No beer trippin’ report in San Diego would be complete without a visit to at least one of the Pizza Port locations. The original Pizza Port was founded in Solana Beach in 1987, by owners Vince and Gina Marsaglia. Vince began using the restaurant’s extra space to experiment with homebrewing. 5 years later in 1992, a 7 BBL brewhouse was installed and the brewery was born. In 1997, Tomme Arthur took the reigns in the brewhouse and the rest is history.
Since then, Pizza Port has grown to 4 locations (with 1 more on the way), opened a bottle shop in Carlsbad (offering 600+ of the best beers available in the San Diego area), named 2003 and 2004 Small Brewpub of the Year at GABF (Solana Beach) and 2009 Large Brewpub of the Year at GABF (Carlsbad) and opened a production facility in San Marcos, CA. The brewpubs have also taken home numerous GABF and World Beer Cup medals. Tomme Arthur has since moved on to become Director of Brewery Operations at Port Brewing and co-founded the The Lost Abbey line of Belgian influenced beers in 2006.
Each Pizza Port location offers a wide variety of beers brewed on-site, plus a lineup of guest taps from some of the world’s top craft breweries. The great selection of beers, ranging from west coast hop bombs to authentic Belgian ales, is sure to satisfy even the most hardcore beer nerd. If you can’t decide which location to visit, let the beer do the talking. The Pizza Port website has a webcam feed showing all of the beers pouring at each location.
The close proximity to the beach and the laid back vibe, combined with a tasty menu and a ton of great beers, makes Pizza Port one of our favorite places to visit in the San Diego area. Pizza Port shows no signs of slowing down, as they’re currently working on a new location in Bressi Ranch (near Carlsbad). I guess we’ll have to add it to the list for next time.
On this trip, we only had the time to visit Pizza Port Carlsbad, but we’ve visited the other locations in the past and encourage you to try them all. Here’s a handful of pictures from our recent visit.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner. As you head to the grocery store to pick out your prized bird, overload your shopping cart with sweet potatoes and attempt to learn the real difference between stuffing and dressing, DON’T FORGET THE BEER! It’s
just as even more important than the pumpkin pie!
There’s an ongoing debate about beer vs. wine with food pairings and I’m not going to rehash it on here. But let’s be honest, beer is waaaay better suited to go with your turkey dinner than those old smashed grapes will ever be. But with beer, comes a few tough questions: Where do we start? What do we buy? What will pair best with my desert? What about leftovers?
Relax my friends. The holiday’s are already stressful enough. I’m going to make this as easy as possible for you with a list of quality beer recommendations from local Colorado breweries that you should be able to easily find at most respectable Denver-area liquor stores. Grab a pen and paper (and a beer of course) and let’s break it down.
I admittedly haven’t been to many Thanksgiving meals outside of my family, but both my family and my wife’s side of the family have a tradition of serving shrimp cocktail for an appetizer. We’re also a big fan of artisan cheeses and meats. So for the first round, I’ve chosen one of New Belgium’s newest Lips of Faith offerings, Biere De Garde, which pairs nicely with both seafood and cheese.
Brewed in collaboration with Brewery Vivant, out of Grand Rapids, MI, this 9% ABV offering pours a clear, orange color with a 2-finger, creamy, white head. Plenty of orange, lemon, apricot, yeast and peppercorn throughout the aroma. The taste is very much on the farmhouse side of the spectrum with moderate tartness, spices and earthy notes throughout. The dry finish and high carbonation will have you thinking champagne. A nice start to the meal that will be sure to awaken your taste buds. Readily available at all liquor stores in the Denver-area for $8 / 22oz. bottle.
Alternative suggestions: Boulevard Tank 7, Jolly Pumpkin Oro De Calabaza, Brewery Ommegang Hennepin
The Main Course
Warm up over, stomach stretched, palate cleansed, let’s move onto the main course. Assuming you’ll be going with a traditional turkey dinner, I’ve got two (very) different approaches you can take. The first is that you go with something on the lighter side that will subtly complement your meal. The other is that you go big and bold and add a new layer altogether to the meal and we’ll discuss this approach a little later.
On the lighter side, I’m recommending Deceit from Funkwerks out of Fort Collins, CO. This awesome little brewery up North, specializes in Saisons, and was named Small Brewing Company of the Year at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival (GABF). They took home 3-medals at GABF this year, one of which was a gold for this particular beer in the Belgian-Style Experimental Ale Category.
Deceit is a Belgian-style Tripel that pours a slightly cloudy, golden, straw color. The 3-finger tall head has notes of clove, Belgian yeast and lemon. Lots of tropical fruits, spices and just a touch of hops round out the flavors in this tasty brew. A dangerously drinkable 9.4% ABV beer that goes down much too easily. Deceit bottles were released for the first time on November 1st and they’re beginning to pop up at stores all over town. I really enjoyed this one and know you will too. A 750 mL bottle will run you about $12.
Alternative suggestions: Funkwerks Saison, La Chouffe, Tripel Karmeliet
I was only going to suggest one on the “lighter side”, but I can’t help myself, so I’m going to hit you with two. The second is Tivoli Helles Lager. This was a beer that basically went extinct when Denver’s Tivoli Brewery closed their doors back in 1969. Fortunately, earlier this year, the Tivoli family collaborated with Bill Eye, head brewer at Prost Brewing, to bring this one back from the grave.
