"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
by those living in Colorado. Follow the author as he visits every brewery in the state, creates experimental homebrews,
attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Baby's a-done a-Brewing

Back in March Nicole and I released the news that we were womb-aging a child and shared a series of weekly photos documenting the progression of the pregnancy.  Well, there have been a lot more pictures since then:

No clever sayings for this one but it was around the time of March 3rd AKA 3/03 AKA 303 Day so we just went with a Colorado pride theme.  I remember 38 State Brewing Company having an interesting taproom.  I believe it was a former mechanic's workshop as evidenced by the many garage doors.  One of the more peculiar (but also neat) features of the taproom was an unfinished-looking side room that served as sort of a rec room.  With big glass garage doors on opposite ends of the room, it almost felt like being outside.  We also visited Locavore Beer Works on this particular trip to the southern suburbs.   

Goldspot Brewing Company's got a quaint little space near Regis University.  A small brick building with low, wooden rafters interwoven with patio-style filament lights, this brewery has the vibe of countryside love shack.

I guess if we're trying to show off the baby-bump we shouldn't have put Nicole in a red shirt and have her stand in front of a red wall.

This was taken at what should have been the half-way mark of the pregnancy.

At this point, we had not yet found out the sex of the child.  But, as you can ascertain from our chalkboard, we were about to find out. SPOILER ALERT: it was a girl.

I would like to amend this one slightly.  We're not "trading in" anything, we're simply adding to the bottle collection.  There're still plenty of beer bottles at our residence.

A jazz-themed brewery calls for a jazz-themed chalkboard message. 

Likewise, a metal-themed brewery calls for a metal-themed chalkboard message.

We were at Week 26 of the pregnancy so, naturally, we took our picture at Station 26 Brewing Co.

CO-Brew, the homebrew shop/brewery hybrid on Broadway.  At a glance, it's more homebrew shop than brewery but the check-out register is also a bar and there's a seating area off to the side indicating it's dual nature.

Math is hard!

We weren't revealing the baby's name until she was born which prompted a lot of prying questions from friends and family.  So, being cheeky, we composed a poem and snuck her (technically misspelled) name into it.  Nobody caught the hint.  

We turned Nicole's parents into grandparents with this baby (my brother already did that honor for my parents).

I think this was taken near Father's Day.

Yes, but the actual giving birth part?  Not so much.

We took this picture out of convenience; it's the closest brewery to our hospital where we were headed to take a birthing class.

I apologize for the crappy-looking boat we drew.

Awesome spot and great beer!  I had their Luntbier, a nearly-extinct style of German smoked beer; it was delightful.  The taproom is a mix of industrial American and classic English pub.  It's in an old barrel-roofed building with lots of garage doors but within the rough-edged matrix floats classic details like a hanging pane of tin ceiling plates and a massive, ornate, dark-wood bar.  

We were actually at a different brewery when we realized we could come up with a better message at this one.  So, we packed up and drove here.

It was actually at about the same time the real, celestial blue moon was in the sky when we took this picture.  As you can see, we forgot our chalkboard for this one.

Nicole was overdue at this point; we were ready to blast this little cannonball right out of her!

And then, on August 12th, Sloane Viola Jane was done fermenting and was ready to be tapped for the world to enjoy!  I promise she doesn't always look so blobby and disgruntled, the photographer just caught her at a bad time.



Monday, July 13, 2015

A Picture Tour of Avanti F&B

The highly-anticipated new eatery in Denver's Highlands neighborhood, Avanti F&B, opens to the public today! Here's a few sights you can expect to see at the former print shop located at 3200 Pecos Street.

 The outside of Avanti as seen from the south.  The main dining area is behind the second-level windows and, above that, one part of the rooftop patio.  Just to the left of this wall is...

...the rooftop bleacher section that looks out in the general direction of Coors Field.  It's kind of a silly concept having bleachers on the roof that look out over nothing specific, just the whole of the Denver skyline, but that's okay--I like silly concepts.  Continuing to turn left we see...

...the largest B-cycle station in Denver!  Apparently, they needed to install the city's largest bike rental station lest they be forced to add more parking spaces.  This part of town needed a few more stations, anyway.

Walking through the front door, guests find themselves in a pretty swanky lounge!  On the left side of the lounge is...

...Avanti's main bar area serving wine, mix drinks, and beer including...

