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

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

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

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 1st, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

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

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

Monday, March 4th, 2013

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

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

Other Exciting Brew News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday to us!

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

You guys rock!  Craft beer rules!

Cheers!


Craft Beer Pairings For Your Thanksgiving Dinner. Part 1

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.

Appetizers

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.

Cheers!


New Beers and Beer News 10/29/2012

As we head into the winter months, breweries from all over are busy releasing a ton of great beers to keep you warm through those colder months.  Trying to keep up with all the new releases these days is no easy task.  So, as winter begins to settle into Colorado, here’s a rundown of some of the new beers that I’m excited about.

The Bruery, Black Tuesday

Let me start by saying that this year’s Black Tuesday is on Tuesday, October 30th.  As in TOMORROW!  So if you’re not a member of The Bruery’s Reserve Society, tomorrow is your one and only chance to secure a bottle.  The beer is a 19.2% ABV Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout that has notes of vanilla, oak, sherry, dark fruits and chocolate.  Black Tuesday is truly an amazing beer and definitely something everyone should try at least once.  It’s currently listed in the Top 50 Beers on the Planet at beeradvocate.com  Click HERE to get all the details on tomorrow’s release.

Boston Beer Company, Samuel Adams Utopias 10th Anniversary

To say this beer is big, is an understatement.  Released every other year, this guy typically clocks in at 25%-30% ABV.  This batch is a special release to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the beer. It’s made with a blend of beers that were aged in Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrels, Port casks and Rum barrels.  Sam Adams used a bit of their original Triple Bock in the blend, which is 19 years old!

This is a monster of a beer that drinks more like a Cognac or Sherry than a beer.  Be prepared to shell out $160-$180 for a single bottle of this complex, cellarable brew.  15,000 bottles were produced and our share is hitting local store shelves right now.

Stone Brewing, 12.12.12 Vertical Epic

The very last release in the Vertical Epic (VE) series.  In case you haven’t heard, Stone’s VE is a yearly release that began on 02.02.02, followed up a year, a month and a day later with 03.03.03, and so and so, all the way up to the final release on 12.12.12.  The idea was for beer connoisseurs to purchase a bottle (or three) each year and save them for a monstrously big tasting and opening all of the beers to sample side-by-side on 12.12.12.  Each beer has been a different recipe and brewed with cellaring in mind.  While beer geeks have stashed away many, many bottles of VE releases over the years, the earlier bottles can be very tough to track down.  The 02.02.02 has sold for hundreds of dollars per 220z. bottle on the secondary market.

This year’s 12.12.12 is described as a Belgian-style Abbey Ale, brewed with cinnamon, ginger, allspice, orange peel, clove and rose hips. I’ve managed to cellar away bottles going back to 03.03.03 and I’m really looking forward to opening them up for a special tasting in December.  Whether or not you’ve been collecting the VE series, this sounds like a tasty brew that will hit our market just before Christmas.

Trinity Brewing / Black Fox Brewing Collaboration, Le Petite Morte Trajet aka Little Death Ride

The name of this collaboration brew is a reference to the upcoming end of the Mayan calendar in December of this year.  Trinity owner Jason Yesterday and Black Fox owner John Schneider developed the recipe together using all Mayan cuisine.  Corn, wild cinnamon, beans, squashes, peppers, cacao nibs and more come together in this unique, red Saison.  The beer was brewed at Trinity on October 8th, bottled on October 24th and will be tapped at the brewery on December 21st, which is the last day of the Mayan calendar, also believed by some to be the end of the world.  No matter what your beliefs, plan on this being a good beer.  These guys without a doubt, know how to make a great Saison.  Look for a few kegs to hit better beer bars and 750mL bottles to be released in December.

Upslope Brewing, Christmas Ale

This is a Belgian-style ale, that was brewed with a special mix of spices created by Upslope brewer Alex Violette.  Look for coriander, brown sugar and juniper berries in this one.  I was really impressed by their Pumpkin Ale and look forward to this new holiday seasonal.  It was canned last week in 16oz. candy cane striped cans and will be released on November 1st.

Firestone Walker Brewing Co., XVI Anniversary

This barrel-aged blend is always a highlight of the winter months.  For this year’s Anniversary Ale, Firestone Walker has blended 8 different barrel-aged brews to create the 13% ABV, XVI blend.  42% of the beer is Stout consisting of Bourbon Velvet Merkin (Oatmeal Stout), Bourbon Parabola (Russian Imperial Stout) and Tequila PNC (Buckwheat Stout).  The remaining mixture comes from a variety of Barleywines, Strong Ales and IPA’s.  I’ve been trading for these beers for a number of years and have always been impressed by these releases.  Fortunately, Firestone Walker started distributing to Colorado last year and this should be hitting our shelves sometime in November.

New Belgium Brewing, Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout

This upcoming addition to the Lips of Faith series is a bit of a deviation from their usual Belgian-style and Sour Ales.  For winter, they’ll be releasing a 10% ABV Imperial Stout, brewed with locally roasted coffee beans and chocolate.  This hit the Fort Collins market this past weekend, so keep your eyes open for it.

Odell Brewing Co., Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout

Similar to the New Belgium brew above, Odell has similar plans for the winter with their upcoming Chocolate Milk Stout.  This one clocks in at 8.5% ABV and is brewed with lactose and milk chocolate. The label describes it as “rich and creamy” and is compared to “a cold glass of chocolate milk”. Sounds yummy.  Odell’s planning to release it in 4-packs in early-January 2013.

Ska Brewing, Vinifera Stout

This is part of Ska’s new series of canned stouts, with a new beer getting released every quarter. The 2nd release, Vinifera Stout, is an Oak-aged, Foreign-Style Stout, brewed with Malbec grapes. These beers are released on the Solstice or Equinox, depending on the time of year.  Look for Vinifera to get released on December 21st, which is the Southern Solstice, and also the last day of the Mayan calendar.  Fingers crossed we’re still around to try this beer.

Keep your eyes out for some great beers hitting your local liquor store over the next few weeks. Winter is truly my favorite time of year for seasonal beers, with so many big, thick and flavorful beers to be on the lookout for.  What are you excited for this winter?  Good luck beer hunters!

Cheers!


Ten Breweries You Can’t Afford to Miss at GABF

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 brewtallyinsane@yahoo.com with any other suggestions you might have.  Hope to see you this weekend!

Cheers!


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!


Weekend Beer Buzz 08/16/2012

Get yer brew news!  Yep, the weekend is almost here and the forecast is perfect.  You ready?

Friday, August 17th, 2012.

Kick things off over at Dry Dock with Firkin Friday.  This week, they’ve taken Doug’s Hop Abomination VI and double dry-hopped that bad boy.

Because obviously a single dry-hopping just wasn’t enough.  Hop Abomination is a great, great beer and I can’t wait to see its’ debut in cans later this year.  In the meantime, stop by and try the latest batch.  Hop heads won’t want to miss this firkin.  The beast gets unleashed at 3 PM.  Dry Dock Brewing is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014.  303-400-5606.

Sadly, I will miss this week’s firkin, but I’ll be happily pouring beers at the Art and Ale Brew Festival at The Wildlife Experience in Parker.

This is a new one for us, but the list includes Deschutes, Avery, Elevation, Trinity, Uinta and 30+ other breweries.  There’s also several wineries, distilleries and restaurants on the list.  I’m really excited to finally attend this one.  A beer fest in a museum is an awesome idea and I can’t wait. Tickets are $35 for members of The Wildlife Experience, $40 for non-members and $25 for DD’s. More details can be found HERE.

We’ll be pouring at the Dry Dock booth, so stop by and say hi!  The Wildlife Experience is located at: 10035 Peoria St, Parker, CO 80134.  720-488-3300.

Oh, and if you’re out that way, don’t forget about Parry’s Pizza.  They’ve got a location right across the street at: 12501 Lincoln Ave, Englewood, CO 80112.

Don’t forget that Friday will be your first chance to grab tickets for Avery’s Inaugural IPA Festival. This is taking place at Avery Brewing in Boulder, CO on Saturday, September 8th from noon – 5 PM.

Saturday, August 18th, 2012.

On Saturday, head over to Stapleton for the third annual Stapleton Beer Festival.

This year, check out dozens of local breweries serving up their tasty offerings from 4 – 8 PM.  Look for Great Divide, Wit’s End, Copper Kettle, CAUTION and an additional 20+  breweries to be on-site. Two bands will perform and nearly a dozen food trucks will be there as well.

Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the event.  Call 303-388-0724 to purchase tickets in advance or get more information.

