There’s a craft beer boom hitting our state. Denver was tagged earlier this Summer when Prost, Crooked Stave, TRVE and others began popping up around town, while more new breweries like Our Mutual Friend and Black Shirt are just a few short weeks from making their debut. Now it looks like that boom is making its’ way up to Boulder, where two new breweries have opened in the past week. Meet West Flanders Brewing Co.
Last Monday, West Flanders Brewing opened their doors to give us a special night of beers, food and a glimpse into what the future holds. Their location on Pearl Street Mall couldn’t be better. When the former resident, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse moved out earlier this year, West Flanders owners Mark and Chris Heinritz knew it would be the perfect spot to open their new brewery and restaurant. The brothers, who have owned the popular restaurant, The Sink in Boulder since 1992, are joined by partner Barry Wolfman. Together, the trio is looking to bring a new restaurant to Boulder that will be considered THE place for food and beer.
In addition to an absolutely perfect spot on the popular pedestrian mall, the location came with a 10 BBL brew system already installed. This entirely eliminated hassle of tracking down equipment, the phone calls and worries of damaged and delayed parts and a mountain of other obstacles that comes with securing and building a brewhouse. The team just had to get their license, order ingredients and hire a brewmaster to come and play. But wait, who would be taking on the important role of Brewmaster?
Enter Brian Lutz, formerly of Oskar Blues, Lefthand and Redfish Brewhouse.
Brian, who’s probably best known for helping to create Dale’s Pale Ale with Oskar Blues, introducing cans to craft beer and winning multiple medals at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival, was an obvious choice to take on the brewing for West Flanders Brewery. Despite that face that Brian’s been out of the game for a few years, he was eager to get his boots back on and get back to brewing.
West Flanders Brewery, which officially opened on September 24th, is already serving up six of Brian’s beers.
Angry Monk – a 7.1% ABV, sweet, Belgian-style ale that has a touch of caramel, bitterness and dangerous drinkability.
St. Mark’s Dubbel – a 7% ABV Belgian Dubbel, brewed with Trappist yeast and a nose of clove and bakers chocolate.
Daisy Cutter – a 9% ABV Belgian-style Strong Ale; a big, sweet, oaky ale, also brewed with Trappist yeast and a high ABV that goes down way too easily.
tbd ESB – a 6.2% ABV Extra Special Bitter that has a moderately hoppy, caramel aroma.
Canniption Pale Ale – a 6.8% ABV brew that pours a clear, amber color and clocks in at 70 IBU’s; packs a big, floral hop nose.
Third Kingdom IPA – a 6.7% ABV India Pale Ale, with a big hop aroma and a citrusy taste.
In addition to his core lineup of 6-beers, he’s also working on a Stout, Tripel and a Pilsner. Brian could hardly contain himself at the Grand Opening on Monday night. He spoke of how much the craft beer industry has changed since he began his journey nearly 20 years ago. Many of the ideas he had at his previous breweries, wouldn’t have worked in the early days, simply due to the lack of craft beer knowledge and boundary pushing styles at the time. Fortunately, our palates have evolved and the beer world is finally ready for some of the exciting ideas Brian wants to incorporate into his brews.
At the opening, Brian spoke of the importance of yeast. He believes that the magic of brewing is in mastering yeast strains. Brian also spoke of his plan for creatively incorporating local ingredients into his brews. He has no desire to brew within a restricted style guideline, but would rather brew interesting, fun and flavorful beers. Brian is a brewer who is constantly evolving, in order to keep his craft exciting for both himself and his legion of beer drinking fans.
In the near future, Brian will be moving his grains off-site and installing barrels and barrel racks into the third floor of West Flanders Brewing. The barrels will give him the opportunity to experiment with wild yeasts and the art of blending.
True beer geeks will also appreciate the thoughtful list of guest taps and bottles, ranging from classics like Duvel and St. Bernardus to newer treats such as Houblon Chouffe and Ska’s Modus Hoperandi.
