Sunday Funday South Suburban Ride

On a sleepy summer Sunday we ventured out on bikes along the wooded Highline Canal to visit three great south suburban breweries. The ride was slightly longer than usual and we had to tackle a few big hills but the tasty beers made it all worthwhile! Most of the ride is on-trail, with much of it on the scenic canal, although part of the route uses the C470 trail, which currently has major construction. The trails switch between packed gravel and concrete so road bikes may find it challenging. A good map app is essential, as the route features loads of twists and turns.
Starting at Halfpenny Brewing Company near Arapahoe & Holly, we enjoyed the mostly American- and German-style beers in the new biergarden (out back past the brewing equipment). The patio can get hot since it’s really just a fenced-off section of parking lot 20170315_185333_HDRwith a partial sun shade, but hopefully when the hops grow up it’ll have more atmosphere. For beer, you’ll mostly find comfortable, traditional beers with a sprinkling of experimental stuff like Lichtenhainer smoked-sour (Seedstock collaboration) and a Cherry Cardamom Wheat. The staff was all super-friendly and helpful and our big group had no problem finding space in the large taproom amongst the regulars. If you get hungry, there are several food places in the strip mall, including a pizza joint.
Next we headed off to Three Freaks Brewing near Park Meadows. The ride was absolutely beautiful and very peaceful along the Highline Canal and local streams, with amazing voyeuristic views of swanky Cherry Hills Village mansions. The end turned somewhat less peaceful, as we navigated the sun-baked C470 trail with traffic whizzing by. Just past Quebec look for the strip mall on your right with Le Peep and Egg Roll King. Go past the building and you’ll find a trail into their parking lot.

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Brewery Snapshot: Resolute Brewing Company

Hidden in the midst of DTC office parks near I25 and Arapahoe, Resolute Brewing nonetheless manages to draw crowds to its taproom and patio. Perhaps it’s the lack of breweries in the area but more likely because Resolute makes solid beers which are served by friendly and knowledgeable staff in a comfortable taproom.

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BEER LINEUP: Solid if not overly adventurous. Resolute brews a wide variety of styles without a lot of experimentation so generally what you see is what you get, and the beers conform to the styles listed. Resolute’s beer list covers the spectrum so most everyone ought to be able to find a brew in their favorite style.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom feels like a community gathering place, with groups of friends clustered at communal tables surrounding a circular bar showing off numerous taps. If the modern taproom gets too loud or crowded, you can also move out to the shady deck this time of year. Resolute is also dog-friendly.

SERVICE:  Depending on how busy the taproom is, you may get table service or you might have to go to the bar. Either way, the very attentive servers provide personal insights and observations to help select beers.

20170428_211601_HDRNEIGHBORHOOD: Tucked into a strip mall with limited parking surrounded by office parks, there’s little ambiance in the surrounding neighborhood. However for those in the DTC it offers a convenient craft-beer stop, usually with a food truck if you get hungry.

STANDOUT BEER:  Wee Heavy. On a chilly night this beer hit the spot. Swirling the dark-copper, opaque beer in the glass shows off its heavy body and prepares you for what’s ahead. The first sip hits with a thick and lingering sweet caramel/molasses taste, interspersed with light hints of raisin and alcohol. While not an everyday beer (at least for most people!), the Wee Heavy fills a great niche when you want a sipping beer to relax with.

 

Brewery Snapshot: 105 West Brewing

For a remote brewery hidden in a quiet industrial park, 105 West Brewing Company packs in some happy surprises. On our visit, crowds of all types filled the taproom and gave it an energetic feel, while the comprehensive beer list delivered both variety and flavor. It’s a bit of a drive from Denver but well worth a stop if you find yourself in Castle Rock or commuting to Colorado Springs, since it’s less than five minutes off the highway.

BEER LINEUP: 105 West sticks to traditional styles and has great coverage from a light wit to a dark stout and high-gravity Tripel. All the beers I tried fit squarely (and tastily) into their named style category so count on getting you ask for.

