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Drink and Support Local at the All Colorado Beer Festival

Just when you think this year’s Beer Festival season is coming to a close, I’m going to wow you with one that highlights the best of our delicious state of beery goodness.  Meet the All Colorado Beer Festival (ACBF)!

If you were anywhere near Denver earlier this month, you no doubt heard about or even experienced the madness of the Great American Beer Festival.  It was BIG, it was FUN, but it’s gone away until next year. It’s time to get back to our roots.  Time to refocus and revisit the amazing brewers and breweries right here in Colorado.  The ACBF, held annually at the Freedom Financial Expo Center, in Colorado Springs, is your perfect chance to sip some old favorites and seek out some new ones as well.

The ACBF, which is entering its’ 6th year, aims to raise money for Colorado Springs nonprofit organizations.  In five years, the festival has donated more than $85,000 to local charities!  So now you can drink local, while supporting local.  Get on it.  It’s win / win people!

I’ll admit, I’ve never been to the ACBF, but on Saturday, November 3rd, I’m hoping to change all that. The festival offers two tasting sessions, along with a VIP option.  Session 1 runs from 1 – 4:30 PM and Session 2 runs from 6:30 – 10 PM.  The VIP option allows you to get in 1-hour earlier and also grants you access to beers not available to the rest of the attendees.  Tickets are $30/per session ($25 with Military ID), $40 for VIP and $10 for DD.  Tickets, times and other details can be found HERE.  If you act quickly, you might be able to take advantage of the Groupon running right now.

As for the breweries, keep your eye out for your familiar favorites, such as Odell, New Belgium, Ska, Avery, Great Divide, etc…  But what’s really exciting for a big beer nerd like myself, is the abundance of new(er) breweries that will be making an appearance.  Paradox, out of Woodland Park, barrel ages everything! and has been getting quite a few good reviews from my fellow beer nerds.  Rocky Mountain Brewery, out of Co. Springs, recently took home two awards for their fruit beers from the very prestigious World Beer Cup.  I could go on and on, but half the fun is discovering new beers on your own.  More than 30 breweries will be bringing their beers to share at the ACBF this year.  Check out the complete list of breweries to map out your plan for the festival.

This year’s ACBF will also feature a formal judging event, live music, food and more.  The festival is shaping up to be a great day of beer, food and fun, all for a great cause.  Come on out on November 3rd and check it out for yourself.

Cheers!

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Weekend Wrap Up, New Beers and Beer News 4/22/12

The house is quiet.  The kids are in bed, Patti’s makin’ the big bucks at work and I’m sitting out back on the deck.  My cat watches me through the screen door in total jealousy.  I’m not sure if he’s jealous of the fact that I’m outside or if he’s just eyeing up the IPA I’m sipping on, but either way, he’s not happy with me.  At any rate, I’m loving this weather and I’m a little bummed that another weekend is drawing to a close.  Did you get out and enjoy it?  We sure did.

We hit the Copper Kettle 1-year Anniversary Party on both Friday and Saturday.  It gave us a chance to try some of their special releases like the Belgian Golden Strong, Belgian Black Quad and American Barleywine, among others.  If you missed it, you need to kick yourself…  hard.  It was a great, 4-day long celebration, with different beer releases each day, along with food trucks and live music on-site.  I’m not sure if they staff got any sleep over the weekend or not, but they were having fun and kept things running smoothly.

Copper Kettle beer list on Friday.

Gary V was there broadcasting his American Craft Beer Radio program on Saturday morning.  He had Jeremy Gobien and Kristin Kozik from Copper Kettle on the show, along with Bill Eye talking about the upcoming opening of Prost Brewing, Firkin Master Walt Chleva from Dry Dock and Tim Myers from Strange Brewing.  Great show and thanks Gary for the shout out!

American Craft Beer Radio live from Copper Kettle Brewing.

After the past weekend, I’m really digging Copper Kettle and their great beers.  I’ll be stopping by more and more to try their different releases and get growlers to go.  Congrats on a great first year guys!