If you’re looking to get out-of-town, head up to Central City for the Great Central City Beer Festival. American Craft Beer Radio will be broadcasting live from the festival on 102.3 FM from noon – 1 PM on Saturday.  The Beer Festival runs from noon – 7 PM.

I got my history lesson on Central City’s rich brewing history last weekend from Dave Thomas of Dostal Alley Brewing.  Dave recently wrote a book on the history of brewing in Gilpin County and this past weekend, he was a featured guest on the Colorado Craft Beer Show.

The Great Central City Beer Festival will celebrate the rich, 150 year brewing history of Central City and will feature hayrides, live music and more than 40 beers to sample from breweries like Prost (oh yeah!!), Backcountry Brewing and Dostal Alley Brewing.  This is an all ages event and tickets are on sale for $20.  Click HERE to check out some pics from our trip to Dostal Alley Brewing earlier this summer.

And speaking of the Colorado Craft Beer Show, the guys will be hanging out at Hops & Pie this week as they broadcast from noon – 2 PM on AM760.  Head over to Hops & Pie at noon to check out the live show, as they give you all the latest and greatest brew news and take part in Denver’s Littlest Big Beer Fest.

This month’s lineup is from Elevation Brewing.  Elevation, from Poncha Springs, CO, will be bringing a bunch of tasty beers like their Apis IV Quad, Signal de Botrange Belgian Ale, several barrel-aged variations, a firkin and more!  Hops & Pie is located at: 3920 Tennyson St, Denver, CO 80212.  303-477-7000.

Don’t forget about Bull & Bush’s 41 Beer in 41 Days event that rolls on all month-long.

This weekend, they’ll be tapping their own Captain Funk, and on the guest list is J.W. Lee’s 25th Anniversary Harvest Ale and  d’Achouffe’s Biere Du Soleil.  A full list can be found HERE.  Bull & Bush Brewery is located at: 4700 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, CO 80246.  303-759-0092.

Sunday, August 19th, 2012.

The 2nd Annual Colorado Distillers Festival hits the Rackhouse Pub from 1 – 5 PM on Sunday.

Check out some delicious spirits from Breckenridge Distilling, Deerhammer Distilling, Peach Street Distillers and more.  Tickets are $45 in advance and $50 at the door and includes admission, a tasting glass and a tour of Stranahan’s Distillery.  More details can be found HERE.  The Rackhouse Pub is located at: 208 S Kalamath St, Denver, CO 80223.

Monday, August 20th, 2012.

Stretch your weekend clear into Monday as Euclid Hall will be hosting Tom Korder, brewer from Goose Island at 8 PM.  Yep, that would be Chicago’s Goose Island.  Goose Island recently announced they’ll be bringing their full line of beers into the Colorado market, beginning in September.  There’s talk that they may even begin brewing some of their famous recipes out this way too.  Time will tell. But, on Monday, visit Euclid Hall to try some of their Vintage Beers brought out to CO just for this event.

The chefs at Euclid Hall have created some unique dishes to be paired alongside the beers. Euclid Hall is located at: 1317 14th St, Denver, CO 80202.  303-595-4255.

I’m glad to hear that Goose Island will be expanding their distribution to include our market.  For the past few years, we’ve seen bits and pieces of the Goose Island portfolio, but it’s been pretty hit or miss and some of my favorite styles never made it out this way.  It sounds like they’re planning to bring nearly the entire lineup to us.  I had the chance to visit Goose Island last year and if you’re not familiar with them, you’re in for a treat.  They have an awesome lineup of beers and an enormous barrel-aging program that includes everything from big, bold stouts to sour, belgian-style ales.  I can’t wait to track down some more Bourbon County Brand Stout, as my supply is dwindling. For more details on Goose Island’s expansion into Colorado, check out the recent article by Jonathan Shikes over at the Westword.

If you’re just looking to hang out at home and enjoy a new beer this weekend, keep an eye out for Stone’s 16th Anniversary beer, a new batch of Cantillon (which is probably already gone by now…), The Bruery’s tasty Tart of Darkness and some interesting new Brettanomyces beers from Anchorage Brewing.

Looking into the crystal ball, Prost Brewing will officially open on Thursday, August 23rd at noon. I’m hoping to get a sneak-peek at the finished place and try the lineup on Wednesday.  Absolutely can not wait for them to open!  Prost Brewing is located at: 2540 19th St, Denver, CO 80202.

