"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, December 31, 2012

2012: The Year of the Beer


The closing of a year full of beer is near.  Let us reflect on the sudsy stories that defined the past 365 days. 





~I was fortunate enough to cover Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s brew day at Denver Beer Co. and Nicole and I both attended the tapping party for the beer he created.  I even got a picture taken with him.

~During GABF, Nicole and I’s Beer Geek-O-Meter stayed firmly in the red when we attended the media luncheon at the Grand Hyatt Denver.  There were lots of brewing celebrities in the room including Wynkoop Brewing Company co-founder/former Denver mayor/current Colorado governor John Hickenlooper.  I was unable to procure a photo-op with the Governor at that time but, coincidentally, I met him in a bar months later and took advantage of the situation.

The Governor and I
2012, you were good to me but I’ve found a new lover; I’m leaving you for 2013.  Raise a glass and toast to another boozy year.

Prost!

Chris

A tidbit of advice I picked up from the Beer Bloggers Conference was to create new ideas and keep readers interested. My goal, then, was to write weekly posts on using Colorado beer in cooking and baking but grad school and work consumed much of my time and I've yet to meet this goal. So, my 2013 resolution is to cook and bake with beer and write about it at least twice a month. 

Cheers!

Nicole

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gm1m2/r^2 Brewing


grav·i·ty 
Noun:
            The force that attracts a body toward the center of the earth, or toward any other physical body having mass.

Equation: Fg = Gm1m2/r^2

Wherein

G = universal gravitational constant: 6.67 x 10^-11

m1, m2 =  two masses that attract each other
Fg =  attractive force between the two masses
r = distance between the two masses

grav.i.ty brew.ing 

Noun:
A brewery in Louisville, Colorado with hand-crafted suds that attract beer geeks toward the bar.

Equation: GT = H + MB + Y + W

Wherein

H = hops
MB = malted barley
Y = yeast
W = water
GT = good times

With ski season nigh, Nicole, my sister, and I made a quick trip to Boulder Ski Deals to stock up on new gear but, on the way back, we made a layover in Louisville, Colorado.  Despite Nicole constantly correcting me, telling me it’s pronounced exactly as it’s spelled (Loo-iss-ville), I’m a born Midwesterner, I have an aunt living just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky, and I’m set in my ways; I doubt I’ll ever be able to say the name of this small, Colorado town without a French/Redneck phonation.  That, however, is a digression.  The reason we stopped in Louisville was to visit Gravity Brewing.

Located behind Mountain High Appliance and comprising half of the American Legion hall, Gravity—whose brewmaster is the son of the co-founder of Boulder Beer—isn’t in the most obvious place.  Those who seek it out, however, are rewarded.  With a large, open space diagonally bisected by a jagged-line bar top, Gravity, like Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, uses decidedly un-chic material and creates a hip environment: picnic tables made of particle board, floors sealed with Rust-Oleum EPOXY SHIELD Garage Floor Coating, and, in a polar opposite of the trash-to-treasure norm, a bar that appears to be constructed of old pallets but is actually composed of new wood.  Made with alternating dark and light boards complete with staples, a lot of time and effort went into creating the illusion that the bar top used to be warehouse skids.





Nicole and I ordered the sample platter: Coolship (4.7% ABV), Louisville Belgian Ale (6.5% ABV), Mendacious (8.1%), Newtonian (5.7% ABV), Regular (7.5% ABV), and Tsar Bomba (11% ABV).

Left to right: Coolship, Louisville, Mendacious, Newtonian, Regular, & Tsar Bomba
Coolship is a Belgian witbier that’s pale—nearly white—yellow with a flavor and aroma defined by bubblegum and coriander.  There’s a bit of wheat-y spice and a bready, yeasty character to the beer, too.  Coolship finishes dry.

Among the most decadent beers at Gravity, Louisville Belgian Ale is the color of rich caramel with red highlights.  The aroma suggests raisin, plum, and brown sugar and the flavor backs up that claim.  Warm alcohol cascades down the throat thus imparting a pleasant, glowing orb of heat in the body’s core.

The word “mendacious” refers to something that is false or lying and the beer that bears this appellation is, ironically, true to its word; this easy drinking, straw-colored Belgian blonde goes down so smooth with a clean, mineral-y, bready flavor that it’s impossible to realize it’s packing 8.1% ABV!  Be careful with the deceitful Mendacious—she’ll put you on your ass before you know what’s happening. 

Newtonian is an ESB that’s caramel-colored with a toffee, caramel, toasted aroma and flavor.  It is, essentially, a solid example of the ESB style—nothing more or less.