The 5.1% ABV Helles Lager pours a clear, straw color with a 2-finger, white head. Plenty of biscuit, fresh grains, plus some floral notes and a touch of bitterness. Hey, if it came from the Prost brewhouse, you know it’s good. This is a great beer to introduce family members to craft beer. You know the ones that “Don’t drink dark beers” or claim they “Get gas from microbrews!”. Insert Grandpappy voice here: “Damn kids and they’re new fangled beers!”. Yeah, those are the ones that you just might be able to save and convert to craft beer by introducing them to a refreshing lager like this Helles.
The only drawback to the Tivoli Helles is that it’s not available in bottles, so you’ll need to get your butt over to Prost and grab a growler to take home with you. Wait, that’s not a drawback at all. In fact, that’s great news! Now you’ve got an excuse to make a trip over to Prost for a Maß of one of their delicious creations while picking up a growler of great beer for your Thanksgiving feast. Maybe you can convince your better half that you’re going “grocery shopping” for beer. Just a thought and if you get busted, you never heard it from me…
Moving on, let’s talk about the other end of the flavor spectrum, and how we can add a big, bold beer to bring a completely new, unique and independent layer to the dinner table. In the past few years, I’ve gone with beers like St. Bernardus Christmas Ale and The Bruery’s 2 Turtle Doves with the main course. These are complex, spicy, Belgian-style beers that have worked well at the dinner table. A very different approach, but for those that like to experiment with pairings, I think this is a fun option. For this round, I’m going to recommend Dry Dock Brewing’s Wee Heavy.
This popular Scotch Ale has pulled in back-to-back medals at the prestigious World Beer Cup. Look for big, sweet caramel flavors and plenty of malt to make up the base of the beer. There’s also a bit of dark fruit, chocolate, spices and smoke in the flavor as well. This 9.5% ABV beer is a slow-sipper, but I’m intrigued by this pairing and looking forward to trying it this year. This is Dry Dock’s Winter Release and it’s on shelves all over town these days. Plan on spending around $8 / 22oz. bottle on this one.
Alternative suggestions: Oskar Blues Old Chub, Great Divide Grand Cru, Odell Isolation
But Wait, There’s More!
We’re off to a good start, but the best is yet to come. DESERT!!! To quote the Kool-Aid Man, “Oh yeah!”. Coming up in Part 2, we’ll discuss beers to pair with desert, the perfect nightcap brew and even what to drink with your leftovers while the rest of the world wrestles over TV’s and iPad’s during the nonsense we like to call “Black Friday”. Stay tuned.
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!
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!
Another Great American Beer Festival has come and gone. It was a weekend spent with old friends, meeting new ones and sampling beers from all over this great country. Oskar Blues launched Dale’s Pale Ale in 19 oz. cans, I got to try a beer brewed with Rocky Mountain Oysters (tasty!) and local Colorado brewers took home 35 medals, including Small Brewing Company of the Year, which was awarded to Funkwerks out of Fort Collins. Congrats to all the winners!
The awards ceremony was moved downstairs to the Wells Fargo Theatre, which allowed for more room in the main hall of the Convention Center. In past years, it was nice to give attendees a chance to watch the presentation, but the extra space was a very welcome addition to the festival this year. I didn’t experience the cramped spaces or bottlenecks that I remember being a problem during past GABF’s. The inevitable lines at popular breweries like Dogfish Head and Russian River were fast-moving and not an issue. Things just seem to run very smoothly this time around. I’ll drink to that. Oh wait, I already did.
It’s been such an amazing weekend. Once again, Congratulations to all of the medal winners. Check out the full list of GABF Winners and see if your local brewery took home some hardware this weekend.
And without further ado, here’s a photo recap of GABF 2012.
It’s been an amazing weekend. Hope everyone had a blast!
Where to go? What to do? I find myself asking the same questions every year during GABF. You’ve basically got a year’s worth of great beer events crammed into one week. So I’m going to give you my picks for some of the best events around town this week. These are the ones that aren’t already sold out like the GABF and Rare Beer Tasting IV.
Pick a day, any day, and head over to Crooked Stave. Just look at this menu and list of special tappings for this week.
Deliciouness abounds over there. Stop by Crooked Stave: 1441 W 46th Ave, Unit 19, Denver, CO 80211.
Wednesday, October 10th, 2012.
Take a side trip from all the buzz downtown and hit up Parry’s Pizza for their Great Divide Tap Takeover.
Apparently there’s been a Yeti sighting on the south side of town. Be on the lookout for Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, the new Baby Yeti and more. In addition to the family of furry beasts, they’ll be bringing out other big guns like Hercules and Hibernation. The tapping starts at 11AM and runs all day. Parry’s Pizza is located at: 9567 S University Blvd, Highlands Ranch, CO 80126.
Firestone Walker has an amazing beer dinner lined up called The Lion, The Bear & The Brewmaster.
This will feature 4 of Firestone’s previous Anniversary beers and will also be the debut for this year’s Anniversary beer XVI. Each beer is paired with a different course prepared by Chef Hosea Rosenberg.
