"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!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Power to the Sour

If you find yourself in a crowd of angry, beret’d men with your fist raised high, you might be inclined to shout “Black Power!”  If you find yourself in a crowd of groovy, tie-dye bedecked hippies with your index and middle finger raised high, you might find yourself shouting “Flower Power!”  If, however, you find yourself in a crowd of boisterous bar-goers with a glass filled with one of the offerings from the Lips of Faith Series from New Belgium Brewing held high, you’ll probably want to shout “Sour Power!”
Last Friday saw the conclusion of the inaugural Colorado Beer Week (April 8-15): eight days of beer-centric events held throughout the city of Denver and sponsored by some of the biggest names in Colorado (and U.S.) brewing.  Last night was also, unfortunately, the only night in which my schedule allowed me to participate in the revelry.  However, with Denver hosting the Great American Beer Festival and the Brew at the Zoo as well as being home to some exemplary breweries, I have a funny kind of feeling that there are enough hop-heads in the city to demand a 2nd Annual Colorado Beer Week.  I’ll catch more of the fun when it comes back in ’12.
A great place to get a craft beer and the jumping-off point for our Lips of Faith tour
Luckily, the Lips of Faith tour at Stoney’s, Freshcraft, and Star Bar (we skipped Stoney’s for time budgeting reasons) was one of the few Colorado Beer Week events that did not require an entry fee.  Not that I wouldn’t have coughed up a few bucks for the other events but, hey, the best things in life are free.  If you are unfamiliar with the Lips of Faith Series, then the best way I can describe it is “New Belgium goes Dogfish Head.”  When New Belgium wants to snub the Reinheitsgebot and go nuts with adjuncts and flavors that may not be exceptionally marketable, they have the Lips of Faith Series.  It’s hard to find them at your local watering hole or at the liquor store but they do exist and, when you hear that your local bars actually are putting the Series on tap, the beer geeks jump at the chance to indulge in rare beer from a ubiquitous brewery.    
Our first stop was at the venerable Freshcraft where one of New Belgium’s trusty Beer Rangers was stationed with free samples of Le Terroir (7.5% ABV)—“of the earth” in French.  Le Terroir, in addition to having a name that is fun to say in a stereotypical French accent, is a brown, cloudy ale brewed with Amarillo hops giving the beer a mango-like quality.  But, it is the sourness of the wild yeast that take center stage in this brew.  Le Terroir is so sweet and sour that it is like drinking the essence of wild grapes.  It is a beer that straddles the line between beer and wine and, as such, it challenges your perception of what a beer should be.  So, is it good?  Yeah, it is.  But, it’s not like any beer you’d have at a BBQ or a ballgame.  Some beers, like this one, can’t really be appreciated in a casual setting.  Crack it open when around fellow beer geeks only. 
Le Terroir
After my Le Terroir, I let my eyes wander over the massive line-up of craft beer that was tantalizing me from the glass-doored fridge behind the bar.  I ordered the Gubna (10% ABV), an imperial IPA from Oskar Blues Brewery.  At first glance, it looked like this beer had it all: it came from a great brewery (most famous for Dale’s Pale Ale, of course), it was a style of which I’ve had great success, and, being the Blazing Saddles fan that I am, I appreciated the ad slogan “Give the Gubna a harrumph.”  In addition to that, I’d heard great things about Gubna from fellow beer geeks and I’ve been itching to try it for some time now.  What a let-down: Gubna tastes like raw onions. It’s quite a disappointing brew considering it comes from such a respected brewery. 
After chatting with the Beer Ranger about vocational opportunities in brewing, we ducked out of Freshcraft and walked to Star Bar where every tap was commandeered by a Lips of Faith beer.  My first order was Metric 10/10/10 (10% ABV), a Belgian strong ale.  I’d like to tell you more but I accidentally placed it on an edge and it spilled all over the bar.  I wasn’t even that drunk.  It wasn’t a total loss, though.  I had a few sips before the incident and, really, it wasn’t that great.  It was a bit chalky.  I wasn’t sad to see it go. 
Metric 10/10/10
My second order was a framboise stout called Ooh La La (8.5% ABV).  Ugh, why do they have to give it a name you’re embarrassed to say in a crowded bar?  Then again, if they had called it “Football, Trucks, & Naked Ladies Ale” a guy would still feel a bit *ahem* light in the loafers if this dark purple, pink headed glass of estrogen was placed in front of him.  In terms of taste, Ooh La La is all raspberry and no stout.  It’s like a wine cooler.  Somehow New Belgium managed to take the manliest style of beer and turn it into the girliest.  No small feat, really.
Ooh La La (the pink and purple may be hard to see but, trust me, it's there)
The last one of the night was titled “Super Secret Sour” but, judging by the green apple flavor and the additional knowledge that it was a blended beer aged in Leopold Bros apple whiskey barrels, all signs pointed to this beer being Twisted Spoke.  The ABV is hard to determine since Twisted Spoke is really Transatlantique Kriek, Abbey, and Trippel all mixed together. Like Le Terroir, one has to accept that this beer—being sweet, sour, and apple-y—isn’t going to taste like the average beer.  Still, the concoction is pleasing to the palate and worth a look-into if you ever have the chance. 
Super Secret Sour AKA Twisted Spoke
After a long beer hiatus, I decided it was time to try something new. Hey, I ran almost 10 miles so I figured I deserve a drink. I looked through the beer menu at Freshcraft and then I looked again and again. The bartender joked with me as I tried to figure out what I wanted. I wasn’t in the mood for a wheat, I eyed the 400 Pound Monkey, but I wanted to try something new. The Somnambulance, a Belgian brown from Black Fox Brewing Company (Colorado Springs) sounded good. I don’t think I have ever had a Belgian brown, except for the sip of Chris’ that I had at Green Flash. The first sip made me glad that I ordered it. Somnambulance is delicious. Its flavor is like a dark chocolate bar with coffee beans in it. Just like a chocolate bar, it melts in your mouth. I enjoyed the smooth flavor as I watched the Rockies power past the Cubs. I was able to enjoy two of my favorite things: a Rockies win and a good Colorado beer.
I look forward to trying more from Black Fox Brewing. Chris and I will have to make a trip to Colorado Springs to visit the brewery. Black Fox, which shares a building with Bristol, did not have anything on tap when we visited in September 2009. At that time, they were just getting started and we were just getting started with our Colorado brewery mission. I guess we have something to forward to.

No comments:

Post a Comment