After a full lunch and some tasty beers at Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs, CO, it was time to move on to our final destination of Breckenridge, CO. Breck is only another 40 minutes west down I-70 and there are a few spots worth checking out if you’ve got the time.
First up is the town of Dillon, CO. Dillon is actually home to two breweries. Dillon Dam Brewery has been around since 1997 and offers a large selection of beers and a full menu. There’s only so many hours in a day, so we decided to pass up Dillon Dam on this trip and opted to hit Pug Ryan’s instead.
This was our first time visiting Pug Ryan’s and the parking lot was packed. We arrived just in time for happy hour and seems like the rest of the town had the same idea as us. $2.50 pints and 25% off appetizers is tough to beat. Pug’s has been brewing since 1997 and offers 4 year round beers: Morning Wood Wheat, Pallavicini Pilsner, Over the Rail Pale Ale and a Scottish Ale. They also keep a few rotating seasonals and on this trip it was the Gorilla Vanilla Oatmeal Stout. Patti snagged the Oatmeal Stout before I could get my order in, so I went with the Pale Ale. Both were solid. The Gorilla Stout is infused with Jim Beam, Frangelico, Meyers Rum and vanilla beans. Big, bold flavors and really enjoyable.
The place was hoppin’ and we somehow managed to snag the last two seats at the far end of the bar. The brewery is lined with glass windows overlooking the Dillon Reservoir. The brewhouse is just off the bar and from our seats, you could reach out and touch the fermentation tanks. Again, really surprised by the large crowd, especially considering it was the off-season. I guess that’s a good sign that the locals appreciate this place and business is good.
Pug Ryan’s has been serving food since 1975 and they have a huge menu. From chicken wings to crab cakes to filet mignon to prime rib. They really have it all. We were still stuffed from lunch, so I guess we’ll have to hit them up for food on our next visit.
They’re currently working on expanding and had a large area roped off outside for construction. All of their beers are available to-go in growlers, along with cans of their Pilsner and Wheat.
After Pug’s, we had time for one last stop, so we rolled down the highway to Frisco, CO. Frisco sits just outside of Breckenridge and is home to Backcountry Brewery. Backcountry opened in 1996 as an effort to bring great beer to Summit County.
The brewery is located on ground level, while the bar and restaurant are upstairs. We walked upstairs and found a large lounge area with a fireplace, couches and TV’s. Over at the bar we looked over the beer menu. Their standard lineup covered all the bases. Wheat, Pilsner, Amber, IPA and Robust Porter rounded out the year round options, but Backcountry really stood out with their seasonals. On our visit, they were pouring a Double IPA and a Breakfast Stout.
I love a good coffee beer, so decided on the Breakfast Stout. It was on nitro, which made it very, very smooth. The beer was pitch black, with tons of coffee flavor, roasted grains and chocolate. Tasted like a delicious iced coffee. Patti ordered the Double IPA, which poured a clear, orange color. Big citrus, grapefruit smell. Nice hoppy flavor, but nothing that might make your tongue go numb. Both were very enjoyable.
We caught the tail end of happy hour, which runs from 3-6 PM, mon-fri. All beers during happy hour are only $2.50! Kind of nuts to be get a 10% ABV Double IPA for only $2.50. Between the discounted beers and 1/2 price appetizers, Backcountry might have the best happy hour in Colorado.
The dining room has an area that allows customers to look down into the brewhouse on the lower level. In the bar, the windows look towards the mountains. We sat in the windows looking out on the snow-capped Rocky Mountains and really didn’t want to leave. Although we weren’t ordering food, they offer pizza, pasta, burgers and salads.
Backcountry offers bottles to-go and 2 gallon party pigs. We agreed that this was probably our favorite stop of the day. Good beers, great happy hour deals, knowledgable employees and a warm atmosphere make Backcountry a place we’ll be sure to visit again in the future.
So in the past few posts, I’ve mentioned several places that are well worth checking out. Make a day trip or get away for the weekend and pay them a visit. You won’t be disappointed. If you’ve got the time and want to keep chuggin’ west on I-70, there are plenty more that await your discovery. Seems like every little mountain town has their own brewery these days. Trust me, that’s not a bad thing. Get out, explore and enjoy.