Grab your calendar and save the date of Saturday, September 29th.   That’s the big date for the upcoming Fall Beer Classic.  Turk and The Gubna from the Colorado Craft Beer Show are hosting their very own beer fest!  These boys know beer and how to have fun.  Sounds like the perfect combo for a beer fest!  Think of it as a warm-up for the Great American Beer Festival.

I’ll get you all the details in the coming weeks, but for now, be sure to “Like” them on their Facebook Page.

Hey, “Like” us too while you’re at it.  I’ve got more beer to give away, but you’ll need to follow the Facebook page if you want a chance to win.

That’s it y’all.  My fingers are done, my mind is blown, it’s time for a beer!

Have a great weekend!

Cheers!


Weekend Beer Buzz 6/20/2012

We’ve got another beer filled weekend coming up.  You ready?  Get your calendar’s out, here’s the run down.

The 23rd Annual Colorado Brewers’ Festival is this weekend.  The festival runs from 12:30 – 6:30 PM on Saturday, June 23rd and Sunday, June 24th.  More than 40 breweries will be pouring their brews including the usual suspects from Fort Collins, along with out of towners like Crazy Mountain, River North and Ska.  Tickets can be purchased in advance by clicking HERE.

If you’re really looking to geek out and try some amazing beers ahead of time, then head over early for the VIP Connoisseur Tasting on Friday June 22nd.  This is sponsored by Choice City Butcher & Deli and is sure to have some nice beers available to taste.  Sour heads will want to check out Crooked Stave and Black Bottle Brewing.  Black Bottle hasn’t opened yet, so this might be your first chance to give them a try.

The 2012 Colorado Brewers’ Festival is being held at Civic Center Park in Fort Collins, CO.  Check out the official website for a brewery and beer list, hours, directions, ticket information and schedule for the weekend.

Fire things up with Firkin Friday over at Dry Dock Brewing.  This week is Starship Enterprise.  Firkin Master Walt took their Enterprise IPA and dry-hopped it with Galaxy, a citrusy, Australian hop.  Tapping is at 3PM.  Dry Dock Brewing is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014.  303-400-5606.

Copper Kettle Brewing is releasing another brew to the tap lines on Saturday, June 23rd.  This round is their summer Kolsch.  With more 90 degree weather on the way, this is just what you need.  The fun starts at noon and The Vegan Van will be rolling in at 5 PM.

Copper Kettle Brewing is located at: 1338 S Valentia St, Denver, CO 80247.  720-443-CKBC.

The Falling Rock 15th Anniversary celebration wraps up this weekend.  Friday will feature a special barrel aged version of Bull & Bush’s Legend of the Liquid Brain Imperial Stout.  Saturday will see New Belgium’s sour LOVE on tap and Sunday will feature a variety of special kegs from Dogfish Head.  It’s Falling Rock, you won’t be disappointed.

Falling Rock Tap House is located at: 1919 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202.  303-293-8338.

Benjamin Weiss, Marketing Director for The Bruery, is in town visiting Colorado for a few days.  He’ll be hosting a beer dinner in Boulder on Thursday, June 21st.  Pizzeria Basta will be pouring Sans Pagaie (sour cherry), Loakal Red (hoppy, oak aged red), Smoking Wood (imperial, smoked, barrel aged rye porter) and Birra Basta (brewed exclusively for the event).  A special food menu was created to pair with each beer.  Call to make a reservation if you’re planning to attend.

Pizzeria Basta is located at: 3601 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, CO 80302.  303-997-8775.

Ben will stick around and share some more Bruery specialties over at Hops & Pie on Sunday, June 24th.  This mini Tap Takeover will feature Otiose (sour guava), Loakal Red, Hottenroth (berliner weisse), Tradewinds (Belgian golden) and Mischief (hoppy Belgian golden).  Hops & Pie is located at: 3920 Tennyson St, Denver, CO 80212.  303-477-7000.

Aside from the Birra Basta, I’ve had the chance to try all of the beers that The Bruery is sending out our way.  Several of them have never been available in Colorado until now.  This is a rare opportunity to try some of their sours and Loakal Red, so check out these events.  You won’t be disappointed.

Wrap up your weekend with Avery’s next release in their Barrel Aged series.  This round is Oud Floris, a Barrel Aged Sour Brown Ale.  You can purchase beers at the brewery on Sunday, June 24th at 4 PM.  Bottles are $8 / each, cash only, with a 6-bottle limit.