The hazy, orange Regular is a rye IPA with a crisp, grapefruit-like aroma which follows through into the taste.  The flavor also features a fresh, wood-like aftertaste not unlike what one might experience if biting down on a fresh pair of chopsticks. 

Louisville Belgian Ale may be decadent but it’s beggar’s gruel compared to the sheer opulence of Tsar Bomba, a Russian imperial stout.  Opaque black with red highlights, Tsar Bomba is like dessert and after-dinner coffee all at once—vanilla-y, roast-y, and smoky.  This intermingling of flavors will make any beer geek quake at the knees with palate pleasure.
Cool light fixture at Gravity

We hung out a little longer, drank a few full-pours, and chatted up the staff a bit.  Amazingly—and I kid you not—Nicole and I once again ran into ***** whom we met at Hops & Pie, River North Brewery, Wit’s End Brewing Company, and twice at Great American Beer Festival!  I don’t know how we always end up at the same place at the same time; beer just brings people together, I guess.   

If you find yourself in Louisville and don’t mind a short scavenger hunt, visit Gravity and enjoy a hand-crafted beer.  Since it’s so conveniently located in the American Legion, consider thanking a veteran with a round of beer, too (Beer for Heroes Day is October 17, just so you know).

Go to this place, I guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself.  That’s not a theory, that’s the law of Gravity.

Prost!

Chris

P.S. Follow Beer in Colorado on Twitter and like us on Facebook.             

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Don't Be afraid of the Dark



You’re aware of the internet meme First World Problems which heaps sarcasm upon those who enjoy plush lives in developed countries yet still find time to bitch and moan about their “unfair” circumstances.  “First World” is a bit broad, though, don’t you think?  I propose we narrow it down and substitute “First World” for the U.S. state whose residents enjoy the highest quality of life.  Behold, Colorado Problems.

Living at altitude is tough on the body.  It’s impossible to get fat.

I hate the snow.  It plunks too much money into our state economy.

I bought a Tebow jersey last season.  He doesn’t play for the Broncos anymore.

The weather’s too nice in Denver.  I wanted a cold, dark day to enjoy Wynkoop Brewing Company’s Parade of Darks but all I got was seventy degrees and sunny.

That last one is of particular importance.  Last Saturday, Nicole and I attended Wynkoop’s annual celebration of beer amber-colored and darker.  When attending a festival centered on stouts, porters, and barleywines, nippy weather is preferred; dark, heavy beers are apt to warm the core, it’s best to drink them when you’re a skosh chilly, not when you’re basking in summer-like temperatures.  Damn you, beautiful weather!  Sun, sun, go away and come again another day!

Despite this terribly crippling set-back, Parade of Darks—somehow—managed to once again host an exemplary beer event; with 33 breweries pouring their best and shadiest brews, I had a smile on my face each moment my mouth wasn’t preoccupied with tasty, (mostly) local beer.  Okay, I suppose I can overlook the less-than-perfect weather and simply enjoy my time.

One of my favorite beers of the event happened to be Fade to Black Vol. 4 from Left Hand Brewing Company which was appropriate as I was wearing a hat made of a Fade to Black Vol. 3 six-pack carrier.  While my hat once held bottles of black, peppery beer, Vol. 4 more emphasis on hops offering drinkers a piney, resin-y punch supported by a dark malt backbone. 
Fade to Black with my Fade to Black hat

Speaking of my hat, it was a real crowd-pleaser; everybody kept asking where they might procure their own.  Sorry, folks, unless you, like me, have the mad skill of constructing killer duct tape wallets and can trade them to a guy who makes six-pack hats you’re out of luck.  Consolation prize: you can enjoy a picture of it on Westword’s website.

Other beers I particularly liked include Punk Up The Yams from Bull & Bush Brewery which I liked both for its unique tuber taste and it’s punk rock appellation.  Oatimus Prime and Megatron, a duo of Imperial Stouts from Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery, embodied an interesting concept—two beers of the same style and same brewery but with vastly different flavors: Oatimus is smooth and velvety while, harkening to its name's evil roots, Megatron is harsh and bitter.  Although I didn’t have the opportunity to taste it (one can become easily distracted at Parade of Darks), I liked Upslope Brewing Company’s new Christmas Ale cans, too; very red, very bold.