...Colorado's largest selection of Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales beers on tap!  One of the owners of Avanti is a close, personal friend of Sam Calagione so it makes sense that DFH would be featured so prominently.  My camera's flash obscured it but that last one is Collabo-Ryezon, a rye beer made in collaboration with Prost Brewing which is just on the other side of a small park from Avanti.  

Avanti also has a lot of beers not from DFH, too, including one from The Post Brewing Co., a brewery headed-up by Bryan Selders, former brewer at DFH. So, I guess there's no hard feelings between Selders and his former employer.  

Walk past the main floor lounge and enter into the main dining hall.  The concept behind Avanti is that of a collective eatery inspired by European markets.  But, I've never been to a European market and you probably haven't, either, so I think a better way to describe Avanti is as a high-end food court or a permanent food truck rally.  There are five eateries on the main floor and two on the second floor.  The dining area is all communal and there are no reservations, just get the food you want from the pod you want and find an available seat.

Another look at the main dining hall.

A nice succulent garden as you head up from the main floor to the second level.

The upstairs bar is indoor/outdoor.  The outside portion serves...

...the main rooftop lounge area.  Turning to the left, we see...

...a line of barstools that look out over the bleachers that are just beyond the edge.  The outdoor, upstairs dining area is on the left. 

Looking back from the barstools and bleachers, we see the outdoor portion of the upstairs bar.

The view from up top!

The upstairs, outdoor dining section.  This part is covered so patrons can enjoy the fresh air and views even in inclement weather.

The length of the upstairs, outdoor dining area.  They have a glass garage door that can be raised, opening the outdoor section to the bar and other two food pods.

From the upstairs dining area, another shot of the rooftop bleachers.

So, what are you waiting for? Avanti opens today so go eat, drink, and take in the spectacular views!



A few months ago, we visited the space that would become Avanti F & B.  At that time, it looked like an empty warehouse.  The cargo containers that would become the food pods were in place but the rest of the space had yet to be transformed.  When we visited this last Thursday, we were met with a mix of modern, industrial, and rustic touches.

I have to say I’ve been looking forward to the opening of Avanti  mostly because Quiero Arepas would be there. Quiero Arepas is one of my favorite food trucks in the Denver area but, being a food truck, we only get to enjoy their Venezuelan treats when we are lucky enough to find them at a brewery or outdoor event.  As usual, the food did not disappoint; I enjoyed the Reina Pepiada, shredded chicken in an avocado sauce stuffed into a corn bread arepa.

Avanti brings different cuisines to one place in a unique way.  Imagine a food court but with craft beer, quality food, an inviting atmosphere, a gorgeous view, and no angsty teenagers (I would say less screaming children, too, but I plan on bringing my baby there when I meet up with friends).  Avanti houses seven restaurants, some are the product of a booming food truck industry, others are testing their concepts, perhaps in hopes of opening a larger restaurant someday. 

After trying samples from each restaurant, my favorite of the night was MiJo.  MiJo served a banana curry over udon noodles with tofu or chicken.  It had a great flavor and just the right amount of spiciness; I will definitely be back for more!

Another favorite was Brava! Pizzeria Della Strada.  Brava! serves wood-fired pizza, the oven carefully squeezed into their cargo container.  They were serving the margherita pizza as well as bacon-wrapped goat cheese-filled dates and Italian S’mores.  The crust on the margherita was so wonderfully thin and the sauce boasts a tangy sweetness, I was actually reminded of pizza I’ve had in Italy.

Unfortunately, with baby on board, I wasn’t able to try any beer or cocktails (I had my eye on a pear cider, though).  I will be returning to Avanti to try out some of the other food options once the full menus are in place.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Biergarten Festival is Coming!

It’s that time of year again.  Early July.  That time when we hoist high the Stars n’ Stripes, when we all come together to eat hotdogs, drink copious amounts of beer, watch fireworks, and collectively agree that, damn, it’s good to be American.

In Colorado, early July is even more important; it’s a time when we double-down on our patriotism.  It’s a time when we hoist high the Bundesflagge, when we all come together to eat bratwurst, drink copious amounts of bier, watch Schuhplattler dancers, and collectively agree that, verdammt, it’s good to be German-American.  Why?  Because July 10-12 is when the German-American Chamber of Commerce—Colorado Chapter’s Biergarten Festival is held in Morrison.

