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.