The Vanilla Rum Porter from Strange Brewing Company was a superb brew—rich, vanilla-y, and warming.  While loitering about their booth, I mentioned (and I quote), “I hope you kick those Massachusetts guys’ asses!” in reference to the current legal debacle Strange finds itself in with a certain East Coast homebrew supply store (click here to support Strange Brewing in this, their time of need).  I’m quite certain they wanted to high five me, give me a chest bump, and, in an exaggerated deep voice, yell “hell yeah!” but their polite smile and gracious acknowledgment spoke loud enough.  No need for public displays of bromance.

But perhaps the best beers at the event came from the unlikeliest of locations: Coors or, more accurately, AC Golden Brewing Company which is Coors’ craft beer division.  I’ve said it ad nauseum and, by golly, I’ll say it till the day I die: AC Golden makes great beer but I hate—absolutely hate—that they pretend to be a “mom and pop” brewery when, really, they’re backed by one of the biggest brewing corporations in the world.  Put the word “Coors” on your packaging, AC Golden!  Quit trying to trick well-meaning, local business supporters into thinking you’re an independent brewer!  That said, the Blueberry Sour and Plum Sour are among the yummiest, tartest, most refreshing beers I had at Parade of Darks and, indeed, some of the best beers I had this year.  If the prospect presents itself, order yourself a glass of either; just, for the love of all things holy, know and realize that it isn’t a product of a small, start-up brewery.  That is all I ask. 

Plum Sour and Blueberry Sour
As it was in 2011, the ticket sales from Parade of Darks benefited Metro CareRing and, also like last year, the organizers set up a silent auction to accrue even more charitable donations.  I went home with three bombers of Dry Dock Brewing Co. last year but this year the prices were getting much too high for my liking; I went home empty-handed.  The bidding process was further complicated by another attendee, also named Chris, with a surname imperceptibly different than mine and who also shared the trait of having atrocious handwriting.  People wondered who this idiot was who kept outbidding himself so thanks, other Chris, for making me look like a dipwad (although, I suppose the reputational damage was mutual). 

I wasn't able to give money to charity but I was able to up the price making others gave more to charity
This was the second time Nicole and I attended the Parade and I can say unequivocally that this year was much better.  99.9% of the event was exactly the same as last year but this time around attendees went home with complimentary six-packs of B3K Black Lager!  Oh, Wynkoop, you got me just what I wanted.

A beautiful sight if I've ever seen one
With bellies full of frothy, black liquid, Nicole and I braved the tepid weather and headed home.  Wynkoop raised $14,000 for Metro CareRing, beer geeks got their dark beer fix, and everybody enjoyed an entertaining afternoon of savory suds.  It was a successful event no matter what angle you look at it. 

It’s true, I do love a parade.  However, I prefer parades that place a lot of emphasis on beer.

Prost!

Chris  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Crooked Stave and Black Shirt: The Perfect Thanksgiving Dessert


I’m not a fan of Thanksgiving; I never saw the appeal.  It’s an excuse to eat yourself silly, watch football, and slip into a tryptophan-induced coma but, judging by American waistlines, these are hardly rare occurrences.  It’s not like Thanksgiving has a monopoly on bountiful feasts, either; Christmas features a big dinner and you get presents, too.  Thanksgiving is just Christmas Lite.  And you better not argue that Thanksgiving is great because it brings families together, either; who needs a house full of strange relatives?  Try to connect yourself to Second Great Grandaunt Phyllis on the family tree; it’s like navigating the Labyrinth. 

I’ll relent; there are positives to the holiday.  The break from work and school is always appreciated and, as a beer geek, Thanksgiving is one of the best times to crack open and share a big, expensive bottle of fancy beer.  In regards to the latter, I enjoyed a W.W.B.I. from Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Company, the Brettanomyces-centric brewery, as I chowed on my turkey and potatoes and, to the former, Nicole and I put our spare time to good use by visiting W.W.B.I.’s birthplace on Black Friday.



Attempting to visit every brewery in Colorado isn’t a well-defined task.  In a way, Nicole and I already visited Crooked Stave when, on our last journey to Ft. Collins, they operated out of Funkwerks.  However, during that visit, we merely bought a bottle of W.W.B.O. and departed—we stipulate that we must drink at least one beer on premise before we mark any brewery off the list.  Had we actually drank a Crooked Stave beer on that trip we would’ve counted the brewery a long time ago thus making our visit to their new Denver digs unnecessary as per our self-imposed rules.

The brewery, located in an industrial strip, presents an unimpressive exterior and the metal mesh covering the windows gives the impression of being in the bad part of Oakland (i.e. Oakland).  The interior, however, is an intriguing exercise in fashionable frugalness—the most cut-rate, disposable materials are repurposed  given TLC and an artistic flair, and bequeathed functionality in the taproom; the bar is faced with corrugated sheet metal, the bar and table tops are constructed of lacquered particle board, and the coasters are nothing more than squares of cardboard stamped with the brewery logo.  Together, these junkyard finds generate a creative, cohesive, and decidedly un-junky ambiance to the Crooked Stave taproom.