We also hit up the Avery Tap Takeover out at Parry’s Pizza in Highlands Ranch, CO.  This was an awesome event, featuring 21 Avery beers on tap, plus a handful in bottles.  They brought some heavy hitters for this event, including ’11 Beast Grand Cru, Tweak, Uncle Jacob’s Stout and a ton more.  Very, very impressed with the lineup.  The standout for me was the Boulder Weiss.  A (not over the top) German sour, that was served with a touch of either cherry or peach.  The peach was delish!

They also had Avery giveaways every hour throughout the day.  We couldn’t resist the food.  Dude, their food is seriously good.  We got a pizza that was dripping with tasty meat.  It couldn’t have been better.  Really good food, great beer.  If you haven’t been yet, move Parry’s to the top of your list.  Stay tuned for more Tap Takeovers in the coming weeks.

Alright, so you get the idea, the weekend rocked.  Hope you were able to get away from the yard work and enjoy it at some point.

Got plenty of new beers on the way to keep your beer hunting skills finely tuned.  First up is Stone Ruination.  Seems the gargoyle has been working out and has pumped up from 7.7% ABV to 10% ABV for his birthday.  Come on now, who doesn’t like Stone?  This classic Double IPA should be pretty easy to track down, so keep an eye out for it in upcoming weeks.

   Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA

For the sour beer and funk lovers out there, Chad Yakobson up at Crooked Stave has bottled his Petite Sour.  You might recognize the name from last year’s Pure Guava Petite Sour release, but this is a completely different beer.  It’s being described as a “tart, farmhouse, table beer”.  I know last year’s Pure Guava had a, well, uhm, interesting (?) aroma when it was released, that wasn’t necessarily well received by the funksters.  Settle down people, Chad knows his beer.  If you like wild yeast, sours and funky things, this should be on your radar.  Oh, and pick up two if you can.  One for now and one to try in a year or two, after the yeast has really gone to town and worked its’ magic.

While we’re laying down the funk, Jason Yester down at Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs just got label approval for his upcoming Oh Face Saison.  Another tribute to the movie Office Space, this was brewed with pumpkin, lavender and spices and fermented with Brettanomyces.  He’s putting that new brew system to good use.  They don’t call him Saison Man for nothing.  Jason is a master at what he does and this will definitely warrant a trip to the brewery to pick up a bottle or three.

 

Right about now you might be thinking, damn man, can’t you just tell me about a good beer that I can go to the store and buy today!  Sorry, I just get excited about all the new beers coming our way.  But yes, you’re right.  There are plenty of new, tasty beers that have found their way to your local shelves in the last week that you can easily track down and enjoy right now.

How about Firestone Walker’s Wookey Jack.  This is the latest release in their Reserve Series and is listed as a Black Rye IPA.  Wookey Jack is double dry-hopped with Citra and Amarillo hops, which should give a big grapefruit or citrusy aroma.  It’s unfiltered and I’m guessing the rye will make it pretty easy drinking.  At only $5.99 / 22-oz bomber, it’s worth trying.

Firestone Walker Wookey Jack 22oz Label

Quick teaser, FW fans, Parabola will be back in mid-May.  I believe this will be the third batch.  More details as I get ’em, but if you like imperial stouts, this is a winner.  Stay tuned.

One more beer that’s out and about now is Avery’s Uncle Jacob’s Stout.  I know, I know, I’ve mentioned this beer about 6 times in the last two weeks, but it’s THAT good.  Plus, I know you’re going to be really mad at yourself when all the other little Colorado beer nerds have bought them up and you missed out.  Yep, it’s $10.00 / 12-oz bottle.  I get it, it’s expensive, but it’s also 17% ABV.  Split a bottle with someone and put on a long movie.  You’re evening is set.  It’s a nice, nice beer that is very drinkable right now and will continue to evolve and change over time.  Avery plans to release this beer again next year, so start building your vertical now.  Pick up some today.  It’s still around at a few places, but won’t be there for long.  If you don’t grab one, I don’t want to hear any whining later.  Just sayin’.

 

That’s it for now.  Again, hope you had a great weekend and hope I could add some beers to your shopping list.  Oh, almost forgot, our beer trade is going along swimmingly.  (Swimmingly???  I don’t know, just liked the sound of it)  Our beers are getting shipped out tomorrow.  Stay tuned and I’ll walk you through the whole packing process and get us one step closer to some tasty, sweet New Glarus morsels.

