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Weekend Beer Buzz: Strong Ale Fest & Birthday Edition 02/28/2013

Cold, snowy week here my friends.  The “Redneck Ruler” has been working overtime, trying to keep up with the foot of snow we got this week.

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Our team of “experts” flew in for a few days to revamp the website.  Those slackers got a good start, but we’re not ready to relaunch just yet.  It’s coming…

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Some of the last kegs of this year’s Pliny the Younger release are getting tapped tonight.

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Freshcraft will begin handing out tickets at 5:30 PM, with the tapping scheduled for 6 PM.  6 oz. pours will sell for $7.  Freshcraft is located at: 1530 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202.  303-758-9608.

Over at The Cheeky Monk, they’ll tap their last keg at 6:30 PM.  $10 / glass.  The Cheeky Monk is located at: 534 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203.  303-861-0347.

The Inaugural SUDS for SIDS Brew Fest is at Mile High Station in downtown Denver, CO.

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The event will raise money for Angel Eyes, which helps families cope with the sudden, unexpected death of an infant or toddler.  As the father of two, this is a very scary topic and one that isn’t recognized enough.  Parent or not, it’s a great cause.  The $40 ticket will allow you the opportunity to try a variety of beers, sample food from local restaurants and meet dancers from the Broncos and Nuggets.  Beer geeks can look for brews from more than a dozen breweries including Elevation, River North, Strange and Oskar Blues.  Mile High Station is located at: 2027 W Lower Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80204.

Last night, Renegade and Wit’s End tapped their collaboration beer, called Judge Whoppner.  It’s an Imperial Brown Ale brewed with malted milk.  The initial 10 gallon batch is on tap at Renegade right now.  A second batch is set to be brewed soon over at Wit’s End for their tasting room.  Shikes has all the details in his recent Westword article.  In the meantime, head over to Renegade and give it a try.  Renegade Brewing is located at: 925 W 9th Ave, Denver, CO 80204.  720-401-4089.

Aurora’s Cedar Creek Pub is a bit of a hidden gem out in.  Today, they’ll tap a keg of The Bruery’s Sour in the Rye.  It’s brewed with around 40% rye malt, then transferred to oak barrels where the sour yeast and bacteria work their magic.  This is a tasty, complex, moderately funky, seasonal brew from California’s The Bruery.

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I still need to make a trip to visit Cedar Creek Pub, but their beer tappings have just gotten better and better over the past few months and the food menu looks great too.  Stop by and give them a try.  Cedar Creek Pub is located at: 2100 N Ursula St, Aurora, CO 80045.  303-537-4124.

Up in Arvada, Yak & Yeti’s Head Brewer Adam Draeger, tapped a Toasted Coconut Porter yesterday and the (Yakety Yak) Don’t Talk Bock is getting rave reviews.  Here’s this week’s lineup.

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Draeger also said he brewed a large batch of a Belgian Dubbel that will be ready sometime towards the end of March.  The beer will be called “Brahmin Dubbel Knowledge” and features 25 pounds of homemade Belgian Candi Sugar.  Yak & Yeti is located at: 7803 Ralston Rd, Arvada, CO 80002.  303-431-9000.

Crooked Stave has your sour fix.  They just tapped Sentience aged in a Leopold Bros Small Batch Whiskey Barrel.  This won’t last, so get to the barrel room today.  It’ll also be pouring at Strong Ale Fest, so you’ve got a couple of chances to try this amazing beer.

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Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project is located at: 1441 W 46th Ave, Unit 19, Denver, CO 80211. 720-508-3292.

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Dry Dock’s Firkin Friday release will be a Citrus Saison.

Tapping at 3 PM.  Dry Dock Brewing is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014.  303-400-5606.

Down at Rockyard Brewing, Jellyman’s got a 15% ABV Eis’d Bier de Garde, called King Baudoin.

This Deviation is described as a “malt forward and chewy ale” that will “warm you like a thick down coat”.  Perfect for the cold, snowy days we’ve experienced lately.  This behemoth will tap at 4 PM. Rockyard Brewing is located at: 880 W Castleton Rd, Castle Rock, CO 80109. 303-814-9273.

As for us, we’ll be at the 11th Annual Strong Ale Festival at Avery Brewing in Boulder.  You know how much we love the Avery Fests and this one is no exception.  This is THE place to be this weekend if you crave those big ass, roided up, 8+% ABV, monster brews.  I’ll be scoping out Russian River’s Pliny the Younger, Avery’s Tweak (coffee infused Mephistopheles) and whatever the hell Surly brings this year.  Maybe a little of your new barrel-aged Brett beer, Pentagram?  Yeah, that works.  And bring back Darkness you foolio’s!

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Strong Ale Fest sold out quick, so if you don’t already have tickets, well, you’re probably out of luck.  However, if you do have tickets, look for us Friday night.  The event continues on Saturday and features a live broadcast with the guys from the Colorado Craft Beer Show and American Craft Beer Radio.  More details below.  And if you just want to re-live last year’s fest and gaze over the menu, click HERE.  Avery Brewing is located at: 5763 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, CO 80303.

UPDATE: The 2013 Strong Ale Fest beer list is up for your drooling pleasure.  Start planning your weekend right HERE.

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Strong Ale Fest at Avery continues on Saturday from noon to 5 PM.  The Colorado Craft Beer Show and American Craft Beer Radio will kick things off out front beginning at noon.  Check them out on AM 760 and 102.3 FM respectively.  Be responsible people.  Book a hotel, call a cab, eat a big meal, drink a whole mess of water, have fun.