Firestone Walker owners Adam Firestone and David Walker, along with brewmaster Matt Brynildson will be in attendance to discuss the beers and pairings between each course. This is a rare chance for you to try all of these complex and impressive beers that will never be brewed again. Tickets are $75 / each and can be purchased HERE. This event runs from 6:30 to 9:30 PM at Denver’s Mile High Station: 2027 W Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80204.
Thursday, October 11th, 2012.
Freshcraft’s tapping some beers from the very popular Cigar City Brewery out of Tampa, FL on Thursday at 3 PM.
Get your GABF warmed up with Cinnamon Apple IPA, Guava Grove Saison, Ligero Black Lager, Hotter Than Helles and the delicious Marshal Zhukov’s Russian Imperial Stout. Freshcraft is located at: 1530 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202.
The first night of GABF wraps up with some great after parties. The World Brewers Forum, sponsored by The Keg Ran Out Club (KROC), a local homebrew club, is entering its’ 18th year.
This year, they’ll have 3 guest speakers. Mitch Steele, the brewmaster for Stone Brewing, along with Mark Irvin and John Bryant from the No-Li Brewhouse. There will be more than 20 homebrews to sample, plus a carving station with roast beef and ham. This is really a great chance to sit back, relax and catch your great after a busy opening night at GABF. There will also be drawings for prizes and a silent auction featuring glassware, t-shirts, beer, gift cards and more. I’ve never left empty-handed.
The event starts at 8PM and runs until Midnight. Best of all, it’s FREE!, but please RSVP to: WBF@kroc.org The WBF is being held at: Marriott City Center Hotel, 1701 California St, Denver, CO.
Oskar Blues is gearing up for a big party at the Blake Street Tavern called “It’s All About The Package”.
They’ve been pretty tight-lipped about this so far, but it sounds like this will commemorate the release of a new canned beer. There will be music, giveaways and even transportation from the Convention Center between 9 – 11PM. Be sure to print off a ticket HERE or have it ready to show on your phone at the door. The Blake Street Tavern is located at: 2301 Blake St, Denver, CO 80205.
Thursday is barrel day over at Star Bar.
They’ll have New Belgium’s La Folie, Tart Lychee, Clutch and Kick. Odell’s is bringing Shenanigans, Saboteur, The Meddler and Deconstruction. Other breweries and beers will be announced as the event gets closer. This fires up at noon.
Stop by later that night for some special one-offs from New Belgium’s Wood Cellar. Look for Dunkel Apple, Funky Friends and more. Live music starts at 9:30 PM. Star Bar is located at: 2137 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205.
Just a few blocks down on Blake Street, the Falling Rock Tap House is sure to be rockin’ all week-long. On Thursday, stop by for the tapping of several beers from Sun King Brewery out of Indianapolis, IN.
Look for Osiris (Pale Ale), Cream Dream V (American IPA), Velvet Fog (Belgian Quad) and more to get tapped at 11PM. Falling Rock Tap House is located at: 1919 Blake St, Denver, CO.
Friday, October 12th, 2012.
Friday afternoon means the Annual Kill-A-Keg contest at Falling Rock at noon. Sierra Nevada’s Harvest Ale will be racing through the tap lines as owner Chris Black tries to beat last year’s record of draining a keg in just over 9 minutes. Stop by and help make this happen!
Hang out for lunch and wait for the Cigar City release at 3PM. They were able to obtain Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Brown, Humidor IPA, Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout and more. These are some really nice beers that won’t last long, so get over and get yours. Falling Rock Tap House is located at: 1919 Blake St, Denver, CO.
Got hops? Then get over to Rock Bottom for this year’s Alpha King Challenge!
This is an annual search for the best hop bomb out there. Beers under 60 IBU’s need not apply. Stop by and check out the competition which runs from 1 to 4PM. Rock Bottom Denver is located at: 1001 16th St #100, Denver, CO 80265.
The Rackhouse Pub is running a series of classes this year of Liquid Education that’s all about Beer.
One of the sessions that I’m pretty excited about features Andy Parker from Avery, Chad Yakobson from Crooked Stave and Troy Casey of AC Golden leading a class called Sours 101. These 3 bad asses of funky brews will be discussing all that is barrel-aging, souring, blending and more. They will also guide you through a tasting of sour beers from their breweries. Any one of these brewers would be worth the price alone, but the Rackhouse has put all three together for what is sure to be a fun, informative and tasty event. Tickets are available HERE. The Rackhouse is located at: 208 S Kalamath St, Denver, CO 80223.
Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew is opening their doors for a soft opening this Friday and Saturday from 1-10PM.
They’ll be pouring their 5 beers for $5 / pint and $1 / taster. We met with owner Brandon Proff earlier this summer to get the low down on his new brewery and beers. Check out the post HERE. If you’re planning to attend the soft opening this weekend, and you should be, they ask that you please RSVP at this link: http://www.gabfweekend.omfmb.com/ Our Mutual Friend is located at: 2810 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205.
For some late night, post-GABF action, head over to Freshcraft for their Oak Aged Extravaganza at 10PM.
