Our final stop during our San Diego brew adventure was at Mission Brewery. Mission has a long history of brewing in San Diego, dating all the way back to 1913. The brewery closed their doors in 1918, but the name was revived in 2007, when owner / founder Dan Selis launched a new line of Mission beers. In 2011, Selis moved his brewery from Chula Vista to its current location in a former Wonder Bread bakery in downtown San Diego.
The 14,000 square foot brick building dates back to 1834 and lends a beautiful setting for the brewhouse, tasting room and bottling line. Mission is conveniently located in downtown San Diego, next to Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres) and only minutes from San Diego International Airport, making it the perfect beginning or end point for your brew trip.
Inside, local history gets a modern upgrade, as the 150+ year old building and its’ metal chandeliers, combine with the shiny stainless steel brewhouse and black leather barstools. It strikes a pleasant balance for beer lovers competing amongst one another on the shuffleboard table or while sitting at the bar watching the local sports teams on TV.
Mission makes 4 year-round beers in 12 oz. bottles: Amber, Hefeweizen, Blonde and an IPA, which took a Bronze medal at the 2007 GABF. Their big beer lineup consists of a 9.25% ABV West Coast Double IPA called Shipwrecked and a 10% ABV Russian Imperial Stout called Dark Seas, both of which are available in 12 oz. and 22 oz. bottles. In addition to Mission’s lineup of bottled brews, they also offer a variety of draft only and seasonals releases ranging from a Dunkelweizen to a Coconut Brown Ale to an Imperial Red Ale and more.
Last month, we spoke with Mission’s National Sales Manager, Martin Saylor, at Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines in Vail. He mentioned that Mission is looking to bring bottles to the Colorado market in the near future. Beer hunters, keep your eyes peeled, as our first shipment from Mission should be heading our way in about 4 weeks! Mrs. Insane and I can’t wait to have some Shipwrecked Double IPA in our fridge.
Mission Brewery is located at: 1441 L St, San Diego, CA 92101. 619-544-0555.
When I hear the term “Big Beer” in Colorado, I immediately think of Avery Brewing and Great Divide Brewing. Both have a vast selection of big beers ranging from 8%+ ABV Imperial Stouts, Double IPA’s, Barleywines and so on. When I hear the term “Big Beer” in reference to Southern California, I think of San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing. AleSmith has been serving up tasty brews since 1995 and over time, they’ve grown their line to include a variety of fantastic, high ABV beers.
AleSmith might be best known for their popular Speedway Stout, which is a 12% ABV Imperial Stout brewed with coffee. Speedway Stout is full of chocolate, coffee and roasted malt flavors. The thick, creamy mouthfeel lingers and leaves you wanting more. Speedway variations spring up from time-to-time in the tasting room. Past experiments have included batches brewed with dried sour cherries, mint chocolate and peanut butter & cacao nibs. Wow! Send some to Colorado. Please??
Old Numbskull Barleywine is an American-style Barleywine that weighs in at 11% ABV. If you’re not a fan of the big hop flavors found in fresh batches, tuck some away in the back of your cellar for a few years. The caramel and malt notes that come through once the hops fade after a year or more are divine. Fresh, aged, both, whatever, it’s a great take on the style.
Scotch Ale fans never seem to have very many options. That poor beer just doesn’t get enough respect in my opinion. Luckily, AleSmith gives the style its’ due with their Wee Heavy. The 10% ABV Wee Heavy is a sweet, smokey, lightly hopped traditional Scotch Ale.
The Grand Cru might be the most complex beer in their year-round big beer lineup. This one is a 10.5% ABV Belgian Strong Dark Ale that is brewed with dark Belgian candi sugar and fermented with authentic Belgian trappist yeast. The dark brown brew has flavors of dark fruit, vanilla, brown sugar and caramel.
Don’t forget the Grand Cru’s little brother, known as Horny Devil. This bad boy is an 11% ABV Belgian Strong Pale Ale. Like the Grand Cru, the Devil is also brewed with Belgian trappist yeast, but uses a lighter Belgian candi sugar and coriander seeds in the brewing process. The result is a beautiful golden beer with citrus, bread and spice notes.
AleSmith has a small barrel-aging project and many of the barrel-aged releases are only available on draft in the tasting room. They occasionally release 750mL bottles of their Barrel-Aged big beers like Speedway Stout and Old Numbskull, which are only available during release parties at the brewery. Take note beer traders, I highly recommend seeking these bad boys out.
