On Wednesday, Nicole and I partook in a Colorado tradition: driving up 14, 265 foot tall Mt. Evans, home to North America’s highest paved road. Along the way we were privy to wildlife sightings including bighorn sheep, mountain goats, marmots, pikas, and gasping Kansas tourists. We Coloradoans are more than a little proud about our fourteeners and we often brag about how many we’ve summit’d and, while driving to the top is a lame way to bag a peak, it’s still an awe-inspiring experience. The best part about being on top of one of Colorado’s most famous mountains is that the 40 degree weather and hearty breeze ensured that no summer swelter would dare show its face.
We dodged cyclists on the sidewinder roads and made our way to a brewery we have yet to visit in a town we have yet to visit: Dostal Alley in the gambling town of Central City.
|Rear entry to Dostal Alley|
Las Vegas Central City is not. There are fewer high rollers than there are hair rollers. The lights are less neon and more fluorescent. The showgirls aren’t topless, they’re toothless. It’s the quintessential Wild West gambling town and it hasn’t advanced much since the 1880’s.
Dostal Alley, which is a casino as well as brewpub, fits in with the local flavor with its weathered, wood façade and frontier interior design e.g. antique light fixtures, showgirl panorama painting hanging above the bar, wood-wrapped fermenting tanks.
It is not to seem negative or downright mean when I say our bartender looked like Grizzly Adams’ even more unkempt brother because I enjoyed the local, mountain spirit he exuded. Plus, he was an exceedingly amiable guy. I didn’t ask but I assumed he was also the brewmaster because he was bragging on the beers and how many awards they’ve won. Now, when you hear the phrase “award winning beer,” it usually doesn’t mean much; there are beer competitions all over the USA and they happen throughout the entire year. It aint that impressive to win a bronze medal at the Hayseed County Fair. However, the Dostal Alley beers have won silvers at the Great American Beer Festival. If there is an event whose awards I respect, it’s the GABF.
The bartender told me that the community was bummed that Jacob Mack Mild Ale (4.2% ABV)—named for a 19th Century brewer from Central City—didn’t win anything as it is a local favorite. Not only is it loved by the townsfolk but the ingredients themselves are from Central City; ever since Jacob Mack (the man, not the beer) came to town and started brewing, the hops have been growing wild all around Central City and they’re ripe for the picking. It’s a local beer in every sense. I ordered a pint of Jacob Mack and Nicole had a Belgian-style wheat.
|Jacob Mack on the left, Summer Wheat on the right|
A mild ale is a English-style of beer that is known for its high-malt, low-hop character and the fact that—at least in its original incarnation—it is a young beer as opposed to an aged ale or lager. Jacob Mack certainly fits this profile; the local hops are overpowered by slightly roasty, slightly caramel-y malts. The murky, brown beer (it looks like somebody mixed a spoonful of chocolate powder into the pint) has a very light mouthfeel. You could almost say it is a watered down beer. That isn’t to say it is flavorless, just that it is anything but creamy and heavy.
In the wise words of Kenny Rogers, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” With Dostal Alley, I suggest you hold ‘em: hold your horses until you have another reason to visit Central City. Dostal Alley has quite a bit going for it but I don’t feel like it’s worth going out of your way to get a pint. If, however, you find yourself in Central City for other purposes then, by all means, check it out.
As Chris sipped the Jacob Mack Mild Ale, I gave the Summer Wheat a try. It has a hazy light yellow appearance with a light citrus aroma. The flavor is light and crisp with a hint of “breadiness” and lemons. The Summer Wheat would be enjoyable sitting outside on a hot summer day. Chris and read through the Rocky Mountain Brewing News, a publication about what is going on at breweries in Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Colorado. We noted the names of the newest breweries in Colorado so that we can plan a visit. As I finished my beer, I was distracted by the jingling of tokens as they trickled out of slot machines, the beeping noises that accompanied the video poker machines, and the shops across the street that probably offered souvenir trinkets. I was tempted to play the penny slots. Instead, I gave in to the rumblings of my tummy and had some pizza at the restaurant in the basement of Dostal Alley.
And a bunch of pictures from Mt. Evans: