"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!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Beer Bloggers Conference: Part 2

We just completed a long, long day of driving and drinking (in that order, mind you; no drunk driving) in Indy and the next day was to be even more action-packed.  Luckily, the Beer Bloggers Conference didn’t start until 3pm so Nicole and I had plenty of time to sleep in, get a scrumptious breakfast at Café Patachou, and nap even more.

3pm eventually rolled by, though, so we packed up our bombers for Night of Many Bottles (you’ll hear about that in the next post) and headed down to the hotel conference room where we met Elle Potter, one of the conference organizers.  We found our name tags, dropped off our bombers, and entered the pre-conference trade show where sponsors hocked their wares to giddy beer geeks.

Milling about at the trade show
There are a couple of stand-out memories from the trade show.  First—and I hope I’m not getting anybody in trouble by saying this—I must dole out this nugget of advice to anybody who owns/operates/manages a brewery and is not also the headbrewer: Listen.  To.  Your.  Brewer.  He (or she) knows beer and how it should be served e.g. not in a flavor-killing frosted mug.  Your business’s foundation is built on beer, why must you insistently ignore the headbrewer and continue to ruin his (or her) creation with sub-zero temperatures?  I won’t tell you the brewery’s name but I’ll give you a crossword-style hint: With “the,” a ewe’s partner. 

Upland Brewing Co. was there, too, with Raspberry Lambic which, in my opinion, is the best American lambic on the market (not that I’m the lambic expert, I just really liked this one).  Then again, Upland has seven other lambics I didn’t try—all showcasing a different fruit—so maybe one of those is the best.  Whatever your opinion is on the subject, any sour beer wimps looking to try this beer ought to be warned: this beer puckers you up so much you think you’ll kiss your own uvula.

Not related to beer in any way but worth mentioning is Heluva Good, a sour cream dip company and sponsor of the event.  Their Jalapeño Cheddar dip got me through many a hung-over morning during the conference.

We schmoozed about a little more, networking with sponsors and fellow attendees, before it was time for the official start of the conference.  We walked one room over, had a seat, and waited for it to commence.

We began with a speech from Julia Herz of the Brewers Association who basically gave us a run-down of the current state of affairs in the world of craft beer.  In short, we’re booming!  Craft beer is on a steady rise and, while it will plateau at some point, that point is not in sight.  Brewers and beer bloggers alike will be quite busy in the coming years.

Next up was our keynote speech from Brooklyn Brewery headbrewer Garrett Oliver.  I admit I was preconditioned to be a bit standoffish in the presence of Oliver; I have a friend who’s volunteered at the Great American Beer Festival many years and has had encounters with the brewer in question that were not entirely positive.  Words such as “arrogant” and “prick” were thrown around (I remind you that these were not my words) and what turned out to be a dead-on voice impersonation of Oliver was performed.  

Garrett Oliver
After hearing Oliver speak, I won’t say I agree with my friend but I will say that I can see how Oliver might be perceived as a jerk.  His speech did begin with a story on how the NYPD kissed his ass when they found out he brewed for Brooklyn but any beer geek in America might say it’s about time brewers got the rockstar treatment.  Then there’s his take on beer bloggers making suggestions on what to brew next. I paraphrase: “brewers are like artists or musicians; we don’t make what people want, people want what we make” which sounds tool-ish but is also completely true.  If brewers only made what people asked then they’d be sellouts with about as much artistic credibility as Carly Rae Jepsen.  Plus, we as American consumers really don’t know what we want; we never knew we liked hoppy/malty/sour/barrel-aged/whatever beers until somebody up and made one out of the blue.  So, I guess I agree with Oliver completely.  It’s a case of “it’s not what you said; it’s how you said it.”  Oliver’s East Coast egotism just doesn’t mesh with my friend and I’s Middle-American modesty, that’s all.