While the big beers tend to take center stage, don’t ignore the smaller, more sessionable brews like their IPA, Anvil ESB and X Pale Ale or their great seasonals like YuleSmith, My Bloody Valentine or Decadence (their Anniversary beer which is a different style every year).
Drop by the tasting room on your next trip out west to see what they’re all about and grab some bottles to bring back for your cellar. You’re gonna love ’em!
AleSmith Brewing is located at: 9368 Cabot Dr, San Diego, CA 92126. 858-549-9888
No beer trippin’ report in San Diego would be complete without a visit to at least one of the Pizza Port locations. The original Pizza Port was founded in Solana Beach in 1987, by owners Vince and Gina Marsaglia. Vince began using the restaurant’s extra space to experiment with homebrewing. 5 years later in 1992, a 7 BBL brewhouse was installed and the brewery was born. In 1997, Tomme Arthur took the reigns in the brewhouse and the rest is history.
Since then, Pizza Port has grown to 4 locations (with 1 more on the way), opened a bottle shop in Carlsbad (offering 600+ of the best beers available in the San Diego area), named 2003 and 2004 Small Brewpub of the Year at GABF (Solana Beach) and 2009 Large Brewpub of the Year at GABF (Carlsbad) and opened a production facility in San Marcos, CA. The brewpubs have also taken home numerous GABF and World Beer Cup medals. Tomme Arthur has since moved on to become Director of Brewery Operations at Port Brewing and co-founded the The Lost Abbey line of Belgian influenced beers in 2006.
Each Pizza Port location offers a wide variety of beers brewed on-site, plus a lineup of guest taps from some of the world’s top craft breweries. The great selection of beers, ranging from west coast hop bombs to authentic Belgian ales, is sure to satisfy even the most hardcore beer nerd. If you can’t decide which location to visit, let the beer do the talking. The Pizza Port website has a webcam feed showing all of the beers pouring at each location.
The close proximity to the beach and the laid back vibe, combined with a tasty menu and a ton of great beers, makes Pizza Port one of our favorite places to visit in the San Diego area. Pizza Port shows no signs of slowing down, as they’re currently working on a new location in Bressi Ranch (near Carlsbad). I guess we’ll have to add it to the list for next time.
On this trip, we only had the time to visit Pizza Port Carlsbad, but we’ve visited the other locations in the past and encourage you to try them all. Here’s a handful of pictures from our recent visit.
After two great stops at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens and Port / The Lost Abbey, it was time to start heading South towards San Diego. So for our last stop of the day, we decided to visit Green Flash Brewing. This place caught me completely off guard. From the outside, Green Flash looks like a place where they should be programming satellites or making sketches for the next hybrid car. Not your average looking brewery by any means.
While we were scratching our heads on the way in, we slipped through the glass door and made our way down a long hallway lined with beer posters. The hallway eventually led us to a tasting room surrounded by a large brewery, bottling line and pallets and pallets of beer. Oh glorious beer! It was clear we were in the right place.
We happened to hit Green Flash while they were pouring all 10 of their Anniversary Ales. The brewery releases a different style one-off each year to commemorate the special occasion. Past releases have included Barleywines, Strong Ales, Double IPA’s, Imperial Stouts and most recently a Flanders Red. The prices were stupid good at just $1 for a taster and $4 for a full pour.
In addition to their anniversary collection, there was also a variety of beers to sample from their year-round lineup, seasonals and special one-offs just for visitors to the tasting room. Palate Wrecker Double IPA is a favorite of mine and I rarely pass up the opportunity to try a splash of this west coast hop bomb. Luckily for me, a fresh keg was on tap.
The 9-year old Barleywine was tough to beat too. I don’t remember the last time I’ve had a beer that was nearly a decade old and this was my second one in under 4 hours. (Stone was also pouring beers going back to ’03!) I think I need to “beer trip” through CA more often.
Visitors can make a day of sampling the more than two dozen offerings in the tasting room. On brewing and bottling days, guests have the perfect vantage point to watch the Green Flash team go to work. The small beer garden on the side of the building is a nice little hangout and a great chance to try some of the local food trucks.
While Green Flash may look a little different on the outside, Mama always said it’s what’s on the inside that counts. And on the inside of Green Flash, is great beer. Seriously tasty, great beer and that’s what really matters.
