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Pumpkin Beer Guide Pt. 1 – The Tourists

It’s a special time here in beer land.  We’re only a few weeks away from the Great American Beer Festival and getting ready to enter my personal favorite time of year for seasonals.  As the cooler months roll in, I know we’ve got some awesome beers right around the corner.  From big, thick Stouts to spicy Christmas ales to rich, hoppy Barleywines and everything else getting ready to hit our shelves.

Right now, we’re in the midst of Pumpkin season!  There’s quite a few hitting store shelves these days and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  So I sought out some new pumpkin beers along with some old favorites and put together a little guide to help you track down the perfect Pumpkin Ale.  You ready?

First up is a trio from Elysian Brewing out of Seattle, WA.  The Elysian Brewers pride themselves on their Pumpkin Beers.  They brew a variety of interesting traditional and non-traditional beers and even hold an Annual Great Pumpkin Beer Festival, which is entering its’ 8th year.

For those of us here in Colorado, we got three of their releases this year.

Elysian Brewing, Night Owl Pumpkin Ale.  First up, is the 5.9% ABV Night Owl Pumpkin Ale.  This came in a 22oz. bomber that retails for $3.99 / bottle.  The beer poured a slightly cloudy, amber color with a 2-finger tall, tan head.  The aroma was light notes of pumpkin pie spice, cloves and nutmeg.  Taste was very similar, but light and sessionable.  Very balanced and easy drinking. Score: 3.5/5

Elysian Brewing, The Great Pumpkin.  This 8.1% ABV brew is billed as their Imperial Pumpkin Ale. This 22oz. bomber retails for $9.99 / bottle.  This one poured a clear orange color, with a 1-finger tall, white head.  The aroma was pumpkin, graham crackers, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Flavors match the aroma, but this big boy was quite a bit more intense than the Night Owl and tasted more vegetal than pumpkin pie.  Medium carbonation, medium body and a touch of hops finish this off. Really nice beer.  Score: 4/5

Elysian Brewing, Dark O’ The Moon.  This clocks in at 6.5% ABV and is a Pumpkin Stout.  A 22oz. bomber will run you about $5.99 / bottle.  The beer poured nearly pitch black with a thick, 1-finger, toffee colored head.  The aroma was cinnamon, pumpkin spice, anise and roasted grains. The flavor on this was cinnamon, pumpkin bread, caramel and light espresso.  Full mouthfeel and the finish is on the bitter side.  This was a very interesting beer as the flavors weren’t overly done or too sweet. The subtle pumpkin notes combined with the rich stout flavor, made this my favorite of the Elysian Pumpkin series.  Awesome beer!  Score: 4.5/5

Lakefront Brewery, Pumpkin Lager.  The cheeseheads from Wisconsin brew a variety of beers, many of which are lagers.  This one’s running right around $9.50 / 6-pack.  The Pumpkin Lager is a 6% ABV brew that pours a clear orange color, with a 1-finger head.  Big pumpkin spice notes dominate the aroma, along with cinnamon apples and caramel.  The taste was pumpkin pie spices and seemed a bit bread-y.  The body was thin, almost watery.  The spiced up lager didn’t do much for me.  Score: 2/5

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Punkin Ale.  The Delaware brewery has been pumpin’ out this hot seller for nearly two decades.  The beer, which is named after the famous Punkin Chunkin games from out east, is also the first beer Dogfish ever released.  Plan on dropping $11.50 / 4-pack.  The 7% ABV brew poured a clear amber color, with a thick, creamy, 1-finger head.  Plenty of carbonation and heavy lacing coat the glass.  Aroma is pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, nutmeg and caramel. The taste is full flavored and complex with pumpkin pie spices, toffee, brown sugar and a touch of salted caramel and hops.  This is an excellent brew and one that I used to buy by the case when I lived back east.  You might have to do a little hunting around for this one, but it’s still out there and well worth it.  Score: 4/5