If you don’t have tickets for Strong Ale Fest, then get your butt over to Copper Kettle Brewing Company, for the release of their Barrel Aged Old Ale.

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Tapping at noon.  Copper Kettle is located at: 1338 S Valentia St #100, Denver, CO 80247.  720-443-CKBC

Don’t forget your German lesson with Bill Eye from Prost Brewing.

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Prost needs your help.  They’re looking to name their 4 fermenters.  They’ve got three 70 barrel tanks and one 80 barrel.  Send your entry to kevin@prostbrewing.com.  The winner will win a growler a month for one year!  Prost Brewing is located at: 2540 19th St, Denver, CO 80211.  303-729-1175.

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Hops & Pie will tap their Pliny the Younger keg on Sunday.

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They’ll hand out 50 tickets when the doors open at 2 PM.  A ticket guarantees you a 10 oz. pour, so don’t be late.  The keg gets tapped at 4 PM and all tickets must be redeemed by 8 or you risk losing your share.  Pliny the Elder will also be on tap.  Hops & Pie is located at: 3920 Tennyson St, Denver, CO 80212.  303-477-7000.

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Your last chance for Pliny the Younger is coming up on Monday down at Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs.

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Tickets will be available at 6 PM and the tapping will happen at 7 PM.  Don’t be one of those whiners who didn’t get their Younger this year.  Get out and get some.  Trinity Brewing is located at: 1466 Garden of the Gods Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80907.  719-634-0029.

Other Exciting Brew News

Some of Colorado’s lady brewers brewed a collaboration beer at Wynkoop earlier this week.  They joined forces to brew a Belgian Pale Ale that’ll debut during Colorado Craft Beer Week in March. Click on this link for a short video that aired on Fox31 a few days ago.  There’s also details on a contest they’re having to name the brew.  Winner gets FREE BEER!

Boulder’s Fate Brewing has been staying busy.  Business is good at the new brewpub and the brewhouse is almost completely installed.  Sales & Marketing Director Hannah Lloyd says they should be “brewing test batches by this weekend…fingers crossed”.

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Until then, be sure to stop by and check out some of their tasty collaboration brews.  Fate Brewing is located at: 1600 38th St, Boulder, CO 80301.

Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew gave us a little tease this week.

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A new 3 BBL brew system is on the way and it looks like bottles are in the future as well.  Congrats to Brandon and the rest of the gang on this very exciting news!  Stop by and check them out if you haven’t already.  They just expanded their hours again to better serve the local beer freaks.  Our Mutual Friend is located at: 2810 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205.  720-722-2810.

Beer Hunters, take note that Firestone Walker’s §ucaba, a barrel-aged Barleywine and Stone’s Old Guardian Barleywine are making the rounds right now.  Stone also released an Oak-Smoked version of Old Guardian as part of their “Odd Beers for Odd Years” line of beers.  I can’t speak for the new Oak-Smoked, but the others are great both fresh and aged.  Get ’em while you can.

Utah’s Epic Brewing is opening a brewery, barrel room and tasting room right here in Denver. They’re just getting started over there, but plenty of exciting things are coming.

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As always, we’ll keep you posted with updates.  An April opening is expected.

Happy Birthday to us!

Brewtally Insane (that’s us) turns 1 this week!  Just wanted to say Thank You to all of our readers, brewers and amazing people who have supported us since we fired up this little site last year.  We really, really, really appreciate it.  I started this just as a way to keep some friends in the loop with all the local beer happenings and it’s taken off from there.  So Thank You!  Look for us at SUDS for SIDS at Mile High Station tomorrow and Strong Ale Fest at Avery Brewing on Friday. Say “hi”, have fun, be safe.

You guys rock!  Craft beer rules!

Cheers!

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Elevation Beer Company Expands and Gears Up For State-Wide Distribution

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Press Release:

Elevation Announces 2012 numbers, Blue Series to launch Across Colorado

January 28th, 2013 Poncha Springs, Colorado– Elevation Beer Company is excited to announce that it produced 935 barrels in 2012 making it one of, if not the largest, craft brewery to open in the state of Colorado in 2012 in terms of total production.

“We overshot our projections by nearly 40%,” says Elevation’s General Manager and Co-Founder Carlin Walsh, “We are so thankful to all our wholesalers, accounts, and most importantly our fans that allowed us to almost break the 1,000 barrel mark within only 7 months of brewing in 2012.”

More than 50% of Elevation’s total production was sold through their Blue Series, which includes their First Cast IPA and Little Mo’ Porter.  Both of which were sold in just three Colorado counties in 2012.

Due to the high demand, Elevation has just completed its first expansion, which will triple the capacity of the brewery and vastly improve its bottling speeds with the addition of 3 new fermenters and two Meheen bottling lines. The expansion will allow Elevation to produce as much as 4,000bbls a year.

“We will finally be able to meet demand in our local area, and with the added capacity we are excited to announce that we will be bringing our Blue Series including our First Cast IPA and Little Mo’ Porter to select accounts across the state of Colorado starting in February.”  Says Sales and Distribution Manager Xandy Bustamante.