They’ll be pouring Firestone Walker ’12 Parabola and Anniversary XIV, Odell ’11 Bourbon Barrel Stout, The Meddler and more! Freshcraft is located at: 1530 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202.
Saturday, October 13th, 2012.
You’ve got a long day ahead of you on Saturday, so make sure you start out with a good breakfast. Head to The Cheeky Monk for Breakfast With The Bruery.
The popular Belgian Beer Bar has teamed up with Bruery owner Patrick Rue to bring you a variety of special beers paired with a delicious breakfast menu. No advanced tickets required. Breakfast starts at 8AM. The Cheeky Monk is located at: 534 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203.
There’s not one, but TWO new breweries opening this weekend. Black Shirt Brewing is gearing up for their Grand Opening on Saturday.
The new Denver brewery, which will focus on a variety of Red Ales will open their doors on Saturday from 3 – 10PM. We’ve been waiting a loooooooong time for this, so get over there and show them your support.
Black Shirt Brewing is located at: 3719 Walnut St, Denver, CO 80205.
Saturday night, once the afternoon GABF session wraps up, I usually grab dinner, catch my breath, regroup and get ready for Dr. Bill’s Annual GABF Beer Tasting at Falling Rock. Dr. Bill is the Beverage Coordinator for Stone Brewing and has one of the largest and most extensive beer cellars in the world. He knows his stuff and can put on one hell of a party.
He takes over the Falling Rock basement each year after GABF to share some amazing beers with all the beer nerds in town. Last year he brought some great stuff including Cantillon’s Lou Pepe Gueuze, The Bruery’s Black Tuesday, Three Floyd’s Dark Lord and so much more! He’s back again this year and armed with 100 beers! Come at 8PM when the corks start getting popped and the caps start flying. Bring $40, a full stomach and a DD. RSVP to: email@example.com Falling Rock Tap House is located at: 1919 Blake St, Denver, CO.
So there’s my picks for a good weekend of wholesome beer fun. I hope to see you all around town over the next few days. This is my favorite weekend of the year and personally, I can’t wait to get out there and enjoy all that is GABF. Have fun, be safe, try something new and please don’t drive.
Here we are, just a few short days away from the Great American Beer Festival and I’m as giddy as a little schoolgirl. But whether you’re a seasoned veteran or this is your first time attending, the GABF can be a little overwhelming. 580 breweries pouring 2000+ beers will do that to you. You’ve got to have some sort of plan of attack.
For me, I print out the GABF Map and mark the breweries that I’d kick myself if I were to miss. The floor is divided up by regions of the U.S. I can generally breeze through the Colorado breweries since I’ve either had or can easily get most of the beers pouring in that area. That’s not to say you shouldn’t stop by and say hi to your favorite brewers. It’s also worth nothing that some are planning on bringing some pretty special beers. Avery Brewing will be pouring both Oud Floris and Odio Equum from their hard-to-find Barrel-Aged Series, while Crooked Stave is rumored to be bringing the super delicious and rare Persica. I’d certainly recommend spending some time in the Mountain Region at the GABF, but for me, I’ll probably limit my time there and focus on breweries I don’t normally have easy access to.
So where do we begin? Russian River, Lost Abbey / Port, Cigar City, Dogfish Head all seem like obvious choices, but there are some really interesting, smaller breweries that don’t distribute out this direction at all. Jonathan Shikes wrote a great article in the Westword last week with his picks, many of which would have made my list as well. Three Floyds, Bell’s and Cambridge are all top-notch breweries. Check out the entire article HERE. I’d like to add a couple more of my favorites for you to check out this weekend.
1. The Bruery, Placentia, CA. Patrick Rue is brewing up an empire and a loyal following through his Reserve Society and awesome lineup of beers. Whether it’s mouth-puckering sours or thick, inky stouts, you can’t go wrong. While they do distribute a handful of beer to Colorado, quite a few never leave California. Recommendations: Oude Tart, Black Tuesday.
2. Upland Brewing, Bloomington, IN. Upland makes quite a few quality beers, but their Lambics are not to be missed. The bottles, which are sold online a few times a year, always sell out within minutes. Recommendations: Any of their fruit Lambics, which range from Strawberry to Kiwi to Persimmon to Peach.
3. Surly Brewing, Brooklyn Center, MN. Beer for a glass, from a can. For the hop heads, they make two great ones, called Furious (IPA) and Abrasive (Double IPA). They’ve also got a Coffee Brown called Coffee Bender that goes great with a brownie or doughnut. Keep an eye out for any of their big, seasonals like Darkness (Russian Imperial Stout) or this year’s anniversary ale, SYX (Strong Ale). Recommendations: Anything.
4. Allagash Brewing, Portland, ME. The little brewery from Maine makes some might fine Belgian-style beers. As a sour fan, I’ll be looking for anything from their Coolship series. If you lean towards the sweeter side, look for their Dubbel, Grand Cru or Quad. Recommendations: From sweet to sour, you can’t go wrong.
5. Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem, NC. As the South catches up to the craft beer movement, Foothills has taken the lead with their big stouts and barrel-aged experimentation. They produce solid beers across the board. Recommendations: Seeing Double IPA, Sexual Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout.
