Another great week here in Colorado. Last weekend, we had the opportunity to check out the Denver Winter Brew Fest. We put together a recap and shared a ton of pictures from our visit to this fun festival.
We also launched the first in a series of collaborative beer reviews that we’re working on with Dave Butler over at Fermentedly Challenged. Together, we put together an in-depth look at Lugene Milk Chocolate Stout. So far, the feedback has been very positive. I know we both enjoyed working on the review, so be on the lookout for more “coblogorative” style reviews in the future.
And now, here we are again, getting ready for a weekend full of great craft beer. 2013 looks to be the year of the new brewery. I’d say we’re on pace for an average of 1 new brewery to open every week in Colorado this year. I’m not complaining, but it’s going to be a very busy year in the world of craft beer. This coming weekend, we’ll see three new breweries open in just four days. If we keep this up, we’ll have to host two GABF’s. One for Colorado and one for the rest of the U.S.
Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids & Solids is tapping a few special kegs from Goose Island on Thursday night.
Matilda, Sofie, Pere Jacques and Mild Winter will all be available. Wait, I think I’m forgetting one… Hmmm, what could it be? Oh yeah, Bourbon County Brand Stout! Now we’re talking. Get over to Liquids & Solids for this special tapping, which runs from 4 – 6 PM. Oskar Blues HMLS is located at: 1555 S Hover Rd, Longmont, CO 80501. 303-485-9400.
Our Mutual Friend’s Imperial Belgian IPA will probably kick soon.
Head over today and don’t miss out! Our Mutual Friend is located at: 2810 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205. 720-722-2810.
Crooked Stave has some tasty treats on tap as well.
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project is located at: 1441 W 46th Ave, Unit 19, Denver, CO 80211. 720-508-3292.
Over at Yak & Yeti, Head Brewer Adam Draeger tapped his Orange-Chocolate Porter last night. Only 1 keg was available and it’s long gone. But fear not, he’s got plenty of other great brews to share. Earlier this week, he tapped the newest release in his Haunted Series. This time it’s “Yak’s R.I.S.”, a big ol’ 10% ABV, 100+ IBU Russian Imperial Stout. Here’s the rest of the lineup for this week.
Yak & Yeti is located at: 7803 Ralston Rd, Arvada, CO 80002. 303-431-9000.
This is the final weekend to reserve your seat for Falling Rock’s Annual Barleywine Dinner on Tuesday, February 5th.
The multi-course menu is still being planned and there are vegetarian options available, if you notify them ahead of time. In the past, there have been up to a dozen barleywines paired at this dinner. Tickets are $55. Call or stop by Falling Rock to reserve your seat for this great event. Falling Rock Tap House is located at: 1919 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202. 303-293-8338.
Friday, February 1st, 2013
We’ve got a new brewery opening on Friday! De Steeg is set to open their doors on Friday at 4 PM. Owner Craig Rothgery is ready to pour his first beers from the newest brewery to open in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver.
This weekend, he’ll be pouring a 5.1% ABV English Mild on Nitro, a 5.5% ABV Pomegranate Acai Wheat and an 11% ABV Imperial Pumpkin. Come out and explore the area as the opening has been coordinated with the Tennyson Street First Friday Artwalk, which spotlights local artisans and restaurants. De Steeg Brewing is located at: 4342 Tennyson St, Denver, CO 80212. 303-484-9698.
In Aurora, Dry Dock Brewing’s got a Mosaic Dry-hopped IPA ready to roll for Firkin Friday.
Tapping at 3 PM. Dry Dock Brewing is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014. 303-400-5606.
Jellyman’s tapping “The French Press” for his Deviation this week down at Rockyard Brewing in Castle Rock.
This is a 6% ABV Coffee Stout brewed with the second runnings of Wilson, their very tasty Russian Imperial Stout (which is getting bottled today). Tapping at 4 PM. Rockyard Brewing is located at: 880 W Castleton Rd, Castle Rock, CO 80109. 303-814-9273.
Breckenridge Brewery is back again this month with their Firkin First Fridays.
This month’s release is their Avalanche Amber Ale with Kaffir lime leaves and dry-hopped with Summit Hops. Get out and enjoy the nice weather and this great sounding brew. Tapping at 4 PM. Breckenridge Brewery is located at: 471 Kalamath St, Denver, CO 80204. 303-573-0431.