Uinta Brewing, Punk’n.  This one, from Salt Lake City, UT, was a new one for me that retails for $8.50 / 6-pack.  Pours a slightly hazy amber color, with a 1-finger head.  A steady flow of carbonation with moderate lacing around the glass.  The aroma was predominately pumpkin pie spice with a bit of malt.  Taste matched the aroma, plus a touch of nutmeg.  Very drinkable and sessionable with a low 4% ABV.  I was pretty happy with this one as it was a well-crafted, easy-drinking beer with an affordable price tag.  Score: 3.5/5

It’s still early in the Pumpkin Beer hunting season.  Keep your eyes out in the next few weeks for The Bruery’s Autumn Maple (brewed with 17 lbs. of yams in each barrel!), Jolly Pumpkin’s La Parcela (Pumpkin Ale with a sour twist) and Uinta’s Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin (Oak Aged Pumpkin Ale). These should be showing up very soon and all offer their own unique take on the style.

For the beer traders out there, I’ve come across quite a few interesting Pumpkin Ales over the years that don’t make it out to our awesome state of CO.  If you’re willing to put in the extra effort, I’d highly recommend Southern Tier’s Pumking, Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale and Heavy Seas The Great’er Pumpkin Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin.  You won’t be disappointed.

That about wraps up this round for our out-of-state Pumpkin Beer Guide.  Stay tuned as next time we’ll be talking about some of the tasty Pumpkin Ales brewed right here in Colorado.

Cheers!

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Weekend Beer Buzz 07/19/12

It seems like every weekend, there are more and more events going on around town.  There’s a TON of events happening this weekend.  I’m not complaining, I just hope I can fit it all into one post.  It’s worth a shot.

Start your weekend by hitting up Dry Dock’s Firkin Friday release on July 20th.  Mix Master Walt has come up with Apple Pie Rye in July for this week’s release.  3 PM sucka!

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

Speaking of Dry Dock, Patti and I will be pouring beers for them over at the Hops for Habitat Beer Festival on Friday, July 20th at the Plains Conservation Center in Aurora, CO.  Come out and drink some beer while raising money for the environment!  This charity brewfest runs from 5 PM – 9 PM and will feature more than 15 Colorado breweries, food trucks, wagon rides, live music and more.

Some of the breweries pouring include Dry Dock, Copper Kettle, Odell, New Belgium and Ska.  Stop by the Dry Dock booth and say Hi!  Tickets for the event are $30 ($15 for DD’s) and can be purchased in advance HERE.  The Plains Conservation Center is located at: 21901 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80013.  303-693-3379.

Celebrate Belgian Independence Day on Saturday, July 21st, over at the Wynkoop Brewing in Denver, CO.  They’ll be hosting the 2nd Annual United Tastes of Belgium with more than 50 breweries on-hand, pouring authentic Belgian and Belgian-style beers.

Some amazing breweries will be in attendance including Stone, Great Divide, Crooked Stave, Duvel and of course Wynkoop.  Check out the complete list of beers HERE.   Advance tickets are $30, which covers your glass, beer, cheese and chocolate samples.  Tickets can be purchased HERE.  Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $37.50.  Wynkoop Brewing is located at: 1634 18th St, Denver, CO 80202.  303-297-2700.

The radio waves will be blowin’ up again with Turk and The Gubna from the Colorado Craft Beer Show on AM 760 at noon.

This week, they’ll be sitting down with the guys from TwinHops Brewing to talk about their campaign on Kickstarter and hear about their plans to open a brewery in Aurora next year.  (More on TwinHops further down in this post).  Also in the studio will be Whitney and John from City Star Brewing out of Berthoud, CO.  The Colorado Craft Beer Show will also be giving away tickets to Kyle’s Brew Fest and the Denver Summer Brewfest, so keep your phones handy.