The final piece of the West Flanders Brewing puzzle was filled by Executive Chef Jamie Lucas. Jamie brings a wide variety of foods to the dining room and plans to pair his dishes with Brian’s beers in “new and unexpected ways”.
He makes a delicious entrée called Monk Chops that is a grilled pork chop basted with Angry Monk beer. I also had the chance to try his Smokestack Burger, which is a beef patty basted with Angry Monk BBQ sauce, topped with a layer of thick-cut bacon, followed by a third layer of smoked pulled pork on top. Soooo delicious.
Chef Jamie has also designed a menu with a variety of gourmet pizzas, salads, sandwiches and my personal favorite, sausage and cheese plates. There’s just something about a well-crafted beer and a slice of smoked Cheddar or Gruyère.
West Flanders Brewing’s amazing location is a given and at just over a week old, their beer and food are already living up to expectations. The next time you’re out and about on the Pearl Street Mall, be sure to stop by for a tasty beer and a nice meal. West Flanders Brewing is located at: 1125 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO. 303-447-2739.
So here we are, just two weeks out from the Great American Beer Festival and there’s a bazillion fun, beer events happening around town to get you ready. It seems like every weekend is just building up to the granddaddy of beer festivals. We’ve got some awesome events to talk about and there’s no time to lose!
Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
Yak & Yeti’s Head Brewer Adam Draeger released his Dragon Wort Ale on Wednesday. The latest addition in his Haunted Series of beers is an 8.5% ABV Belgian-style Ale. It’s spiced with Dragon Wort (or Tarragon), a versatile ingredient that’s more commonly used for chicken, fish, cake and even soda.
Stop by Yak & Yeti Restaurant and Brewery to try Adam’s newest creation. Yak & Yeti is located at: 7803 Ralston Rd, Arvada, CO 80002
Thursday, September 27th, 2012
So I’ve got nothing for you on Thursday… Sad, I know. So why not take a ride over to Boulder for a visit to the new West Flanders Brewing Co. on Pearl Street Mall?
I had the chance to sample all of their beers, along with some items on the food menu on their opening day last week and I was really impressed. They’re already off to a great start with their menu and 6 tasty beers: Angry Monk, St. Mark’s Dubbel, Daisy Cutter Belgian Strong, Canniption Pale Ale, TBD ESB and Third Kingdom IPA. Look for a full post about West Flanders Brewing next week, but in the meantime, stop by for a visit. They’re located at: 1125 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302. 303-447-2739.
LATE ADDITION: Crooked Stave Barrel Cellar is pouring beers again today! After some confusion surrounding appropriate licenses for pouring beers in the tap room, the funkiest brewery in Denver is officially back open and ready to pour their tasty blends again.
This is awesome news and I’m glad owner / brewer Chad Yakobson was able to get things cleared up so quickly. Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project is open Wed – Sat from noon – 7 PM and is located at: 1441 W 46th Ave, Unit 19, Denver, CO 80211.
Friday, September 28th, 2012
Prost Brewing is kicking off their Oktoberfest on Friday at noon. They’ll be joined by Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, who in true Oktoberfest fashion, will be tapping the first keg of Prost Märzen.
The fun will run throughout the weekend, but you won’t want to miss the tapping on Friday as there will also be live music by The Rhinelanders and their Alpenhorn, while the Prost staff will be decked out in their best German garb. Bust out your lederhosen and dirndls and come on down for a Maß of the new Märzen. Prost Brewing is located at: 2540 19th St, Denver, CO 80202. 303-729-1175.
This week’s Firkin Friday over at Dry Dock Brewing is a Cherry Belgian Blonde. Stop by at 3 PM for a chance to try this round.
Dry Dock Brewing is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014. 303-400-5606.
Down at the Rockyard, Jellyman’s brewed Keg Stand Red for this week’s Deviation release.
