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Beer Trippin’ in California. Part 5 – AleSmith Brewing Company

When I hear the term “Big Beer” in Colorado, I immediately think of Avery Brewing and Great Divide Brewing.  Both have a vast selection of big beers ranging from 8%+ ABV Imperial Stouts, Double IPA’s, Barleywines and so on.  When I hear the term “Big Beer” in reference to Southern California, I think of San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing.  AleSmith has been serving up tasty brews since 1995 and over time, they’ve grown their line to include a variety of fantastic, high ABV beers.

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AleSmith might be best known for their popular Speedway Stout, which is a 12% ABV Imperial Stout brewed with coffee.  Speedway Stout is full of chocolate, coffee and roasted malt flavors.  The thick, creamy mouthfeel lingers and leaves you wanting more.  Speedway variations spring up from time-to-time in the tasting room.  Past experiments have included batches brewed with dried sour cherries, mint chocolate and peanut butter & cacao nibs.  Wow!  Send some to Colorado.  Please??

Old Numbskull Barleywine is an American-style Barleywine that weighs in at 11% ABV.  If you’re not a fan of the big hop flavors found in fresh batches, tuck some away in the back of your cellar for a few years.  The caramel and malt notes that come through once the hops fade after a year or more are divine.  Fresh, aged, both, whatever, it’s a great take on the style.

Scotch Ale fans never seem to have very many options.  That poor beer just doesn’t get enough respect in my opinion.  Luckily, AleSmith gives the style its’ due with their Wee Heavy.  The 10% ABV Wee Heavy is a sweet, smokey, lightly hopped traditional Scotch Ale.

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The Grand Cru might be the most complex beer in their year-round big beer lineup.  This one is a 10.5% ABV Belgian Strong Dark Ale that is brewed with dark Belgian candi sugar and fermented with authentic Belgian trappist yeast.  The dark brown brew has flavors of dark fruit, vanilla, brown sugar and caramel.

Don’t forget the Grand Cru’s little brother, known as Horny Devil.  This bad boy is an 11% ABV Belgian Strong Pale Ale.  Like the Grand Cru, the Devil is also brewed with Belgian trappist yeast, but uses a lighter Belgian candi sugar and coriander seeds in the brewing process.  The result is a beautiful golden beer with citrus, bread and spice notes.

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AleSmith has a small barrel-aging project and many of the barrel-aged releases are only available on draft in the tasting room.  They occasionally release 750mL bottles of their Barrel-Aged big beers like Speedway Stout and Old Numbskull, which are only available during release parties at the brewery. Take note beer traders, I highly recommend seeking these bad boys out.

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While the big beers tend to take center stage, don’t ignore the smaller, more sessionable brews like their IPA, Anvil ESB and X Pale Ale or their great seasonals like YuleSmith, My Bloody Valentine or Decadence (their Anniversary beer which is a different style every year).

DSC_0843AleSmith reps at GABF said they’re looking at entering the CO market in the near future.  Cross your fingers folks, because AleSmith would be a great addition to the CO beer scene.

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Drop by the tasting room on your next trip out west to see what they’re all about and grab some bottles to bring back for your cellar.  You’re gonna love ’em!

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AleSmith Brewing is located at: 9368 Cabot Dr, San Diego, CA 92126.  858-549-9888

Cheers!

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Weekend Beer Buzz 11/09/2012

It’s been an interesting week.  We got back an hour of sleep, although my kids still haven’t figured out how to sleep past 5:30 AM…  We survived another election.  I don’t get political on here. Truthfully, I don’t really talk politics at all on here or otherwise.  It’s not my thing.  But, I’m enjoying the fact that the phone calls during dinner, knocks at the door and back stabbing commercials have ceased for the time being.

I spent an afternoon over at Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, sipping on a 6-year old Framboise and talking all things beer with owner Kevin DeLange.  Check out Part 1 and Part 2 for a full report on one of Colorado’s top breweries and be sure to stop by Dry Dock this weekend and help them celebrate their 7th Anniversary on Saturday.  Details below.

The weekend’s here.  Let’s rock it!

Friday, November 9th, 2012.

You wanted the hops?  You got the hops!  Kick off your weekend with a visit to Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora.  The Firkin Master’s summoning all of Colorado’s Hop Freaks for his Citra Dry-Hopped Osirus Bitter.

Tappings at 3 PM and 7 PM.  Dry Dock Brewing is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014.  303-400-5606.

Saturday, November 10th, 2012.

It’s all about Dry Dock this week.  I can’t help it.  They’ve got an Anniversary this weekend, they’re gearing up to open their Production Facility, they’ve got cans on the way and I’m sipping on their Barrel-Aged Shotgun Russian Imperial Stout as I type this.  If you missed our 2-part interview with Owner / Founder / Brewer Kevin DeLange, click HERE and HERE to get the full scoop on Dry Dock’s Past, Present & Future.  Dry Dock, here’s to 7 awesome years! Help them celebrate on Saturday at their Anniversary Party.