6. Iron Hill Brewery, PA, NJ and DE. This east coast brewpub, which has 10 locations in 3 states, always brings a huge beer selection to the GABF Floor. From sweet to sour, light to dark, hoppy to malty, they’ve got something for everyone. There’s a reason why they’ve won a GABF medal, every year, for the past 15 years. Stop by they’re multiple tables and get ready to be impressed. Recommendations: With an ever-rotating beer menu, there’s no telling what they’ll be pouring this year. But, they always have detailed descriptions of every beer and plenty of brewers around to answer your questions.
7. Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, MI. Where to begin? I don’t remember ever seeing Founders at a previous GABF, so when I saw them on this year’s list, I got pretty excited. These guys are famous for their KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout), which is brewed with vanilla and coffee and aged in bourbon barrels. In addition to their seasonal and specialty brews, they make an exceptional lineup of year-round beers. Recommendations: Centennial IPA, Devil Dancer (Triple IPA), Cerise (Cherry Beer), Backwoods Bastard (Scotch Ale) or any of their Stouts (KBS, CBS, Breakfast Stout or Imperial Stout).
8. Shorts Brewing, Bellaire, MI. I think I did enough preaching for Short’s earlier this week with my post about their limited release of 6-packs to Denver for the GABF. Still, I want to make sure you’ve got them on your list. They love to experiment and take chances, which makes for some very fun and unique brews. Recommendation: Peaches & Creme and any of the other experimental brews they decide to bring with them.
9. Weyerbacher, Easton, PA. Another east coast gem serving up a wide variety of beers, ranging from Belgian-Style Ales to American IPA’s. Although their distribution range has steadily grown over the past few years, they still haven’t made it to our market. Recommendations: Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Riserva Sour, Heresy Imperial Stout and Double Simcoe IPA.
10. Société Brewing, San Diego, CA. Founded in 2012 by Travis Smith and Doug Constantiner, who met while working together at The Bruery. They decided to join forces and open their own brewery this past June. Since then, they’ve been releasing west-coast IPA’s, Belgian-Style Ales and a Russian Imperial Stout. They’ve also got a spacious barrel room, with a variety of sour beers aging away. Recommendations: This brewery’s only been open for a few months and I haven’t had a chance to try them yet, but I’ve heard good things and would highly recommend stopping by their booth for a sample or two.
I hope this list helps introduce you to at least a couple new breweries this year at GABF. Get out there, have fun and discover some new beers. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any other suggestions you might have. Hope to see you this weekend!
Short’s is coming back! That’s right, the little brewery making the big beers out of Bellaire, Michigan is gearing up to distribute three of their beers to various stores around the Denver area to coincide with the Great American Beer Festival.
They brought 6 beers to our market last year and are planning to return with 3 beers this year. This time around, keep your eyes out for Huma Lupa Licious, Pandemonium Pale Ale and Autumn Ale.
Huma Lupa Licious: This gem is honored with the name of the hop plant, Humulus lupulus, and is Short’s best selling India Pale Ale. It has such an abundant amount of hops that it sensually provides a punch to the palate. The numerous hop varieties used in its creation render a delicious bitter taste and enticing citrus aroma. The hearty malt bill melds with the hops to create a perfect balance. 6.8% ABV 96 IBU
Pandemonium Pale Ale: This coppered colored American pale ale lends its hue to hearty two-row malts and hand selected specialty grains. American hop additions balance the wort, resulting in a tasty union of malt sweetness, bright floral citrus flavors, and earthy aromas. Behold the bitter hysteria! 5% ABV 35 IBU
Autumn Ale: A London Extra Special Bitter (ESB) that is true to style. It has a medium body, amber color, and full flavor. This beer exhibits a wonderful balance of initial malty sweetness with subtle lingering floral hop bitterness, resulting in an ideal bridge between malty and hoppy beer styles. It is a silver medal winner at the 2006 GABF. 6% ABV 31 IBU
15 lucky liquor stores will be getting allotments of the three beers, which will be arriving in 6-packs over the next few weeks. If you’re on the hunt (and you should be), here’s the list: Argonaut, Tipsy’s, Total Beverage (Westminster), Applejack, Mile High Wine & Spirits, Lukas, Daveco, Mondo Vino, Davidsons, Colorado Liquor Mart, Highlands Wine & Liquor, Little’s, Mr. B’s, Mayfair, Joy Wine & Spirits.
Longing for some Short’s on draft? We’ve got you covered there too. A small amount of Huma Lupa Licious will be arriving in kegs and pouring at: FreshCraft, Hops & Pie, Cheeky Monk (Denver), Star Bar and of course Falling Rock Tap House. Falling Rock will be receiving a few bonus specialty kegs which will be tapped on Friday, October 12th at 11PM. Stop by FRTH and grab a seat at everyone’s favorite post-GABF headquarters. In addition to Huma Lupa Licious, they’ll also be tapping Agave Peach White, Imperial Spruce India Pilsner and Ale La Reverend.
If you’re attending GABF, make sure to check out the Short’s booth, which will surely be rockin’ on the end spot in booth D18. Click HERE for the GABF Floor Map. Short’s makes some innovative and tasty beers, using all kinds of ingredients, from roma tomatoes to blood oranges to key limes, you never know what they’re going to come up with next. Last year, they brought 20 beers to the Convention Center floor and had a crowd throughout the entire weekend at their 1/2 circle end cap spot.