I ordered the Saison aged in white wine barrels and dry-hopped with Simcoe.  It’s a cloudy, lemon/orange-colored beer with the core featuring noticeably deeper hues than at the edges.  The aroma is distinctly wine-like with whiffs of sourness and a touch of pine and citrus peel flavor perceptible on the tip and back of the tongue.
Saison

Next, Nicole and I enjoyed L’Brett d’Or, a sour beer aged in Leopold Bros Rocky Mountain Peach Whiskey barrels featuring a color like the eponymous fruit and an aroma akin to the Bourbon slushes my aunts are apt to mix at Christmastime—it’s pleasantly peachy but one can sense the powerful punch of whiskey lying in wait (technically, my aunts’ slushes are made with orange juice, not peaches, but the similarities are, nonetheless, undeniable).  L’Brett d’Or is tingly, effervescent, acidic, and heats the throat with alcohol warmth. 

Our last beer was Cellar Blend: 1, a beer analogous to a Flemish red.  This cloudy brown beer with red highlights looks like muddy water with a fleeting beige-colored head.  The nose roots out a resilient tart aroma with dark fruit esters underneath.  The flavor is much like the smell only reversed: the taste of plums comes first and overrides the tart and sour qualities.
L'Brett d'Or

If you visit Crooked Stave, be sure to peer through the back door and into the barrel room; it is an impressive sight to behold.  I honestly didn’t know barrels came in such enormous sizes!  You could literally park a Smart car in the largest ones.

We weren’t completely beer’d-out at Crooked Stave so, on the following day, in keeping with the spirit of Small Business Saturday, we supported yet another independent Denver brewer—Black Shirt Brewing Co.
Cellar Blend: 1

With friends Robin and Justin in tow, Nicole and I pulled up to and approached the chic little River North joint.  The red door, set amidst a frame of distressed wood which, itself, is framed by a dark, cinder block and brick façade, is a testament to simplicity; there's no elaborate mural or obnoxious/busy signage to distract the eye, just a bold, red door—the same hue as an Old West bordello—directing you inside.

There are numerous parallels that can be draw between the ambiance of Black Shirt and that of nearby Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew: the color scheme is grayscale, the neighborhood is, too use a euphemism, “developing,” and a hip, young, urban vibe permeates the space.  Beer was already cool but the atmosphere, like an indie music venue, radiating from Black Shirt elevates suds to Miles Davis levels.



If you’re unfamiliar with Red Shirt’s claim to fame, their novelty is brewing red ales and nothing but red ales.  They offer different styles of beers ranging from IPAs to pale ales to saisons and beyond but, while their tastes and smells vary, they’re all as crimson as the main ingress.


My first beer was the BSB Red Ale but, before I delve into tasting notes, a word on Black Shirt’s glassware: all beers are served in Offero Stemmed Omnis Glasses which, in addition to looking swanky, envelope the face like an oxygen mask allowing beer geeks to inhale deeply the caramel-y, toasty, and dank aromas of beers like BSB Red Ale.  The ability to sniff as you sip also engages the taste buds and enhances the caramel, toffee, and slightly bitter flavors thus making for a richer drinking experience.  I wouldn’t say Offero is better than Spiegelau but it’s infinitely superior to a standard pint glass.  I do have one suggestion to the Offero company, though; taper the rim more.  The essentially wide-open mouth allows too much carbonation and aroma to escape; a slightly smaller opening would help trap the goodness inside.


BSB Red Ale
The next beer I enjoyed was the red squash saison which, with clove, allspice, and cinnamon sprinkled atop, smells and tastes like a slice of pumpkin pie.  I also had a the red pale ale but I didn’t take any notes because I was trying to enjoy my time with my girlfriend and two friends, I can’t be jotting down ideas all the time.  Sometimes you just have to live in the moment when drinking craft beer. 

Want to visit Black Shirt?  You’ll have to plan carefully because they’re not open on a regular basis; the doors are only open when they’ve enough beer to go around so keep abreast of operating hours on their Facebook page.  They are upgrading their equipment and should have consistent hours soon but, until then, you’ll need a touch of luck when planning a visit.

Happy Holidays, folks, and be of good cheer beer.

Prost!

Chris

P.S. Follow Beer in Colorado on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.