Who's that handsome young Kraut?
Held at the scenic TEV Edelweiss festival grounds, the Biergarten Festival is a perfect blend of Colorado rustic and Old World charm.  Red Rocks stands majestically to the north as oompah bands stomp their feet to the rhythm.  The fresh Rocky Mountain air wafts through the site as the aroma of soft pretzels, roasted nuts, schnitzel, Apfelstrudel, and other German delicacies entice hungry festival-goers.  When you’re at Biergarten Festival, you’re very much in Colorado and you’re very much in Bavaria.

And what would Biergarten Festival be without beer?  With Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr as a sponsor, expect many fine, Munich-style beers on tap.  In fact, according to the festival website, expert more beer than ever before: “This year’s Beer Garden (Biergarten) Festival will be bigger and better than ever before!  We have added more music, more beer and more entertainment.”  There will also be wine and, if prior experiences at the festival are any indication, schnapps. 

This will be the 19th running of the Biergarten Festival and my third time attending.  Here’s some advice from a seasoned pro:

1) Learn some of the language.  Know a few courtesies and definitely know the proper pronunciation of the beer you’re ordering; the lady behind the bar wouldn’t serve me until I said Märzen correctly.

2) If you have lederhosen or dirndls in your closet, wear it!  How often do you get to break out that ensemble?  Be forewarned, though: if you dress authentically, people will assume you speak the language fluently and are an expert German folk dancer. 

3) Don’t worry if you’re not of German heritage.  Just as everybody is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, everybody is German at Biergarten Festival. 

4) Bring sunscreen.  Pasty German complexions and the scorching high country sun are a dangerous mix.

Friday, July 10th | 4pm – 10pm
Saturday, July 11th | 11am – 10pm
Sunday, July 12th | 10am – 5pm (traditional German Frühschoppen brunch in the morning)

17832 Highway 8
Morrison, Colorado 80465

·         Friday & Saturday: $5
·         Sunday: $3, early-bird special: $1 from 10am to noon
·         Frühschoppen: $15 (all-you-can-eat)
·         Children 12 and under are free
·         You may also volunteer

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Beer Not in Colorado: Homecoming IV -- Back in the Habit

Colorado.  It’s where I live.  It’s where I matriculated.  It’s where I met and married my wife.  It’s where my first child will be born.  It is my home.  However, I, like a good portion of the state’s population, am not originally from Colorado.  I cannot, in good conscious, decorate my car with the ubiquitous “Native” bumper sticker à la the green mountain license plate.  Nay, my roots are in the Crossroads of America, the Hoosier State, the Land of Letterman—Indiana.

Nicole at the Indy Mini expo
My brother is fond of saying, “Indiana is a great place to be from.”  I’ve no desire to live there again but I’ll always hold it in a special part of my heart.  It’s my place of birth, the state that shaped me in my formative years, and its influence on me cannot be understated.  That’s why I feel the need to make a short statement on a recent controversy: the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The big hubbub surrounding RFRA has died down due to amendments made to the law but residual stigma won’t wash out.  I’m embarrassed my homestate passed such a law.  Do I think RFRA had any real power to significantly harm the gay community?  No, not really; it wasn’t as bad as social media made it out to be.  However, the very statement “wasn’t as bad” suggests it was at least a little bad and any backwards step for LGBT Hoosiers is a damn shame.

Then again, disgusted though I was with Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to pass RFRA, I was equally perturbed by the #BoycottIndiana campaign.  Yes, companies, please do pull your businesses out of Indiana, deny an already poor, working-class state of desperately needed money.  Yes, performers, cancel your Indiana tour dates and withhold the arts from mostly rural communities most in need of entertainment and enlightenment.  Yes, supporters of #BoycottIndiana, punish an entire population for the decisions of a few politicians, politicians who barely feel the sting of your actions whereas the good and honest masses receive the brunt.  There’s no holes in that plan, no sir (gosh, I hope the sarcasm is as obvious as I intend it to be). 

We went to the Colts pro shop; notice anything wrong with the packaging for this helmet?
#BoycottIndiana is a shotgun, not a surgeon’s scalpel.  Precision is lacking, there’s too much collateral damage.  Believe it or not, there are gay Hoosiers and #BoycottIndiana affects them, too.  There must have been some supporters of RFRA in Indiana for it to get passed, true, but you wouldn’t know that by the outcry I’ve witnessed from people living there and that includes—as we get back on topic—local breweries.  Nearly all of them went out of their way to make a statement on their Facebook page rallying against RFRA; usually breweries stay out of such political quagmires because, hey, conservative customers pay with the same money as liberal customers.  This time they felt the urge to speak out.  The issue was important enough to make a stand.  Major kudos to Indiana breweries!  They’re not just makers of great beer, they’re makers of social change 

My favorite anti-RFRA protest; Bier Brewery decided to "turn the other cheek" to discriminatory laws

 In sum, supporters of RFRA and proponents of #BoycottIndiana both really, really suck.  With Hoosier blood flowing through my veins, I choose to be ashamed of my state’s backwards government yet proud of the Indiana people’s backlash towards that reprehensible bill.  But there’s more pride than shame—I’m pretty well used to government officials doing dumbass things, it’s lost its shock value.  But my heart will always swell when the masses make the morally correct decision and spurn homophobic laws.   