Then came the staple event of the Beer Bloggers Conference: the live beer blogging session.  Brewery reps from all over the country (including Colorado’s own New Belgium Brewing and Boulder Beer) had five minutes to talk to a table of bloggers about their beer and provide samples.  We, the bloggers, then wrote quick reviews on Twitter.  It was a fast-paced environment and, as such, my memory of it is a blur.  I do remember the Schlafly rep throwing pretension to the wind by arriving in a Surly Duff-esque costume, though.  To get an idea of what all went down, read the following (unmodified) tweets which, when written with #beerbloggers, appeared on the giant, projected Twitter feed at the front of the room:

Blogging with  now.

Hazed and Infused from . Being entered to  as a session beer this year.

 wants Hazed and Infused to be a "no bells and whistles" beer.

 "brewers make money off of beers people buy more than once" 

 Wreck alley smells great and isn't overly thick.

 love the Surly McDuff-esque costume

 IPA is very clear, smells piney. Good, assertive bitterness.

 Damien Belgian. Smells spicy. Saphir hops. Banana-like.

 Bohemian Pils w/ hallertau. Tastes like a pretzel. Very refreshing. Yeast-forward.

I keep forgetting to put the  hashtag on my live beer blog tweets. I guess you'll just have to follow me.

 and  are similar in that they are reviving neighborhoods.

 Pogue's Run Porter first bottle run.

 Pogue's Run like mellow coffee. 

I didn't notice the big screen at the front of the room until now.

 Mag Amber is robust amber. Reverse osmosis the water. Malt-forward. Fairly viscous. 

Been to many  breweries bu I still need to get to. Good stuff. 

My spelling is going to crap thanks to live beer blogging

 Panzer Wolf will wreck your palate but in a good way

 Panzer Wolf is mega hoppy on the nose. 

 Shift. Had it before but I'm glad I'm having it again.

 Shift is blue can to represent the blue collar worker and is only canned because it's the new toy at the brewery

 End Game RIS smells like a smoke-house with a dark coffee flavor 

 Can't wait to try the Brown Recluse 

 the brown recluse was awesome! 

After the debauchery of live beer blogging, the whole crew walked to the Tomlinson Tap Room for more beer and a buffet-style dinner.  Nicole and I chatted with the folks who’re starting up a new Indy brewery called Indiana City Brewing Company (support them on Kickstarter.com) as well as reps from Heineken.  Meanwhile, I was flipping out because I couldn’t find my ID.  We walked all the way to the hotel to look for it before Nicole realized I had simply placed it in a pocket of my wallet in which I don’t normally put my ID.  Hey, stop snickering at me; I’ve had a few beers by that point so lay off!

Beer bloggers take to the streets of Indy
The night wasn’t quite over.  After Tomlinson Taproom Nicole and I rendezvoused with James, my sister-in-law’s cousin’s husband and Indiana craft beer contact, at MacNiven’s Scottish-American Restaurant & Bar—one of the stops on the conference’s DIY pub crawl put together by Indy-based Girls Pint Out—to talk beer and drink specialty-releases from Sun King Brewery like Java Mac and Bitchin’ Camaro

Then, finally, it was time to rest.  We were exhausted and only a half-day into the conference.  Sleep was a commodity we could not eschew for we had more drinking, mingling, and conferencing to attend to in the morning.  Stay tuned for the next installment in Nicole and I’s Beer Bloggers adventure.



As we made our way to Indy I checked to see if the Indianapolis Indians minor league baseball team was in town. I was excited to see that there was indeed a game and that they were playing COL. In my mind COL, meant they were playing the Colorado Springs Sky Sox but, in reality, COL stood for the Columbus Clippers. While both are Triple-A affiliates for major league teams, they are not in the same league for minor league play. Nevertheless, we went to the game ready for beer and hotdogs. Chris was hoping to find Sun King’s Popcorn Pilsner but we struck out for the second year in row.