The Blue Series will launch in pint bottle four packs in conjunction with Elevation’s Fortitude Ski Giveaway promotions at two liquor stores in the Denver Area, Mile High Wine and Spirits in Lakewood, and Hazels Beverage World in Boulder, starting in February.  More off-premise accounts and draft availability should be added in March as Elevation ramps up on production.

“We are hoping we will have our First Cast IPA and Little Mo’ Porter available at beer bars and liquor stores statewide by summer in our pint bottle four packs and draft.” Says Xandy, “Also keep an eye out for our Black and Double Black Series seasonal 750ml bottles and draft as we will be also increasing their availability across Colorado. It has definitely been an exciting and wild ride so far and we are excited for 2013.”

About Elevation

Elevation Beer Co. is an artisan microbrewery located in Poncha Springs, Colorado, just minutes from Salida, Monarch Ski Area, Arkansas River Headwaters, and over seven 14,000-foot peaks.  Elevation specializes in brewing large adventurous beers for the craft beer fanatic, while trying to elevate the perception of what beer can be.

 

Going Big In Vail With Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines

I Love me a good beer fest and here in Colorado, there’s no shortage of good beer fests.  We’ve got plenty to choose from throughout the year.  But, it’s the Great Ones that keep me up at night.  The Great Ones that get me excited like a kid on Christmas morning.  The Great Ones that I’d jump on a flight to attend if I ever moved out-of-state.  (Gasp!)  The annual Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines in Vail is a Great Beer Fest.

Big Beers (or BBB or #Bigbeers for you twitterers / hash tag types), is a world-class event that educates beer lovers, brings us closer together with tastings and bottle shares and when all’s said and done, leaves us thirsting for more.  How the hell have I not been back to this event for the past 6 years!?!?  No clue, but I guarantee it won’t happen again.

On The Road Again

Our adventure began on Friday morning with a trip up old I-70.  No trip through the mountains is complete without a stop at Backcountry Brewery in Frisco.

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Within a few minutes of arriving, our group had secured spots at the bar and I had a glass of Old Beer Wagon Barleywine sitting in front of me, courtesy of Backcountry’s Head Brewer Alan Simons. The perfect beer to warm up with from the sub-freezing temperatures and blowing snow outside. We enjoyed lunch and I got my fill of Alan’s amazing Barleywine and hearty Breakfast Stout.

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Just as we were preparing to press on to Vail, Alan re-appeared and offered us a tour and the chance to check out Backcountry’s recent expansion.

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In addition to the new family of fermenters, Backcountry has a new bottling line that should be rolling out 6-packs down the mountain shortly.  Alan was kind enough to share some special treats with us like his GABF award-winning Imperial Saison, Imperial Saison w/ Brett and Tart SaiZin, which was aged in Zinfandel barrels.  Another great visit to Backcountry.  Their great beers and hospitality can’t be beat.  Be sure to pay Backcountry a visit on your next trip up that way.

Warming Up With A Bottle Share

We pressed on and in no time, found ourselves pulling into Vail.  We hadn’t even checked into our condo yet, when I realized Gary V from American Craft Beer Radio was trying to catch up with us for a beer.  With not much else planned for the day and bone chilling, sub-zero temperatures outside, we decided to coordinate a bottle share for the night.

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Nice photo bomb Gary!

We had a solid group of craft beer enthusiasts including Dave from Fermentedly Challenged, John from Backcountry Pizza, Lauren from Napa of Beer, plus several homebrewers and our host Gary from American Craft Beer Radio.  It was a lot of fun just to sit around, taste and share a variety of beers from Cigar City to Jester King.  Surly Five is such a tasty, barrel-aged Brett beer.  Three Floyds Dark Lord seems to show up at every tasting we attend and I can’t get enough of the rich, inky stout. And Cantillon continues to be my favorite Belgian Brewery.

We talked and tasted into the wee hours.  Thanks to everyone involved for a great time!

The Main Event

On Saturday, with no kids to wake me up at 5 AM, I managed to sleep in until all of 7 AM.  A quick check on the phone revealed a lovely temperature of -15 F.

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Yeah, -15 F is pretty special.  No reason to fight it.  We just got the gang together, got the fire going, started a pot of coffee and whipped up pancakes, sausage and eggs.  Who forgot the bacon???

Before I knew it, we were off to the Commercial Tasting Session.

Starting things off right with some Rochefort and Orval.

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Hair of the Dog!  Love me some Adam!  DSC_1041

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Great to see Allagash back in Colorado!DSC_1034

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Brian and Great Divide had plenty of big beers, plus a special keg of Peach Grand Cru and a variety of cheeses to pair with their beers.DSC_1052

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Breckenridge Brewery brought out their big beers to share, including their Barrel-Aged Holidale.  DSC_1049

Jim, Kjell and Melissa from Rockyard Brewing brought a bunch of small batch, big brews, along with their collaborative Buddha Nuvo to share.DSC_1055

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Look for Strange Brewing to bottle their award-winning, Dr. Strangelove Barleywine in the coming weeks.  This will only be available at the brewery in very limited quantities, so don’t miss out.  DSC_1057

Danny from CAUTION: Brewing showing off his newest growler design.  Emperor’s Royal Guard Red for those keeping score at home.  DSC_1032

Crooked Stave brought pretty much everything, including the kitchen sink!  DSC_1061

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Awesome as always.  Thanks guys!  DSC_0002