Green Flash Brewing is located at: 6550 Mira Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92121. 858-622-0085
Just a short drive from our first stop at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, is Port Brewing & The Lost Abbey in San Marcos, CA. Although only separated by a few miles, the two breweries feel like they’re worlds apart. Unlike Stone, you won’t find any zen gardens, koi ponds or fancy restaurant here. Instead, you’ll find a tasting room that’s situated right next to a buzzing brewery and a row of bubbling fermenters. Here you can choose from an assortment of beers that range from hop-forward American ales to Barrel-Aged wild ales and Belgian-style masterpieces.
Port Brewing & The Lost Abbey is situated at the original location where Stone was founded back in 1996. The Port / LA crew bought the building in 2005, when Stone moved to their current location down the road in Escondido. Stone’s original brewhouse (pictured below), is still being used today by Port / LA.
The Lost Abbey portfolio consists of more than a dozen Belgian-influenced masterpieces, ranging from Saisons to Quads to Wild Ales. Sour fans can’t seem to get enough of Tomme Arthur’s Barrel-Aged goodies like Red Poppy, Framboise de Amorosa and Cuvee de Tomme.
In 2007, the brewery founded a beer club that shipped beer directly to member’s homes. Popularity grew very quickly and it was later split into two clubs. The Patron Saints club offered the year-round LA lineup, while the Patron Sinners club offered a variety of seasonals, one-offs and rarities like Duck, Duck Gooze and Isabelle Proximus. Sadly, these clubs were shut down in 2011, in order for the brewery to better focus on expanding distribution and in order to ease the stress the club placed on the brewery staff.
The Port side of the operation leans toward bold, flavorful American-style beers. Port is no stranger to hoppy Red’s, big IPA’s, high ABV stouts and other tasty brews. The brewery is currently gearing up to release “Board Meeting” (pictured below), a brown ale brewed with generous amounts of Ryan Brothers coffee beans and TCHO cocoa nibs. The result is a delicious chocolate, coffee ale that you won’t want to pass up.
No matter what styles your palate prefers, Port / LA is there to fill your needs. Grab a spot at the bar and get a feel for the working life of a brewery. Stop by on a brew day and let the aromas flood your senses. If you’re lucky, maybe the resident brew cat will even grace you with his presence.
Big Thank You to Lead Brewer Matt Webster and the rest of the gang at Port / LA for their generous hospitality. You might know Matt from his starring role in the Angel’s Share video below. We truly appreciate his willingness to give us a glimpse into the operation and share the brewery with us.
What can I say about Stone Brewing that hasn’t already been said? While I won’t bore you with facts and figures or the latest production numbers, I would like to strongly encourage every craft beer drinker out there, to at some point, make the pilgrimage to Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido, CA.
The 1-acre garden is full of streams, waterfalls, bridges, stone formations, canopies and pathways, and is easily the most picturesque beer garden I’ve ever laid eyes on. To step foot inside, is to be whisked away to beer nirvana. Combine the peacefulness of the gardens, with the deliciousness of the beer and one can easily lose a day just watching the world go by.
Greg Koch and his team at Stone have gone to great lengths to make Stone a “destination” and not just another place to stop for a brewery tour. And yet, just a short distance from the peace and quiet in the gardens, sits a modern brewhouse and bottling line that’s continually pumping out beer 24 hours / day.
The world-class bistro offers the best of both worlds, with tables overlooking the gardens, plus a panorama into the brewhouse. On warm days, guests can sit at one of the stone tables on the outside patio and order from the back bar.
A seat at either the indoor or outdoor bar, will reward you with a selection of more than 30 taps and an ever-changing selection of 100+ bottles from some of the best breweries in the world. The food menu is nothing short of fantastic and ranges from stinky cheese plates to pasta to sandwiches to bone-in steaks.
During our visit, it was the annual “Stone Winter Storm”, which features 100 unique Stone kegs and bottles. This year, Stone was pouring everything from 02.02.02 Vertical Epic Ale to Special Releases, Barrel-aged variants and more. I started my visit with a pour of 2004 Old Guardian Barleywine.
If you’re lucky enough to visit during one of the many events, you might even learn a thing or two. Stone offers classes through their “Beer U” tastings, “Master Pairings with Dr. Bill” and some of the best festivals on the West Coast, including the very popular Sour Fest and the upcoming Oakquinox (a celebration of Barrel-Aged beers).