Over on American Craft Beer Radio, Gary V will be sitting down with a panel of beer judges.  They’ll be breaking down the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) style guidelines, explaining how a beer is judged and doing some on-air tastings of commercial beers.

Tune in to the show on 102.3 FM on Saturday, July 21st at noon.

Where my freaks at?  Sour Freaks that’s you!  (Don’t get offended, I include myself in that category). The 2nd meeting of the Funk ‘n Wild Club is scheduled for Saturday, July 21st at Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids in Longmont, CO.

This unofficial club of local sour freaks doesn’t require a golden ticket or secret password to get inside.  Just show up and be ready to get your mouth-puckering, funky, freak on.  Breweries on-hand include Crooked Stave, Jolly Pumpkin, New Belgium, Russian River and more.  Beers can be purchased in full pours, half pours or tasting flights.  Special guest Chad Yakobson, the mastermind behind Crooked Stave Brewing is scheduled to be the guest speaker.

Dude, I’m pumped for this!  More info on Funk’n Wild can be found HERE.  The event runs from 3 PM – 6 PM at Oskar Blues Liquids and Solids: 1555 S Hover Rd, Longmont, CO 80503.  303-485-9400.

Speaking of sours, The Rackhouse Pub keeps their Sour Month rolling with new sours getting tapped daily throughout the month of July.  This week, look for Great Divide Bretty Yeti, Crooked Stave Surette, Odell Shenanigans and AC Golden Apricot Sour hitting the tap lines.

The Rackhouse Pub is located at: 208 S Kalamath St, Denver, CO 80223.  720-507-7824.

Looking for something not sour, but still packed with complexity and flavor?  Copper Kettle Brewing’s got ya covered.  They’re releasing an Imperial Oak Aged Stout on Saturday, July 21st.  This is one of those rare chances to try a nice, big, flavorful stout, right, smack in the middle of summer.  Skip the wheat and pils, grab your big boy drinking pants and hit up Copper Kettle for this one.

Stop by at noon for the tapping, stick around for the Harvest Food Truck at 5 PM and music from Pete Stein at 6 PM.  Copper Kettle Brewing is located at: 1338 S Valentia St, Denver, CO 80247.  720-443-CKBC.

River North Brewery is getting ready to begin accepting sign-ups for their Locals’ Club.  Sign-ups for the club begins on Sunday, July 22nd at 1 PM.  The $30 membership includes an exclusive, 16 oz. glass (pictured below), $4 pints all day, every day and a membership card.

Memberships will be sold to the first 50 people on a first come, first served basis.  River North Brewery is located at: 2401 Blake St, Denver, CO 80205.  303-296-2617.

Hops & Pie is back with the next round of their Littlest Big Beer Fest on Sunday, July 22nd.  There’s a killer lineup of Firestone Walker beers hitting the tap lines at 2 PM.  Look for Double Jack (Double IPA), Double DBA (Barrel-Aged Barleywine), Parabola (Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout / my FAV of the bunch!) and more.

This special collection of Firestone Walker beers should not be missed.  Hops & Pie is located at: 3920 Tennyson St, Denver, CO 80212.  303-477-7000.

Lastly, the guys behind TwinHops Brewing want to invite you over to help them brew a batch of beer on Sunday, July 21st.  Brad, Scott, Rick and Colin will be firing up the burners to educate, answer questions and share with fans all the details about their upcoming brewery.  More info on TwinHops Brewing can be found on yesterday’s blog.

Starting at noon and rolling throughout the day, stop by and taste their beer.  Bring your homebrew rig over and brew with them if you’d like!  This is being held at: 23891 E Alabama Dr, Aurora, CO 80018.

7/20 Update: The TwinHops brew day has been postponed.  Just got word that it won’t be happening on Sunday, July 21st, but will be rescheduled for a later date.  I’ll update you when they get a new date scheduled.

That’s it kids!  Hope to see you around town this weekend.  Have fun, stay cool and follow us on Facebook for more updates throughout the weekend.