I finally had the opportunity to sample the variety of sours from Colorado’s Three Barrel Brewing. They are hoping to get bombers into the Denver market later this year.  I really enjoyed all of their beers and if you’re a sour fan, I’d definitely keep an eye on them.
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Dry Dock Head Brewer Doug Hyndman was happy to share some Bligh’s Barleywine.
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Sam Adams 10th Anniversary of Utopias was flowing during the fest.  At nearly $200 / bottle, it was probably my last chance to try this big, rich and tasty beer.  DSC_0015

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Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione was almost as excited as we were when Bell’s “lost shipment of beer” showed up to the tasting.  DSC_0034

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Xandy from Elevation was pouring Apis IV, plus their next two beers, Oil Man and Señorita.  You won’t want to miss these upcoming bottle releases.
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Goose Island had plenty to choose from, including Bourbon County Brand Stout and Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout.DSC_0086

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Keep an eye out for Roadhouse Brewing from Jackson Hole, WY.  They won’t open until later this Spring, but already have a tasty IPA, Saison and Belgian Strong Ale.  DSC_0112

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Brewtally Best of Show

With so many amazing beers, covering a wide variety of styles, it was nearly impossible to narrow down a favorite.  But here are three that stuck with me.

Big Beer: Bell’s Brewery – Raspberry Wild One.  With the ridiculous amount of stellar beers pouring, I could easily list 10 as my “Favorite Big Beer”, but I’ve done my best and narrowed it down to this one.  The Wild One.  The tartness, mixed with the sweet fruit, was what made me enjoy this one so much.  It’s got complexity and depth with the oak presence, acidity and sour notes. Raspberry Wild One was just a great beer that really stuck out in my mind from the weekend.  Great job Bell’s!

Belgian: Brasserie d’Orval – Orval.  This is the Trappist that goes against the grain.  While the other Trappist monasteries brew some of the finest Dubbels and Quads around, Orval takes a different approach with their dry, slightly hoppy and funky Brettanomyces brewed beer.  I could drink Orval all day.  Drink it fresh for the hops, or age it for a little more Bretty funk.  Orval is a delicious beer and the only one the brewery puts into bottles.

Barleywine: Strange Brewing – Dr. Strangelove.  This is an American Barleywine with tons of sweet, caramel malt, balanced by a generous does of hops.  Head Brewer Tim Myers, said he hopes to bottle Dr. Strangelove later this month and sell bottles at the brewery shortly thereafter.  Job well done.  Beer hunters, snag some if you can.

With 200+ beers pouring this past weekend, it’s downright unfair to pick just 3, so here are a few others that definitely deserve a mention: Wynkoop – The Chancellor Barleywine, AC Golden – Peach Sour, Mission Brewing – Double IPA, Hair of the Dog – Adam, Three Barrel – Penitente Chimayo, Surly – Abrasive, Rockyard – Buddha Nuvo, Trappistes Rochefort – 10, Renegade – Black Gold (Peanut Butter Cup Stout), Oskar Blues / Ska – OSKAr the G’Rauch, Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout, Elevation – Oil Man Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, Boston Beer Company – Utopias 10th Anniversary, Crooked Stave – L’Brett d’Or, Backcountry – Imperial Saison with Brett, Grimm Brothers – Wee Heavy Bourbon Barrel Brett and on and on and on.  As you can see, the list was phenomenal!

Here’s some links to last week’s radio shows, both of which were live from Vail:

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American Craft Beer Radio

Vail Big Beers gives beer lovers a rare chance to sample some of the finest beers on the planet AND talk to the brewers that create them.  Such a great weekend and a BIG Thank You to all involved.  We can’t wait to go back next year.

Cheers!


Weekend Beer Buzz: Vail Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Edition 01/10/2013

It’s been a good week here in Colorado.  I was able to attend a fun little bottle share last weekend with some local craft beer lovers.  It was a great group of people and the tasting featured everything from Cigar City Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Hunahpu to Cantillon Lou Pepe Framboise to Hill Farmstead Anna.  A few of us collaborated on a Czar vertical from ’05 to ’12.  I like to call it the Czar Voltron.

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It’s tough to beat a good bottle share and it was great to see the dedication and generosity of the local beer geek community.

Last Friday, Epic Brewing of Utah, announced their plans to open a brewery, barrel room and tasting room in Denver this Spring.  All the details can be found in the Press Release.

Also last week, I had the opportunity to review Elevation Beer Co’s Downpour Imperial Red Ale and try Odell’s Lugene Milk Chocolate Stout (review coming soon!).

But enough about last week, there’s a new weekend right around the corner and we are READY!  The 13th Annual Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines festival hits Vail over the next few days.  After a long hiatus, we’re excited to be heading back up the mountain for this amazing festival.  Anybody else headed up that way?  Wait.  Let’s back up, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Deep breath.  Alrighty, here we go!

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Colorado gets a new brewery today!  Over in Boulder, J Wells Brewery will pour their first beers at 1 PM.

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Stop by and check out the new place and try one of the three beers on tap: Jamie’s Pale Ale, Chocolate Milk Stout and Hop Haze IPA.  J Wells Brewery is located at: 2516 49th St., Boulder, CO 80301.

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Get your firkin fill over at Dry Dock Brewing with Firkin Friday.

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This week’s tapping is Turncoat Amber.  Dry Dock Brewing is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014.  303-400-5606.

Down at Rockyard Brewing, Jellyman’s releasing Darth Cherry for this week’s Deviation.