Can’t get enough freakin’ firkins? Then head over to Hops & Pie for their Firkin 1st Friday release. This time it’s with Crooked Stave and their Surette Saison.
Look for plenty of funk and spices in this 6.5% ABV Saison that was aged in a Downslope whiskey barrel. Tapping at 6 PM. Hops & Pie is located at: 3920 Tennyson St, Denver, CO 80212. 303-477-7000.
Friday is also the kickoff for the “Run the Gauntlet” challenge over at Star Bar. 30 Avery beers in 28 days. Can you handle it? Probably not, but you should try anyways, because if you can, you’ll be rewarded with transportation from Star Bar to Avery Brewing for a private tour. Have you seen the beer list? Here’s a peek at some of the ridiculously tasty offerings they’re planning to tap:
– The Maharaja Imperial IPA
– The Czar Imperial Stout
– The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest
– Hog Heaven Barleywine
– The Reverend Belgian-Style Quad
– Salvation Belgian Golden
– New World Porter
– Lilikoi Kepolo
– 3Point5 Pale Ale
– Bolder Weisse
Star Bar is located at: 2137 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205. 720-328-2420.
Over at Falling Rock, it’s the start of “Dain Bramage Month”, with a month-long celebration of Barleywines!
Owner Chris Black acquired 6 new barleywines last week and plans to tap several vintage kegs Tuesday night for those lucky guests attending the Barleywine Dinner (see above). These will be available for everyone else beginning on Wednesday. No word on what will be tapped just yet. They’re still deciding what to pull out of the cellar. Falling Rock Tap House is located at: 1919 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202. 303-293-8338.
Don’t forget February is the beginning of Stout Month over at the Mountain Sun brewpubs. Stout Month is always a great time to stop by and enjoy some rich, roast brews.
Look for special beers to be released every Tuesday and Friday, beginning on 2/5 at all three locations. In addition to their own beers like Addicition Coffee Imperial Stout, Girl Scout Stout and Chocolate Dip, they’ve got plenty of great guest beers lined up as well. Keep your eyes open for Odell’s Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout, Renegade’s Black Gold Peanut Butter Stout, Wildwood’s S’mores Stout and dozens more. Mountain Sun is located at: 1535 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302. Souther Sun is located at: 627 S Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305. Vine Street Pub is located at: 1700 Vine St, Denver, CO 80206.
Saturday, February 2nd, 2013
We mentioned Verboten a few weeks ago when they had a soft opening at their location up in Loveland. But get ready, because their Grand Opening is coming up on Saturday afternoon.
They’ll be debuting their new brewery with live music, food trucks, beer cupcakes, giveaways and of course BEER! Verboten will be pouring Orange Blossom Honey Wheat, Lemongrass Wit, IPA, Caramel Porter, Espresso Stout, Kentucky Common Dark Cream Ale and Sour Rum Barrel-Aged Porter. The party starts at 1 PM. Be sure to check out this preview of Verboten from our friend Dave Butler over at Fermentedly Challenged. Verboten Brewing is located at: 1550 Taurus Ct, Loveland, CO 80537. 970-988-6333.
Dry Dock Brewing launched their cans to local retailers last week and that’s cause for celebration. Stop by the brewery for the official “Take it in the Can” launch party on Saturday from 11 AM – 5 PM. Snag a can of Apricot Blonde, Hop Abomination, Hefeweizen or Amber for only $3.
Dry Dock Brewing is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014. 303-400-5606.
Don’t forget to check out the Colorado Craft Beer Show on AM760 from noon – 2 PM.
Don’t quote me, but I believe the boys are back in the studio this week. They always put on a great show, so be sure to tune in and see what’s on tap for this week.
Over on the FM side, Gary V and Dustin (from Avery Brewing) will be in the studio for American Craft Beer Radio.
This show is live on 102.3 FM ESPN Radio from 1 -2 PM.
Sunday, February 3rd, 2013
Go watch the Super Bowl already. Or at least watch the commercials and heckle whatever joke of an artist the NFL has chosen for the half-time show. Do your thing and drink a craft beer or two. Go Ravens.
Monday, February 4th, 2013
Fate Brewing in Boulder, will open their doors on Monday. They might not have their brewhouse up and running just yet, but that hasn’t stopped Head Brewer Jeff Griffith from getting out and brewing some beer. He’s already collaborated with multiple brewers in Boulder, including Wild Woods, Twisted Pine and Southern Sun.