Cheers!


Weekend Beer Buzz: Sour Fest Edition 05/31/2012

Wow, another week has flown by!  It’s about time for your Weekend Beer Buzz.  Unfortunately, I’ve had a one-track mind and all I can seem to think about is Avery’s upcoming 3rd Annual Sour Fest on Saturday, June 2nd.  sour fest, Sour Fest, SOUR FEST, SOOOUUURRRR FEEEESSSSTTTT!!!!!   Yeah, I can’t wait.  The back of my tongue is already feeling all tingly and my stomach is anticipating that jacked-up feeling from all those wild yeasts attacking my innards.  I can’t wait!

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In its’ short existence, Avery’s Sour Fest has quickly turned into one of my favorite annual events.  Nothing but funky, filthy, mouth-puckering sours, being poured at one of my all time favorite breweries.  I’m in!  If you don’t already have tickets, you’re probably out of luck.  I hate to be a downer, but it’s not going to be easy to find a ticket this late in the game.  Maybe you’ll get lucky and find a deal on craigslist, but these puppies sold out in a ridiculously short and nerve-racking 90 seconds.  Best of luck in your hunt.

If you were one of the few lucky beer nerds that were able to score a ticket, I’ll see you there.  The fun starts at noon and runs until 5 PM.  Avery Brewing is located at: 5763 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, CO 80303.  303-440-4324.

Come down early and listen to Gary V. as he broadcasts live from Avery Brewing on American Craft Beer Radio on 102.3 FM.  His show starts this week at 11 AM.  Yep, an hour earlier than normal, because he wants to get in and enjoy those sour specialties at noon just like everyone else.  You should definitely tune in this week as it will be my radio debut.  WooHoo!

Right after Gary fills your head full of foamy fun, flip over to Colorado Craft Beer Show on 760 AM.  The Gubna and John Turk kick off at noon and cover all the local beer news in this lovely state.  They’ve expanded to two hours and will be on from noon – 2 PM every Saturday.  They’ll also be broadcasting live from Avery Brewing.  Nothing like a little friendly competition.  Play nice boys!

Believe it or not, there’s actually more than just the Sour Fest going on this weekend.  What?!?!  Don’t get all sad on me if you weren’t one of the 400ish people to get a ticket to the funk madness, there’s always something else to do.  My suggestion…..  Get over to the Oskar Blues Tap Takeover at Parry’s Pizza!  This isn’t even a suggestion, it’s an order.

If you’re going to call yourself a beer nerd and are anywhere near the Denver metro area this weekend, you need to plan on attending either the Sour Fest or OB Tap Takeover.  Pick one, pick both, but don’t pick your nose and don’t miss out on these delicious events.  (Unless you’ve got a title like Firkin Master and your name is Walt.  He’s off the hook since he’s in freakin’ Hawaii!!! Again!!!)

I’ve managed to hit Parry’s past Tap Takeovers and these are the real deal folks.  I was in the back, super secret, retina-scan required keg vault over at Parry’s Pizza a few weeks ago and I saw the stash first hand.  They’ve been piling up an impressive lineup for this event, including a bunch of barrel aged gems.  I’ve been around the block (in a good way) and I hadn’t even heard of some of these beers before.  In other words, they’re super limited and won’t be around again anytime soon.  This is your chance people.  Don’t miss it!

Still don’t believe me???  I’ve seen the tap list and while I won’t give away all the surprises, let me just say they’ll be pouring both Buffalo Trace Whisky Barrel Aged Ten Fidy and Cabernet Barrel Aged G’Knight.  If that doesn’t excite you, then I give up.

Good gravy I love their food too.  Go famished and parched…  Leave happy.  Your tummy will thank you for it.