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Darth Cherry is a Dark Cherry Stout.  Stop by for the 4 PM tapping.  Rockyard Brewing is located at: 880 W Castleton Rd, Castle Rock, CO 80109. 303-814-9273.

Verboten Brewing will open their doors for the first time on Friday.

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This new brewery up in Loveland will be open from 3 – 9 PM on Friday and 1 – 9 PM on Saturday.  For opening day, they’ll be pouring: Belgian Wit w/ Lemongrass, IPA and Caramel Porter on both nitro and CO2.  Verboten Brewing is located at: 1550 Taurus Ct, Loveland, CO 80537.  970-988-6333.

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Vail is THE place to be this weekend with the Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines (BBB) festival going on Thursday, Friday & Saturday at the Cascade Lodge.  Although the festival kicks off on Thursday with the Brewmasters’ Dinner (with Avery and Dogfish Head), continues Friday with a homebrew competition, Cicerone exam and another Brewmaster’s Dinner (with Dry Dock Brewing), the real fun is the seminars and commercial tasting on Saturday.  Although no official list of beers has been released, there should be more than 200 beers pouring from some of the best breweries in the world.

The Commercial Tasting runs from 2:30 – 6 PM, with seminars beginning as early as 10 AM. Unfortunately, the tasting sold out earlier this week, but tickets to a few of the seminars are still available.  A complete schedule of events can be found HERE.

Both the Colorado Craft Beer Show and American Craft Beer Radio will be broadcasting live from BBB on Saturday.  Be sure to stop by and show your support for these great shows.  They’re doing a great job of spreading the word of craft beer.  If you’re not heading up to Vail, pour yourself a beer and tune in to see what you’re missing.  Colorado Craft Beer Show will air on AM760 after the CU game, around 2:30 PM and run until 5 PM.  American Craft Beer Radio will air on 102.3 FM at 2 PM.

Broncos fans should know that the BBB directors are trying to figure out a way to broadcast the game inside during the tasting.  No promises, but they’re working on it.

Into The Future

Looking towards next weekend, Denver Beer Co. is hosting an Inaugural Beer Dinner in their new Barrel Room on Friday, January 18th.  This will be your very first chance to see the newly completed barrel room and expansion.

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The $60 ticket includes dinner and a chance to try some of Denver Beer Co’s first barrel aged brews. Denver Beer Co. is located at: 1695 Platte St, Denver, CO 80202.  303-433-2739.

Also coming up on Sunday, January 27th, is a benefit at The Rackhouse Pub to raise money for Strange Brewing’s legal defense fund.  The whole Strange vs. Strange has gotten a little out of control and the Colorado Craft Beer community is rallying behind our Strange Brewing to help them through this tough time.  So far, two dozen local breweries have generously donated beer for this event, which runs from 3 – 6 PM on 1/27.  Tickets are only available online for $25 and can be purchased HERE.  The Rackhouse Pub is located at: 208 S Kalamath St, Denver, CO 80223.  720-570-7824.

That’s it for this weekend guys!  If you’re driving from the Denver-area up to Vail, be safe.  Snow is on the way.

See you soon!

Cheers!


New Brew Review: Elevation’s Downpour Imperial Red Ale

Ever since I tried my first sip of Elevation Beer Co’s Apis IV (their first bottled release) last summer, I’ve been closely following this fledgling Colorado brewery.  From what I’ve seen so far, they consistently put out high quality beers at a price that’s relatively easy on the beer geek’s wallet.  So when their newest release, Downpour Imperial Red Ale, hit the Denver-area market a few weeks ago, I thought it was time for a review.

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The Story

Straight  from the label:

Downpour is named after the sudden thunderous downpour that hit the Elevation Team during a “team building” trip of paddle boating and beer at Chaffee County’s Cottonwood Lake.  The hot day on the lake and its enlivening, bitter, cold downpour inspired us to create an Imperial Red Ale with a combination of the fresh bitterness of 4 different types of hops and the warming of a big malt backbone.  This beer is perfectly balanced for the warmth of summer sun and the cold of fall rain. 

Downpour balances on the border between malt and huge hop flavors, mulch like the balance between warm summer days and the bitter cold thunderstorms we get here in the high country of Colorado.  The beer pours a hazy redwood red with a white fluffy head.  Hops dominate the nose with pine, earth and grapefruit, balanced slightly by caramel malt flavors and hints of our fruity London Ale yeast.  The beer hits the palate with bitter hop notes and is balanced by bready malt.  A beer for the hop freaks among us.

The Review

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Appearance:  Poured from a 750 mL, corked and caged bottle into a tulip glass, the beer is, well, it’s red.  Says so right on the bottle.  There’s no foolin’ there.  No sediment, just a nice, dark, ruby red with a steady, controlled stream of carbonation throughout.  The head shapes up 3-fingers tall and is frothy, off-white, and resembles a creamy latte.  Plenty of lacing to coat the walls of my glass all around.  Downpour just looks awesome.  Score: 4.5/5

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Aroma:  Piney hops, sweet caramel and bread make up the bulk of the aroma.  There’s also a touch of citrus and if you close your eyes there’s a bit of wood and honey.  Mmmmm….  Score: 4/5

