"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!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Denver Beer Co. Squeezes In

Sometimes it seems as though Denver is reaching a critical mass.  It was only late July that I was talking about the then-newest brewery in the city, Renegade Brewing Company, but now, head all a-spin, I’m struggling to catch up with all of the metro-area’s latest additions.  With Copper Kettle Brewing Company, Black Sky Brewing, Caution: Brewing Company, and Arvada Beer Company either operating or nearing operational status, I know that Nicole and I will need to keep on our toes to stay informed on our cities greatest asset.  It is the happiest work overload I have ever experienced.
I will start chipping away at this monolithic task with Denver Beer Co. (DBC), the newest addition to the yuppie hangout known as Platte Street.  Nicole and I met with our Geeks Who Drink friends, Robin and Justin, for a visit that involved more drink and less geek (except, of course, for geekery concerning beer). 

While it may be located in an affluent neighborhood, DBC’s brick-and-mortar structure, a former service station, harkens back to a more industrious day when greasy hands and sweaty brows were more common than today’s designer dogs and tight jeans.  The roll-up garage doors that once beckoned coughing jalopies inside are still intact and ready to be opened for warm, sunny days.  The elbow-grease of the business—the actual brewing equipment—is on full display with nothing but a waist-high parapet separating customers from where the magic happens. 

Although DBC has left some of the blue-collar, there has been considerable work done to bring the taproom to Platte Street’s current, high-taste standards.  Quirky paintings of goats and chickens adorn a wall that doubles as a gigantic chalkboard.  Recycled, metal  sidewalk tree-rings double as ungainly yet hip tabletops (this, Nicole really dug).  DBC is a mixture of the new and the old, the working-class and the bourgeois, the red-state and the blue-state.  Based on what I’ve read in their philosophy statement, I’d say this juxtaposition was intentional.

It’s hard to describe the DBC beer list since they rotate beers in and out on a seemingly daily basis but I can write about the beers they had when we visited.  Luckily, DBC offers taster-sized glasses which allow the ambitious beer geek to drink the whole line-up without getting rip-roaring drunk.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, more breweries need to go the way of DBC and offer beers in different sizes.  I do not know the ABV to the following beers as they were not on display.  When they’re rotating beers as quickly as they are, I wonder if DBC even takes the time to take the measurements.   

Saison it Aint So: This beer is a cloudy, orange-tinted-yellow concoction with a yeasty, quintessentially “saison” aroma i.e. loads of farmhouse spices. It has a light flavor that features hints of clove and it finishes dry.

Pomegranate Wheat: This isn’t the only pomegranate wheat in the state; Fort CollinsBrewery’s (FCB) Major Tom’s has already eked a stable spot on the shelves of Colorado liquor stores. Still, there’s no reason why other brewer’s shouldn’t put their own spin on the style. Denver Beer’s Pomegranate Wheat is a cloudy, white grapefruit juice colored beer and the titular fruit is obvious on the nose. The flavor is tart yet light.

Saison on the left, Pomegranate on the right

Smoked Lager: Otherwise known as a rauchbier, a smoked lager is created when the brewing malts are roasted over a wood fire thus giving the beer a smoked flavor. Denver Beer’s rauchbier is opaque and orange-yellow with a BBQ aroma. This scent is similar to hickory dry rub or the Sacrament of Q that was featured at Star Bar’s beercocktail event. Its flavor is lightly smoked and tastes of mesquite. Again, FCB already has a well established rauchbier known as Z Lager but, once again, Denver Beer has every right to make their own. In this case, it is a good thing that they did go ahead and make their own version because it is far superior to FCB’s product which is ashy and overbearing in its meat-like flavor. Denver Beer crafted their rauchbier so that the smoked flavor doesn’t dominate the beer but rather accents it.

Smoked Lager

Confluence Pale Ale: Confluence has a large, rocky head and is clear copper in color. The hop aroma is there but it does not knock the drinker’s socks off; they seem to be more floral hops rather than bitter hops. The flavor is at a medium-level of bitterness but said bitterness does not linger. The drinker tastes the hops for a few moments but then they are gone.

Rye 25 Pale Ale: Rye 25 is an effervescent, clear, pale yellow beer with a very faint rye aroma. The bitterness level is higher than Confluence’s but, like confluence, the bitterness is fleeting. It is a flash-in-the-pan blast of hops. Rye 25 finishes dry.

Confluence on the left, Rye 25 on the right

Platte Pilsner: This beer is a clear, light yellow and it smells bready or pretzely. The flavor is, likewise, bready but with a slight bite of hops.

Stormy Summer Stout: Stormy Summer is very dark with brown highlights. In certain light, it almost looks purple. It has a roasted coffee aroma and the flavor follows suit. Stormy Summer is light-bodied which makes it easy to drink in the season mentioned in its name.

Stormy on the left, Platte on the right
My overall impression of DBC is that it is a very good brewery but not yet a brewery that can play on the same playing field as the established Denver brewers at Great Divide Brewing Co. or even the still-relatively-new folks at Strange Brewing Company.  Every beer I had was good but few were great.  There is potential, though.  With a rotating beer list, one never knows what will be available on any given visit.  My prediction is that DBC will fluctuate from one of the best breweries in the city to a very mediocre one depending on which day you visit it.
No matter where it ranks on the Denver list, DBC will always be acceptable because, in Colorado, a bad brewery is still considered a good brewery in any other state.  I’m sure that local beer geeks will welcome DBC with open arms and parted lips.



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