Ha! But, in all seriousness, Indy still loves Peyton; they just love Luck more
Did I say earlier that would be a short statement?  Well, enough soapbox pontificating; let’s get down to beer.  Nicole and I were in Indianapolis to run the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (Indy Mini), the nation’s largest half marathon.  As any runner will say, one must carb-load before a big race.  Know what has a lot of carbs?  Beer.  Thus, the day before the race, we partook in the wares of a few of our favorite Indy beer spots.

Biergarten at The Rathskeller
First, we popped into Scotty’s Brewhouse, a downtown hangout near Bankers Life Fieldhouse.  Popular for its large patio (which, due to crowds, we could not enjoy), Scotty’s isn’t actually a brewery but is among the many satellite taprooms associated with Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co. (the guy who started the company’s named Scott Wise); it’s kind of like the Ale House at Amato’s/Breckenridge Brewery of Indy—a non-brewing beer bar operated by a brewery.  The beer selection at Scotty’s is good but, as an out-of-towner, I’d appreciate more local options.  Then again, I understand I’m not their target demographic, repeat local customers are what keep the place in business, people who might want to taste beers from far-flung lands.  Sure, Indiana beer is a special treat to my Colorado palate but it’s the norm to those living in Indy.  But, I almost always drink local so I had a couple Taxman Brewing Co. beers (a brewery that’s been highly recommended to me several times; I’ll visit the facility one of these days) and headed for the next destination.

Biergarten at The Rathskeller
In the Denver-area, we have the German-American Chamber of Commerce—Colorado (GACC-CO), a great organization that puts on fun events such as the Christkindl Market and Biergarten Festival.  What Colorado doesn’t have, though, is the Midwest’s history of German immigration.  Of course, those of German descent are everywhere in America, they’re the largest European ethnicity in the nation.  But, historically speaking, places like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana are where our Deutsche ancestors first settled.  The GACC-CO has to forcibly interject German joviality into Colorado culture, in other parts of the country it’s just the natural state of things.  That long-lasting and pervading aura of German heritage is why something as cool as The Rathskeller exists in Indy.

Indy skyline from Rathskeller's biergarten
An enormous and ornate beer hall, restaurant, and biergarten, The Rathskeller has operated since 1894; it is and was the place for German-Americans to hang out, socialize, and party.  It’s essentially the German Elks club.  I visited the place briefly several years ago, never seeing The Rathskeller’s crown jewel—the biergarten.  I wasn’t about to make that mistake twice.

I can say with all honesty, I’ve been to Munich and The Rathskeller’s outdoor drinking area is on-par with its Old World counterparts.  A vast, open space with endless rows of picnic tables, an amphitheater, medieval flags flapping proudly in the breeze, a view of the Indy skyline—there’s plenty to prost about!  I enjoyed the house beer, Rathskeller Amber, by local brewers Sun King Brewery—was there ever a more appropriate beer for me, a German-American-Hoosier, to drink?

They don't cite their source on the banner so it's probably a self-appointed title; doesn't mean it's wrong, though

The spectrum of beer at The Rathskeller; that's the Sun King one in the middle 
After Rathskeller, we ended the evening at Tomlinson Taproom.  It’s not a visit to Indy for me without having a beer or two at one of the best unknown beer bars in America.  Tucked in the mezzanine of the historic City Market building, Tom Tap, as the cool kids call it, serves nothing but Indiana-made beer making it possible for out-of-towners such as myself to taste the flavor of the state, to “visit” may Indiana breweries without driving through miles of cornfield.

Looking down on the floor of City Market from the mezzanine
Tom Tap is in the mezzanine of the City Market building
Tom Tap was followed by a meal at Iozzo’s Garden of Italy where we further raised our carbohydrate levels for the next day’s run.  It was my seventh time participating in the Indy Mini and it was my second-worst time—so, I wasn’t super happy with my results.  It was definitely Nicole’s slowest time because she had to walk, pregnant as she is.  But, hey, our times might not have been what we were looking for but there’s nothing quite like beer to soothe one’s wounded ego.