Cut-rate but cool coasters at Crooked Stave

Gigantic barrels at Crooked Stave
Robin and Justin being goobers at Black Shirt

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Your Pals at Our Mutual Friend


With the antagonism between Strange Brewing Company (support them on this Facebook page) and the Massholes on the East Coast continuing to heat up and thoroughly bumming me out, I thought it best to take my mind off of the ugly situation and remind myself why Colorado is best in brews by visiting Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew in the Five Points neighborhood.  

What makes Our Mutual Friend unique is their hands-on approach to brewing; most breweries buy their ingredients ready-to-go but Our Mutual Friend takes the extra step to malt and roast their own barley which they source entirely within Colorado.  This allows them to more closely monitor their beer’s quality and it elevates malts to a higher level of beer geek awareness because, let’s face it, of the Reinheitsgebot ingredients, hops are quarterbacks, the star of the show and everybody’s favorite, and malts are the O-line—we know they’re an integral part of the team but fewer people buy their jerseys.  Want to keep this metaphor going?  Okay, yeast is the coach because it whips those lazy sugars into shape and turns them into game-winning alcohols and water is the field goal ball holder because they aren’t on anybody’s mind unless they do something terrible.

The outside of Our Mutual Friend is the very definition of nondescript; a cream corn-colored brick wall with nary an insignia in sight save for a small graphic on the front door.  Indeed, I think I would have walked right past the joint had I not noticed customers enjoying their brews on the side patio.  The inside is, likewise, subdued with the color palate running the gamut of dark gray to light gray, a vaulted, corrugated steel ceiling, and tables of black metal topped with light wood thus imparting a bit of warmth into the space.



Here's the only sign letting you know you're at the right place

I don’t mean to give the impression that the taproom is cold and lifeless, though; quite to the contrary, the muted nature of the space allows the highlights to pop ever more colorfully.  For example, the back of the bar is designed like your grandparents’ bookshelf resplendent with eclectic books, musical instruments, desk lamps, board games, and other assorted tchotchkes.  The big-bulb Christmas lights strung from the rafters also lend a festive air while the vinyl record sound system provides a little something for the hipsters. 

Nicole and I sampled every beer on tap: Proletariat (4.5% ABV), Saison (4.3% ABV), Pale Ale (5.6% ABV), IPA (7.1% ABV), Brown Ale (6.3% ABV), and Huckleberry Roasters Coffee Stout (5% ABV).

Left to right: Huckleberry Roasters, Brown Ale, IPA, Pale Ale, Saison, Proletariat
Proletariat is a pale—almost white—straw yellow beer that’s mostly clear with a touch of haze.  The aroma smells of berries and bubblegum while the flavor is crisp and wheat-y with hints of rye-like spiciness. 

Another hazy, pale yellow beer, Saison features whiffs of coriander that carry over into the flavor with bread/yeast and traces of black pepper rounding out the taste.

Pale Ale is cloudy and orange with sweet, tropical fruit scents—perhaps passion fruit?  The flavor is interesting; it tastes a little like tobacco and coffee.  Did the malts from Huckleberry Roasters infiltrate this batch?  Cascara, the dried fruit shell leftover when the coffee bean has been extracted, can have a tobacco-y quality to it so I’m not discounting this theory.  It’s not a bad beer by any means but I do wonder if this batch came out as the brewers intended. 

The copper-colored, slightly cloudy IPA smells of wet wood—dank like a deciduous forest—and is smoky.  The hops are apparent, not overly bitter, and rather grassy. 

Brown Ale is reddish-brown or mahogany with a beige head.  The aroma is defined by dark fruit esters and chocolate while the flavor is akin to a sweet chocolate-covered dark cherry intermingled with toasted malts.

Huckleberry Roasters Coffee Stout, made with coffee from the eponymous, local coffeehouse, was far-and-above my favorite of the night.  Mostly black with ever-so-faint red highlights and a mocha-colored head, this beer smells and tastes like strong, black coffee.  It’s decedent and robust and I’m forever befuddled by the fact that I hate coffee yet love coffee-flavored beer.

Before departing, Nicole and I indulged in a waffle sandwich from Wafflegänger, the food cart parked outside the taproom specializing in waffle sandwiches.  It’s an eccentric concept but, take it from me, it works!  I may have had a Homer Simpson-esque drop of drool hanging from the corner of my mouth when I absolutely destroyed my “Wäffen-cheese.”


On our way back home we stopped at Denver Beer Co. for a spell to try the Chill Out Chocolate Chili Stout which, while a fine beer, could have used a few more peppers in the brew pot; I was expecting something much spicier. 

