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Miracles Happen At The Denver Only Beer Festivus!

We had the opportunity to attend the Denver Only Beer Festivus last Saturday.  This is a new (and hopefully recurring) beer festival that was presented by Denver Off The Wagon and Imbibe Denver. The event was held at the recently renovated McNichols Building at Civic Center Park in Denver and featured ONLY Denver breweries (all 18 of them!).  Despite having sold out weeks ago, the inaugural Festivus had no lines, great beer, a DJ and dance area, plenty of room to move about and brewers working their booths and supporting their craft beers.  At one point, my wife whispered in my ear “This might be my new favorite beer festival”.  It was truly a Festivus Miracle!

TRVE Brewing just keeps getting better and better.  Owner / Brewer Nick Nunns was pouring Diotima, a Smoked Tea Saison and Stout O))), a thick and roasty American Stout.  Stop by the brewery and give these brews a try if you haven’t already.  Stout O))) was one of my favorite beers of the night.  It’s a hearty brew and perfect for those cold winter nights that lie ahead.

Crooked Stave brought the funk and crushed it as usual.  No shocker there.  Amazing brews.

There was a Yeti sighting at the Great Divide table.  They brought Oak-Aged Yeti, Titan IPA, Hibernation Ale and their upcoming Belgian Tripel called Orabelle.  Keep an eye out for Orabelle in 12oz. bottles sometime in January.

Prost is awesome, but you already knew that.

Strange Brewing always brings a great lineup and the Festivus was no exception.  Head Brewer Tim Myers brought his “Beers Made By Walking” release called Eldorado Juniper Bel-Jin Dark, along with the very tasty Pumpkin Porter and Le Bruit du Diable Farmhouse Ale.

I geek’d out for a good 20 minutes at the River North Brewery table.  They brought some big and impressive beers for all the geeks in the house.  They were pouring a barrel-aged version of Avarice (Belgian-style Imperial Stout), along with Quandary (Quadrupel) and Hoppenberg Uncertainty Principle (Belgian-style Double IPA).  Awesome stuff.

The standout of the night for me was Black Shirt Brewing and their Imperial Red Rye IPA.  This a hop heads wet dream.  Man, I was blown away by this beer with its’ full and complex flavor profile.  I also tried their Saison and Red Ale, both of which were really tasty.  There was reportedly a keg of Red Hubbard Squash Saison, but it was so popular that they ran out before I got a pour.

Black Shirt Brewing Co-Owner Branden Miller has been really helpful with providing information and answering questions for the blog and it was nice to finally meet and taste his beers.  Guys, I’m excited about this one.  Black Shirt Brewing looks to be the real deal.  Miller said that going forward, they plan to open every Saturday, so check the Weekend Beer Buzz for updates on what they’ll be pouring in the Tap Room.

And that’s just a few of the many great breweries that were in attendance at the Festivus.  Don’t forget Our Mutual Friend, CAUTION, Denver Beer Co., Wynkoop, Wit’s End, Renegade and on and on! Denver is lucky to have so many great, young brewers that are crafting some awesome beers these days. It’s really impressive to see so many high quality beers coming out of places that are so new to the brewing community.  I can’t wait to see where we’ll be in 5 years.

So that’s just a quick recap on the Festivus scene and the many great beers that were flowing. Again, awesome, awesome time.  Thanks again to Denver Off The Wagon and Imbibe Denver for hosting a great event.  Now, on to the pictures.

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Cheers!

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Pumpkin Beer Guide Pt. 2 – The Locals

Pumpkin Beers Round 2!  Last time, we discussed some awesome Pumpkin Ales and Lagers from around the U.S.  This time, we’re going to talk Pumpkin Beers that are brewed right here in Colorado!  Whether they come in bottles, cans or growlers, there’s a variety of great tasting gourds waiting for you.  Take a look.

Tommyknocker Brewery, Small Patch Pumpkin Harvest Ale.   The Idaho Springs brewery first released their Small Batch Pumpkin Harvest Ale in 2011.  This 5% ABV beer retails for $7.99/ 6-pack. The beer poured a very dark, ruby red color with a 1-finger, off-white head.  The aroma was malt, dark fruit and molasses.  Where’s the pumpkin?  The taste was cherry, raisins, burnt wood and molasses.  I was a little confused by this one as I found very little pumpkin anywhere in the beer.  It seemed one-dimensional and was fairly disappointing.  Score: 2.5/5

Note: My review is based on Tommyknocker’s bottled version.  I had it on-tap at the brewery in Idaho Springs two weeks ago and found it to be a whole lot better.  It’s possible I got a bad bottle.