But wait, there’s more!  As always, kicking off your weekend is Dry Dock’s Firkin Friday.  At 3 PM on Friday, June 1st they’ll be tapping a Toasted Coconut Porter.  I’ve had this one before and really enjoyed it.  My wife, who’s incredibly allergic to coconuts, couldn’t get enough.  I had the EpiPen ready, but she powered through like a champ.  Dry Dock is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80013.  303-400-5606.

Copper Kettle is getting the most out of their new fermenters, as they’re rolling out a new beer every Saturday in June.  For Saturday, June 2nd, they’re bringing back their Dortmunder Lager.  I made it to the Summer Ale release last week and also got to enjoy their Black IPA and Belgian Golden Strong, while Patti worked on the uber tasty and award-winning, Mexican Chocolate Stout.  They’ll have different food trucks out front for each release.  The beer goes on tap at noon and the food rolls in at 5 PM.

Copper Kettle is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.  If you haven’t yet paid them a visit, you’re long overdue.  They’re located at: 1338 S Valentia St, Denver, CO 80247.  720-443-CKBC.

Not really an event, but the current Lips of Faith lineup in the New Belgium Brewery Tap Room is simply mouth-watering.

From sour treats like La Folie and Tart Lychee to sweet beasts like Cocoa Mole and Abbey Grand Cru, not to mention the new collaboration with Lost Abbey and the Valentine Ale brewed with rose hips and pomegranates.  Why does Fort Collins have to be so far.  Why man, WHY???  But, if you’re lucky enough to be up that way in the near future, stop by for a few samples or a growler fill.  New Belgium Brewing is located at: 500 Linden Ave, Fort Collins, CO 80524.  Just follow the bikes.

There you have it.  Sour Fest at Avery or Oskar Blues Tap Takeover at Parry’s Pizza.  If I find out you didn’t go to one of these two amazingly, awesomely, wonderfully, beerily Colorado events, I’m pulling your Beer Nerd Club Card.  I might even tell your friends too.  Don’t test me…  Don’t you know I’m loco???

I think I’ll wrap this up with a few random shots from the two previous Sour Fests.  Hope you enjoy.  Cheers!


Weekend Beer Buzz 05/03/2012

There are a TON of beery events going down this weekend.  I don’t know if it’s the nice weather, Cinco de Mayo, the Kentucky Derby or just the fact that we live in the “Napa Valley of Beer”, but I like it.  Having options isn’t a bad thing, but it can sometimes make it tough to decide where to go and what to do.

The big news has to be the opening of not one, but TWO new breweries this weekend!  City Star Brewing and Big Choice Brewing will both be opening their doors to the public on Friday, May 4th.

City Star Brewing, located in Berthoud, CO, will be opening their doors for the first time on Friday, May 4th, at 2PM.   They will be pouring: Cowboy’s Double Golden, 6-Shooter IPA, Red Necktar (hoppy American red ale), Bandit Brown, Raspberry Bandit (brown ale fermented with puréed fresh raspberries) and Night Watchman Stout.  If you get the munchies, City Star invites you to bring food into the brewery or visit the food trucks on-site.

City Star Brewing is located at 321 Mountain Ave, Berthoud, CO 80513.  970-532-7827.

Big Choice Brewing in Broomfield, CO, will also be opening their doors for the first time this weekend.  They’ll have a ribbon cutting on Friday, May 4th at 3PM, followed by their first official happy hour, with $1 off pints.  Four beers will be pouring: Disconnected Red Ale, Poblano Stout, Type III IPA and a Saison.

 

The Oskar Blues Bonewagon will be on-site for the party on Friday, with burgers, wings and more for sale.  Saturday will feature a bouncy house for the kids and free BBQ starting at 11AM.  Sunday features a growler happy hour from 4-6PM with $2 off new growlers and $1 off fills.  Bring in your Rockies ticket stub after the game to get a free pint on Sunday afternoon.  Big Choice is located at: 7270 W 118th Place, Broomfield, CO 80020.  303-469-2616.