Chill Out
Our Mutual Friend brings Nicole and I’s brewery count to an even 90 (I thought we were already at 90 but a second-glance dispelled that assumption) and it was a worthy place to reach such a milestone.  If you’re looking for a comfortable, urban, intimate place to sip some suds, Our Mutual Friend has what you’re looking for so head over to Five Points and give them a go.

Prost!

Chris


With the holiday season quickly approaching, Chris and I thought it a good time to prepare our palates for the impending feasts with some delicious Colorado craft beer.  My favorite beer at Our Mutual Friend was Huckleberry Roasters Coffee Stout. If all coffee tasted like this, I’d have a cup every morning. I’m usually not a fan of bitter flavors but the roasted bitterness of the coffee, for whatever reason, didn’t make me shudder.  In fact, it was all quite smooth. Perhaps a visit to Huckleberry Roasters to pick up coffee beans is in my future.



Like Chris, I devoured my Wafflegänger creation.  My sandwich was called Scout. You can’t go wrong with apples, granola, peanut butter, and honey between two waffles.  In this season of giving thanks, I’m thankful they provided me with a moist towelette to clean up my gooey mess.

Nicole

Seen on a car outside Our Mutual Friend; I guess it's obvious they'd support him over the guy who doesn't drink

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Colorado/Massachusetts War continues to rage



There are times in battle when the general must decide whether to retreat and reassess the situation or continue head-long into the melee without proper understanding of the enemy thus facing almost certain annihilation.  Strange Brew Beer & Wine Making Supplies, the Massachusetts homebrew supply store that’s been antagonizing Strange Brewing Company lately, chose the latter path by issuing this statement:

Attention loyal customers, friends of Strange Brew, and others who care to hear the whole story and who care about the truth.

As you may have recently heard, Strange Brew is in the midst of a trademark dispute with a small two year old start-up microbrewery in Colorado that “coincidentally” has decided to call itself “Strange Brewing Company.”   Simply put, they are trying to profit from the valuable reputation and the good will that we have built up over the last 16 years in our brand.  They have admitted they knew of us and our name when they started, but apparently they thought they would just slip under the radar.   We have demanded that they stop, but instead of facing up to the situation, they have decided to “fight back” by stirring up a social media lynch mob, trashing us and our lawyer for protecting our brand.  This has included several media posts that contain a completely inaccurate distortion of the real situation.  This is becoming a distraction and it is time to set the record straight.  Enough is enough. Draw any conclusions you want, but please don’t do so until you have all the facts.  Please consider the following.

Strange Brew LLC. in Marlborough Massachusetts is a small, family owned business, that has been in existence since 1997. We are a “local business” just like Strange Brewing Company.  We sell quality products, just like they do.   We have worked hard for years to provide quality home-brewing supplies and brewing advice to the local, national, and international brewing community. We currently hold a federal trademark for both beer, and beer and winemaking supplies. We are, in short, no bigger than the folks in Denver, the only difference is that we have been around for almost two decades, selling quality products and slowly building a valuable brand.  We have taken the right steps to protect our brand, like any other well run business, and for that we are now being branded as bullies. We sell supplies through a number of retail, and online outlets, including dozens of current customers in Colorado, a place that has become one of the standout microbrewery capitals of the country, and we’re proud to be a part of it.
We are also  currently in the process of opening a small brewery in Massachusetts. Through the years we have also sold beer products, and we are now focused on expanding that division as our business continues to grow.   

Strange Brewing Co. has admitted that they were aware of us when they started their own business using our name. They have stated their belief that due to our geographic distance, and the fact that they only sell beer, not beer supplies, there should be no reason to complain.  Here is the problem.  First, like it or not, their decision to copy our name is causing confusion.  We live in a wireless, digital age where geographic factors are more irrelevant each day.  The fact that we are on the East Coast is meaningless.  We continually do business with our Colorado customers, and have repeatedly had customers, both from Colorado and elsewhere,  comment to us that they tried “our beer” in Denver.  Some of our vendors and suppliers have also been confused, and in a couple of cases we were unable to purchase supplies on credit because of a negative credit reference that arose after payments were mistakenly applied to the wrong account, due to the similarity in our names.  Finally, we have been unfairly portrayed as trying to “steal” their name, as if this is a David and Goliath scenario in which we are some corporate giant, like Starbucks or Coca-Cola, mercilessly picking on the little guy.  That’s just not the case.    They try to portray us as thieves – but who is the real thief here?  The ones who have been around since 1997 or the ones who decided to copy our brand less than two years ago, instead of doing it the old fashioned way and coming with a brand of their own?  Who is stealing from whom? 