So a few days ago I gave you a little tease about getting into the delicious world of beer trading. We were going to walk through a trade, along with Tony, one of our readers and track down some tasty New Glarus in exchange for some Colorado locals. Did you miss out? If so, click HERE to catch up and come back when you’re ready. (insert Jeopardy theme song…)
So we set up our free account on beeradvocate.com; we made our simple ISO (In Search Of): FT (For Trade) post; we raked in a bunch of responses (about 15 in 24 hours). Now what???
So now you’re wondering, how do I pick a trader to go with? Like I said, we got about 15 responses the first day of our ISO:FT post. I’ve got a few ways to narrow down the trader we’re going to work with. The first way is to go with the first response. Kind of seems fair that the early bird gets the worm. Another way is to go with someone you’ve already traded with.
For me, trading is all about establishing good, friendly relationships with traders from around the country. That way, when a beer comes along in a certain area of the U.S. that I’m looking for, I’ve got someone that might be able to help me out and vice versa. There are several traders that I’ve known for years and we hook each other up with local fav’s, brewery only releases and so on, to share the loot. In this case though, I wanted to start fresh and not fall back on past experiences. I wanted to play the “rookie” and show you that it’s still easy to lock in a trade without knowing someone ahead of time.
So I decided on a response from Kody, who actually lives in Chicago, IL, but makes frequent trips to Wisconsin. Kody’s initial response was simple and to the point. He just stated that he had New Glarus Belgian Red and Raspberry Tart and was looking for Odell and Lost Abbey. We swapped a few more messages and came to the realization that we both had access to the same Lost Abbey beers, but I suggested some beers from Dry Dock, Avery and Funkwerks that he hadn’t heard of and might be interested in.
In the past week, we’ve exchanged about a dozen more messages, narrowing down specific beers to swap and our favorite styles. Turns out, Kody is going to be obtaining bottles of Three Floyd’s Dark Lord later this month, which is considered to be one of the best beers on the planet. I love me some Dark Lord and am always on the hunt for more. So we’re already talking about future trades!
Like I said, beer trading for me, is about making those friendships that will continue for years to come. I enjoy making connections with people like Kody who have the same passion for beer as I do. In the future, I can get beers exclusive to my area that he will enjoy and swap for beers in his area that I will enjoy. This is what makes the beer geek community so cool and unique. Granted, it’s not always this way. I’ve done many “one and done” trades, but more often than not, I trade with the same people, over and over again. Hell, there’s even a guy in Boston, MA that I traded with so many times that I flew him out for the Great American Beer Festival a few years ago.
Anyway, so we’ve locked in our trader, made small talk, locked in the beers we’re going to trade and we’re one step closer to having some delicious New Glarus for our glass. Our next step is to buy our beers, pack, ship and wait for our box o’ goodies to arrive. Questions???? Comments???? I’m going to try and pack our beers this week, so stay tuned!
In other news, I hit the Uncle Jacob’s Stout release at Avery last night. Uncle Who? Click HERE for the details. I got there late, but avoided the line and still got my allocation. The reviews so far have been great. For anybody that went and popped open a bottle, what did you think? Looks like they flipped the line around and ran it into the barrel room and back through the keg room. After attending various Avery releases for the past few years, it seems like Avery has gotten better and better about their small batch releases. They continue to improve the customer experience and that’s a GREAT thing. Big shout-out to Adam, Phil and everyone else over there for their awesome efforts in making these releases run smoother each and every time. I hope to open a bottle soon and will try to share with you when I do.
Lastly, tomorrow is Opening Day for the Colorado Rockies. As a huge baseball fan, I’m really, really looking forward to this. The weather should be perfect and the beer scene will be in full effect. Falling Rock Tap House will be rockin’ with tents set up out front representing your favorite breweries. Freshcraft, Denver Beer Company, Great Divide and the new kid on the block, River North, will be open and ready for the baseball crowd. Rumor has it, Sandlot, at Coors Field, will even be pouring a sour for Opening Day! Patti and I will be there and hope to see you downtown! Drop us a line if you’re going. We’d love to meet up and share a brew with you.
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.
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.
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!