For more Short’s fun, check out their website, pay them a visit at GABF next week and get your beer huntin’ britches on for some tasty brews hitting our market this month.
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.
It’s brew fest season here in Colorado. We’re in full swing right now as we inch closer and closer to the Big Daddy, the Great American Beer Festival. Seems like my calendar has some sort of festival or tasting highlighted nearly every weekend. There’s no chance I’ll hit ’em all. My liver couldn’t keep up, but one can dream right?
For me, beer festivals fall into a few different categories. There are a handful of festivals that I probably won’t ever attend again for a variety of reasons (cost, distance, poorly run, etc…). Others, are on the “Maybe” list, which just means it’s a solid beer fest that would be nice to attend again, but life goes on if I can’t make it. While a few make it to the exclusive, “Must-Do!” list, that I make every effort to attend every year. Last night, my wife and I attended the Art and Ale Brew Festival at The Wildlife Experience in Parker, CO and it’s already been added to our “Must-Do!” list for next year.
We went with the Dry Dock crew and spent the evening pouring samples of their Amber, Pale, Hefeweizen and the ever popular Apricot Blonde. We had a great spot outside, in the shade and right next to New Belgium Brewing.
NB Beer Ranger Andrew, kept us stocked with samples of their Peach Porch Lounger, Red Hoptober and Super IPA, their delicious IPA brewed in collaboration with Alpine Brewing out in California. We talked about their sour program for a bit and he mentioned that the next batch of La Folie might be ready as early as this fall. Keep your fingers crossed!
In between pours, we took some time to wander the grounds outside and the halls of the museum inside.
In addition to the 30+ breweries, there were a variety of restaurants, wineries and distilleries in attendance as well.
David Parry, owner of Parry’s Pizza was super-busy all night long handing out slices of their delicious pies. They banged through more than 150 pizzas during the event!
He had just gotten the keg list for his next tap takeover, which will be with Oskar Blues on Saturday, September 15th. There are some mighty fine beers on the list, so mark your calendars now. More details to come.
The gang from Strange Brewing was pouring Cherry Kriek, Colorado’s answer to Belgian Red from New Glarus Brewing in Wisconsin. God, I love that beer. Thanks again for the full pours guys!
Jim from Rockyard Brewing brought his Redhawk Scottish Ale and Double Eagle Wheat. They also had their chef on duty, who cooked up an amazing batch of Jalapeño Cheddar Soup and Pretzels stuffed with jalapeño cheese. Oh my goodness! Delish!!!
Outside at Elevation Brewing, Xandy was flying through kegs of Mount Blanca Belgian Saison and Apis IV Quadrupel.
Twisted Pine brought three offerings from their monthly Artisan Ale Series.
I finally got a chance to try the Dank IPA from Dad & Dude’s, which was nice and hoppy, but still approachable and very drinkable.
There was even a band inside cranking out 80’s covers from bands like Tears for Fears and Duran Duran. Alcohol + Music + Dance Floor = Best People Watching Ever!
After eating and tasting our way through the festival, we met up with some friends and hit the chocolate fountains for desert. The good peeps from Sir Chocolate brought a variety of things like strawberries, marshmallows and rice crispy treats to dip in three different kinds of chocolate. Nom, nom, nom!
As the sun dipped down behind the mountains, the fire pits lit up and people lounged in the grass around the museum. What a night!
Beautiful weather, plenty of old friends and new ones too, music, amazing beer and food. We’ll definitely be back again next year and so should you!
Anybody else make it out there last night? What did you think?
Big thanks to the staff and volunteers at The Wildlife Experience for hosting a great event. Shoutout to all of the different companies in attendance as well. You guys rock!
Get ready, get set, GO! Tickets for the 2012 Great American Beer Festival (GABF), go on sale this week. The event, which is entering its’ 31st year, is scheduled for October 11-13 in Denver, CO. Tickets will go on sale to American Homebrew Association (AHA) Members on Tuesday, July 31st at 10 AM MST and Thursday, August 2nd at 10 AM MST, for the rest of the beer-loving world.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, sit around and wait to buy your tickets. If you want to go, buy them now. We’re in the middle of a major craft beer boom, and as a result, it’s getting harder and harder to get tickets to these great events. Just a few months ago, Avery’s Sour Beer Festival sold out in less than 90 seconds. Ommegang’s Belgium Comes to Cooperstown festival this past weekend, sold out in less than 60 seconds!
I’m not saying the GABF will sell out in minutes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it sold out in less than a week. It wasn’t but a few years ago that tickets could be purchased at local breweries and restaurants around the Denver Metro area. While all 4-days of the event were guaranteed to sell out, you could still find tickets available months after they went on sale. For better or worse, those days are over.
These days, tickets for the GABF are sold exclusively through Ticketmaster.com
GABF is THE event for craft beer lovers in the U.S. 400+ breweries will be pouring nearly 2000 beers for you this year. GABF is also a great opportunity to rub elbows with your favorite brewers, try unique beers from brewers across the nation and see who will take home the crown in more than 80 categories of beer judging. It’s a beer-lovers dream and pretty much my favorite holiday next to Christmas!