We have to protect our assets, just like any small business trying to make it in today’s world.  We have struggled hard to get where we are, not through harassing our competitors with some social media rant, but through selling good products and backing up our brand.   We would be disloyal to our customers and our families if we didn’t try to protect what we have earned.   To maintain OUR federal trademark rights, we cannot allow another similar business to use our name and hijack the good will we have earned.

We were forced to hire a lawyer and send a cease and desist letter to the infringing company.
Knowing that they have no legal defense here, Strange Brewing Company in Colorado has decided, rather than to face up to the mistake they made, to start a social media war, hoping that they can beat us into submission.   Fortunately, the U.S. system of justice is not about popularity contests, or who is better at sending anonymous (but easily traceable) hate mail through web portals.  It is based on application of the law to the facts, and in this case, if necessary, a court is going to find that the Strange Brewing Company has infringed our trademark rights.  It’s that simple. They claim that they want to avoid a costly legal battle and collaborate, but their only offer has been to allow us to clone their recipe kits. How exactly is that fair? They copy our valuable name, and then “offer” to let us sell their product?  Seriously?  We too would prefer to spend our time and money doing something besides going to court, but if that is the only offer on the table, then thanks but no thanks.   We have to, and will, protect our brand and the 16-year investment we have made, and we are tired of playing games.

I do not personally know the people from Strange Brewing Company. I am sure that they make good beer, and work hard and they obviously have a loyal following, but the issue of integrity and personal responsibility seems somehow to have been lost.  I was ready to assume that they were also ‘nice guys’ but I question their approach to dealing with this clear-cut legal matter.  They have posted our privileged legal communications in an attempt to paint themselves as the victim here.  Not so – if there is a victim here it is us, not them.  The local Denver press seems to have picked up on this as well, but so far not one of the journalists has bothered to get our side of the story or even attempt to get their facts straight. 

‘Someone’ started a Facebook page called ‘Keep Strange Brewing Strange’ in support of the company that is currently infringing upon our trademark. This campaign is picking up steam, and spreading slanderous, hateful speech, which is causing damage to the brand that we have spent decades building.

We were forced to temporarily suspend our Facebook page while we deal with the barrage of untrue and hateful comments about Strange Brew.  The site is back up now, but our Yelp rating is dropping fast.  Please don’t let this happen.  We also invite you to come sample our products as well, and maybe you will understand the reputation we have worked so hard to earn.
While I am always hesitant to ask for help, I don’t think I can handle this alone.
Any support you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Brian Powers
Strange Brew
Beer and Beer and Winemaking Supplies

Keep Strange Brewing Strange, the Facebook page created to help fight this injustice, rebutted by saying this:

Fellow Strangers! 

A couple of announcements: 

1. The Strange Brew Shop Facebook page is back up. If you'd like to continue giving them a piece of your mind, please do so in a decent manner. 

2. Brian Powers, the owner of Strange Brew Shop in Marlboro, Mass. has left an open letter on the original Westword article, his company's facebook page, and here on the Keep Strange Brewing Strange page. Read and respond if you like. 

3. This page was not started by the guys at Strange BrewING. It was started by a fan of Strange BrewING. So Mr. Powers has his facts wrong. 

4. I'd suggest you get down to Strange BrewING as soon as possible to try the Munich Dunkel. No word yet if the producers of the movie "Munich" will be suing, though there have been hints that Dunkin' Donuts might. Must be a Massachusetts thing, because we don't play that way in Denver, AKA Brew City USA. 

Stay thirsty, stay happy, stay STRANGE!


And here’s what I have to say, in no particular order, about the hubbub: 