They’ll have plenty of sours on tap just for the event, including Bad Apple and Grapes of Wrath.  Avery Brewing is located at: 5763 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, CO 80303.

Last, but not least, another new brewery opened their doors for the first time this afternoon.  Bootstrap Brewing is open and ready for you!  They’re located up in Niwot and are currently pouring: 1956 Golden Ale, Backfire Chili Beer, Boomer Brown and IPA Batch #1.

Congrats on the opening guys!  Their hours are Mon-Thur 3-8 PM, Fri-Sun 12-8 PM.  Bootstrap Brewing is located at: 6778 North 79th St, Niwot, CO 80503.

That’s it folks.  Another solid week of events around town.  Hope you get a chance to get out and enjoy them.

Cheers!


Weekend Beer Buzz 06/14/2012

We’ve got a big weekend coming up here people and there’s no time to lose.  Let’s do this!

Great Divide Brewing in Denver, CO, is turning 18 on Saturday, June 16th.  Yep, they’re legal and they’ll be celebrating with a full-on bash including beer, rare beer, food, more beer, music, multiple breeds of Yeti (hopefully!) and of course, tasty beer!  Some of the rare brews that will be pouring include a Berliner Weisse, Oak Smoked Dunkelweiss, Schwarzbier and an India Pale Lager.  The Great Divide parties are a ton of fun and the $25 admission is tough to beat.  I mean, they close the freakin’ street for this thing!  When’s the last time you had the pull to close down a street in Denver?  Unless you’re U2 or have a Yeti on your staff, I don’t see it happening.

Oh, and they’ve launched a new website and brewed a super-special beer for the occasion.  The beer is out and about in 22oz. bombers.  If you haven’t tried it, then shame on you.  Go stand in the corner until you fully realize the consequences of your actions.  Now, chin up and go grab a bottle at your favorite local shop.  It’s a 10% ABV, wood-aged Double IPA.  Tasty and sweet.

Anniversary Party tickets and other details can be found HERE.  Great Divide and their brilliant concoctions are located at: 2201 Arapahoe St, Denver, CO 80205.  303-296-9460.

Dry Dock warms up your weekend on Friday, June 15th with their Firkin Friday tapping.  This week, your Firkin Master Walt Chleva, has brewed up a refreshing Blackberry Summer Ale.  This fruity beauty gets tapped at 3 PM.  Fruit beers on a warm, summer day.  Man, that sounds nice.

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

Just a short drive down the road, Copper Kettle Brewing is at it again.  They’re releasing another tasty brew on Saturday, June 16th.  This week, it’s their Imperial Red.  Yeah, this yummy, hoppy, beautiful, almost IPA will be back on the tap lines until the beer nerds drain the kegs dry.  Plan on sticking around to enjoy not 1, but 2! food trucks that will be rolling in at 5 PM.  Live local music for your enjoyment begins at 6 PM.

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

Don’t forget about our friends down south at Pikes Peak Brewing in Monument, CO.  They’re celebrating their 1st Anniversary this week, with several events.  First up on Sunday, June 17th is live Celtic rock in the beer garden from 5 – 8 PM.  On Wednesday, June 20th, there’s a Brewers Dinner with Chef Greg Soukup of Blue Sage.  Wrapping things up next weekend on Saturday, June 23rd is a Family Picnic, featuring activities for the kids and free brats from the brewery from 4 – 7 PM.

Pikes Peak Brewing is located at: 1756 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Monument, CO 80132.  719-208-4098.

Snow in June?  Maybe.  Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey is going to be releasing another one of their rare and unique snowflakes on Saturday, June 16th.  Yes, I realize this is a beer blog, but Stranahan’s makes some pretty tasty whiskey.  Not to mention, their barrels have been used to age some pretty amazing beers over the past few years.  Oh Barrel Aged Yeti, Aaah Bligh’s Barleywine, Mmm Well Built ESB.  I could go on, but you get my point.  They’re an important part of the local craft scene.

I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon last week bottling at the distillery and got a picture of the magical barrel of snowflakes.  It was pretty hush-hush last week, but now that they’ve made an official announcement, I feel OK sharing a picture.

Just like past Snowflake releases, it’s a one barrel batch that was bottled today.