The party starts at noon and runs until…  I guess until they kick you out, which they’re not very good at.  So just plan on sticking around all day and getting a cab home.  Just glancing at this list of beers getting tapped, I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong.  2010 Wee Heavy, Sour Apricot and the incredibly tasty Ambassador Sour Ale.  That’s good times right there.  Check out Dry Dock’s 7th Anniversary Party and wish them luck with their new Production Facility and 40 BBL Brewhouse.  Dry Dock Brewing is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014.  303-400-5606.

The folks behind The Funk’n Wild Sour Beer Club are back at it again.  This time they’ve wrangled Avery’s Barrel Herder Andy Parker to join the group and talk about and taste all things sour.

Once again, they’ve secured some great beers to share including Crooked Stave’s L’Brett d’Or, Avery’s Dihos Dactylion, New Belgium’s La Folie, Russian River’s Consecration and Bear Republic’s Tartare and that’s just the beginning!  Although I haven’t been able to make it to a meeting yet, I’m loving this group of Sour Beer Enthusiasts.  Fingers crossed I can swing up to Longmont to check it out this time around.

The boys from the Colorado Craft Beer Show will be in the house broadcasting live from this funky event from noon – 2 PM.  Check them out on AM 760.  Somebody buy Turk a La Folie. That boy can’t get enough of that beer.  He’s got good taste.

Stop by Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids from 1 PM – 4 PM and see what Funk’n Wild’s all about.  OB’s HMLS is located at: 1555 S Hover Rd, Longmont, CO 80503.  303-485-9400.

Branden and the gang at Black Shirt Brewing are opening their doors once again this Saturday from 3 -8 PM.

Despite their limited hours, Black Shirt Brewing continues to receive positive reviews as they showcase the versatility and complexity of the Red Ale.  If you have the time, I’d recommend getting over there for a visit.  It’s at the top of my list.  Black Shirt Brewing is located at: 3719 Walnut St, Denver, CO 80205.  303-993-2799.

Lastly, Copper Kettle Brewing Co. will host “A Night of Casks” on Saturday beginning at noon and running until 10 PM.

The Hoppa Fresh Hop hits the hand pumps at noon, with the Imperial Pumpkin Porter going on at 5 PM.  There’s just something about a smooth, flavorful, real cask ale.  Check out this unique twist to CKBC’s brews.  CKBC is located at: 1338 S Valentia St #100, Denver, CO 80247.  720-443-CKBC.

Thursday, November 15th, 2012.

Looking into next week, the Chef N Brew Festival is coming up on Thursday night.

This will pair 12 local breweries with 12 local chefs for an interesting night of tastings and competition.  Come by and see what kind of creative dishes Denver’s top chefs have created to go with beers from Denver’s top breweries like Prost, Crooked Stave and Strange.  This is being held at The Oriental Theatre in Denver.  Tickets are $39 in advance, $49 at the door and can be purchased HERE.

There you have it good people.  Get out and try something new this weekend.  Or something old, that’s fine too.  No matter what it is, have fun and respect your beer.

Cheers!


Weekend Beer Buzz 10/25/2012

It looks like Mother Nature has dished out a bit of snow and cold weather to us.  Don’t fret, there’s still plenty of good beer to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside again. It’s time for the weekend people.  You ready?

Fire it up right now, by making a trip over to Crooked Stave.  Just look at this lineup.

Not only are there amazing brews on draft, but they’ve got both Oculus and the GABF-medal winning Sentience in bottles to go.  Don’t forget to sign up for Crooked Stave’s Cellar Reserve while you’re at it.  You won’t regret it.  Crooked Stave is located at: 1441 W 46th Ave, Unit 19, Denver, CO 80211.

Over at the Yak & Yeti is their Oaked IPA.  This is their Himalayan IPA aged in a Leopold Bros. Rye Whiskey Barrel.  Brewer Adam Draeger teased this recently on our behind the scenes tour of the brewery and I’d love to taste how this turned out.

They’re also pouring Blueberry Tart, which is a slightly tart, blueberry brown ale and a Milk Stout, which will only be pouring for the colder months.  Stay tuned for a series of Porters that will head into territories never before visited by previous Porters.  More details in the coming weeks.  Check out Yak & Yeti at: 7803 Ralston Rd, Arvada, CO 80002 and 8665 N Sheridan Blvd, Westminster, CO 80003.

Friday, October, 26th, 2012.

So the Jellyman down at Rockyard is up to his usually playfulness again this week.  This time, he’s releasing “Wonder Twin Powers…Activate!”  Best beer name I’ve heard in a long time.  He’s taken an IPA and filled it with antioxidant goodness from the very special and tasty Açaí berry.  Well, lots of Açaí berries actually.

Guaranteed to be way better than a flu shot, stop by at 4 PM to get your fix.  Rockyard Brewing is located at: 880 W Castleton Rd, Castle Rock, CO 80109.  303-814-9273.  And for you kids still wondering who the hell the Wonder Twins are, get learned.

This may or may not be from the original cartoon series.  You be the judge.

Before this post goes any further South, let’s just move on.

Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids & Solids is turning 3!  Stop by on Friday for this family friendly event, complete with balloon making and face painting for the little ones.