See the pedal bar parked in front? In Indy, it's actually legal for you to drink alcohol while riding; in Denver, you have to be sneaky about it
First stop after the race: Tow Yard Brewing Co., the closest brewery to Lucas Oil Stadium.  Built on the ground level of an old brick building, Tow Yard’s ample parking is, according to my parents, a primo spot for Colts tailgate parties, a cash-cow for Tow Yard given the fact Indianapolis law allows for open containers; tailgaters can order a beer at Tow Yard, have it poured into a plastic cup, and walk right back outside to the party in the parking lot.  It’s odd, Indiana has some of the most bass-ass-backwards liquor laws in the country (liquor stores closed on Sundays, no brewery can sell beer without also selling food, no minors allowed in the bar area…etc.) and yet, in one regard, its capital city is among the most lenient, on par with the lax liquor enforcement of Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Key West.  Supposedly, the open container law was always on the books but nobody knew it was legal until the city hosted the Super Bowl.  Event organizers started researching what they could get away with and, lo and behold, an open container wasn’t illegal to begin with!  It always pays to double-check.

Tow Yard boasts a decent-sized patio, a spacious taproom with two bars and a whole deli in the back called The Larder!  The beer’s pretty tasty, too; I enjoyed The Wrecker, an IPA, and The All Seeing Rye, a rye pale ale.  It was also at Tow Yard where we met up with our friend-through-beer and two-time Beer Bloggers Conference acquaintance Tamre.  I mention Tamre because her presence has a significant impact on the next part of my story.

We left Tow Yard and followed Tamre’s car to the hipper-than-you’d-think-for-Indiana Fletcher Place neighborhood and Chilly Water Brewing Company.  There, we met yet another friend, Andy, a high school pal of mine (funnily enough, it turned out he and Tamre were practically neighbors and didn’t realize it).  The space is cool and modern-looking, the One Hop Wonder Mosaic IPA was lovely, and yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever—it’s a fine establishment but my memory of the place is dominated by something other than the beer.

Andy and I were catching-up, re-hashing the good ol’ days, when a dude walks through the front door wearing a t-shirt, board shorts, and a poodle on his head i.e. a glorious drape of thick, curly hair.  We stop our conversation, glance over quickly, and laugh to ourselves.  “That guy looks like Kenny G!”  We go back to our conversation, look again: “I’m actually being serious now, I’m pretty sure that’s Kenny G!”  By this point, he’s walked back outside and seated himself on the patio, right on the other side of the window from our table.  Another patron sees us taking quick, not-so-inconspicuous peeks through the glass.  “Guys!” he says, “were you wondering if that’s Kenny G?  I looked up his concert schedule; he’s playing in Indy tonight!  That’s f**kin’ him, man!”  The whole time we’re animatedly conversing, Mr. G is looking through the window and rolling his eyes—he knows he’s been recognized (you can’t just walk around with Kenny G hair and expect not to be recognized!).  Tamre couldn’t resist, she snapped a photo with the smooth jazz saxophonists:

The G-Man himself (I'm technically in this picture, too, if you look closely)
After Chilly Water, we set out for Indiana City BrewingCo. in search of Michael Bolton or Yanni.  No luck on the adult contemporary front but plenty of luck on the beer front!  Like Tow Yard, Indiana City is in a building dripping with character: old loading dock, weathered wood and brick, big, roll-up doors.  The factory ambiance is lovingly preserved while still offering a space of comfort.  While there, I drank Regulate, a single-hopped session IPA.  They have a whole Regulate series featuring different hops but, for the life of me, I forget which one I had.  Well, I remember it being pretty good, anyway.

Indiana City
Inside Indiana City
Inside Indiana City
With a dinner at Harry & Izzy’s Steakhouse later that night, Nicole and I concluded our Indiana beer odyssey.  However, having been born and raised in the Hoosier state, I guarantee it won’t be the last time we venture into the Circle City, hunting down the best and newest breweries in town.  Perhaps, if we visit once again for the Indy Mini, I’ll carb-up even more and surpass this year’s lackluster performance.  If not, I’ll console myself with some of the best beer the Midwest has to offer!  



I enjoy the fact that Indiana City's official vehicle is an old church van