This time it was aged in a Cherry Wine Barrel for six months, and is being called Maroon Belles.  If you’re serious about picking one of these up, make sure to head there early on Saturday.  Bottles will sell for $100 / each, with a 3 bottle limit.  Don’t sit and wait on these as they probably won’t last past lunch time.  Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey is located at: 200 S Kalamath St, Denver, CO 80223.  303-296-7440.

There’s rumors of a new brewery opening up in Boulder, CO on Saturday, June 16th.  I’ve been following the progress of J Wells Brewery for the past few weeks.  Still awaiting confirmation that this is going to be their opening weekend, but haven’t heard back yet.  I’ll be sure to pass on anything I can find out on the Brewtally Insane Facebook page.

 If they are in fact planning to open and you want to check them out, they’re located at: 2516 W 49th St, Boulder, CO 80301.

Lastly, there’s a big ol’ anniversary beer hitting CO store shelves right now.  The Bruery, from California, recently released Fruet, their 4th Anniversary beer.  It’s a monstrous 15.5% ABV Old Ale that was aged in Bourbon Barrels.  Patrick Rue and The Bruery crue were kind enough to send a few cases to our market.  I wouldn’t expect it to sit on shelves for too long, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re looking for a bottle.  It began hitting shelves yesterday.

The 750 mL bottles will be retailing between $30 – $34.  The high alcohol content and style of beer, should lend itself well to long term cellaring.  I recently had a bottle of their 2nd Anniversary beer, Coton, which is a 14.5% ABV Old Ale and it’s holding up really well.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they could go for a decade or more.  At any rate, it’s a great series of beers and is worth the high price tag.

Well, there you have it peeps.  Another warm, sunny weekend is in our forecast.  Hope you have a good one!

Cheers!


Beer Trippin’ in California. The Bruery, Orange, CA

In my last two posts I covered our stops at The Provisions Store and The Reserve Society Party during our trip to California.  Our last stop of the day was at The Bruery’s actual brewery.  It’s  kind of tucked away off the highway and doesn’t look like much from the outside.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for the big grain silo out front, we probably would have missed it.

They have a huge, heavy door leading into the tasting room and we were greeted by their big chalkboard o’ beer.

mmm, beer.

As you can probably tell from the picture above, there were plenty of tasty options to choose from.

Patti and I both went with the BeRazzled, a raspberry sour beer.  Hey, I can’t resist a good sour and this was right up my alley.

Patti double fistin’!

The tasting room has a small, 4 or 5 seat bar area, with a row of taps on one side and a large fridge with bottles around the corner.  There were about a dozen picnic tables throughout the tasting room and nearly all were full.  We shared a table with a group of guys from Las Vegas, NV, who had also been at the Reserve Society party.  They were beer traders, had been to GABF a few times and knew their stuff, so we had plenty to talk about.

I explored the area and snapped some pictures of the brewing equipment, fermentation tanks and some of their barrels.  I was really surprised at how small the place was.  For the amount of beer they pump out, I really thought the place would be bigger.  We didn’t get a formal tour or anything, but I’m sure there’s a barrel room hidden in the back somewhere.  With the St. Patrick’s day holiday and all, it was just too busy to ask the bartenders any questions.  The three guys working behind the bar were busy, busy.

The Bruery doesn’t offer any food, but have different food trucks park outside on the weekend.  You can bring in whatever you’d like to snack on or eat there.  This seems to be the way more and more places are going, which is fine by me.

For our next round, I went with a glass of 2010 Saison De Lente, which is a slightly spicy farmhouse beer, with a touch of pepper and fruit.  Really nice beer.  Patti got the Humulus Lager which was pumped through a Randall with ginger.

The Bruery tasting room has a fun, laid back atmosphere and everybody seemed friendly and outgoing.  I could get used to a place like this.

Barrels lining the tasting room.

Someone at our table shared the bottle list with us and it was solid.  The prices were the same as retail and even cheaper for us, given the 15% off we get from the Reserve Society membership.

The Bruery tap list.

I couldn’t help it, I wanted to end the night on a sour note, so we split a bottle of Provisions: Mother Funker.  Funker is a sour ale that was aged for several years in Chardonnay barrels.  This beer is fantastic!  Tart green apples, enamel stripping acidity, lemon and citrus and a very dry finish.  I could have sipped this beer all night long.  At $12.75 for a 750mL bottle, it’s delicious and reasonably priced.