Dry Dock Brewing, Half Moon Pumpkin Ale.  The ’09 Small Brewery of the Year released this beauty last week and I was able to make it over for the release party.  This 5.2% ABV beauty pours a clear, dark orange color, with a 1-finger, off-white head.  Big pumpkin spice dominates the aroma, along with some notes of cinnamon and brown sugar.  The taste was pumpkin pie spices, brown sugar, molasses and a touch of vanilla.  This is a very spicy, flavorful brew.  Very enjoyable.  Hey homebrewers, The Brew Hut (homebrew shop) next door will set you up with the recipe so you can brew your own batch.  I brewed a batch about 6 years ago and it’s a great recipe.  Score: 3.75/5

Upslope Brewing, Pumpkin Ale.  The Boulder brewery took home a Gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2011 with this special beer.  The 7.7% ABV brew pours a clear, copper color with a half-finger, off-white head.  Soft carbonation and faint lacing trim the glass.  Pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and malt round out the aroma, while the flavor is pumpkin pie, graham cracker, brown sugar and a touch of hops.  A touch of alcohol and the slightest hop bite in the finish.  Very nice beer.

In addition to sporadic tappings at the brewery, 16oz. cans have been distributed to multiple stores along the Front Range.  You can purchase a 4-pack from the brewery for $15, which also includes a coupon for a free pumpkin from Munson Farms in Boulder.  Baby Bear Pumpkins from Munson Farms were used in the making of this wonderful beer.  Score: 4.5/5

Avery Brewing, Rumpkin.  Wow.  There are pumpkin beers and there are PUMPKIN BEERS!  This is a monster of a pumpkin beer, clocking in at 15.9% ABV!  That’s right, 15.9%!  Avery released this amazing concoction for the first time in bottles last year and most stores were sold out within hours. This brew was barrel-aged in rum barrels and sold for $10 / 12oz. bottle.  I’m reviewing the inaugural 2011 batch, since the 2012 batch is yet to be released.

This monster pours a hazy, dark amber color, with a 1-finger tan head.  Amazingly sweet notes of rum, brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, raisins and booze.  Smells more along the lines of an Old Ale or aged-Barleywine than a Pumpkin Ale.  The taste, ooooohhhhhh, the taste…  Sooo sweet and smooth. Vanilla, rum, raisins, dark fruit, cinnamon, caramelized brown sugar and a slight hint of pumpkin. This is a truly amazing beer and completely different to anything else I’ve tasted while going on this little journey through the land of Pumpkin Beers.  It’s clear that some of the pumpkin flavors have faded since the ’11 release, but that’s part of the beauty of aging beers.  Over time, the layers slowly blend together, harsh flavors mellow out and time can turn sharp notes into smooth ones.  Score: 4.75/5

This is a very special beer and is more along the lines of Avery’s “The Beast” than a standard Pumpkin Ale.  I picture The Beast chowing down in a pumpkin patch.  If you’re looking to grab a bottle from this year’s batch, you had better make plans to visit the brewery on Saturday, September 29th.  Word on the street from Avery’s Barrel Herder, Andy Parker, is that he had trouble tracking down rum barrels and production is lower than last year.  I’ve also heard that there will be no distribution for the 2012 batch.  In other words, get your butt to the brewery on the 29th if you want a bottle.  12oz. bottles will run $10/each, with a 12-bottle limit.  It seems like there’s 826 beer related events going down on the 29th, but I’m going to give it the old “college try” to make it up to Boulder for this.  Hope to see you there!

“But wait, there’s more!”

Keep your eyes out for a variety of other Pumpkin brews that are in various stages of fermentation at your favorite local brewery.  Strange Brewing in Denver is working on a Pumpkin Porter.  Look for it to get tapped sometime around October 8th.

Slaying Pumpkins at Strange Brewing

TRVE Brewing, also in Denver, was cooking their gourds earlier this week.  Owner / Brewer Nick Nunns is naming TRVE’s Pumpkin Ale, “Carving Out The Eyes Of Gourd”.  He’s brewed the beer with 8 different varieties of roasted heirloom gourds and expects it to be in the 8% – 10% ABV range. Nick’s planning to spice it up later with vadouvan, which is a French-influenced curry blend.  I’m excited to try his creative take on the style.

Grilling Gourds at TRVE Brewing

Down in Colorado Springs, Bristol Brewing was picking perfect pumpkins earlier this week for their amazing Venetucci Ale.  This is a very nice beer that can only be purchased at the brewery (guaranteed to sell out!) and proceeds go to charity.

Also down South in the Springs, Trinity Brewing has brewed several batches of this year’s Emma’s Pumpkin Saison.  This is always an impressive beer that can be found on tap at the brewery and in 750mL bottles.

This list is by no means complete, but it’s certainly a great starting point for you to get your gourd on this season.  Grab a pint at your favorite brewery or get a growler to-go.  Many of these won’t last more than a few weeks, while some will be gone in a matter of hours, so get out and enjoy them while you can.  If you’d like to share your favorites, feel free to send me an e-mail or post a picture on the Facebook page.

Cheers!


TRVE Grand Opening Is Tomorrow. Join The Cvlt Before It’s Too Late!

Don’t forget beer peeps, TRVE Brewing’s Grand Opening is tomorrow, June 27th at 4 PM.  You won’t want to miss this.  Nick and his team are ready to serve up some tasty metal music and awesome beers for you.

They’ll have four beers flowing tomorrow: Wanderlust, a Belgian American Pale Ale; Prehistoric Dog, a Salty Wheat; Black Cascade, a Black IPA; and Tunnel of Trees, a Piney IPA.