This is an “amped up version” of Rockyard’s Redhawk Ale. Sweet toffee and roasted aroma, with a hot hop bite. First glass gets poured at 4 PM. Don’t miss out. Rockyard Brewing is located at: 880 W Castleton Rd, Castle Rock, CO 80109. 303-814-9273.
Saturday, September 29th, 2012
Wow, Saturday’s big. HUGE!!!
Where to begin, where to begin….
Well, first up, Congrats are in order for Scott Witsoe over at Wit’s End Brewing, as they’ll be celebrating their 1-year Anniversary on Saturday.
Stop in from noon – 8 PM on Saturday and raise a glass to Scott and his awesome nano-brewery. They make some great beers and deserve your support. Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza will be on-site to fill your tummy. Wit’s End Brewing is located at: 2505 W 2nd Ave, Unit 13, Denver, CO 80219. 303-459-4379.
Speaking of anniversaries, Boulder Beer is having their 33rd Anniversary Party on Saturday. That’s incredible! Congrats guys!
They’re hosting a Beer Rave at the brewery from 2 – 6 PM. Tickets are $30 and include a tasting glass, beer, music and food from Jimmy John’s. Look for 12 small batch beers from Boulder Beer, plus a variety of beers from more than 30 guest breweries. This is going to be a great afternoon! Good weather, good beer and the money goes towards the Danny Williams Fund. It doesn’t get much better than that. Stop by Boulder Beer Co. at: 2880 Wilderness Place, Boulder, CO 80301. 303-444-8448.
Oktoberfest! I already mentioned Prost, who’ll be continuing their German shenanigans throughout the weekend. Go see them. You’re not a certified Beer Geek until you’ve visited Prost. Just sayin’…
On the other side of town, Dry Dock is gearing up for Docktoberfest. This is a GREAT event and rumored to be their busiest and mostest funnest day of the year. Pardon my terrible grammar, but it’s an awesome time.
The doors open at 11AM, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan will be tapping the first keg of Oktoberfest at 11:15 and from then on, mayhem and madness will ensue. Music will be provided by The Rhinelanders and their mighty Alpenhorn. There’s just something irresistible about accordion music and that huge horn from the Ricola commercials. Food will be on-site from Helga’s, the best freakin’ German food in town and the staff will be sporting their sharpest German duds. Mrs. Brewtally Insane will be pourin’, I’ll be drinkin’, it’ll be glorious. Come by and say hi. Dry Dock Brewing is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014. 303-400-5606.
Up north in Loveland, Grimm Brothers will also be hosting their Oktoberfest on Saturday. This will be your first chance to buy a few bottles of Farmer’s Daughter, their Oktoberfest Lager.
This family friendly event will also feature live music, food, games, contests and limited edition steins for sale. Grimm Brothers Brewhouse is located at: 623 N Denver Ave, Loveland, CO 80537. 970-624-6045.
I spent some time last week plowing through some tasty Pumpkin Beers and shared my findings in two posts breaking down what’s out there and what’s coming our way. Click THIS and THAT to catch up. Which brings us to RUMPKIN!
Avery’s releasing their 2nd batch of Rumpkin on Saturday at 5PM! This is a glorious, amazingly, tasty, delectable, glorious… Wait, I already said that…. Damn, it’s good. And it’s big! Like The Beast Grand Cru ate a pumpkin patch. Avery’s resident barrel herder Andy Parker said he had trouble getting enough rum barrels this year, so expect lower production numbers and little-to-no distribution. If you want some, get your pumpkin lovin’ butt to Avery Brewing on Saturday for this release.
I’ll be there, muling beers back for my fellow geeks that can’t make it. If you’re lucky enough to attend, Avery always treats their guests to some awesome, small-batch, barrel-aged deliciousness. Just between you and me, I’ve heard Tweak (aka Coffee Meph, aka Meph Addict aka delicious, big stout Mephistopheles brewed with coffee) and Ross’s Mom (blended Red Sour Ale). There’s plenty more that will be pouring and remember, that’s just between you and me. OK?