Fate plans to have their collaborations pouring on Monday, along with twenty other Colorado craft beers. Over the past few weeks, I’ve tried the Imperial IPA, Cocoa Punk’n Porter and Eisbock and I love what I’ve had so far. Bring an appetite, as a full food menu will also be available. Fate Brewing is located at: 1600 38th St, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80301.
Beer Hunters, Gatherers, Trappers and Traders
Pliny the Younger Season starts this weekend at Russian River in Santa Rosa, CA.
Here in Colorado, we’re still patiently waiting to see what beer bars will be allocated a keg of this beautiful beer. Try to remain calm and know that we’ll get you the details as soon as we can. In the meantime, enjoy this fun little documentary we came across last week.
Sour fans might want to consider securing a bottle or two of Cascade’s 2011 Vlad the Imp Aler, when they go on sale through the Cascade website this Saturday.
A little pricey at $30 / bottle, but this is a phenomenal beer. Mrs. Insane and I visited the brewery a while back for their Anniversary Party and this is one of my favorites from Cascade. The beer is a blend of Quads, Triples and Blonds and has been aged in select bourbon and wine barrels. Get some before they’re gone.
Firestone Walker will release their latest batch of §ucaba this week.
Beer hunters should keep an eye out for this barrel-aged American Barleywine to hit the CO market in the next few weeks. Drink fresh or age for later. (Or both.)
Lastly, for all the beer traders out there, Foothills Brewing out in North Carolina, will be releasing the 2013 batch of Sexual Chocolate on Saturday at the brewery in North Carolina.
1800 bottles of this delicious Russian Imperial Stout will be up for grabs during Saturday’s release. It’s well worth the trouble if you’re lucky enough to track down a bottle.
Almost forgot about your German lesson for this week.
Thanks Bill! Prost Brewing is located at: 2540 19th St, Denver, CO 80211. 303-729-1175.
Man, I’m spent. Hope that tides you over for a few days. Have fun, drink well and enjoy the big game.
Late last year, I had the idea of reviewing beers with fellow bloggers. The whole idea sprouted from two realizations. The first being that the majority of the craft beer scene works together as a community, looking out for each other (#savestrange), sharing ideas and ingredients and even brewing beers collaboratively. I thought this would translate well to beer bloggers on a variety of levels.
The other realization centers around the old proverb that “two heads are better than one”. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that sharing and talking about beers with friends, has greatly opened up my sensory experience with beer. For example, I might have picked up on a certain aroma or flavor, while someone else with the same beer, may have picked up on something entirely different. Sometimes a beer can be so layered with complexities, that we might not pick up on a certain characteristic until someone brings it to our attention or we’ve had the opportunity to try a beer on numerous occasions.
And so, after a few e-mails, text messages and brainstorming during a late-night bottle share, I was able to team up with Dave Butler (who writes the fantastic Colorado-based beer blog, Fermentedly Challenged), for a series of beer reviews. For our first “coblogorative” review, we went with Odell Brewing’s newest seasonal, Lugene. This new release from our friends up in Fort Collins, is a Chocolate Milk Stout, dedicated to Lugene Sas and his family of cows.
The 8.5% ABV beer will be available from January through March. I paid $8.99 for a 4-pack.
Let me start by saying I love the artwork here. It sounds odd to call a cow cute, but the label has artwork depicting one of these peaceful creatures chowing down on a brick of chocolate. What’s not to like?
Brewtally Insane (BI): I used a moderately slow pour. The beer pours a deep, dark brown, nearly black color with a 1-finger, mocha head that was gone in the blink of an eye.
Fermentedly Challenged (FC): Dave used a “semi-aggresive pour and got a big 3+ finger head with lots of bubbles and sticky lacing. Color is dark as night – with just a hint of mahogany edges around the glass.”
Overall: It’s not quite oil dark, but dark enough to hide most of the carbonation inside or permit any light from penetrating. We both picked up on the mahogany tint toward the edge of the beer, near the wall of the glass. Looks creamy, thick and inviting. I can’t wait to taste it. Score: 4/5
BI: Lugene had “big, sweet milk chocolate” notes and came off like a “fine piece of rich Godiva”. I also detected the “slightest presence of hops, but it’s hidden” along with a “touch of vanilla”. I initially thought I was smelling peanut butter cups, but we later determined it to most likely be the chocolate smell from the type of chocolate used in candy bars. Admittedly, my favorite chocolate treat is a peanut butter cup, so maybe the chocolate just triggers my brain to automatically think it’s getting a peanut butter cup. Weird. Smells fantastic.