I had the chance to visit TRVE a few weeks ago and get the scoop from the man himself.  Here’s the link in case you missed it.

There’s still a handful of memberships available in the Cvlt if you’re interested. But don’t wait long, these are sure to go quickly.  Miss out, and you might get stuck listening to Celine Dion and drinking Coors Light.  Brutal…

So get on it, head over, drink up, rock out.  TRVE is opening their doors at 4 PM tomorrow.  Basic Kneads will be set up on Broadway firing up some tasty pizzas to enjoy.

TRVE Brewing is located at:  227 Broadway #101, Denver, CO 80203.  303-351-1021.

Cheers!


New Brewery Spotlight: TRVE Brewing

TRVE Brewing is less than 24 hours from opening their doors to the public for the very first time.  Yesterday, owner and brewer Nick Nunns, took the time out of his busy schedule to sit down and talk with us about his new brewery.  TRVE (pronounced “True”) is located on Broadway, in the trendy area of Denver known as the Baker District.  This part of town is lined with galleries and fun restaurants, but sadly, no brewery.  That is, until later this month, when Nick and his brewery will step in and fill that hole.

Heading into TRVE off Broadway, we entered into the long, narrow, almost industrial space.  Heavy metal music and black and grey walls set the tone as we made our way towards the bar where Nick was working.  Eight black taps lined the black wall behind the bar.  Nick greeted us and was more than happy to give us a tour of his place.

We headed towards the back of the building to gaze at all the shiny, new brew equipment.  With all of the new breweries springing up around town lately, he had a tough time tracking down any used equipment.  Instead, he went with all new gear.  The brew house looks sharp.  I dig the look and feel of the shiny, polished setup.

The bar itself is made of solid wood and is lined with roughly 20 black top and silver frame stools.  There’s another bar top against the back wall, where standing customers will have a place to put down their beer if there’s no room to sit.  Towards the front of the room, there’s a long, 30 foot table, with multiple benches on either side to sit.  It’s a beautiful piece that looks like it came out of the Viking days of old.

He had some beautiful concert posters spread out that will make a great addition to the walls.

Nick clearly knows his beer and his music.  When trying to decide on a theme for his brewery, he said metal just “felt right”.  It was a natural fit.  After meeting Nick and seeing his place, I love his idea.  If you’re not a fan of the music, don’t be scared off.  It’s not going to be loud and forced into your eardrums.  However, if you do like it, it’ll be there in the background to enjoy and talk about while sipping on TRVE’s tasty brews.

Both Nick and I are drummers and beer lovers.  I love his energy, passion for the craft and direction he’s taking his brewery.  Don’t come to TRVE looking for an amber or brown.  He feels that the styles are boring and already done by plenty of other breweries around town.  Instead, Nick plans to take chances, explore new ingredients and throw away style guidelines all together.

In my opinion, it’s about time we had a new brewery in town that is going to jump into the deep end without a “safe” (sometimes boring) lineup of beers.  He plans to open his doors on Wednesday, June 27th with Wanderlust, a Belgian American Pale Ale; Prehistoric Dog, a Salty Wheat; Black Cascade, a Black IPA; and Tunnel of Trees, a Piney IPA.  I love the beers he’s starting out with and applaud him on taking a few chances.  Denver certainly has enough appreciative pallets to support him and his brewery.

Despite taking chances, he doesn’t want to risk running out of beer, which has certainly been an issue with other newer breweries lately.  In order to keep his 3 barrel brew system pumping out beer, all while keeping his tap lines flowing at a manageable rate, he’s created the TRVE Cvlt.  Joining the Cvlt is the only way fans will be guaranteed to get a growler fill.

Right about now, you’re probably wondering what the hell is the Cvlt and how do you get in?  I’m glad you asked.  The Cvlt is a group Nick has created that will give members a signed and numbered 32 ounce growler, five free fills, $7 refills of any beer along with invitations to special events, beer releases and more.  Membership is limited to the first 266 people to sign up and runs $50 for the year.  A second membership can be purchased for only $25.

You’ll get your first chance to get in and sign up on Saturday, June 9th at noon.  That’s when Nick will open the doors to TRVE and give people a chance to try Wanderlust, his Belgian Pale Ale, get into the Cvlt and check out the new brewery.

If you can’t make it on Saturday, then you’ll have to wait until his official opening on Wednesday, June 27th at 4 PM.  But don’t wait too long if you want in on the Cvlt.  There’s only 266 Memberships to go around.  Scratch that, I joined, so make it 265!

I’m excited about TRVE and the direction Nick is headed.  When I asked about future beers, it doesn’t sound like anything is out of the question.  Barrel aging?  Maybe.  Sours?  It’s a possibility.  Interesting beers and unique ingredients?  Absolutely!

Cheers to Nick.  He left his safe, but admittedly boring, 9-5 engineering job to take a chance and turn his dream into a reality.  I love his idea and welcome him to the Colorado craft beer scene!  To steal a line from his website:  Beer. Metal. Denver, CO.  Enough said.

TRVE Brewing is located at: 227 Broadway#101, Denver, CO 80203.  303-351-1021.