Good beer?  Are you kidding me?  These guys kill it in the beer category and will have a ton of great brews flowing.  The food menu is tough to beat too.  Man, I wish I could make this.  It’ll be an awesome time.  Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids & Solids is located at: 1555 S Hover St, Longmont, CO 80501.  303-485-9400.

Parry’s Pizza is hosting Beer & Fear on Friday.

Scary Costumes meets Scary Beer.  Get all ghouled up and stop by for some spooky brews from Jolly Pumpkin, Lost Abbey and Shmaltz.  Costume contest from 7 PM – 8 PM.  Parry’s Pizza is located at: 9567 S. University Blvd., Highlands Ranch, CO 80126.

Dry Dock is ready for another round of Firkin Friday.  This week’s release is their Double IPA, dry-hopped with Simcoe and Amarillo hops.  Hop-heads arise!  Tappings at 3 PM and 7 PM.

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

Saturday, October 27th, 2012.

Saturday is a solid day of beer happenings, so let’s refocus and get serious.

The Rackhouse Pub is turning 3 this weekend!  To celebrate their 3rd Anniversary, they’ll be hosting a Dry Dock Tap Takeover.

Yeah, they’ve got your Hop Abomination, GABF Gold-medal winning Apricot, Vanilla Porter and so on, but they’ll also be pouring Dry Dock’s World Beer Cup medal winning Wee Heavy, Coffee Milk Stout, Bligh’s Barleywine (yes, Bligh’s Barleywine), The Ambassador Sour (my fav!) and even a firkin of Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Porter.  More than 20 beers will be making an appearance for this amazing event.

Do NOT miss this!  I mean it.  Aside from maybe your buddy’s beer cellar, when’s the last time you saw a bottle of Bligh’s Barleywine?  Head over to the Rackhouse and help them celebrate 3 years. There’s even a costume contest and live music later in the evening.  The Rackhouse is located at: 208 S Kalamath St, Denver, CO 80223.

Arvada Beer is also celebrating an Anniversary this weekend.

For their 1-year anniversary, they’ve been tapping great beers all week-long.  Here’s the complete list of what they’ve got planned:

  • 10/21 – Bourbon Barrel Aged Cherry Wit
  • 10/22 – Both White House Ales
  • 10/23 – Nitro Russian Imperial Stout
  • 10/24 – Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Aged Belgian IPA
  • 10/25 – Russian Imperial Stout
  • 10/26 – Batch 100 Wheat Wine
  • 10/27 – Syrah Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout

There’s some amazing beers on the list for sure!  Stop by on Saturday for a Halloween costume contest, a chance to win free beer for a year! and to check out a live broadcast with the boys from the Colorado Craft Beer Show.

Turk and the Gubna will be broadcasting live from noon – 2 PM on AM 760.  Tune in or stop by to get all the latest Colorado craft beer news.  Arvada Beer is located at: 5600 Olde Wadsworth Blvd, Arvada, CO 80002.  303-467-2337.

Parry’s Pizza is inviting you out to drink beer for a good great cause on Saturday.

They’re hosting a silent auction to help raise money for little Zoe, who is battling cancer.  Stop by for a beer, a bite to eat and bid on some great merchandise for an amazing cause.  Parry’s Pizza has three locations at: 9567 S. University Blvd., Highlands Ranch, CO 80126.  12501 E. Lincoln, Englewood, CO 80112.  5650 Allen Way, Castle Rock, CO 80108.

Black Shirt Brewing’s gearing up for another party on Saturday.  While they still don’t have any permanent hours established just yet, they’ll be pouring a variety of Red Ales from 3 – 8 PM.

Stop by for a sneak-peek and try some beers from Denver’s newest brewery.  Black Shirt Brewing is located at: 3719 Walnut St, Denver, CO 80205.

This last one is for all the über beer geeks and beer traders out there.  Darkness Day at Surly Brewing in Brooklyn Center, MN is going down on Saturday!  Darkness is an amazing, amazing, amazing Imperial Stout that is delicious fresh, but also ages incredibly well.  I also think it’s kind of cool that Surly chooses a different monster / zombie / scary creature to adorn their bottle every year.

Darkness Day only happens once a year, so show up early to secure up to 6-bottles of this limited, yummy brew.  Cash only.  I’ve got a vertical running back to ’08 and if anybody happens to have an extra bottle and can grab me this year’s workshirt, you’ll be rewarded with, well, more beer. Duh! E-mail me (brewtallyinsane@yahoo.com) if you’ve got a bottle that you just need to get rid of and we’ll figure out the details.

Again, Darkness is a pretty special brew that you should go out of your way to find.  Seriously great beer.  It’s good too.  Grab your bottles, stick around for the beer (obviously!), food trucks and metal music.  It’s going to be a blast!  Surly Brewing is located at: 4811 Dusharme Dr, Brooklyn Center, MN 55429.

That’s about it y’all.  Plenty to do both near and far, far and near, amazing things are brewing everywhere.  (Sorry, my kids are all about Dr. Seuss these days.)  Get on it and have some fun this weekend.

Cheers!