"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!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Das Reinheitsgebot: Second Worst Thing to Come Out of Germany

The continuation of yesterday’s blog…

We left Big Beaver and continued up to Ft. Collins.  Funkwerks, a saison-only brewery, was our destination.  We pulled into the parking lot and, although we have never had the pleasure of visiting Funkwerks, déjà vu abounded.  We’ve been here before—before the “fw” logo was plastered on the entrance sign.  A year ago when we came with a group of friends, the logo read “FCB.”  It seems the Fort Collins Brewery grew too big for their britches and built a brand-spanking-new facility just a few hundred yards down the road in an apparent attempt to play on the same level as New Belgium Brewing and Odell Brewing Company.  Luckily, their old facility didn’t go to waste and the town was graced with an additional brewery.  If you didn’t already consider Ft. Collins a beer Mecca of the country, start considering.
There's definitely something familiar about this "Funkwerks" place.

The new "fw" logo where the old "FCB" used to be.

I admit it, saisons are not my forte; of all the types of beer in the world, saisons rank among those of which I know very little.  I know they are from the French-speaking part of Belgium, I know they are often referred to as “farmhouse” ales, and I know they usually have a rocky head and a spicy flavor.  I’ve tried saisons on a number of different occasions but I’ve never took the time to learn everything there is to know about the style.  Probably the main reason is—and try to contain yourself—I really don’t like Belgian beers all that much.  I like New Belgium beers but old Belgium beers just don’t do it for me.  Please don’t send hate mail or demand that I turn in my “Beer Nerd” badge; I realize that a self-proclaimed beer-lover who snubs Belgian beers is akin to a Dave Matthews fan snubbing shitty music but, as I’ve said in previous posts, I’m a non-traditionalist when it comes to beer (and a few other subjects).  That’s why I crave American craft beer; it isn’t bogged down by what’s been done in the past but looks to the future and attempts to create the next great style of beer.  It is Funkwerk’s blending of traditional Belgian brewing and American craft that made me like it a little more than I expected.
Inside Funkwerks.

Whenever I go to a new brewery that serves a sample platter of all they offer, I almost always take that route.  Funkwerks had five flights to try: Casper, White, Saison, Māori King, and Belgian Resistance.

      Casper (5.0% ABV) is a hazy yellow beer with a sour aroma. It has a crisp initial taste that finishes with a wheat aftertaste that lingers on the tongue.
White (5.5% ABV) is clear yellow with an orange, floral aroma.  It tastes like an orange tea with       hints of honey.
      Saison (6.8% ABV) is a dark, cloudy yellow beer that has a wheat aroma.  It tastes quite a lot like a hefeweizen.
      Māori King (7.0% ABV) is orange/yellow, cloudy, and smells both sour and hoppy.  It tastes like a hoppy hefeweizen.  This was my favorite for several reasons.  For one, I believe hops are the best of the four traditional ingredients that compose beer and, seeing as this had the highest hop character, the decision to crown Māori King was easy.  Also, I once spent several months living in New Zealand and the beer’s name plus the inclusion of New Zealand Rakau hops (known to have passion fruit, mango, and peach qualities) brought back happy memories of that time.  More than anything else, I liked this beer because the mixing of Belgian and Kiwi styles was so delightfully non-traditional.
Belgian Resistance (6.7% ABV) is hazy with an apple cider-esque coloring.  It has a tart aroma and fruity esters from the yeast.
Left to Right: Casper, White, Saison, Māori King, and Belgian Resistance. 

We left Funkwerks (but not before saying hello to one of the owners on behalf of the Big Beaver Brewmaster), drove past FCB's new facility, popped over to Odell to pick up some Avant Pêche (expect a review), and headed back to Loveland to visit the Grimm Brothers Brewhouse

The new Fort Collins Brewery.

Much like Big Beaver, you have to know where you’re going if you want to visit Grimm Brothers.  At least Grimm Brothers has the occasional election-style lawn sign to point the wayward traveler in the right direction. 