Tickets will run $65/each for Thu, Fri and Sat nights, while the AHA members-only session on Sat afternoon will run $55. I’ve had a sneak-peek at the brewery layout and the awards stage had to be moved just to make room for all of the amazing breweries that will be in attendance this year. The awards will now be presented in the adjoining Wells Fargo Theater. While I will certainly miss watching the award presentations, more room on the convention center floor, means more beers getting poured! Not a bad trade-off.
The good people organizing this years GABF have already published a list of attending breweries. Check it out HERE.
This is just a friendly little reminder to grab your tickets so you don’t miss out. I’m pumped and I hope to see you there!
Several years ago, somewhere amidst the madness that is the Great American Beer Festival, I got my first glimpse of an awesome product called the Beer Drinker’s Guide to Colorado (BDG2C). I snatched one up and over the years, it’s helped me plan out weekend road trips with my wife and track down breweries all over the state. Over time, the explosion of breweries in the state has taken its toll on my little map. It’s out of date and ready to be retired.
A few weeks ago, the 6th edition of the Beer Drinker’s Guide to Colorado was released and filled the holes in my outdated guide.
If you’re not familiar with the guide, it’s a 39 x 26 inch, color map of the state. Pint glasses dot the map and denote the 168 breweries and brewpubs across Colorado. They’ve done their homework and planned ahead by including many breweries that are going to be opening in the near future, like TRVE and Black Bottle Brewery. If you’re not sure about a brewery, call ahead to make sure they’re open and will have beer flowing when you arrive.
The flip side has a ton of useful information, including breakdowns of different beer styles, a list of CO State Parks and 14ers, drive times between cities, homebrew shops around the state and most importantly, addresses, phone numbers, hours and other details about all those breweries you’ll be checking out. The newly updated map has everything a beer lover in Colorado could ever want.
As if that wasn’t enough to keep you happy, the brains behind the map have also put together an awesome collection of coupons to help you save some money while you drink your way across this great state. The coupon book has exploded since my last map purchase. It’s set up like a check book that’s full of coupons you can redeem for free beer, taster trays, discounts, glassware and more!
There are 44 coupons in total, which are valued at more than $250 and don’t expire until January 1, 2014. Grab one now and you’ve got 18 months to do some serious damage across the state!
Right about now, you’re probably wondering how to get your very own, super snazzy, handy Beer Drinker’s Guide to Colorado. Head over to their official website and order one online. They’ve got traditional, folded map versions along with rolled maps for $13.95 each. There’s also a laminated, man-cave approved version for $42.95.
If you’re in a hurry and need to have one right now, click HERE for a list of breweries, homebrew shops and liquor stores that have the BDG2C for sale. This is a great map and awesome coupon book that should be in the glove box of any good beer nerd’s ride. Now get out and explore!
Just got back from a full weekend up in the mountains. Patti and I made the trip up to Breckenridge for their annual Spring Beer Festival. It was our first time attending, but we had heard good things from friends who had attended in the past. We headed up I-70 on Friday afternoon and took our time exploring some of the little mountain towns on the way. We hit a few breweries along the way, including some old favorites as well as a few places that were completely new to us. I’ll try to post some reviews later in the week.
We stayed in the quiet, resort town of Keystone, CO. Keystone is just a short, 15-minute drive from Breckenridge, CO and turned out to be the perfect place to call home for a few days. Hot tubs, no neighbors and no crowds. It was just what we needed. We’re not skiers, so we kind of prefer going up there in the off-season. In our 5-story building, there were only 3 other cars in the garage. Perfect!
We finished off our day with some bacon-wrapped filets and a bottle of Avery’s Uncle Jacob’s Stout. Beer was delicious. Bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, sweet – but not overly sweet, 17.4% ABV is well hidden. Surprisingly smooth at this point in its’ young life, but should age very well. If you missed the release at Avery last weekend, keep your eyes peeled for the remaining bottles to start showing up around town soon. Grab some while you can.
The Breckenridge area has a public transportation system that could rival New York City. I couldn’t believe how many busses they offer to get you around town. During the off-season, the Keystone area even has a bus that you can call to arrange pick up and drop off for personalized service. It’s convenient and free. To Breckenridge however, we caught the Swan Mountain Flyer. This bus runs once an hour from Keystone and makes the loop into downtown Breckenridge.
We caught the 11:30 bus to head to the festival, which opened at noon. We arrived in Breckenridge at around 12:10 and started our walk to Main Street Station. Along the way, we ran into Jason, the head brewer over at Lone Tree Brewing. Sadly, he wasn’t pouring any beers at the festival, but was just out enjoying a rare and well deserved day off with his girlfriend.
The festival offers both a standard tasting ticket, as well as a VIP ticket. The standard ticket sells for $25 and offers admission, unlimited tastings and music. The VIP ticket sells for $65 and comes with a commemorative stein, private buffet and lounge area, along with unlimited tastings and music. Patti had found a deal online for more than half off VIP tickets, so we snagged a pair. We got up to the festival entrance, traded our tickets for a map and stein and headed inside.