FC: On the other side of the keyboard, Dave picked up “milk sugars in this beer”. “Lugene has the classic milk stout signature aroma, only this one has a distinct chocolate aroma with the malt roastiness pushed behind it.” He also got a “hint of bitterness in the nose, but not much”. Dave agreed on the sweetness factor and picked up some “toffee perhaps, like a Heath bar”. He went on to say “I pick up a hint of alcohol, but not as rough as some Imperial Stouts”.
Overall: No surprise to find plenty of chocolate and candy bar sweetness in Lugene. We both noticed the slightest presence of bitterness and while I got vanilla, Dave picked up toffee and a touch of alcohol. Score: 4.5/5
BI: Lugene is sweet, creamy and chocolate-y. I felt it drank like a “rich, melted candy bar” and with a well hidden ABV, it was “very creamy and dangerously smooth”. There’s a “touch of bitter hops on the tongue”. This is a great dessert beer, and thankfully it’s not overpowering. This is what I would expect from a Milk Chocolate Stout, but it’s “not too big that they (flavors) turn you off and they’re not too small that you’re hunting with your nose crammed in the glass trying to find some sign of chocolate”. It’s sweet, rich, thick, bold, flavorful and quite yummy.
FC: “First thing I got was a semi-sweet chocolate taste. Reminded me of baking chocolate with some additional sweet in there. The beer was more sweet than bitter. Smooth going down. The roast is subdued also. The chocolate really comes through on this. Definitely a dessert beer. Can’t really pick up on the higher ABV initially. It’s well hidden, probably one to sneak up on you.” Dave wrapped up by saying “the chocolate took center stage”.
Overall: We’re both fans of Lugene and appreciate what Odell did with this recent release. A very nice, sweet dessert beer. Score: 4/5
BI: Lugene leans toward the thick side, which I found to be “perfect for a beer like this”. Personally, “I think too many stouts fall short by being watery and thin”. Odell’s Chocolate Milk Stout is “not necessarily oily”, but rather “creamy and dangerously smooth”.
FC: Dave referred to Lugene as a “tongue coater”. He goes on to say that it “leaves a nice coating over the tongue that lingers.”
Overall: Excellent, thick mouthfeel that only gets better as it warms. No complaints here. Score: 4.5/5
Odell Brewing continues to impress me by releasing new and well crafted beers into their already stellar lineup of beers. Lugene is a rich and decadent chocolate milk stout that has won us over with its’ heavenly aromas and balanced flavors. This seems to be flying off the shelves, so get out and grab a 4-pack before they’re gone. Highly recommended. Score: 4.25/5
Barrel-Aging, Food Pairings, Cellaring & Final Thoughts
We kicked around some thoughts about how barrel-aging might change this beer. Personally, I’m a little fearful of the barrel characteristics overpowering the chocolate, but we both agreed that a little time in a rum or bourbon barrel would be a fun experiment. (Odell, you reading all this?)
About halfway through the bottle, we started getting the munchies and began talking about possible food pairings. Dave mentioned “vanilla bean chocolate milk stout”, while I thought of fresh strawberries or a fruity cheesecake. At the end of the night, I think we were both interested in making a beer float or milkshake with Lugene. Nom, nom, nom.
We also tried to imagine how a year in the cellar would change this beer. It seems like the alcohol warmth would fade away, along with the slight bitterness on the tongue. My only fear would be losing too much of the sweetness from the chocolate. Lugene tastes great fresh. Only time will tell how cellaring will treat this beer, but I’d suggest enjoying it fresh and if you’ve got the willpower, maybe tucking one away in the cellar for comparison next year.
As for this format of conducting a beer review, I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed working on it. I’d like to extend a big Thank You to Dave Butler over at Fermentedly Challenged for taking part in this review. What I envisioned as the two of us chatting online about beer for an hour or so, turned into 3+ hours of two beer blogging buddies, geeking out and discovering a great beer together and discussing a wide variety of topics about the world of craft beer. Don’t be surprised if you see more of these “coblogorative”, “Fermentedly Insane” or “Brewtally Challenged” reviews from us in the future.
Thanks to Odell Brewing for creating this great beer, Thanks to Dave Butler for putting the time and effort into this and Thank You all for reading. Click HERE to see Dave’s review of Lugene at Fermentedly Challenged and don’t forget to follow him on Facebook.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.