·        The Other Strange said “Simply put, they are trying to profit from the valuable reputation and the good will that we have built up over the last 16 years in our brand.  Strange is trying to profit off of you?  You’ve been in business for 16 years and your Facebook page has 167 likes, Strange has been open for about 2.5 years and they have 2,615 likes.  If anything, you’re profiting off of them!  How good could your reputation be if you can’t even accrue a decent following?     
·        Other Strange: “To maintain OUR federal trademark rights, we cannot allow another similar business to use our name and hijack the good will we have earned.” First off, if you had any good will you’ve lost it due to this frivolousness lawsuit.  That’s your fault and nobody else’s.  Secondly—and it’s been said ad nauseam but Other Strange still doesn’t understand—there are a lot of businesses with the name “Strange Brew” so there must be a lot of “hijackers” out there that  need to be confronted.  Plus, speaking of trademarks, there’s still no explanation why Other Strange ripped-off the dancing bear logo from The Grateful Dead.
·         We sell supplies through a number of retail, and online outlets, including dozens of current customers in Colorado, a place that has become one of the standout microbrewery capitals of the country, and we’re proud to be a part of it.”  Don’t you dare try to butter us up; you have no allies here.
·         Strange Brewing Company in Colorado has decided, rather than to face up to the mistake they made, to start a social media war‘Someone’ started a Facebook page called ‘Keep Strange Brewing Strange’ in support of the company that is currently infringing upon our trademark. This campaign is picking up steam, and spreading slanderous, hateful speech, which is causing damage to the brand that we have spent decades building.”  The support group’s response said it best when it explained that “This page was not started by the guys at Strange BrewING. It was started by a fan of Strange BrewING. So Mr. Powers has his facts wrong.” Never underestimate the power of a fanbase scorned, Other Strange; you falsely accused the owners of Strange for starting this hubbub and that, I think, is what’s truly slanderous.  By the way, it’s only slander if it’s false and I haven’t seen anybody say anything about Other Strange that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.  To be fair, I haven't read every comment. 
·        “First, like it or not, their decision to copy our name is causing confusion.”  This I simply don’t believe or I believe they’re blowing it out of proportion.  Consider the following breweries: Mother Earth Brew Co. and Mother Earth Brewing, Epic Ales and Epic Brewing, Burnside Brewing and Olde Burnside Brewing, Fire on the Mountain Brewing and Fire Mountain Brew House (same state!), Big Wood Brewery and Big Woods Brewing, Bricktowne Brewing and Bricktown Brewing.  Somehow, these businesses manage to survive with another similarly named business in existence.  If they can do it without causing a stir, why not you?
·         Fortunately, the U.S. system of justice is not about popularity contests, or who is better at sending anonymous (but easily traceable) hate mail through web portals.” Everybody hates us because of our litigious attitude, what can we do about that?  I know!  Let’s imply we’ll sue Strange supporters next!  That ought to rebuild our reputation *Eye Roll*.
·         I was ready to assume that they were also ‘nice guys’ but I question their approach to dealing with this clear-cut legal matter.  They have posted our privileged legal communications in an attempt to paint themselves as the victim here.”  Nothing is clear cut.  I point to Collaboration Not Litigation Ale as precedent (Click here for the story).  To say that the situation is clear-cut reveals your unwillingness to negotiate.  And Strange has done nothing to paint themselves as a victim—their extremely loyal fans are more than willing to do their dirty work.
·         We are, in short, no bigger than the folks in Denver…We have taken the right steps to protect our brand, like any other well run business, and for that we are now being  branded as bullies.”  That’s the worst part: two small business owners at each other’s throats.  Where is the system of mutual support?  Where is the brotherhood/sisterhood of craft beer?  You are bullies, Other Strange, but, to your credit, you had the decency to pick on somebody your own size.
·         We have been unfairly portrayed as trying to “steal” their name, as if this is a David and Goliath scenario in which we are some corporate giant, like Starbucks or Coca-Cola, mercilessly picking on the little guy.  That’s just not the case.    They try to portray us as thieves – but who is the real thief here?  The ones who have been around since 1997 or the ones who decided to copy our brand less than two years ago, instead of doing it the old fashioned way and coming with a brand of their own?”  What the hell have you been reading?  You’re so off-base as to why you’ve pissed off Colorado.  Nobody thinks you’re trying to steal anybody’s name, we just think you’re a prick for not working it out amiably.  And again, nobody is under the illusion that you’re a giant, faceless corporation but you sure as hell are acting like one.
·         We have struggled hard to get where we are, not through harassing our competitors with some social media rant…”  No, your brand of harassment comes via lawyers—much worse.
·         Our Yelp rating is dropping fast.  Please don’t let this happen.” Let it happen.  The truth’s the truth and it deserves to be brought to light.
·         We are tired of playing games.”  As are we but, hey, you initiated the game so now you can either deal with it or forfeit.
        
In the end, it’s not a legal issue but rather a moral one; perhaps Other Strange is well in their right to sue (I can’t confirm anything but I’ve read a number of comments that imply they, in fact, do not have that right) but just because the law says you can do it doesn’t mean you should do it; there’s always a better way—a way that doesn’t destroy your own reputation and cause a hassle for all involved.  Join the craft beer club or get out.  However, let me go on record as saying I will be the first to thank and forgive these folks from Massachusetts the second they give up this nonsense. 


Prost!

Chris