"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, October 30, 2011

Arvada Beer Company Brings Brews to the 'Burbs

One day, many months ago, Nicole and I were walking the streets of Olde Town Arvada on route to our weekly Geeks Who Drink game at the D-Note when I paused at the corner of Olde Wadsworth and Grandview, looked up at a vacant but stately brick building, and proudly proclaimed that it would be the site of my future microbrewery.  It had everything going for it: picture windows that allow people on the street to peer in and see what’s brewing, a location in what is most certainly the only cool part of Arvada, and the building itself is historic and beautiful.  Yes, it would, indeed, make a fine brewery.  Well, chalk it up to “great minds think alike,” pure coincidence, or the CIA listening device implanted in my skull that’s been sending my thoughts out on radio waves but, a few weeks later, it was announced that Arvada Beer Company would be setting up shop there.  Thus, my search for the perfect brewing venue continues.  But, enough about my unrequited hopes and dreams, let’s talk about a business idea that’s actually come to fruition.

Arvada Beer's entrance

Arvada Beer has been a long time in the making; it was originally to open in June but, because of all the hurdles associated with creating a business, the grand opening was pushed back—way back—to last Friday, October 28th.  When I heard that Arvada Beer was finally set to open, Nicole, quiz pals Robin and Justin, and I made plans to visit on opening day.

Opening day just so happened to coincide with Olde Town Arvada’s Trick or Treat Street which was good news for Arvada Beer—people who might not normally make the trip to the brewery still popped into Arvada Beer simply because, hey, it’s there.  Plus, after an hour or two of corralling sugar-rushing, miniaturized versions of Captain America, Optimus Prime, and whatever else commercialized crap the kids are into these days, the parents could definitely use a beer.  However, as a patron, the coexisting events caused some minor headaches.  Do you realize how long a single, suburban block seems when you’re stuck behind a hayride traveling at the blistering pace of 2 mph?  Criminy!

The tasting room of Arvada Beer was a jam-packed as the streets outside but, miraculously, we spotted a table, got to it before any claim-jumpers interfered, and placed our order with the waitress.  On opening day, the brewery only had four beers on tap but, judging by the many vacant tap handles sticking out of the wall, I can only assume that Arvada Beer will have quite a repertoire before too long.  The offerings for the night included a golden lager, a brown ale, a porter, and an IPA.
From left to right: Golden, Brown, Porter, IPA

The golden lager is clear, harvest-time yellow and has a barely perceptible aroma.  It is very light and crisp and it tastes both sweet and grainy like a kid’s cereal.  Robin likened it to Kix and, since she’s a big fan of that cereal, she was a fan of this beer.  Having grown up in Indiana, I thought that the golden lager drinking experience was like a liquefied version of breathing in the air of a corn silo.  That isn’t to say that there are particles floating about that will make the drinker hack up a cough, just that there is an undeniable corny, grainy flavor to the beer.  Golden lager finishes dry.  

The brown ale is clear and dark brass in color.  It smells like mixed nuts rolled in toffee and it tastes like syrup-coated almonds.  It is a very good beer but I fear it is premature as its head retention is dismal.  I know the opening of Arvada Beer was delayed for several months but I think they should have held out a few more days to allow this beer to finish.

What is there to say about the porter?  Well, for one, I cannot believe anybody would have the audacity to call it a porter.  First of all, it doesn’t look like a porter.  It is dark, yes, but it is murky like muddy river water.  It looks like Jacob Mack Mild Ale from Dostal Alley.  It smells like chocolate and coffee which does fit the porter profile but then the flavors are off; it’s much more like a maple brown ale than like any porter I’ve ever had.  Furthermore, the mouthfeel is much too light—a porter needs to be thicker.  Somebody needs to go back to drawing board on this one.  Justin and I agreed that, if we had homebrewed this, we would have dumped the bottles and filed it  under “mistakes to learn from.”

The IPA, in comparison, is great.  It is a slightly hazy yellow and it smells like a bed of pine needles.  The hoppy bite is grassy and mild—those who shy away from IPAs would still enjoy this beer as the bitterness is fleeting; it’s on the tongue for a moment before fading into oblivion.  I, personally, would have liked a hop bomb but I consent that it is a well made beer and is pleasing to the masses.

Perhaps the best part of Arvada Beer is the fact that it is connected, via a backroom hallway, to Manneken Frites, a gourmet French fry shop and, even though they are two distinct businesses, Manneken Frites serves Arvada Beer customers in the tasting room.  I’m currently salivating on my keyboard just thinking about those fries and the multitude of dipping sauces to choose from.  I always go for the hot ones; jalapeno mayo, chipotle mayo, and ghost pepper mayo are my favorites and my favorite way to wash them down is with a glass of Colorado brewed beer.  Once again, Arvada Beer has picked the perfect location. 
Arvada Beer's tasty neighbor
The verdict: Arvada Beer is a fledgling brewery and there are kinks to work out but the potential is there.  Since I’m in that part of town on a weekly basis, I’m sure I’ll be back to see what they’re cookin’ up next; I will always support my local brewers even when they’re still trying to get their feet underneath them.  Good luck, Arvada Beer, and I look forward to seeing you grow, evolve, and establish a niche in the Colorado craft beer community. 

Like the parents herding their costumed offspring, I spent my day herding 400 middle schoolers through a muddy corn maze. Needless to say, I was ready for a beer. The hayride crawling down the street did not make matters any better. I already get frustrated when driving so one can only imagine the words coming out of my mouth as I tried to find a parking space while avoiding pedestrians and hayride pulling tractors.
I was in a state of great anticipation because this was the first time that we have been to a brewery on opening day. Sure, I have been to over 70 Colorado breweries and several others in different states and countries but never on opening day. Still, I didn’t expect wall to wall people when I walked into Arvada Beer Company. Normally I like to read a little about the beers so I know what I am getting and Chris and I like to quiz ourselves to see if our opinions match the statements made by the brewers.  But, there were no beer menus on opening day so we were left to figure out the flavors and aromas on our own. Luckily, Robin and Justin offered more noses and taste buds to help us out.
I enjoyed the toffee aromas and flavors of the brown. That is the one that stuck out the most to me and I would like to try it again in the future. Browns are slowly starting to become one of my favorite types of beers especially now that the weather is getting chilly, the leaves are falling, and snow is falling.  I want to cuddle up with something that reminds me of winter. I hope Arvada Beer brews up some seasonal beers that we can try to warm us up for trivia.

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