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens is one of those places that needs to be on the “Bucket List” of every craft beer enthusiast. Whether you’re a fan of their beers or not, it’s just something that needs to be experienced to truly be appreciated. This wasn’t our first visit and I can assure you, it won’t be our last.
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens is located at: 1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, CA 92029. 760-294-7866.
Where will you find us next? Stay tuned. More to come!
When it comes to appreciating craft beer, glassware is an important, but often overlooked component of the drinking experience. I’ve always been fascinated by glassware and I’m constantly on the hunt for new and interesting pieces. If we were to just go grab a beer out of the fridge and drink straight from the bottle, we’d be robbing ourselves of the appearance, aroma and other nuances that the brewer intended for us to enjoy. Glassware allows us to experience all those little details and unique characteristics found in our craft beer. After all, as much as 90% of what we taste comes from our sense of smell.
The design blew me away. It was a completely new take on a very traditional wine glass.
But the Offero wasn’t initially designed with the beer drinker in mind. Gasp! The first Offero release was actually a coffee mug.
Earlier this year, it was named Best New Product by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. As the line of coffee cups began taking off, Mitch Bangert, owner and designer of the Offero, had the idea to design a glass for Scotch, Beer and Wine. Behold the Offero Omnis.
Was it possible that Bangert had reinvented the wheel with his line of Offero glassware? I needed to find out for myself. After contacting Bangert and getting the full scoop, I was ready to take it out for a test drive. Brewtally Insane style.
As you put the glass to your face, your mouth goes on the lowest part of the rim, allowing the tall, curved back of the glass to wrap around your nose, which essentially traps the aromas for your enjoyment. It’s a modern twist on a classic design and I’m happy to tell you that it really works.
I’ve been testing the glasses for the past few months (a tough job indeed) and I love them! They’ve quickly become my “Go-To” beer glasses for everyday beer tasting.
If you’re a Denver local, you won’t have to go far to give the Omnis a test drive for yourself. Just head over to Black Shirt Brewing Co. (BSB), one of Denver’s newest breweries, where they’re using the glassware exclusively in their tasting room.
BSB Co-Founder and Head Brewer Branden Miller says his brewery worked with Bangert and the Offero Omnis to test prototypes before they went into production. Miller goes on to say BSB believes the Offero Omnis glass is “the best beer glass in the world!”, largely due to the fact that it not only “drives aroma, but directs it in a very precise manner”.
BSB Customers enjoy the Omnis too. Miller says “Everyone is blown away by them”. The Omnis have “changed and elevated the experience of drinking a beer at BSB”. He’s witnessed craft beer drinkers at BSB “stop…and consider what it is that they are smelling and subsequently, the flavors that are coming through”.
I’d highly recommend this glass to any craft beer drinker. For those of you that enjoy hosting tastings and writing reviews, I’d consider the Omnis to be a “must have” for your glassware collection. With its’ unique shape, it’s not just a conversation starter, but also a functional and very thoughtfully constructed piece of glassware.
The Omnis come in both stemmed and non-stemmed versions. A quick search on the internet revealed that a pair of glasses retails in the $21 – $28 range. Do yourself a favor, save on shipping charges and pick up a set during your next visit to the BSB Tasting Room, where Miller sells them in pairs.
Black Shirt Brewing, one of Denver’s newest breweries to hit the ever-growing craft beer scene, is located at: 3719 Walnut St, Denver, CO 80205. Keep your eyes on our Weekend Beer Buzz for weekly updates on BSB tappings and hours of operation.
Offero is also based out of Colorado and can be reached here: OFFERO Vessels, 58 South Holman Way, Golden, Colorado 80401.
The collaboration of these two up and coming local companies is both exciting to see and a tribute to our amazing craft beer scene. It’s just another reminder of how lucky we are to live in the great state of Colorado! So raise a glass and pour yourself a beer to toast these guys.
A brewer, a blogger and a bottle of 6-year old Dry Dock Framboise. Where could this be headed? Well, when the brewer is Kevin DeLange, founder and owner of Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, CO, good things are bound to happen. Join us as we talk brews, brewers and breweries and share some tasty brews along the way. (That’s a lot of brew talk and that’s how I like it!) In Part 1, we discussed Dry Dock’s Past and Present, going all the way back to their opening in 2005 and working up to the release of Bligh’s Barleywine later this year. In Part 2, we’ll discuss the Future of Dry Dock Brewing into 2013 and beyond. Grab a beer, err brew and join us!