Grimm Brothers is small.  Not Big Beaver small but still very small.  The English geek inside me rejoiced when I saw that several beers were named after literary archetypes (Master Thief, The Fearless Youth).  Putting book dorkiness aside, I ordered a pint of Seven Ravens Schwarzbier and Nicole ordered Snow Drop Honey Wheat Ale.  Schwarzbiers have recently become a go-to beer for me (right alongside IPAs).  I never seem to get a bad one.  Seven Ravens is pretty typical of the style: black with faint red highlights, a brown head, light aroma of roasted barley, and a light, roasted coffee taste.  It was the Snow Drop that turned out to be the interesting one and we didn’t even know it until after we had drank it all.  We chatted with the brewers as we cashed out and came to find that Snow Drop is what’s known as a Köttbusser, an otherwise extinct German beer.  Way back in 1516 when the Beer Purity Law (das Reinheitsgebot) was passed, beers that did not conform to the draconian limitation of nothing but water, yeast, hops, and barley were forced to either call themselves something other than “beer” or just die out.  Poor Köttbusser, containing oats, honey, and molasses, took the latter path.  But now, thanks to the rogue brewers at Grimm Brothers, Köttbusser lives again!  I applaud Grimm Brothers in this endeavor; like ugly Americans, they flip the bird to the creativity-stifling das Reinheitsgebot and I gladly support them.  Das Reinheitsgebot might have been well-intentioned—everybody wants clean, quality beer—but it’s time to enter the 21st Century and embrace experimentation.  Snow Drop is honey, yellow colored and clear with a wheat aroma.  It’s light and crisp on the palate. 

We thanked the folks at Grimm Brothers for the education and headed home with three more breweries notched on our belts.  Three more down, too many more left to count. 


Like Chris, I was a little shocked to drive up to Funkwerks and see that it filled the vacancy created by Fort Collins Brewery’s move up Lincoln Street. We heard this referred to as “Beer Alley” by someone earlier in the day. As we drove from one end of Lincoln to the other, this term clearly makes sense. As we took our pictures of the sign for the scrapbook, a project that I will work on someday to commemorate our “adventures in beerland,” I was reminded of our visit to the same spot before. My first reaction to the new brewery was the missing trellis filled with hops vines. When we visited this location the first time, I was intrigued with the hops vines that climbed the trellis. I took several pictures of the sunlight shining on the hops. But, those hops vines are now just a memory and a page in the scrapbook. I must admit, I almost had a tear in my eye when I saw that they were gone. It was such a nice touch at the entryway of a brewery as well as a piece of art. When we walked in to the brewery, we noticed all the changes: a fresh coat of paint, new furniture, and the missing beer bottles from the mantle around the top of the wall. It felt a little bare. But, putting the aesthetics aside, I was ready to try some beer. We ordered a flight with their current beers. It came as a rainbow of beers that looked even better with the sunlight coming through the window. Of course, I took a picture. Actually I took several pictures from different angles because it looked so cool. After assessing the color of the beers, it was time to taste. My favorite of their beers was the White. It had orange blossoms in the beer which gave it a nice orange and honey aroma. When I first tasted it, I was reminded of Mandarin Orange Spice tea that is made by Celestial Seasonings, another Colorado based company. The orange flavor really opened up once I sipped from the tulip glass. This isn’t the traditional orange flavor that you get from citrusy wheat beers. The orange blossom flavor is rich and delicious.

Moving on from Funkwerks, we made our way to Grimm Brothers in Loveland. When we visit a brewery, we not only savor the beer but also the ambiance. Grimm Brothers seems like a cozy place where you can chat with the locals. They have a bookshelf with Grimm Brothers’ tales as well as brewing books. The high wooden tables made me feel like I was in a woodsy bar a few hundred years ago.

As I sat down with my beer, I pulled out my BlackBerry. I recently discovered Foursquare, so I “check-in” when I go to new places. As I scrolled through the info about Grimm Brothers, I came across a post about Pints n’ Purls, the Sunday knitting club that is hosted at the brewery. I talked to Emily, one of the workers, about the club. I am bummed that I don’t live in Loveland to add this to my weekly social events. But, maybe I can start something like this at one of the breweries in Denver. I can’t be the only person that enjoys beer and knitting, right? So, if you want to start a Denver chapter of Pints n’ Purls, let me know. One of my other favorite touches at Grimm Brothers was the artwork for their beers. The posters for each beer were awesome. They had an old-timey fairy tale feel with an edge. I bought myself a Snow Drop shirt so I can enjoy the art and show off the brewery.


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