ATMOSPHERE: Despite the lack of any discernible neighborhood the place was packed with energetic people (and dogs) of all ages including families with kids. The actual space shows an attempt to dress up a basic industrial park box with some rustic wood and an open brewery, but in the end you’re not coming for the pretty decor. There’s also a small patio out front and they seem to regularly have either a food truck or someone squished in between fermenters dishing out grub.

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SERVICE: This one cut both ways during our visit. While the servers helpfully chatted up customers, poured samples, recommended other beers, etc. (+), this tended to jam  up lines at the bar (-). It wasn’t the biggest deal but be warned if you are beer-desperate. One interesting note is the no-tipping policy; any tips go to charity.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Industrial park with few attractions around other than a brew shop two doors down. Given the Castle Rock location this one’s definitely a driving destination and thankfully features ample parking.

STANDOUT BEER: Belgian Tripel. This beer blended great Belgian yeast flavors with a little bit of farmhouse for an extremely balanced and flavorful Tripel having just the slightest bit of sweetness. The beautiful golden color made it even more appealing, and the slight cloudiness visually reinforced the yeast and farmhouse flavors.

Halfpenny Brewing Company Flight of the Stouts

If you’re a stout fan then Halfpenny Brewing Company’s limited time (til they run out) Flight of the Stouts is worth the trip down to the DTC area. The lineup features five stouts ranging from standard tap fare to barrel-aged to high-gravity and each has its own charms. A quick summary:

  • Homer’s Oatsey Oatmeal Stout: This is your off-the-tap regular stout with a medium body, deep roasted malt flavors, and slight bite to it.
  • Nitro Oatsey Oatmeal Stout: The nitro version of the above, with the added thick and creamy body that comes with nitro. The nitro also takes out whatever kind of bite the original has for a creamy, roasty, and slightly chocolate-y experience.
  • Heavy Petals 2016 Bourbon Barrel Aged: This one has a VERY strong bourbon flavor with some hints of oak.  Bourbon is primarily what you taste and the beer has a “hot” alcohol flavor to it. Might have been better to serve a little earlier  when there was more balance.
  • Heavy Petals 2017 Bourbon Barrel Aged: This beer achieves the balance that the 2016 lacks. It offers bourbon notes but they are mellowed by the beer, giving some sweeter caramel flavors mixed up with the maltiness. A very complex beer with many subtle flavors.
  • Black Night Imperial Stout: A high-alcohol beer that could sneak up on you because it doesn’t taste like it. This beer also leans toward the complex side, offering significant dark malt and coffee flavors with lesser notes of dark chocolate

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Halfpenny Brewing Company Beer and Cheese Pairing

halfpenny-beer-cheeseI made it to my first Halfpenny Brewing Company Beer and Cheese Pairing last night and it was great! Aside from the attractive presention, the cheese was spectacular and the Whole Foods rep gave interesting background and tasting suggestions for each cheese and beer. Apparently he has the enviable job of coming in to taste all the beers each month before selecting cheese pairings. It seems to work great! I’d highly recommend keeping an eye on Halfpenny’s website for next month’s event.

Beer and Food Events

This month several breweries are doing taproom events involving food that might help break up the dark winter days.

Beer Of The Week – Halfpenny Brewing Company Cranberry Wheat

In time for Thanksgiving, Halfpenny Brewing Company has released a Cranberry Wheat. Its solid underlying wheat-beer structure supports a very forward tart taste. The beer primarily captures the tart part of the berries, leaving only a fainthp-2 fruit/berry flavor. In a blind taste test I might guess it as a sour with a slight bitter edge to it. In appearance, the Cranberry Wheat looks like a dark wheat beer, with the common wheat beer cloudiness. It’s definitely an interesting beer and certainly worth a try if you like sours or fruit beers, and even worth getting a small pour if you just want to shake things up.