Happy Earth Day!  Cheers!


Weekend Beer Buzz and Trade Update

Even on Easter weekend, the beautiful beer state of Colorado has several events planned to prevent you from getting thirsty.  The weekend’s right around the corner, where are you gonna be?

Boulder is topping the list with two big releases this weekend.  First, swing by Twisted Pine for their West Bound Braggot Release.  This is the fourth release in their Artisan Ale Project and is scheduled for Saturday, April 7th, from 4-8PM.  Think sweet honey mead, mixed with exotic Tasmanian pepper berries and fermented with Belgian saison yeast.  Think adventurous and delish!  Stop by the brewery to grab your bottles, meet the brewers and get your bottle signed by the artist who designed the label.

After Twisted Pine, grab a cab and swing by Avery for the Uncle Jacob’s Stout release party.  This will join Rumpkin as the second beer in their Annual Barrel Series.  Uncle Jacob’s Stout is a big ol’ 17.4% ABV stout that’s been aging for 6 months in fresh bourbon barrels.  Maker’s Mark I believe…

Fan boys and girls can grab  bottles for their cellar on Saturday, beginning at 5PM.  12oz. bottles are $10 / each, with a 12 bottle limit.  Even if you’re not looking to score any bottles, stop by for some banjo pickin’, and try the special beers pouring for the event.  Eremita III, Barrel Aged Tweak (aka Meph Addict) and Rumpkin will be flowing along with whatever else Avery pulls out of their stash to share.  You won’t want to miss it.

So you can’t make it Boulder this weekend?  No worries, out on the southwest side of town in Highlands Ranch, Parry’s Pizza is getting ready for an onslaught of Firestone Walker.  Parry’s is putting on a pint night on Saturday, April 7th from 5:30 to 7:30PM.  Word is that they’ll have 21-23 different taps flowing of Firestone Walker deliciousness.  Order a Firestone Walker beer, get a glass to bring home and add to the collection.  You’ll also be entered to win shirts and other prizes.

Sounds like they’ll be bringing out some tasty kegs from the cellar to share with Colorado.  I visited Parry’s for the first time last weekend and had a great time.  Awesome food and amazing tap list.  Stop kidding yourself.  This place is a legit attraction for beer nerds.  Check them out!

On the other side of town in Aurora, Dry Dock’s Firkin Master, Walt Chleva has brewed a Rose Hips Superstition Ale.  This rose hips infused version of their sour mash ale will go on tap on Friday at 3PM, so slip out of work a little early and get your weekend started in the right direction.

Anybody make it last week for the Bacon Maple Ale firkin?  I’m bummed that I missed that one and would love to hear how it turned out.

My last post was all about getting started in the wide world of beer trading.  I’ll be continuing this series soon, but wanted to give you a quick update on where we are with this project.  After my initial post on beeradvocate.com, I had 3 replies in 20 minutes and ended up getting 15 replies in 24 hours.  I’m currently working out the details with a trader who lives in Chicago, IL and is making a trip to Wisconsin to do some beer shopping this weekend.  I’ll be making a few more posts on this and will walk you through the entire process, but just wanted to give you a quick update.

Finally, a few cases of Cantillon have trickled in from Belgium and a few more should be showing up on shelves around town this weekend.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can find a bottle or two, but I don’t have my hopes up.  Gone are the days when Cantillon was readily available all over town.  But good luck beer hunters and if you come across an extra, I’d love to trade you for a bottle.  If you come up empty-handed, just remember, it’s only beer.  There’s always something new and tasty to try coming up on the horizon.

Have a great weekend and Hoppy Easter!  Cheers!


Avery Strong Ale Festival 2012 Recap

I had been looking forward to the Avery Strong Ale Festival for weeks.  Unfortunately, these things always seem to come and go so quickly.  I’m a little sad that another one is in the books, but wanted to share some highlights with you.

My wife and I checked into our hotel at around 2PM on Friday and walked to a nearby restaurant for a big dinner.  We wanted something that would stick with us late into the night and the big ol’ NY style pizza we ordered really hit the spot.  After dinner, we tracked down a few bottles of water and called for a cab to pick us up.