So go up there, get your Rumpkin bottles and you’ll be sitting pretty with your loot. This high ABV brew is sure to age well for years to come. Avery Brewing is located at: 5763 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, CO 80303. P.S. $10 / 12oz. bottle, 12 bottle limit, CASH ONLY!
Black Shirt Brewing is hosting another sneak-peek-teaser event on Saturday.
Black Shirt, you’re killing me! I want to come by, but not sure I’ll be back in time. I’ve even got 4 of those swanky Offero glasses longing to be filled with your beer. On Saturday, they’ll be open from 5 – 8 PM and pouring their wet-hopped Red Ale, brewed with locally harvested Centennial and Williamette Hops from Voss Farms in Arvada. I heard good things about last week’s sneak-peek. Me wants some! Black Shirt Brewing is located at: 3719 Walnut St, Denver, CO 80205.
Don’t forget our friends on the radio.
The Colorado Craft Beer Show will be live at Arvada Beer.
The show will be live from noon – 2PM on AM 760. They’ll be joined by Hops & Pie owner Drew Watson (also celebrating their 1-year Anniversary) and will be giving away another pair of tickets to GABF! You won’t want to miss this. It’s a great time to visit Arvada Beer, as they’ll be tapping their Pumpkin Ale on Friday, which was brewed with 45 lbs of pumpkins, 1 gallon of vanilla and 5 lbs of spices. Nom, nom, nom! Arvada Beer is located at: 5600 Olde Wadsworth Blvd, Arvada, CO 80002. 303-467-2337.
American Craft Beer Radio host Gary V., will be joined by Dustin Lemoine from Avery Brewing on 102.3 FM at noon. Chris Black from Falling Rock Tap House should be making an appearance and I’ll be there as well to talk about the upcoming Denver Beer Week and all of the Great American Beer Festival events planned around town.
We’ll also be talking about Avery’s Rumpkin release, discussing homebrewing topics with Duane Taylor from The Brew Hut and more. So grab your calendar and tune in at noon to 102.3 FM to make your plans for the next few weeks.
Sunday, September 30th, 2012
So I hear Falling Rock got their paws on a few bottles of Toronado 25. Yeah, read that again and just absorb it for a minute. Close your eyes and go to your happy place. You read it correctly, Toronado 25! Toronado 25 is an epic blend from Russian River Brewing, that was made to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the famous San Francisco Beer Bar, Toronado.
Not sure on the price, but, no matter, you won’t want to miss out when bottles make their appearance at 2PM. I still remember my first (and last…) sip of the incredible 20th Anniversary Blend. Amazing, complex, once in a lifetime kind of beer. Here’s the 25th blend:
4% Sonambic (barrel aged for 15 months)
16% Blonde Ale (barrel aged for 8 months)
36% Strong Pale Ale (barrel aged 12 months)
28% Ale Aged with Currants (barrel aged for 8 months)
12% Strong Dark Ale (barrel aged for 12 months)
4% Baltic Porter (barrel aged for 10 months)
Get some on Sunday so I don’t have to wipe away your tears when it’s gone. Falling Rock Tap House is located at: 1919 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202. 303-293-8338.
Before I wrap up, I just wanted to congratulate Wild Woods Brewery in Boulder. They opened for the first time on Tuesday, 9/25 with 6 beers: Wildflower Pale Ale, Treeline India Pale Ale, Campfire Red Ale, Ponderosa Porter, Smores Stout and Berry Wheat Patch.
Stop by and check them out on your next visit to Boulder. They’re located at: 5460 Conestoga Ct, Boulder, CO 80301. 303-484-1465.
I think that’s it. Man, I hope that’s it. Saturday is absolutely ridonkulious. If you can’t find a beer event to attend this weekend, I guess you don’t like beer. Anybody else notice that we have the potential for 4 Anniversary parties on the same weekend next year? Boulder Beer will be 34, Wit’s end will be 2, West Flanders will be 1 and Wild Woods will be 1. Aaah, that makes me happy.
Have fun this weekend, be responsible and be nice.