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A Brewer, A Blogger, and A Beer at Dry Dock Brewing. Part 1 – The First 7 Years.

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!  

Humble Beginnings

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!

Cheers!

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Pints in Pictures: Docktoberfest, Craft Beer Radio, Wild Woods Brewery, Rumpkin Release and the New Dry Dock

Awesome weekend.  You can read about it later.  For now, just look.

On Saturday, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan tapped the first keg of Oktoberfest at Dry Dock Brewing with owners Kevin and Michelle Delange.

Next stop, off to ESPN Radio to talk beer on American Craft Beer Radio with host Gary V. and special guests, Chris Black, owner of Falling Rock Tap House, Dustin Lemoine from Avery Brewing and Duane Taylor of The Brew Hut.

Then it was off to Boulder’s newest brewery, Wild Woods.

And eventually over to Avery for the release of this year’s batch of Rumpkin.

Then a little cookout, football and sneak peek into the new Dry Dock facility on Sunday.

Busy, busy weekend.  Plenty of things to write about, I just wanted to share a few pics and hopefully ease your “Case of the Mondays”.

Cheers!


Weekend Beer Buzz 09/27/2012

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.

Cheers!