The festival opened at 5PM and we arrived about 20 minutes after the hour.  There was no line, so we strolled right in, but were still early enough that it wasn’t packed with people just yet.  We got our glasses, tasting tickets and a beer list.  Avery was nice enough to post the list on their Facebook page on Friday morning, so atendees could get an early glimpse at what would be pouring.

They set the festival up in alphabetical order by brewery name, so it’s relatively easy to navigate.  The Avery tasting room housed the first 20 taps, from A-B.  The barrel room had an additional 35 taps, from B-G.  The remaining 69 taps, from G-V, were in the warehouse.  We figured the least amount of people would be in the back warehouse area and decided to hear there first.  Kind of like when you’re a kid going to Disney World.  You want to hit Space Mountain first to avoid the long lines later in the day.  Same principle.

Ready to roll with the first 20 beers in the Avery Tap Room.

In the warehouse, I grabbed my first beer, Russian River’s, Pliny the Younger.  I couldn’t resist the hoppy goodness and wanted to get a pour before the keg kicked.  I figured it wouldn’t last long.  It was the perfect start to the night, until I went to reach for my camera…  Yeah, so, uhm, no camera…  I had left it back in the hotel.  A blogger without a camera is like a stormtrooper without his blaster.  Pointless.  Oh well, I’m new to this.  Lesson learned.  Still, I wasn’t going to let this get me down.  I used my quick thinking, ninja skills and hijacked my wife’s iPhone to use the camera feature.

Anyway, moving on, I headed down a few taps to get a pour of The Bruery’s, Melange No. 3.  I’ve got a bottle of this in the cellar at home, but I’ve been been waiting to try this one for a while.  It didn’t let me down.  Melange # 3 is a blend of three different beers.  White Oak Sap, a wheatwine, their Anniversary Old Ale and Black Tuesday, their famous Imperial Stout.  Big, sweet nose, chocolate, bourbon and dark fruit flavors.  It’s a pretty special beer.  Mmm, delish!

Moving on down the line, I found what would prove to be my favorite beer of the night, Surly’s Five.  Brewed in honor their recent 5th anniversary, this is a 100% Brettanomyces fermented dark ale, aged in red wine barrels.  Sour cherries, oak, along with some tartness and bretty funk.  A beautiful brew.  I love my sours and this one was top notch.  Now for the bad news, Surly doesn’t distribute outside of Minnesota…  Sigh.  If you’re a beer trader, you’ve got to seek this one out.

Surly Five. My favorite beer of the night!

We came across plenty of other highlights along the way from all over the U.S.  Some of my other favorites were Alpine – Bad Boy DIPA, Cigar City – Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout, Avery – Bourbon Barrel aged Meph Addict and Pizza Port – Nose Rider DIPA to name a few.  The lineup seems to get a little better every year.

We saw lots of familiar faces and good people from around the beer world.  Plenty of local brewery representation, bloggers and even some out of state breweries.  Avery, Great Divide, Lone Tree (Jason, please bring beers next year!), Strange, Dry Dock, Bull & Bush, Oskar Blues, Redstone Meadery and many more.  We also met the gang from COOP Aleworks out in Oklahoma City, OK.  These guys were really cool and have some interesting projects going on that they were eager to tell us about.  Well worth checking out if you’re ever out that way.

Gary V. and The Gubna. Nothing like a little friendly competition.

“What’s yours?”

They don’t call themselves Strange Brewing for nothing.

No bathroom lines, the ability to go in and out of the fest to get some fresh air, good food, even better beer and some high school kids laying down some nice jazz tunes.  Another job well done by the good folks at Avery!

As the night began winding down, we called for a cab and headed back to our hotel.  It was time to head back and grab some zzzz’s.

