We pulled up to the brewery, walked inside, and, for an instant, thought we had entered a coffee shop. No wobbly bar stools, stark walls, or fluorescent lighting for Copper Kettle; the taproom looks like the showroom of Pier 1 Imports: dark-stained, wood furniture, stone-tiled bar façade, and artful wall accents. If I had looked over to see a bespectacled hipster with a sweater and scarf writing a novel on his laptop I’d have been only mildly surprised.
We snagged a two-top (although we eventually moved to a bigger table as my sister and her—I don’t know—boyfriend, I guess, joined us shortly after arrival) and Copper Kettle owner/head brewer Jeremy Gobien came by to take our order. As we do at any new brewery, we ordered a flight of everything on tap: Bavarian Helles (4.6% ABV, 16 IBU), Kettleweizen (4.8% ABV, 14 IBU), Dunkelweiss (5.5% ABV, 13.6 IBU), High Country Breakfast Stout (10.2% ABV, 70 IBU), Better Half IPA (7% ABV, 72 IBU), Black IPA (7.6% ABV, 68 IBU), and Mexican Chocolate Stout (6.2% ABV, 50 IBU).
Bavarian Helles is straw-colored, white-foamed, and clear. It features a light, lemony aroma and a bready, slightly bitter (in a citrus peel kind of way) flavor that sits on the back of the tongue. It finishes dry.
Like bubblegum? Then you’ll definitely want to order the Kettleweizen. This hazy, dark gold brew packs a yeasty, orange-y, bubblegum-like nose and the taste is, likewise, full of the mentioned chewable accompanied by a banana aftertaste. An easy comparison could be made between this beer and Dry Dock’s Hefeweizen.
Dunkelweiss is a murky brown-red topped with a beige head. The aroma is lightly roasted and the flavor is a mish-mash of so many competing flavors that it is hard to pin down. Certainly, a little bit of the dark malt flavor comes through but so does a fruity tartness. Maybe my palate is unsophisticated or maybe this beer needs to go back to the drawing board but Dunkelweiss just didn’t do it for me.
Big, roasted, coffee-esque flavors epitomize High Country, a black-bodied stout with barely perceptible red highlights and a rusty brown head. Like a strong, black cup of Joe, High Country is quite bitter and will have you spitting black like a dilophosaurus.
Better Half looks like an orange cloud with a sprinkling of eggshell-white foam on top. The scents wafting from the glass are big on citrus hops as well as sweet sugariness thus reminding the drinker of a margarita. Better Half tastes like pine needle tea and the bitterness tends to stick around.
Black IPA, like High Country, has a rusty brown head and a black body but, unlike High Country, the highlights are brown. A smoky aroma paves the way for a roasted, lightly bittered flavor.
Had the flights ended there, I would have chalked Copper Kettle off as just another stop on Nicole and I’s journey to visit every brewery in the state; they’ve got solid beer, no doubt, but if you were thinking of writing home about it—don’t.
But then magic happened. I took a sip of Mexican Chocolate Stout.
The earth stood still, a bright, white light emanated from my core, and angels from on high rang out in joyful noise. This, dear reader, is a beer that Colorado can rally behind. It looks pedestrian enough—black with a tan head like any other stout—but the aroma dashes any notions of mediocrity. Imagine yourself at the county fair as you walk by the churro vendor; that sweet, cinnamon-y scent that fills your nostrils is the same smell in Mexican Chocolate Stout. And the flavor? It’s a liquid sopapilla with a touch of chocolate drizzled on top and a pinch of hot peppers stuffed inside; it starts out sweet but finishes with a dull burn that, while never overbearing, is long-lived.
Mexican Chocolate Stout is a good beer. Nay, it is a great beer. I will go as far as to say it may be the best stout on the face of this planet—seriously! If I’m wrong then it’s at least top five. But, I don’t think I am wrong since Mexican Chocolate Stout brought home the gold at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival (although it was in the herb and spice beer category, not the stout category). Go to Copper Kettle right now and don’t forget to bring a growler so you can spread the goodness of this beer to your friends and family.
After drinking beer, the best thing to do at Copper Kettle is people-watch. Indoor picnicking with bags and bags of brought-in food and real, ceramic dishes and pots? Yes, you’ll find that at Copper Kettle. It was a Thanksgiving Day feast over at that other table! I also saw something that made me introspect a bit; a man wearing three items of clothing each featuring a brewery logo. I admit it; when I go to a brewery, I like to let it be known through my apparel, beer journal, and business cards that I’m a beer geek. It’s sad, really, like “that guy” who wears the band’s t-shirt at the concert. I guess I’m no different than Captain Doofus who either really, really likes Harpoon Brewery or really, really works for Harpoon Brewery and I’m big enough to concede that point. I am, however, not strong enough to actually stop being “that guy” so look for me and my beer shirt at your next brewery visit or beer festival.