Going Big, Staying Local.
Looking back over the past 7 years, a move, multiple expansions and two brew systems later, Dry Dock Brewing has reached capacity at their current location at the intersection of Hampden and Chambers in Aurora, CO. Head Brewer Doug Hyndman and his team of brewers are currently working around the clock just to keep the tap lines flowing in the Tasting Room. Owners Kevin and Michelle DeLange knew something had to be done if they were going to meet the ever-growing demand for their beer.
Rather than pick up the brewery and move, they made the decision to add a Production Facility to supplement their current 7 BBL operation in the Tasting Room. Kevin DeLange said they wanted to keep the brewery local, so this past Summer, they purchased a 30,000 square foot location near I-70 and Tower Road to call home for the new Production Facility.
The additional location will be equipped with a larger brew system and a more efficient bottling line to expand their current lineup of 22oz. bombers. The 40 BBL (1 BBL = 31 gallons) brewhouse, scheduled for delivery during the week of Thanksgiving, will greatly reduce the pressure currently being put on their 7 BBL system in the Tasting Room.
To put things into perspective, Dry Dock brewed roughly 200 BBL’s during their first year of business in 2005. In 2012, they’re projected to brew 3,200 BBL’s, which will push their current system to the limits and still not meet consumer demand. With the addition of their 40 BBL brew system, they plan to produce nearly 15,000 BBL’s in 2013. The brand new brewhouse will allow Dry Dock to brew a 40 BBL batch (1,240 gallons) every 4 hours, while giving them the potential to pump out more than 100,000 BBL’s of beer a year! They’re hoping to begin brewing on the new system by the end of 2012.
In addition to the new brewhouse, the Production Facility will also feature a canning line that will initially introduce 4 offerings into the Colorado market beginning in early 2013. Consumers should keep an eye out for 6-packs, plus a mixed 12-pack of Hefeweizen, Hop Abomination, Apricot Blonde and Amber in January 2013. The “Booty Box” will offer 3 cans of each of the 4 different beers. The cans will be dated so beer lovers will know they’re getting the freshest beer money can buy.
Roll Out The Barrels!
For the funky, sour beer fans, a 63 BBL Oak Foeder has been acquired from a California Winery, with the specific goal of producing sour and wild beers. And YES, they have plans to eventually bottle their sours! WooHoo! DeLange crunched some numbers and projects that a full batch in the foeder will produce “somewhere around 900 cases of 750 mL bottles”. Keep in mind, it’s still a long ways away, largely due to the lengthy process and unpredictability of working with wild yeasts, but it IS coming!
While the 40 BBL Production Facility will focus on canning, bottling and kegging their Flagship Beers (Hefeweizen, Double IPA, Vanilla Porter, etc…), the 7 BBL system at the south-Aurora Tasting Room will be utilized for experiments for Tasting Room visitors. Head Brewer Doug Hyndman and his team of brewers will have the chance to come up with new recipes, including small batch one-offs, lagers, stouts and sours and allow them the opportunity to get creative and try new things. The 7 BBL system will offer the team a chance to experiment and deviate a bit from Dry Dock’s Flagship lineup.
Some of the beers brewed on the 7 BBL system will be used to expand the Dry Dock Barrel-Aging Program. The current program consists of more than 50 barrels from a variety of wineries and distilleries. Some of Dry Dock’s most popular beers such as Bligh’s Barleywine, Shotgun Russian Imperial Stout and The Ambassador Sour, spent time aging and absorbing the characteristics found in the different barrels. The Barrel-Aged brews can spend months and sometimes even years inside the barrels until they are ready to be kegged, bottled or blended together for the final product.
DeLange will have the luxury of moving extra brewing ingredients and tasting room supplies out of the Tasting Room and up to the Production Facility. By doing so, he’ll free up quite a bit more room in the Tasting Room, which will ultimately allow Dry Dock to grow the barrel room and create even more unique beers in the process.
Collaborations with other breweries is an option DeLange may decide to explore in the near future. He said there’s been “some talk with Troy (Casey) over at AC Golden”. Despite being owned by MillerCoors, Casey and his Hidden Barrel Project at AC Golden are steadily gaining recognition and respect from craft beer enthusiasts for their complex, barrel-aged sour ales and stouts. Casey’s first round of bottled sours, was released earlier this year and sold out within minutes. Just last month at the Great American Beer Festival, AC Golden hauled in a medal for their Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout. While Dry Dock’s focus is clearly on getting their new location up and running, the possibilities certainly seem endless for DeLange and his Dry Dock Team.