American Craft Beer Radio host Gary V. had asked us to help him with his show on Saturday.  He was broadcasting from the Avery lot on Saturday morning and wanted us to pull some winners from his facebook page for a few brewery prizes he had to give away.  The good people at “The Kitchen” offered their upstairs bar for us to set up shop and connect with Gary.  His show is on 102.3FM from noon-1PM on Saturday’s.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that The Kitchen people really know their beer.  If you’re ever up in the Boulder area, check them out.  They’re right on the Pearl Street Mall and have a huge beer list.  They were pouring not just tasty locals like Avery IPA, but also harder to find beers like Russian River Supplication and Firestone Walker XV.  They also host beer dinners and have a Dry Dock beer dinner scheduled this week.  The food looked good too.  Being a sucker for cheese, they had a pretty impressive selection.  Like I said, check ’em out.  The radio show went off smoothly and it’s always fun to help when we can.

The Kitchen, Boulder, CO

After we wrapped up, we cruised the Pearl Street Mall for a bit and headed back to Avery to do a little beer trading.  I had set up a trade ahead of time and just needed to make the switch.  I left with a case of Avery bombers, so be on the lookout for some upcoming reviews.  The weather was perfect and people were really digging the outside patio area.

Again, awesome weekend, great people, amazing beer and perfect weather.  Avery, you guys rock!  Let’s do it again next year.  Cheers!


Strong Ale Fest Teaser, Prost Brewing, Firkins, Dark Lord Day Tickets and Beer Radio!

So it’s been an exciting week for me.  We had more than 300 hits in the first week of Brewtally Insane.  It’s awesome to see such a positive response.  Thank You! 

As I get ready to have my face melted at the Avery Strong Ale Festival tonight, I wanted to share a few pieces of beer news that I came across over the past few days. 

First up, Prost Brewing is hard at work getting their brew system up and running.  Prost is led by Bill Eye, the former head brewer over at Dry Dock in Aurora, CO.  Since leaving Dry Dock, he bought a brew system over in Germany, had it shipped to the U.S. by boat and has been hard at work getting it ready to fire off some tasty German style beers.  Bill and the gang at Prost are aiming for a Spring 2012 opening.  Prost will be located at 2540 19th Street, Denver, CO 80211.  Check out their Facebook page to stay up to date on their progress, participate in surveys and see pictures of everything, from construction to glassware. 

Let the countdown to Spring begin!

Speaking of Dry Dock, their Firkin Friday release today is Hop Project:X.  Firkin master, Walt Chleva, says this is a dry hopped pale ale with an experimental hop.  First firkin at 3PM, second firkin at 7PM. 

12 hours from now, the Strong Ale Festival up at Avery will be in full force.  Here’s a few teasers for you from two of my favorite breweries.  First up, Surly.  They sent kegs of Smoke, which is a smoked lager and Five, which is a sour ale they brewed for their 5th anniversary.  Surly doesn’t distribute very far from their brewery up in Minnesota, so be sure to check these out if you’re attending  this weekend.  

Get Surly this weekend at Avery's Strong Ale Festival

Oskar Blues also has some intersting “one-offs” for you to enjoy at the festival.  They’re bringing four beers this time around.  Look for a wine barrel aged G’Knight, an oak aged version of Gubna and a Double Deviant.  That should satisfy the hopheads in the crowd.  If double IPA’s aren’t your thing, they’re also bringing a Wild Turkey barrel aged version of Ten FIDY, their Russian Imperial Stout.  Personally, I’m really looking forward to giving that a try. 

Look for Oskar Blues to bring some tap some tasty barrel aged beers this weekend.

American Craft Beer Radio will be broadcasting live for a pre-festival, tailgate-like show at Avery from 11-noon tomorrow.  Joining host Gary V. on the show tomorrow will be Surly head brewer, Todd Haug and Avery barrel master, Andy Parker.  American Craft Beer Radio is on 102.3 FM, ESPN Radio.  At noon, you can flip over to 760 AM for the Colorado Craft Beer Show and here all the local happenings with John Turk and from Oskar Blues, Chris Katechis, aka “The Gubna”.  I love both of these programs and it’s nice that they’re going to be on at staggered times this weekend so listeners don’t have to flip back and forth. 

Oh and real quick, Three Floyds has announced that tickets for their 2012 Dark Lord Day release will go on sale on March 17th.  The release date is set for Saturday, April 28th.  I’ll have more info on Dark Lord Day soon, but if you’re thinking about going, check out their website and mark your calendars.  This is one of the biggest releases of the year and is sure to be a good time.

