"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, May 22, 2011

Rideable Saloons and Brewery Birthday Parties

There are times when beer news—like so many a domestic brew—is light.  There are other times when I’m avalanched by new developments in the world of craft beer that I can scarcely keep my posts timely.  It is the latter quandary in which I currently find myself.  In the interest of keeping posts somewhat relevant, I present to you a double-header post featuring my Thursday expedition on the Denver Patio Ride and the one-year anniversary party at Strange Brewing.

Denver Patio Ride:
In Colorado, where microbreweries are outnumbered only by medical marijuana dispensaries and where bikers clog the streets like cholesterol in an artery, it was only a matter of time before a business decided to combine the two pastimes into a single activity.  The offspring of this hybrid: Denver Patio Ride, a 16-person, pedal powered party on wheels that takes customers on a tour of the River North neighborhood bars and dives.  The bar/bike amalgam doesn’t take much effort to move and the steering is controlled by the tour guide so riders are free to sit back, rotate some pedals, and—if the mood strikes—stand in the middle of the contraption and shake booty to the pounding party beats courtesy of  the solar-powered stereo system.  The playlist of the night included a lot of funky 70’s hits but customers are welcome to bring their own music devices and create their own mix.  There’s even a roof for wet weather riding.  This thing is all kinds of fun.

Fun though it may be, the Patio Ride wouldn’t have a place in this blog if it weren’t for the fact that Colorado’s third largest (and soon to be second largest) craft brewery, Oskar Blues, was a sponsor.  It was our great fortune that we were able to ride along on the inaugural Oskar Blues Night wherein the bars had the brewery’s beers on special and an Oskar Blues sales rep was onboard to doll out insider information to eager ears.  For example, why is Mama’s Little Yella Pils classified as a malt liquor on the can?  Because, to sell in Texas, all beers over 5% ABV must be called either a malt liquor or an ale.  At 5.3% ABV, Yella had to choose between one of two misnomers.  However, since Yella is a lager and not an ale, “malt liquor” was slightly more accurate.  Once again, Texas causes Colorado aggravation.  And that little circle at the bottom of the cans?  Well, the rep could have been messing with me but he told me what it was for and to not tell too many people about its purpose.  In keeping with those wishes, if your curiosity is killing you then you’ll have to message me privately to learn the secret.

The ride starts at Billy’s Gourmet HotDogs at Larimer and Broadway and the rest of the route changes depending on the day and by customer request.  On this particular day, the ride took us to The Matchbox (foosball!), i-Fish (sake bombs!), and Brauns on Blake (Skee-ball!) with free Oskar Blues beers at each stop.  At the moment, there is no drinking on the actual bike but Denver Patio Ride is in talks with the city to remedy the situation. 

If the banks are too big to fail then the Denver Patio Ride is too damn fun to fail.  Go to their website, book a ride, and give this company your money.  I’d hate to see something so entertaining leave our fair city.

Strange Brewing’s One-Year Anniversary Party:
You got a business name alluding to SCTV’s McKenzie Brothers?  I’m paying attention.  So, too, did the Colorado craft beer community because, in a single year, Strange Brewing Company has already rooted down and established itself as a big contender housed in a small brewery.  One does not garner such attention with a punny name alone; it’s the beer that gets the people coming back.

Strange certainly has impeccable timing when it comes to celebrating an anniversary—the six-day party coincided with American Craft Beer Week.  Throughout the week, beer aficionados could enjoy day-long happy hours, food truck delicacies, barleywines on tap, the introduction of Double Take Imperial IPA, the reintroduction of 151 Anniversary Ale, and live music.  On Friday, when I went with Nicole and my sister, guests were entertained by the musical styling of JP and Friends and enjoyed free pizza from Hops & Pie. 
After negotiating a modest crowd, we plopped ourselves down and ordered a round.  Nicole had some root beer but I opted for the Powerhouse Porter (5.5% ABV), a deep red beer with a tan head.  It’s not the black-with-red-highlights beer that people associate with porters, it’s red all the way through.  The aroma has a roasty essence but it is mild considering the style.  The taste, likewise is not all that robust.  There is a slight hop bite accompanied by a smoky flavor.  Coffee-like flavors are present but not overbearing.  I wondered for some time if they had accidentally given me the dark ale, instead. 

Patience on the left, Powerhouse on the right 

I polished off the Powerhouse and ordered a Paint It Black Honey Coffee Stout (6.5% ABV) on nitro.  Paint It Black is pure black—no highlights—and has an eggshell-white head.  It packs a wallop in terms of bitter, coffee flavor; it’s like chewing on Maxwell House straight from the can.  I guess there’s honey in this beer but it’s completely undetectable in the wash of coffee flavors.  The only thing I liked about this beer was the velvety smoothness it acquired through the nitro tap.
Paint It Black

Next on the list: Patience Saison (6.6% ABV).  Patience is cloudy orange with a white head and has a spicey (clove?), orange-y aroma.  It’s quite zesty.  The aforementioned aromas plus a little tartness carry over into the flavor.  In terms of mouthfeel, Patience is light and dry.

The final beer of the night was American Barleywine (11% ABV) which has a cloudy orange-brown color and an earthy, pine-like aroma.  It’s like a bed of pine needles that have been sitting on the forest floor for about a week.  The alcohol level is so high in this beer that it is hard to discern any other flavors. 
The author and his barleywine


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