A Beer Garden and New Tasting Room in 2014.
Right about now, you’re probably asking yourself “Yeah, but when can I stop by the Production Facility for a beer???” The north-Aurora Production Facility rests on a 6-acre plot that will be transformed into a Beer Garden sometime in 2014. The current plans for the project include a dog park, horseshoe pits and even a pond. The proposed tasting room, also slated to open in 2014, will overlook the brewhouse and production floor, giving beer drinkers a chance to sit back and watch the magic happen while sipping on their favorite pint. Once the Beer Garden and Tap Room are completed, Delange plans to work with the Colorado Brewers Guild to host and bring a beer festival to Aurora.
When I asked DeLange about his fondest Dry Dock memory, he shared a story about his first trip to the World Beer Cup (WBC) in 2006. At the time, Dry Dock had only been open for a few months and he decided to enter just two beers for judging in the International Competition. He assumed that his start-up brewery didn’t stand much of a chance at winning an award at the prestigious competition. So, rather than attend the Brewers Dinner and Awards Ceremony, he decided to sample beers in the lobby and watch the ceremony from a TV outside. When he heard his H.M.S. Victory ESB announced as a Gold Medal Winner, his initial reaction was “Who stole our name?”.
Within his first year of opening Dry Dock, DeLange had landed a medal at what is essentially the “Super Bowl” of brewery competition and beer judging. He’d accomplished a feat that some brewers spend a lifetime trying to achieve. This was just the beginning of what has since become a long list of medals awarded to the brewery and their beers.
In under a decade DeLange has taken Dry Dock from a tiny nano-brewery located behind a homebrew shop and transformed it into one of the nation’s top breweries. There are great things happening every day at Dry Dock and looking into the future, they show no signs of slowing down. Stop by the Tasting Room this weekend for their Anniversary Party and help them celebrate 7 Years of Great Beers!
A brewer, a blogger and a bottle of 6-year old Dry Dock Framboise. Where could this be headed? Well, when the brewer is Kevin DeLange, founder and owner of Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, CO, good things are bound to happen. Join us as we talk brews, brewers and breweries and share some tasty brews along the way. (That’s a lot of brew talk and that’s how I like it!) In Part 1, we’ll discuss Dry Dock’s Past and Present, going all the way back to their opening in 2005 and working up to the release of Bligh’s Barleywine later this year. In Part 2, we’ll discuss the Future of Dry Dock Brewing into 2013 and beyond. Grab a beer, err brew and join us!
Where, oh where does the time go? It seems like the older I get, the quicker the time passes me by. I noticed it the other day as I was preparing for the upcoming Weekend Beer Buzz. On my calendar, I had written down the Dry Dock Anniversary Party coming up on November 10th. When I realized it was their 7th Anniversary, I scratched my head in disbelief. 7 years?!?! Has it really been 7 years?
My wife and I discovered Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora within the first few months of their opening in 2005 and it didn’t take us long to become adopted as “regulars”. I can still remember sitting in the original, tiny tasting room, behind The Brew Hut homebrew supply shop, sipping on their small batches of hand-crafted brews. The Dry Dock of 2005 and 2006 was a family. A pretty goofy one for sure, but a family nonetheless. Everyone knew each other and we looked out for one another. Dry Dock came along and filled Aurora’s craft beer void and began producing great beers in the process.
While the small, 800 square foot tasting room, with its’ maximum capacity of 24 people (this may or may not have been exceeded on occasion…) might be extinct, Dry Dock and their beers have risen and gone on to rank among some of the finest in the land. Walking into Dry Dock these days, one can’t help but notice the wall of awards in the Brewery located at the corner of Hampden and Chambers.
A ton of medals decorate the brewery, coming from a variety of sources, including the Colorado State Fair, Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.
Let’s not forget they were crowned U.S. Small Brewery of the Year in 2009. This all happened in less than 4 years!
Dry Dock Brewing 2.0
By 2009, Dry Dock had outgrown their humble home behind The Brew Hut and were forced to expand further down in the Aurora strip mall they called home. They upgraded to a 7 BBL brewhouse and jumped into their current 9,000 square foot location, which gave beer drinkers plenty of space to spread out and enjoy themselves.