Taste:   First sip is biscuit, nuts and citrus hops.  It’s as if I’m eating a slice of hop bread baked by a mischievous baker.  Second sip, more hops jump out, with pineapple, peaches and mango lurking in the background.  It’s leaning towards an IPA, but never quite crosses that line.  The bottle says 90 IBU’s, but it’s not overly bitter by any means.  That’s where the “Red” comes in.  The malty, rich, caramel notes keep the hops in check and prevent this brew from becoming just another bitter hop bomb.  West coast Red mixes with a malty ESB.  To hell with style guidelines.  What you should know is the combo works and it’s freakin’ tasty.  Score: 4/5

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Mouthfeel:  Downpour is full flavored and brings a medium, yet not too heavy or syrupy mouthfeel to the table.  It finishes on the bitter side and like a red wine, it leaves your palate dry.  What to do, what to do???  Whet that thing and drink some more!  Score: 4.5/5

The Verdict

Overall:  People, I only paid $8.99 for this 750 mL bottle and it didn’t disappoint on any level.  It brings a beautiful pour, aroma, flavor and finish to the table.  As prices on the craft beer market continue to rise, sometimes approaching ridiculous levels (cough, Woodcut, cough, cough), Elevation keeps it in check by offering well crafted AND affordable beers. It’s beers like Downpour that allow the macro-crap drinkers to make the switch over to high quality, craft beer.  Score: 4.25/5

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Add Elevation Beer Co to your list of Colorado breweries to watch and seek out your own bottles of Downpour while they last.  You won’t be disappointed.

Cheers!


Brewtally Insane Best of 2012: Beers, Breweries and Beer Bars

2012.  What a year!  Certainly a HUGE year for beer!  With more than two dozen breweries opening in Colorado this year, there were plenty of new and interesting brews that were introduced into our market.  It’s not easy for a beer geek to keep up with everything…

We did our best to try them all and my liver hates me for it.  But have no fear, all this “research” has good purpose.  There was no way we could have tried everything out there, but here’s some of our personal favorites from 2012.  While I didn’t take availability into account, we did have a few rules that each beer had to meet: 1. available in either bottles or cans.  2. a new release in 2012.  3. made right here in Colorado.

Without further ado, here’s our list of favorite beers, breweries and beer bars from the past year.

10. Odell Brewing – The Meddler

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Big woody notes combine with tart cherries and plums to round out this complex Flanders Oud Bruin.  Such a tasty style that seems to be making a bit of a comeback.  Odell has been rolling out great sours since the emergence of Friek last year and this is a great addition to their already impressive lineup.

9. Oskar Blues Brewery – Deviant Dale’s IPA

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Not only did Oskar Blues give us an IPA this year, but they put it in those big ass 16 oz. cans!  Who do I need to thank for this great gift?  Plenty of grapefruit, caramel, pine and citrus hops galore.  Best addition to the OB family since TEN Fidy.

8. Prost Brewing – Hefeweizen

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We all knew Bill Eye was an amazing brewer, but I don’t think any of us knew German lagers could be sooo damn tasty.  I love the entire Prost lineup, but the Hefeweizen is pretty special.  Fruity, flavorful, refreshing and light enough to make it a sessionable beer.  In addition to being on tap at a variety of restaurants and bars, look for growlers of this tasty brew at liquor stores throughout the Denver area.  Delish!

7. New Belgium – Lips of Faith Tart Lychee

A three-year old wild ale was mixed with lychee fruit and cinnamon to create a unique combination for New Belgium’s summertime Lips of Faith release.  It turned out to be the perfect “lighter” sour brew for the warm summer months.  I liked it so much, I greedily snagged a keg for myself.  I hope they keep this tasty offering in regular rotation.

6. Trinity Brewing – Oh Face Saison Provisional

I credit my wife, Mrs. Insane, with finding this one.  While I was filling my cup with Trinity’s phenomenal sours during GABF, she was discovering Oh Face.  This is another beer in their “Office Space” series, which also includes TPS Report and the upcoming Red Swingline Stapler.  Oh Face is a sensory adventure with plenty of Bretty funk, fruit, cardamom, pepper, coriander, yeast and more.  Another complex masterpiece from our favorite brewery down in the Springs.

5. Funkwerks – Deceit

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The 2012 Small Brewery of the Year just seems to get better and better.  Deceit is a classic Belgian-style Tripel with flavors of tropical fruit, spices and hops.  Look for more interesting one-off’s and seasonals to come out of this Fort Collins brewery in 2013.

4. AC Golden Brewing – Hidden Barrel Apricot

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Low production numbers, a high price tag and no distribution for AC Golden’s first bottled release. Yet, it still managed to tie up phone lines with orders and sold out on the same day it hit store shelves.  And for good reason.  It’s full of sour apricot, barnyard funk and oak.  Hopefully we’ll continue to see more interesting bottles and expanded distribution from AC Golden in 2013.

3. Elevation Beer Co. – Apis IV

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Elevation’s first bottled release was a delicious, complex Belgian-style Quadrupel, that was much more authentic Belgian than American knockoff.  Although Elevation may or may not brew this beer again, they’re clearly on the right track and I’m looking forward to more greatness from them in the years to come.  Awesome beer.

2. Avery Brewing – Uncle Jacob’s Stout

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This 17% ABV Imperial Stout, debuted in April as the 2nd release in Avery’s Annual Barrel Series. Bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, oak and booze make up this sticky, sweet stout.  Look for another batch to be released sometime in 2013.  Be sure you don’t miss out!

