"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!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Summertime Heat Beaters

In most parts of America they’re already celebrating summer.  BBQs!  Baseball games! Sunbathing!  Using binoculars to stare at sunbathers from a 5th story window!  Good times for everybody—except Colorado.  No, instead of frolicking gaily in a sun-kissed meadow we’re preyed upon by spontaneous blizzards, rainstorms, and the occasional hot, sunny day that so cruelly teases us with what we could be enjoying if we lived elsewhere.  Do not despair, Colorado.  Your winter may be extra long but those sweltering days will soon be bearing down upon us like a lion at a Weight Watchers meeting.  When that does finally happen, feel lucky that you have a legion of local libations to keep you chill for the season ahead. 
When the days get lighter, so, too, should your beer.  Stouts and porters need not apply for this summer job; we’ll be hiring for your position come fall.  Since it is the season of the lightweight brew, I have selected a handful of crisp, yellow beers that I deem worthy to drink while reclined in a plastic chair with feet soaking in an inflatable pool.  To be clear, the following beers are not meant to represent my personal top four hot-weather beers.  Rather, they are a random selection from my neighborhood liquor store meant to give you a general idea of what types of summertime brews are at your disposal.  There are plenty more to choose from and I encourage you to discover them for yourself.
Odell Brewing Co.’s Double Pilsner (8.1% ABV)
In the post that immediately precedes this one, I raved about Odell’s Myrcenary.  By Jove, Odell, you have done it again!  Double Pilsner—the second recruit to Odell’s 4 Pack Series after Myrcenary—is irrefutable evidence that Odell isn’t content riding on past successes and is still elbows-deep in hops and barley searching for the next great beer to add to the lineup.  Their newest creation deserves to be counted among Odell’s already prestigious ranks. 
Double Pilsner
I liked Double Pilsner before I even poured it out; the neat owl art on the bottle and the old school cap (they just say “OBC” instead “Odell Brewing Co.”) gave me good vibes.  I extolled it more after it was in my pint.  The color is the clearest, crispest, palest yellow you could hope to see and the carbonation is such that your pint looks like a bubbling beaker from a mad scientists’ laboratory.  If you poured Double Pilsner into a champagne glass nobody would guess you were actually drinking beer.
Don’t be afraid of the 8.1% ABV, Double Pilsner is as easy-drinking as they come.  It has a light hop burn and a malty sweetness that coats the mouth but both of those flavors are restrained.  The aroma is yeasty and bready and, likewise, the drinker might experience a “bread-lump” akin to the sensation one gets when eating rice too fast.  When you hear people say that a beer has a “dry finish,” this is the type of beer they’re talking about; you’ll have trouble mustering up enough spit to fill a thimble after drinking Double Pilsner. 
Of the two beers in the 4 Pack Series, Myrcenary is still my preferred beer.  This isn’t to say that Double Pilsner is in any way inferior to Myrcenary but the hoppy nature of Myrcenary adheres to my beer preferences.  If you’re not a hop-head like me but you still want a high quality, easy-drinking beer then Double Pilsner is at your service.
Great Divide Brewing Co.’s: Hades (7.8% ABV)
With a name like “Hades” one expects a truly hellacious beer—dark as midnight, bitter to the end, and high in alcohol.  For lack of a non-gender-specific word, you’d expect it to be “man beer.”  What a surprise you’ll get when you pour Hades in a glass and get a clear, straw colored body with a pure white head.  What’s the deal, Great Divide?  Are you guilty of false advertising like the movie The NeverEnding Story? 
 The history behind Hades’ name is actually steeped in tradition.  In Belgium, there is a brewery named Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat NV whose flagship beer is Duvel (Devil), a brewery named Brouwerij Alken-Maes that makes a beer called Judas, and a brewery named Brouwerij De Block bvba that has two beers that begin with “Satan.”  I’ve done some research into why Belgium has a tradition of naming their beers after underworld figures but haven’t come across anything conclusive.  One theory that I particularly like is that, because monks were the original Belgian brewers, they gave their beers evil-sounding names so as to scare people enough that they wouldn’t bum any brews off of them.  A more likely theory comes from the first civilization to brew beer: Ancient Egypt. Osiris, in addition to being the god of the afterlife, is said to have invented the libation to which this blog is dedicated thus, when Belgians name their beers after characters associated with death, they are likely following in the footsteps of the Egyptians who undoubtedly praised there underworld king for the gift he bestowed upon them.  Hades, a Belgian-style strong ale, is merely another beer giving props to another god of death.

When you get a whiff of Hades you don’t smell brimstone but rather hints of sour and unidentified berries.  It smells vaguely of Fruit Roll-Ups.  The taste, like the aromatics, is slightly sour and fruity with a citrusy hop bitterness that is uncommon in a lot of Belgian beers.  Hades is crisp and dry albeit not quite as dry as Double Pilsner.        

Ska Brewing Company’s: Mexican Logger (4.2% ABV)
If there are two things that put a smile on my face it’s ska music and cheesy puns.  It was this combination that led me to Ska’s Mexican Logger.  Ska is undoubtedly in the upper echelons of prolific non-Front Range breweries in the state.  The only brewery that can claim to beat Ska in that category is the Breckenridge Brewery.  Even still, Breckenridge’s flagship brewery is no more impressive than Ska’s; it is Breck’s auxiliary Front Range breweries and restaurants that push it to the number one spot.    
Mexican Logger
It’s easy to spot Mexican Logger at the store: it’s the lime-green can with a small caricature of a sombrero’d and mustachioed hombre wielding double chainsaws next to a behemoth chainsaw with the word SAAZ written on the side emerging from a dense, coniferous forest.
The pun I hope I don’t have to explain but will anyway is that Mexican Logger is a Mexican-style lager.  I’ve never liked the appellation “Mexican-style lager” because there is no such thing; what we think of when we think Mexican beers are actually attempts at re-create Bohemian beers with Bohemian ingredients.  Thus, when Ska makes a “Mexican lager” it’s actually an American attempt at creating a Mexican attempt at creating a German/Czech beer.  It gets a little confusing. 
The pun I probably should explain to the uninitiated is the word “SAAZ” written on the chainsaw.  Saaz is one of four varieties of hops considered “noble hops.”  The other noble hops—all characterized by their aromatics and lack of bitterness—are Hallertau/Hallertauer, Spalt, and Tettnang.  All four are grown near the German/Czech border and all are omnipresent in that region’s beer.  Since Mexican lagers are really just Bohemian beers masquerading in fake Fu Manchus and straw hats, you can bet that Ska used more than a handful of Saaz hops in Mexican Logger.  The pun, then, is that our little amigo on the can isn’t sporting two “chainsaws” but rather two “chainsaaz.”

Carlos Javier, Ska's name for the Mexican Logger mascot

Mexican Logger is a clear, effervescent yellow with a yeasty, bready aroma (like Double Pilsner) with very faint hints of lemon or a similar citrus.  The taste is also bready—almost like drinking a liquefied pretzel.  Overall, the flavors are weak and difficult to discern but, when you’re sweating like Michael Vick at the dog park, a simple, cold, yellow beer is more than just adequate—it is essential.      


  1. I love the owl label on the double pilsner! I think I need one for my owl collection!

  2. We'll save you a bottle. Nicole's had a Japanese beer with an owl logo for over a year that she's been meaning to give you, too.