In other news, Equinox Brewing, in Fort Collins, CO, is celebrating their second anniversary this weekend with live music in the beer garden.  They’ll also be tapping an IPA brewed just for the occasion.  Congrats on two great years!  Equinox is located at: 133 Remington St., Fort Collins, CO 80524.  970-484-1368.

Over in Boulder at Twisted Pine Brewing, they’ll be releasing the latest addition to their Artisan Ale Series on Saturday May 5th.  This month is Big Easy Offbeat Brown, a brown ale brewed with wasabi, ginger, horseradish and honey.  Spicy enough for ya?

Stop by the brewery on Saturday to get your bottles and meet the artist behind the label.  Twisted Pine is located at: 3201 Walnut St, Suite A, Boulder, CO 80301.  303-786-9270.

But wait, there’s more!  Dry Dock Brewing, in Aurora, CO, just tapped a Coffee Milk Stout.  They’ll be doing their weekly Firkin Friday thing on May 4th, with a Brown Ale, dry hopped with Cascade hops.  The beer gets tapped at 3PM.

Go next door and visit The Brew Hut on Saturday, May 5th and take part in the American Homebrew Association’s annual Big Brew.

This is a great opportunity to make a batch of homebrew with friends, introduce new people to the hobby, share recipes and tips with other homebrewers and just have a bunch of fun.  More details and a list of participating stores can be found HERE.

If you make it to The Brew Hut, say “hi” to Gary V., who will be broadcasting live on American Craft Beer Radio, 102.3FM at noon.  Dry Dock Brewing and The Brew Hut are located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014.  303-400-5606.

Copper Kettle will be releasing their latest creation, “La Palmoa Wit” on Saturday, May 5th at noon.  The ingredients used in this beer include fresh pomelos, grapefruit, key lime zest, agave nectar and coriander.  I’m not much of a wit guy, but this beer sounds amazing!  I’m loving all the citrus they used to brew it.  Can’t wait to give it a try.

Copper Kettle is now open on Tuesdays, so you can get your fix 7 days a week.  $1 from every pint sold on Tuesday’s will go towards charity.  This program is called “Pints for Purpose” and will feature a different charity each week.  Copper Kettle is located at: 1338 S Valentia St #100, Denver, CO 80247.  720-443-CKBC.

Have you been waiting patiently to try the line of AC Golden Beers?  Then head over to The Rackhouse Pub on Saturday, May 5th for the AC Golden Tap Takeover.  Don’t let the Coors building fool you, these cats know how to brew.  I’ve only had a couple of their beers, but I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve tried so far.  They’ve got 15 beers ready to be tapped this weekend including a Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout, a Belgian Saison, a Baltic Porter and 5 different sours!  The full lineup can be found HERE.

The Rackhouse Pub offers a full menu and is located at: 208 S Kalamath St, Denver, CO 80223.  770-570-7824.

If you don’t see your favorite brewers around town this weekend, don’t be surprised.  Most of them are out in sunny San Diego, CA for the bi-annual World Beer Cup.  This is an international beer competition that has a judging system very similar to the Great American Beer Festival.  For 2012, more than 800 breweries from 56 countries have submitted nearly 4,000 beers into the competition.  Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal.

The Brewing Network will be broadcasting live from the awards ceremony on Saturday.  Click HERE to follow the action live.

Lastly, there’s a ton of great beers just waiting for you around town this weekend.  Stone Imperial Russian Stout (just had an ’06 bottle – ages really, really well), Sierra Nevada Hoptimum in 4-packs, Funkwerks White, New Belgium Tart Lychee, Avery Nineteen and Samael’s, Great Divide Barrel Aged Old Ruffian, some fresh Jolly Pumpkin and Dogfish Head and so much more!  There’s are so many great beers available right now.  If you need help tracking something down, give me a shout.

Man, that was a lot of news.  I love Colorado!  Hope you find something to keep you busy this weekend.

Time for a beer.  Cheers!