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at Café Patachou where they serve local beers from Sun King Brewery. For the Beer Bloggers Conference, they were also serving beermosas made with Avery Brewing's White Rascal. As I look back over their menu I find myself drooling and making a mental note to visit when we are in Indy next May for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.
After a quick nap, we made our way to the hotel’s conference rooms, picked up our official name tags, and started meeting other beer bloggers. I have to admit that I had a lot of thoughts running through my head as to what the other bloggers would be like. I wondered if there were other couples that were bloggers (the answer: yes; the Hoperatives from the Cincinnati area, for example) and how many other women bloggers there were (about 20).

Once we started the live beer blogging, I started to realize that I really don’t understand how Twitter works. When do you use @ and when do you use #? It slowly started to make sense but I left much of the tweeting to Chris while I used Instagram to take some pictures of the beer. Another blogger told me about another photo editing app called Hipstamatic.  Hipstamatic is an app for the iPhone so I will have to wait until the programming geniuses make it compatible with Android.

The Beer Bloggers Conference isn’t only about making the most of your blog, it’s also about using diverse forms of technology to beef up said blog. Thus, I tried to stay updated on the beers we were drinking on Untappd but, due to the fact that a new beer was being poured in my glass every five minutes, this was a tall order.  

Is that enough technology for one day?  I think so.  By the end of the live beer blogging session my phone battery was dead from all the updating and my mind was a little blurry from all the beer.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beer Bloggers Conference: Part 1

There’s a place for us all.  The geeks have Comic-Con, the hippies have Burning Man, and people who politely pretend to enjoy live theatre have the Tony Awards.  Where, then, do people such as Nicole and I gather?  Yes, there are many beer festivals around the world but those events cater to beer geeks.  We are beer geeks, don’t get me wrong, but we belong to an even narrower niche culture within the beer geek circle and, if you’re reading this now, you should know what I’m talking about: we are beer bloggers.  We don’t just experience the wide world of hops and barley—we document and share it with anybody that’ll listen.  Where do we go to be among others of our ilk?  Is there a place where the drinking writers and the writing drinkers unite?  That place exists and, it turns out, it’s in Indianapolis, Indiana—the 2012 host city for the Beer Bloggers Conference

A whole conference for people like Nicole and I!  Three days (actually, one full day and two half days) of presentations, tours, meals, networking, and—not surprisingly—ample amounts of beer slung down our gullets.   

The “purist” beer bloggers say the conference is just a means for sponsors to sell us on their wares and promote their image.  These people say conference attendees are sheep subconsciously manipulated into thinking a certain way.  These people say we’re sell-outs bowing down to the corporations.  These people are a-holes. 

There are corporate sponsors for the conference, absolutely, but who else is going to foot the bill for our meals, events, and miscellaneous debauchery?  In regards to these sponsors “selling” us, well, we did pay an overall entrance fee to attend but nobody, to my knowledge, bought a single item during the conference.  Instead, we just took things: expensive glassware, extra bottles of booze, and ubiquitous bottle openers, stickers, and coasters.  These sponsors will receive advertising from us bloggers but it’s hardly free advertising since we scavenged their schwag like jackals on a carcass.  So, enough of this anti-sponsorship, counterculture, Communists Manifesto crap from you so-called purists; we’re all here to support craft beer and if we get free goodies while doing so then all the better.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s rewind to the beginning because, while the conference was the zenith of our beer drinking adventure, there were a lot of happenings before, during, and after that bear mentioning as well.

We’re road warriors, Nicole and I, so we loaded up the car and blasted east down I-70.  After several hours of rolling through the vast, featureless prairie of eastern Colorado and western Kansas, we arrived in Manhattan, Kansas: home of Kansas State and the finest beer the local Busch Light-guzzling frat boy population’s never heard of—Tallgrass Brewing Co.