Get ready to reserve your Dark Lord Day 2012 tickets next week.

Again, thanks for a great first week.  Business cards have arrived.  They look pretty sharp if I may say so and have a tip chart on the back so you’ve got no reason not to take care of your bartenders around town.  Give me a shout and I’ll give you some to pass along to your beer loving friends.  Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook to get updates, beer releases, reviews and links shared with you throughout the week.


Bell’s Hopslam Review and Rogue Maple Bacon Doughnut Order Details

With the Avery Strong Ale Festival only a few days away, I thought I should get my palate in shape and open a high abv beer tonight as a warm up.  OK, you’re right, I’m just using that as an excuse to pop a big beer.  Whatever.  The kids are in bed and Daddy’s thirsty!

So tonight I reached for a bottle of Bell’s Hopslam.  Bell’s has been brewing beer since 1985 and are located in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Hopslam is their 10% Double IPA and one of their current seasonals.  It’s also currently ranked as one of the top 25 beers on the planet.  Since this is the first review I’ve done in the blog, it also gives me a chance to show you how I taste a beer.

Whenever, I taste a beer, I begin with the pour and observation.  Hopslam comes in a 12oz. bottle and I poured it into a Bell’s tulip glass.  The beer was a pefectly clear, deep orange color.  The creamy, snow white head, rested about the height of two fingers resting on top of each other.  A steady, moderate flow of carbonation bubbled away in the glass.  I waited for some of the head to fade away and it left intricate patterns behind on the glass.  These patterns are referred to as “lacing” or sometimes “Belgian lacing”.  Hopslam had no problem leaving stringy, snowflake-like lacing on the edges of the glass.

Hops, it’s what’s for dinner.

After the pour, I take a minute or three to smell the beer.  I usually give it a swirl like the fancy pants wine-o’s do with their wine.  This will give it a chance to open up and allow all of the aromas to seep out.    Somebody, somewhere at some point in time, told me that 90% of what we taste, comes from what we smell.  Hopslam opens up with grapefruit, tangerines and other citrus fruit, followed by pine, fresh grains and finishes with a touch of sweet malt.  Smells awesome!

Now comes the good part, let’s give it a taste!  Hopslam is a bitter, tongue lashing for your mouth.  Thank you sir, may I have another?!?!  Big, explosive hop flavor, plenty of bitterness but wraps up with a stream of honey and the slightest touch of caramel.  This bit of sweetness is what makes this beer so highly drinkable.  The honey tames the hoppy bitterness and really smoothes the beer out.  The 10% abv is well hidden.  Once your tongue goes numb, this beer goes down way too easily.

Hopslam finishes up with a long, drawn-out bitterness that sticks around in your mouth for a long time.  The mouthfeel is thick and leaves behind a wave of hops on your tongue.  It’s not syrupy, but let’s just say it’s hearty, and that’s not a bad thing.

A fantastic beer and is someting you’re going to want to track down if you’re a card carrying hophead.  Since Colorado doesn’t fall into the Bell’s distribution footprint, I had to trade for my bottles.  I did a little research and this is the fourth year in a row I’ve traded for Hopslam.  My first review of this beer was on 3/9/08.  Yeah, it’s good and worth the trouble.  It should also be noted that I pulled the beer out of the fridge about 15 minutes before I started the review.  Allowing the beer to warm up a bit, will help to open up all the aromas and flavors.  Try it, you might be surprised.

Before I wrap this up, I recently posted some info on the Brewtally Insane Facebook page about Rogue selling bottles of their Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon beer through their webstore.  A couple of you commented on my offer of making a group purchase in order to bring down the shipping costs.  I’ve been thinking about it and if the interest is there, I might be willing to go in on a case purchase.  You probably know Rogue and if you don’t know Voodoo, you’re missing out.  Patti and I visited these geniuses last year and couldn’t believe how good their sweet creations were.

Pick your poison!

So if you’re interested, send me a message on the facebook page or leave a comment on there and I’ll get in touch with the details.  Dude, it’s BACON!  Enough said.  Cheers!