The Bruery Provisions: Mother Funker

Eventually, it was time to wrap it up and head back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.  It was a bit of a whirlwind day, but it was certainly a fun one.  If you’re ever out that way, be sure to stop by and pay them a visit.  You won’t be disappointed.  Be sure to check their hours though, as they’re currently only open on fri, sat and sun. 

Hope you enjoyed some of the highlights from our trip to California.  It was a whirlwind of a St. Patrick’s day, but we had a ton of fun.  I’ve got tons of other beer news to share with you, so check back again soon to stay up to date with everything.  Until next time, Cheers!


Beer Trippin’ in California. The Bruery Provisions, Orange, CA

After having a nice trip to catch some baseball and beers out in Arizona, it was time to move further west to California.  My parents took the kids and caught a flight home to Denver, while my wife and I hit the first flight out to Ontario.  No, not Canada eh.  There’s another Ontario, which  is east of Los Angeles, CA and only about 30 minutes from The Bruery in Orange, CA.

I was pretty happy with my $9 / day rental car through Enterprise, until I noticed that gas prices are pushing up to nearly $5 / gallon out there.  That’s crazy talk.  Luckily we didn’t have too far to go.  There was a steady, cold rain coming down as we started our journey south from the airport.

Our first stop was at In-N-Out for some early lunch.  We rolled in just as they were opening their doors at 10:30AM.  If you’re coming from an area without In-N-Out, into an area with In-N-Out, you must stop there first for a bite to eat.  I don’t want excuses people, just make it happen.  It’s inexpensive, delicious and send me one while you’re at it.  E-mail me and I’ll get you shipping information.  Thanks and well done.

Now with that out of the way, we could begin some southern California beer-trippin’.  Our first stop was at The Bruery Provisions.  Back in 2010, The Bruery Provisions opened as a specialty market filled with some of the finest beer, wine, cheese and other grocery items around.  They have several coolers filled with some very nice Belgians and a wide variety of American microbrews.  They’ve also got a huge selection of Bruery beers, including a line of beers that is made exclusively for the store.  The cheese section was pretty impressive with dozens of different types available for purchase.  The Provisions is also the pick up point for members of The Bruery Reserve Society, which we’ll talk about later.

In the back of The Provisions is a tasting area with an extensive beer menu, as well as meat and cheese plates.  Patti picked up three different wedges of cheese and I ordered a flight of beers for us to try.

Specialty flight and delicious cheese!

From left to right: Filmishmish (oak aged sour apricot), Humulus Lager (hoppy imperial pilsner), Sour in the Rye (oak aged sour ale), White Oak (bourbon barrel aged wheatwine) and Chocosaurus Rye (collaboration with Bootlegger’s; lager brewed with cocoa nibs and vanilla beans).  The cheeses were brie, cambozola and goat.  It was quite the start to our day.

The Provisions also offers free wifi, so we got our laptop and tuned in to American Craft Beer Radio to hear Gary V’s broadcast and catch up on what was happening back home in Colorado.  The staff was busy filling orders for Reserve Society members picking up their orders.  I’m a member of the club, but because I had a large order, I’ve got a friend who’s going to pick it up and ship it out to me.  It’s easier than trying to fumble with it at the airport or trying to pack it up for FedEx.  We had limited time and my hookup said he’d take care of it for me.

There were quite a few guest tap offerings to go along with the extensive list of Bruery beers.  They had Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, Allagash’s Odyssey, Ballast Point’s Sea Monster Imperial Stout and Great Divide’s Espresso Yeti to name a few.  There wasn’t a bad beer on the menu and the staff seemed knowledgable and able to help with pairings and suggestions.

They periodically host tastings and offer classes where they pair up flights of beer and cheese or wine and cheese.  Tune into their facebook page to keep up with the tap list and new beers arriving in the store.  They are also working on getting approval for their patio.  Once that happens, you’ll be able to enjoy a beer outside!

We could have easily spent an afternoon in this place.  Friendly staff, great beers and cheese.  Orange is a nice little town with antique stores and family restaurants.  We’ll be back for sure and this is a must-stop if you’re ever out that way.  Not to mention, Reserve Society members get 15% off purchases.  We need a place like this in Colorado!  Their address is: 143 N. Glassell Ave, Orange, CA 92866.

We had such a beer filled trip to California, that I’m going to split this into three parts.  Check back soon and we’ll take you inside The Bruery’s Reserve Society Initiation party and then finish up with a stop at The Bruery’s prodcution facility and tasting room.  Until then, Cheers!