Tallgrass is one of those out-of-the-way breweries, a hidden gem in an office park.  We opted for the sampler package—buy a $5 glass and receive generous “taster” pours of everything on tap.  I bought the glass that’s shaped like a can of beer.  It’s perhaps not the optimum shape for head retention or maximizing aroma and flavor but it is pretty badass. 

First beer up was Halcyon Unfiltered Wheat (5% ABV, 20 IBU).  It’s a cloudy, light yellow brew with a lemony, slightly sour aroma.  The spiced quality of Halcyon is quite light but one can taste a flavor similar—but not exact—to chamomile. 

8-Bit Hop-Rocketed Pale Ale (5% ABV, 40 IBU), first of all, has an awesome retro video game design on the can.  What’s in the can is clear, orange-tinted yellow, and smells and tastes lightly hopped.  A little bit of hop bitterness sticks in the throat but it’s mild.

IPA (6.3% ABV, 60 IBU) is the color of polished brass and, surprisingly, has less of a hop nose than 8-Bit.  It does, however, have a healthy dose of malt which imparts an earthy aroma and flavor like a weak barleywine. 

Murky and rusty in appearance, Oasis (7.2% ABV, 93 IBU), a double ESB, is malts-over-hops (despite but the IBUs tell you) with a nutty flavor.  Like IPA, Oasis is akin to a light barleywine. 

All the beers at Tallgrass are a pleasure but one, Buffalo Sweat (5% ABV, 20 IBU), is the leader of the herd. A stout, Buffalo Sweat features a thick, tan head and a black body with barely perceptible red highlights.  It smells like fresh roasted coffee and oatmeal cookies and has a great dose of chocolate flavor with a velvety smooth finish.

We hit the road after finishing our Tallgrass beers and made way to Kansas City, Missouri.  While there, we made a stop at The Drop, a local watering hole, to drink some Boulevard Brewing Co. beer and play GeeksWho Drink pub quiz.  I won’t bore you with details but there was a team there going for a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday 3-peat at all the KC quiz venues but team Monkey Fracas, Jr. (i.e. Nicole and I) put the kibosh on that plan; we won after a tie-breaker thanks mostly to the final question worth four points: I’ll name a beer, you name the state of origin—Fire Rock Pale Ale, Abita Amber, Yuengling, and Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.  What kind of beer geeks would we be if we didn’t know the answer was Hawai’i, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Delaware

The plan after quiz was to camp in a state park just east of KC but plans changed; when we arrived at the campsite we saw that they had shut the place down for the night—we arrived too late; no cars in, no cars out.  Further aggravating the situation was the fact that the All-Star Game had been held at Kauffman Stadium the day before and essentially every hotel had no vacancy.  What were we to do?  Drive straight through to Indy, that’s what!  We alternated between driving and sleeping and crawled into Indiana’s capital unwashed and road weary.  We were so exhausted, in fact, that we made like hobos and slept in White River State Park as our hotel room was being prepared.  Park benches aren’t the most comfortable mattresses but it sufficed for a few hours

Before long my parents arrived in Indy.  We spent some time at Scotty’s Brewhouse and O’Reilly’s Irish Bar & Restaurant, took in an Indianapolis Indians game, drank a little more at the fancy new J.W. Marriott, and finally, for these two tired kids, called it a night.

Holy underwear, Batman!  That’s a whole post and we didn’t even get to the conference yet!  Hang in there, readers, this is going to be a multi-post article.  Stay tuned for part two.

Buffalo Sweat doing a trick


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

We're Attending the Beer Bloggers Conference this Weekend!

I normally don’t write anticipatory posts but, seeing as I’ve got a big event on the horizon, I thought it best to give you a bit of a heads up.

This weekend Nicole and I will be attending the 3rd annual Beer Bloggers Conference in Indianapolis, IN; my homestate’s capital and, in my opinion, the best American city for craft beer after the obvious i.e. Portland, San Diego, and Denver.  During the conference we will have many opportunities to write about our experiences so I encourage you to keep abreast of the activities on the Twitter feed and on the Facebook page.