Dry Dock brought The Brew Hut with them, which has evolved into the area’s leading retailer for supplies, ingredients and know-how with regards to homebrewing, wine making, cheese making and more. The new location has also played host to many popular events like the annual Docktoberfest and the Ho Ho Ho Slapdown.
Over the years, owners Kevin and Michelle DeLange have recruited a team of world-class brewers that bring a variety of different beer backgrounds and resumes into the brewhouse. The Dry Dock brewers keep things interesting for even the most adventurous of beer geeks with an ever rotating selection of seasonals, one-offs, firkins and barrel-aged rarities that supplement their award-winning Flagship lineup of beers.
The team is led by Head Brewer Doug Hyndman, who has previously brewed at Ska and Green Flash. Hyndman took the reigns at Dry Dock when former Head Brewer Bill Eye departed to open Prost Brewing in Denver earlier this year. Hyndman has already begun to make a name for himself, by bringing the West Coast to Colorado, with his big, citrusy, hop-centric Double IPA’s. The delicious flavor of his Hop Abomination (a favorite of mine!), will be squeezed into cans for the first time early next year. (More on Dry Dock’s entrance into the canning business in Part 2).
For Dry Dock’s weekly Firkin Friday releases, Brewer / Firkin Master Walt Chleva has been given carte blanche to come up with new and interesting batches of beers for the Friday afternoon tappings. He tries to pair his releases with the seasons and looks to “use local ingredients as much as possible”.
Many of the beers don’t make it past the first hour of getting tapped on Friday evenings. Not much of a surprise considering he’s created beers like Peanut Butter Cup Porter, Double Dry-Hopped Double IPA and his personal favorite, Toasted Coconut Porter. In the Toasted Coconut Porter, Chleva says he “uses a pound of hand toasted coconut for each firkin”, which he’s happy to point out, “makes my house smell great!”.
Although not every beer is a sure-fire winner, (Wasabi Rice Pale anyone?) and he’s still fine tuning his Maple Bacon Amber Ale recipe, but the majority of his Firkins leave Dry Dock customers thirsting for more. In the past month alone, he’s released a Boysenberry Sour, Madagascar Vanilla Bean Porter and a Cherry Belgian Blonde. He’s already looking towards next Summer, when he’s hoping to “make a Palisade Peach Ale and maybe a Fresh Hop Firkin”.
Do yourself a favor and get over to Dry Dock on a Friday to see what he’s brewed for the week. Keep up to date with what Chleva has planned by checking our Weekend Beer Buzz. Firkin Friday Tappings occur at 3 PM and 7 PM. Don’t be late or you might get stuck listening to your friends tell you about the one that got away.
Going Big With Bligh’s
Dry Dock’s flagship lineup, which consists of USS Enterprise IPA, Apricot Blonde, HMS Victory Amber, Breakwater Pale Ale, Vanilla Porter, Double IPA and Hefeweizen, continue to draw in appreciative craft beer drinkers and regularly introducing new palates to Colorado’s craft beer movement. Dry Dock also continues to deliver the goods with their big, experimental, boundary pushing, world-class releases.
Take for example, last year’s inaugural release of Bligh’s Barleywine, an English Barleywine, aged in Stranahan Whiskey Barrels. Bligh’s was so well received by craft beer aficionados that it catapulted the beer onto the “Top 100 Beers on Planet Earth” as ranked by BeerAdvocate.com.
Later this year, Dry Dock will release a new batch of Bligh’s Barleywine in 22oz. bombers. This highly anticipated, 10% ABV English Barleywine has spent the past year in Colorado Whiskey Barrels, absorbing notes of vanilla, oak and caramel along the way. DeLange was kind enough to pull a nail from one of the many barrels housing Bligh’s and share a sample of this year’s batch. You’re not going to want to miss this one!
With a target release date of 12/15/12, it’s the perfect beer to warm up with at the end of a cold, winter day. In addition to 22oz. bombers, Bligh’s will also be pouring in the Tap Room for a limited time. Sorry, but NO Growler fills, in order to allow as many people as possible to try this extremely popular beer.
From There to Here, But Now Where?
In 7 years, Dry Dock has gone from a nano-brewery in the back of a homebrew supply shop to one of the top breweries in the nation. But what’s next for Kevin and Michelle DeLange and their team of skilled brewers and dedicated employees? Check back soon for Part 2 as we continue our chat with Kevin DeLange and talk about what lies ahead for the Aurora-based brewery. This is BIG! Trust me, you won’t want to miss this!