed crowd seemed neighborhood-based with families, couples, and friends kicking back on a sleepy Saturday afternoon. BoB also appears to be dog-friendly based on the number of pooches running around.

SERVICE: BoB offers bar service only and the staff was reasonably efficient, knowledgeable, and friendly.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Englewood has focused on making the surrounding neighborhood pedestrian- and small-business-friendly so there are plenty of shops and restaurants to browse if you want to combine beer with other pursuits. The area has reasonable street parking and BoB offers a small lot in back.

20171209_152426_hdr.jpg

STANDOUT BEER: Although it’s a bit gimmicky, the Thanksgiving Stuffing Spiced Porter was the most interesting beer I tried. Unlike some flavored beers, the spices were not overwhelming and provided a pleasant kick to a solid porter base with distinct malt and subtle chocolate flavors. The color and body were as-expected for a porter.

Brewery Snapshot: Baere Brewing Co.

For a place on hipster-heavy South Broadway, Baere Brewing Co.  feels surprisingly grounded. They don’t seem to be trying too hard to make a scene – angry, sour, kitschy, or anything else – and thus have a relatively traditional taproom with down-to-earth clientele and a beer list that contains well-done standards plus a modest level of experimentation. While I wouldn’t tag Baere as a destination hangout, the taproom is on the way to a lot of places which makes it easy to stop in for a couple of tasty brews.

20170304_195548_HDR

BEER LINEUP: The beer list leaned heavily on IPAs but offered a fair amount of diversity from a super-light Berlinerweisse to a super-heavy Brown. Even non-hopheads will find something to enjoy.

ATMOSPHERE: Baere is located in an ancient strip mall that they’ve made the most of by adding garage doors, a patio, and filling it with rustic decor. The taproom opens to the brewery in back and accommodates some of the overflow barrels and product. The crowd seemed younger and more hipster, without a lot of families. It seemed like most people were passing through on their way somewhere else rather than making it their evening destination.

SERVICE: The bartenders offered reasonably quick service along with friendly and engaging beer info.

NEIGHBORHOOD: At 3rd and Broadway the neighborhood offers a melting-pot of old & run-down, slightly-dated, and new & fresh – both in the buildings and the people roaming around. The area gets a good walkability score, with lots of other businesses, restaurants, and breweries along the strip. It’s reasonably accessible by public transit busses, and parking is decent with both strip-mall lot and street parking.

STANDOUT BEER: Brown. It’s really more like a Brown on steroids with a higher-alcohol barleywine flavor and hints of heavy roast and coffee. With the heavy body and strong flavors it’s clearly a sipping-beer that gives a pleasant warming sensation the more you drink

Beer Of The Week: Declaration Brewtonium Brown

Fitting for  the season, Declaration Brewing Co.‘s Brewtonium Brown will keep you warm with all the dark-malt flavors you’d expect in a brown, along with with some unexpected bittering-hops notes.  As the beer warmed, a little bit of floral hops even started to sneak in. The big picture is a balanced, medium-bodied beer that isn’t as heavy and filling as many traditional browns (translation: you can drink a few of these!) even though the initial glimpse of its dark brown color might make you think otherwise.20161210_185441_hdr

Beer Of The Week: Grimm Brothers Fearless Youth Munich Dunkel

fearless-sales-sheet-216x300As fall approaches, slightly darker beers like dunkels and Oktoberfests become more appealing and  I was happy to find several good ones at Historian’s Ale House – specifically Grimm Brothers Fearless Youth. Fearless Youth is a Munich Dunkel and has about everything you could want in one. It’s slightly roasty & malty, with  a bit of sweetness on the carmel/chocolate spectrum. The color looked a bit light for the style,  but let’s be honest –  taste buds aren’t good judges of color the taste is a winner. If you want the full story of the Grimm fairy tales behind the beers check out the website or the brewery in Loveland. On a side note, Mondays at Historians are all-day Happy Hour with most crafts $2.50. They’re 10-ounce pours but still a good deal and the smaller pours mean sampling more!

Beer of the Week – Grandma’s House Gringanzo Vienna Lager

20160809_203601_HDR
Grandma-approved crocheted tap handles

Going to Grandma’s House is kind of like stepping onto the set for an over-the-top old lady place in a tv sitcom. There are an awful lot of (tacky) knicknaks to look at and some serious throwback furniture. But of course we didn’t come for the decor – there’s already plenty of tacky  at “antique” stores on that stretch of Broadway. We came for the beer. The first one I tried was the Gringanzo Vienna-Style Lager. It was a fair, if not excellent, version of a Vienna lager with a good copper color, some malty flavor, and a touch of hop bitterness. In my opinion it could have used a bit more malt to give it a stronger and more distinct flavor profile but in general it’s a pleasant and sessionable beer.