We, in general, will not be making frequent updates to this blog but rather one or two big updates when all is said and through.  One exception: the Live Beer Blogging activity taking place on Friday at 5:45 Indiana-time (3:45 Colorado-time).  If you see several, very short posts pop up on this blog at that time, that’s the reason; we’ll be doing quick-and-dirty assessments of beers.  It’s like speed dating for beer reviewers. 

Until then, dear readers.



Monday, July 9, 2012

Affligem Serving Tray Review

Am I selling out when I write about Affligem and DRAFT Magazine’s Belgian vacation giveaway in return for them sending me a complimentary serving tray complete with a bottle of Affligem Blond?  I prefer to think of it as “buying in.”  Besides, my Midwestern upbringing has instilled in me a moral code that requires reciprocation for any kind act.  The gift of a serving tray and beer is, in my book, a kind enough act to constitute this promotional post.

Here’s the deal with the serving tray: there’s a space for the bottle, a space for a goblet, and a place for a tiny tulip glass that holds the yeast.  The idea is to pour 90% of the beer into the goblet and the remaining, yeast-infused 10% in the tulip glass.  Then, the drinker can ignore the yeast, drink it separately, or pour it into the goblet.

My plan was to try all three experiences; I’d drink half of the goblet, half of the tulip glass, and then pour the remaining tulip glass yeast into the remaining goblet.  At least, that was the plan.  Either pouring a Belgian beer is, indeed, an art-form or I have stupid fingers because I had a hell of a time keeping the yeast from getting into the goblet.  It wasn’t caked to the bottom so nicely like it is in the marketing video, it was still floating loose towards the bottom.  I let it sit in the refrigerator for weeks; it should have been more compacted than that!  The only explanation I can think of is that I stored the bottle in the door of the fridge thus every time I went in for a snack it jostled the yeast loose.  Nonetheless, it’s not like my opening a door is equivalent to an earthquake; the yeast should have stuck together better than it did, I think.

Despite my inadequacies in beer pouring, the goblet remained largely clear save for a few floaties.  Drank separate, the goblet is a golden yellow color and smells like a Belgian-spiced banana.  The flavor is lightly-spiced with a touch of fruitiness and a hint of bitter aftertaste that warms the throat.

The tulip glass of yeast is a pale yellow—like a witbier—and cloudy as a stormy day.  The smell of nuts wafts from the flared top and a lighter, less spiced, and fruitier flavor further differentiates it from the goblet.

Put together, the beer looks essentially the same as the goblet but with a more fruit-forward aroma and a nuttier, more lightly spiced flavor.  While the goblet tastes “fruity,” one wouldn’t necessarily say it tastes like banana.  When the yeast is added, banana can most certainly be detected.  The yeast must do something to cut the bitterness, too, as no such flavor can be tasted once the tulip glass contents has been poured in.

I prefer my Affligem with the yeast poured in—it creates a more complex flavor and it lessens the bitter impact.  But, hey, don’t take my word for it; enter the sweepstakes for the chance to win your own serving tray.  If you’re really lucky, you’ll win a trip to Belgium to drink Affligem in its home country!  Give ‘er a go, you’ve got nothing to lose.  Just do it before July 16th.



Friday, July 6, 2012

TRVE Story

What a hectic time for craft beer in Colorado! Festivals are vnderway, breweries are opening, and—despite ovr heroics over the Epic Beer Weekend—the fact remains that Nicole and I are hvman and qvite capable of becoming overwhelmed.  We try to stay as vp-to-date as possible bvt, lately, we’ve been involved in so many beer-related vndertakings that ovr fingers can’t type qvick enovgh to keep cvrrent.  Thvs, while it may have occvrred last week, I’m jvst now getting to the TRVE Brewing Company soft opening.

