"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, February 23, 2011

Converting the Non-Believers

You can lead a parent to craft beer but you can’t make them drink.  Unless you insist. 

This Presidents Day weekend Nicole, my parents, my younger sister, and I found ourselves on the slopes of Steamboat Ski & Resort dodging Texans, jibbers, and other assorted gapers.  For every jean-bedecked shit-kicker we managed to evade there was a toolbox with baggy snow-pants and a bandana over his face or a stream of knee-high ski-schoolers to contend with.  We were Super G all-stars racing through moving gates. 

My favorite way to counteract a day of fighting ski-and-board riding baboons on corny snow is to kick back with some of Colorado’s finest ales.  While Steamboat is home to one microbrewery—Mahogany Ridge Brewery & Grill—it didn’t fit into our dinner and griping-about-gapers plans.  We aren’t strangers to Mahogany Ridge, though; Nicole and I were there a little over a year ago.  It’s one of the classier breweries in the state, one where business casual rather than wort-stained jeans and a t-shirt is the proper attire.  I scarcely remember what beer I had but I do remember the brewmaster being impressed with our beer journal and having a sit with us.  We talked industry news a bit and informed us that they’d be releasing a seasonal cherry beer in about a year i.e. a few months ago.  Nicole is a fan of New Belgium Brewing Company’s discontinued (or otherwise extremely difficult to find) Old Cherry and was excited to hear about the new brew.  Unfortunately, Mahogany Ridge does not distribute outside the walls of the brewery thus one has to travel to Steamboat Springs (and time the trip in harmony with the seasonal release) if one wishes to partake in their cherry beer.  We’ve yet to accomplish this.

In lieu of Steamboat’s brewery, we drank copiously of Colorado’s most famous: Coors Brewing Company.  Obviously, the beer snob in me was put-out by the inferior product but the part of me that isn’t a pretentious prick managed to enjoy it for what it was: yellow water that makes you feel good when you drink enough of it.  It is function over form.  However, as content with my current station as I was, I packed Golden Saison and Hop Strike! Black Rye IPA from our latest visit to the Tommyknocker Brewery.  I had to have something to subdue the inner nerd that persistently claws himself to the surface to raise a stink when not properly sated with craft beer.

Now, know this: my family—extended family included—likes beer.  Blame it on the German heritage but whenever there are two or more family members in the same place at the same time, beer is involved: weddings, birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, graduations, Fourth of July, baptisms, Columbus Day—you name it.  No wine, no liquor, just beer.  For the most part, however, the family prefers to drink a lot of low-in-ABV domestics in contrast to my penchant for a few (or a lot), sip-worthy craft beers.  I know exactly what my relatives like and I know exactly what I like and I know they don’t exactly mesh.  Still, I like to share my beer and I always hold out hope that I’ll convert general-drinkers to the light that is a regional brew. 

I poured Golden Saison into several, small juice glasses and passed them out.  Sweet and floral aromas abounded.  Clove was also present in both the bouquet and flavor.  I heard one person say that the beer reminded them of dessert.  Hoping to get my parents in on the assessment, I asked, to nobody in particular, how one would describe the color.  I heard the usual golden, honey, and rich amber but Dad’s take was the most colorful and most accurate: it’s the color of a distance runner’s piss after a big race.  Despite this uncouth evaluation, everybody (including Dad), enjoyed Golden Saison’s ripe, smooth flavor. 

Golden Saison

I wasn’t too surprised that everybody liked Golden Saison; saisons are not quite so offensive to the unaccustomed palate.  I held out less hope for Hop Strike.  Hop Strike, when held to a light, is a very deep red all the way through.  It has no highlights, the redness penetrates even to the very center.  The hops are of the piney variety and, for the avid IPA drinker, light on the palate.  I rather enjoyed Hop Strike.  I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the better IPAs I’ve ever experienced.  Maybe it’s not in the top five but perhaps in the top fifteen.  Mom, never the IPA fan, even admitted to liking Hop Strike a little.  It was the sleeper hit of the evening.

Hop Strike
So, did I turn the rest of my family into manic beer buffs?  Nah, probably not; Budweiser and Coors will likely remain their drink of choice.  And, I’m okay with that.  It is not necessarily my goal to change opinions—just to offer alternatives and see what sticks.  Besides, I now know I can continue to bring my mixer-sixer of random beers to any family function and not worry about wayward relatives sniping my product.




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