Once we got through the gate, the first table we came upon was Oskar Blues. I had to get the day started off on the right foot, so I reached for a pour of Deviant Dale’s. A great accompaniment to the band covering Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” in the background.
Main Street Station is surrounded by several buildings that are condo’s on top, with restaurants and stores on the main level. Between the buildings is a large, open space, that’s used for different events throughout the year. It’s a great area for a mid-sized beer festival.
Working around the outside edge of tables, were many out-of-state breweries, including Sierra Nevada, Widmer, Red Hook and Alaskan.
Towards the back were some of the smaller, local places. A few of which I had never even tried like Bonfire (remember the Tebrew beer from last year’s Tebow mania?), Crazy Mountain and Palisade. This was my favorite area of the festival. The tables were situated along the river, with a beautiful mountain view in the background. Lots of new beers to try, a great view and a whole row of bathrooms nearby. Hey, you gotta know where your bathrooms are at a beer fest. Good combination folks.
Back towards the middle of the festival were the big boys. Avery, Odell, Great Divide, Bristol and more. Great Divide tapped a keg of Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti at 2PM, which went well with the cooler, afternoon temperatures and the light snow that started coming down.
The VIP ticket also gave us access to a private buffet that was catered by Kenosha Steakhouse. They brought some tasty BBQ for the meat lovers, plus some lighter sandwiches, wraps, appetizers, salad and even desert. The lounge area had comfy couches and chairs, so festival attendees could sit down and enjoy their food. There was even a table full of beers donated by the breweries. I snagged a Dale’s Pale Ale to go with my plate of pulled pork. As someone who was kind of on the fence about spending the extra money for VIP tickets, I’d have to say it was worth it. Even if we had paid full price, the unlimited trips to the buffet, the quiet area to sit and eat, the big table full of beers and the private bathroom, made it all worthwhile.
25 breweries in total made the trip. It was well balanced between novice, gateway Wheat and Pale Ales, up to big Double IPA’s and Stouts for the true beer nerds in the crowd. I tried alot of new beers and discovered some new breweries that don’t distribute out my way. Towards the end of the festival, I snagged a nearly full stein of Great Divide’s Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti and went to listen to the live bands on stage.
The clouds eventually started to roll in and the sun gave way to snow, but it only added to our experience. You’ve got to expect snow in Breckenridge in Spring. We made the walk back to the bus station and caught our ride home.
As much as I love the Great American Beer Festival, these little beer fests around the country are a great way to get out and truly appreciate the beer scene, without feeling too overwhelmed. Nice and relaxing, not too big of a crowd, good music and plenty of good beer and food to go around. I’d definitely give it a thumb’s up.
Breckenridge also hosts a Festival in Summer, which is coming up on Saturday, July 14th. I would expect to see a much bigger crowd, but they run a good show. It might be worth checking out.
Random pics from the festival:
OK, here we go, another blog in a world already over saturated with forums, social networks and weblogs. Then why? Why should you bother reading another blog from an average joe like myself? What makes this blog worthy of your valuable time? Well, if it helps, I’ll say that I like Beer. It’s delicious! I like it so much, I’ve decided to make this blog all about the stuff. The sweet, sweet fermented goodness that brings me joy and satisfaction at the end of my day (and sometimes the beginning and middle of my day too).
So my blog, my piece of property in internet infinium, will be dedicated (mostly) to Beer.
I’m not exactly an expert. My name’s Mark and I’ve got a somewhat normal job, an amazing wife and two awesome kids. I don’t work for a brewery or have my cicerone certification, nor am I a certified beer judge. But, I am passionate about the stuff and am ready to share this knowledge with you.
My goal and purpose of this blog is to keep you, my wonderful reader, up to date on the happenings in the wonderful world of beer. I’ll cover what’s going on both close to home, here in Colorado and around the U.S. and maybe even the world. I want to take you with me on adventures to breweries around town and on road trips and festivals throughout the year. Come with me and explore different styles, learn about well-known, popular breweries, but also obscure, lesser known breweries from across the globe. Dive into my beer cellar and dust off some aged bottles to sample and learn what, how and why to properly cellar beer in your own home. We’ll meet some of the masterminds and artists behind our favorite beers and see what inspires them to do what they do. Maybe we’ll even brew a batch of beer together.
Want the buzz on the latest upcoming releases around town? We’ll talk about it. Ever find yourself wondering what would pair well with a nice, thick, hearty steak or a stinky, veiny chesse? I’ve got you covered there too. Should I keep my beer in the bottle or pour it into a glass, and if I need a glass, what kind of glass should I use? Does it really matter? Absolutely! Maybe you’re having a party and want some suggestions for appetizers that will pair well with beer or want some recipes for beer infused food. I’ll even walk you through a beer trade and give you some tips on how to track down a bottle of New Glarus Belgian Red or maybe even the elusive Three Floyd’s Dark Lord!
Along the way, you’ll meet my lovely wife, Patti as we bring you with us on our trips and adventures. She’s a beer nerd, just like me.
Like I said, I’m no expert, but I’ve been all around the globe in search of good beer and now it’s time to share some of that knowledge with anybody that’s willing to listen.
Care to join me? Grab a pint, here we go!