1. 2012 Beer of the Year: Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project – Persica055

I could have easily picked 5 beers from Crooked Stave to make this list.  They’re just that good. But for me, Persica was the standout and my pick for best Colorado Beer of 2012.  Unfortunately, the only way to try this one was by being a member of Crooked Stave’s 2012 Cellar Reserve, having a generous friend who’s in the Cellar Reserve or were lucky enough to snag a sample at Avery’s Sour Fest.  Ripe peaches and oak mix for this fruity, sour gem.  It’s a shame only a few hundred bottles were made, but the good news is that it’ll be making a return in 2013 to members of the Cellar Reserve.  It’s not too late to sign up, so don’t miss out.

Best Colorado Breweries of 2012

1.  Avery Brewing – Not only do they offer a solid lineup of year round beers, but their seasonals and occasional Barrel-Aged releases are second to none.  The Barrel-Aged series has become so popular, that the releases have turned into mini-festivals at the brewery, where Avery taps unique and hard-to-find beers just for the occasion.  Combine their great beers with their annual Anniversary Party, Sour Fest, IPA Fest and Strong Ale Fest and the new brewery which is expected to open in 2014, and it’s easy to see why Avery Brewing is our favorite brewery of 2012.

2.  Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project – Wild Wild Brett Indigo, L’Brett D’Or, Nightmare on Brett, Persica and they even managed to bring Cantillon’s Zwanze Day to Colorado.  Phenomenal job all around!

3.  Odell Brewing – They make some of our favorite CO beers including Friek, Myrcenary and Bourbon Barrel Stout.  I could sit in their tasting room all day, play a little cornhole or just watch the world go by on the patio.  Thank you Odell for another great year of events, tappings and bottled releases.

Best Denver Area Beer Bars of 2012

1.  Parry’s Pizza – Epic tap takeovers, pint nights, great food and a friendly and knowledgable staff made Parry’s our favorite place to sip a pint outside of a brewery in 2012.  Three locations around the Denver area, with more on the way!

2.  The Rackhouse Pub – Aside from great beer, great food and multiple beer events throughout the year, The Rackhouse shares the roof with Stranahan’s Whiskey.  Stop by for a tasting and tour of the distillery, stick around for a bite to eat and a locally brewed craft beer.

3.  Falling Rock Tap House – The classic Denver tap house.  They get the good stuff the for the geeks and always seem to have something special on draft.

Three Colorado Breweries to Watch in 2013

1.  Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project – More barrels, more bottles, a coolship and a brewery at The Source.  Look out!

2.  Dry Dock Brewing – A new production facility, new brewhouse, a 63-BBL foeder, canning line and expanded distribution.  I’m in!

3.  Black Shirt Brewing – I’ve admittedly only tried 3 of BSB’s brews, but if that’s any indication of what’s to come, Denver’s in for a treat in 2013.

With so many great beers, breweries and beer bars around town, this wasn’t an easy list to compile and sadly, many deserving beers didn’t make it.  What were your favorites from 2012?  Leave a comment on our Facebook Page and share with us.

As 2012 draws to a close, I cant wait to see what lies ahead for the Colorado Beer Scene in 2013. It’s an exciting time to be a craft beer lover.

Cheers and Happy New Year!


Weekend Beer Buzz 12/27/2012

Well, we survived the “apocalypse”.  Good job people.  I’m proud of you.

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We went from “the end of the world” right into “the most wonderful time of the year”. Yep, Christmas is here.  I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday.  Did you see our recent post about some of the more complex and unique Christmas brews on the market?  Be sure to check it out HERE and feel free to share your favorites on our Facebook page.

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It’s a pretty quiet week in the world of beer.  I’m off work for a few days, so it’ll be a quick update. After all, I’ve got pirate ships and talking puppies to play with.

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Down at Rockyard Brewing in Castle Rock, Jellyman’s releasing “Ball Dropper” for this week’s Deviation.  This is an Eis’d Belgian Red Dark Strong.  Jellyman describes this as “truly a fine ale for a world that was supposed to END!  11% ABV.  Think dark fruit and molasses meets good ole funk!”

Tapping at 4 PM. Rockyard Brewing is located at: 880 W Castleton Rd, Castle Rock, CO 80109. 303-814-9273.

Dry Dock Brewing has a Raspberry Brown Ale ready to roll out for Firkin Friday.

Head over and grab a pint at 3 PM & 7 PM.  Dry Dock Brewing is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014.  303-400-5606.

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

Turk and the Gubna will be broadcasting live from Arvada Beer on Saturday.  That’s right, stop by for a pint and catch the Colorado Craft Beer Show for their monthly broadcast in old town Arvada.

Even if you can’t make it out to Arvada Beer for the live broadcast, be sure to tune into AM760 at noon to catch all the latest brew news.  Arvada Beer is located at: 5600 Olde Wadsworth Blvd, Arvada, CO 80002.  303-467-2337.

Over on the FM side, Gary V’s back with American Craft Beer Radio.

He’ll be broadcasting live on Saturday at noon from the Dry Dock Brewing Company in their barrel room.  Tune into 102.3 FM at noon to get the latest updates in the world of craft beer.  Dry Dock Brewing is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014. 303-400-5606.

Copper Kettle Brewing Company’s releasing their Winter Spiced Ale on Saturday at noon.

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Guess two out of the three spices used in the recipe and you’ll win a free growler! Copper Kettle Brewing Company is located at: 1338 S Valentia St #100, Denver, CO 80247.  720-443-CKBC.

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Denver’s Renegade Brewing will tap their Black Gold on New Year’s Eve at 6 PM.

This is the annual release of their peanut butter stout.  Don’t miss out on this tasty, sweet stout.  Tapping’s at 6 PM.  Renegade Brewing is located at: 925 W 9th Ave, Denver, CO 80204.  720-401-4089.

Prost Brewing’s having a New Year’s Eve Party.  For $23.15, you’ll get plenty of Prost Bier, a toast at midnight, German buffet and party favors.

The party starts at 7 PM.  Prost Brewing is located at: 2540 19th Ave, Denver, CO 80211.  303-729-1175.

Just down the street, Denver Beer Co. has their own New Year’s shindig planned.

They’ll have plenty of tasty brews flowin’ along with a firkin of Chocolate Graham Cracker Porter at midnight.  Denver Beer Co. is located at: 1695 Platte St, Denver, CO 80202.  303-433-2739.

New Brews

We’ve got some great new brews hitting right now.  This week we had Elevation’s Downpour Imperial Red Ale show up in the Denver area.

This is a 7.5% ABV hop-forward red.

Also hitting right now is Ska’s Vinifera Stout.

Vinifera Stout is an 8% ABV, oak aged foreign style stout brewed with Malbec grapes.

That’s it for the Weekend Beer Buzz.  Have a great weekend and be safe on New Year’s Eve.

Cheers!


Weekend Beer Buzz 05/23/2012

Sorry for the lengthy delay in posts.  I haven’t even had a chance to hit the latest news on the Facebook page…  I caught some sort of funk and it’s been a rough week.  I’m finally starting to feel better and just in time for your weekend beer buzz update!

Hope you were able to get out and enjoy Craft Beer Week.  I wrapped things up by attending the inaugural Taste of Tipsy’s beer festival.  Great event, despite the cool, wet weather.  Saw a lot of good friends and fellow beer geeks and got to try some awesome beers.  I’ll post some pics at the end if you’d like to see more.

Later that night, I had the opportunity to have dinner at Parry’s Pizza and attend the Odell’s Tap Takeover.  Man, they make some great food over there and the beer was obviously awesome!  Great event guys!  Looking forward to the next one.

Still looking for an Odell fix?  Then head up to Fort Collins on Saturday, May 26th for the annual Odell Small Batch Festival.  This is a great chance to try some of their unique and tasty one-offs like Wooden Elephant Oak Aged IPA and Footloose Golden Sour.  The party runs from 3 PM – 7 PM and beers costs $4 / each.  Click HERE for a beer list and all the details.

 

Grimm Brothers is going to be hosting their Maifest on Saturday, May 26th at noon.  This is a family friendly event that will feature the release of Little Farmer Maibock.  They’ll have food, music and games for the kids.  Grimm Brothers is located at: 632 N Denver Ave, Loveland, CO 80537.  970-624-6045.

Copper Kettle Brewing is set to release this year’s batch of Summer Ale on Saturday, May 26th.  This light, refreshing Wit is brewed with coriander and orange peel.  The tapping begins at noon, followed by a visit by the Uber Sausage food truck and live music at 5 PM.  Copper Kettle Brewing is located at: 1338 S Valentia St #100, Denver, CO 80247.   720-443-CKBC.

The Denver Beer Company always seems to have something interesting on tap.  This week’s lineup is no exception.  They’ve got their delicious Graham Cracker Porter back on tap, along with Kaffir Lime Wheat, Misseur Flaneur Saison, Holy Cow Milk Stout, Centennial DIPA and more!  They’re also in the process of brewing a Raspberry Kolsch.  Sounds awesome for those upcoming warm days of summer.  Denver Beer Company is located at: 1695 Platte St, Denver, CO 80202.  303-433-2739.  Here’s the latest list:

And don’t forget about Dry Dock’s Firkin Friday release.  On Friday, May 25th, they’ll be pouring a Dry-Hopped Red.  As usual, the beer begins flowing at 3 PM.  Dry Dock is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014.  303-400-5606.

Need to get your beer fix before the weekend?  Then swing over to Lowry Beer Garden on the east side of Denver.  Think traditional, open-air beer garden, tucked away in Denver, CO!  They’ll have 16 craft beer taps and 30 bottles, featuring local breweries like Copper Kettle, Odell and Oskar Blues.  They’ll also be offering a variety of food, including brats, burgers, salads and pretzels.

Lowry’s Beer List

Lowry is family friendly, so feel free to bring the little ones.  Make an afternoon of it and visit the Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum next door.  Their official opening day is at 4 PM on Wednesday, May 23rd, but will be open every day from 11 AM – midnight.  Lowry Beer Garden is located at: 7577 E Academy Blvd, Denver, CO 80230.  303-366-0114.

And just in case you want some great beer, but don’t want to go far from home, keep an eye out for Elevation’s Apis IV.  Elevation Beer Company just opened their doors last weekend in Poncha Springs, CO.  Their first bottled release, Apis IV, is a Belgian Quad brewed with honey that is making its’ way into the Denver market.  A few local stores got bottles this week and many more should be getting cases over the next few days.  At about $10 / 750mL, you really can’t go wrong.  I’ll be grabbing one for sure.  I hear a barrel aged version will also be coming out shortly.  I’m really excited about Elevation and can’t wait to try their beers.

That’s it for now.  Follow the Facebook page to stay up to date throughout the weekend.  Oh, and here’s some pics from the Taste of Tipsy’s event last weekend.  Cheers!