The brainchild of Nick Nunns (who, like me, writes for Denver off the Wagon), TRVE is a brewery filling a niche in the Denver market.  Where, before TRVE, covld the metalhead enjoy a craft beer withovt being jvdged for his long hair, Slayer tattoo, and other qvestionable fashion accovterments?  Where else covld the thirsty and tragically hip Broadway-goer pop in for brews made on-site?  Where else?  Nowhere: that’s where else.  This is the only brewery in Broadway and the only one catering to fans of heavy metal. 

Nicole, my sister and her coworker (a close friend of Nick’s), and I were among the first to experience this newest horn in the Viking helmet of Denver beer.  In fact, we were third-throvgh-sixth in line for the soft opening!  Well, I svppose we were fovrth-throvgh-seventh since an old man cvt the entire line.  He was a credentialed beer jovrnalist and it’s not like he was going to drink all the beer before we got there bvt I covld care less abovt svch rational argvments—yov get yovr wrinkly ass to the back of the line, pops.  It is, like so many irritants in ovr lives, not the practical ovtcomes bvt rather the principle of the matter that covnts.

When the doors opened we filed in and got the celebrity treatment in that we were attacked by the paparazzi; a crew of photographers wielding cameras with stadivm lights for flashbvlbs descended vpon vs like a pack of hipsters on an ironic t-shirt, hell-bent on docvmenting every face and every povr of this milestone in TRVE history.

We walked past the long, Heorot-esqve commvnity table—a perfect place to boast of past conqvests or engage in mortal combat with Grendel—past the moody, black-and-white still-life photos that seemed to have been peeled straight from The Seventh Seal and sat at that bar tvcked in the back corner along with the brewing eqvipment. 

Nicole and I ordered a sample of everything on tap: Wanderlust (7% ABV), Prehistoric Dog (3.5% ABV), Black Cascade (6.6%), and Tunnel of Trees (6.4% ABV).

Left to Right: Wanderlust, Prehistoric Dog, Black Cascade, & Tunnel of Trees
Wanderlust, a Belgo-American pale ale, is clear, bronze and possessing obviovs qvalities from both nations mentioned in the style’s name.  The yeast-forward frvitiness is qvintessentially Belgian and the bitter hop qvality is all American.  Wanderlust finishes dry.

The clovdy, straw-yellow Prehistoric Dog is a twist on wheat beer that I’d yet tasted: it’s brewed with Hawaiian black lava salt thvs imparting a seawater-like flavor.  However, to be accvrate, this isn’t necessarily a corrvption of a traditional wheat; it is, instead, a revival of a rare German ale known as Gose (althovgh, the fact that Hawaiian salt is vsed does imply some straying from tradition).  The aroma is not vnlike a salted peanvt and, beyond the odd salinized flavor, Prehistoric Dog tastes like the average, spiced wheat beer.                    

Black Cascade’s a black IPA that’s, vnsvrprisingly, black and with red highlights.  The tan head caps an aroma that’s a medley of light toffee, caramel, and chocolate.  The flavor begins with roasted coffee and ends with big, piney, hops.

Tunnel of Trees, an IPA, is hazy orange with a lemony, citrvsy, and floral scent similar to a glass of lemonade if flower petals and pine needles were stirred in.  Tunnel of Trees is more malt-forward on the palate than one might expect bvt the hops, relegated mostly to the aftertaste, bvrrow into the back of the throat and remain firmly planted for a good while.

After christening TRVE’s toilets with the first tinkle from a paying cvstomer (the same honor I paid Bootstrap Brewing), we left.  If my sovrces do not deceive me, TRVE’s grand opening has already occvrred so be svre to check ovt Broadway’s only craft brewery in the near fvtvre.  It has no patio, few windows, and the walls are painted slate gray which, to the hippie, svnshine-and-rainbows crowd may seem dismal bvt, with the heat wave to which Colorado is cvrrently svccvmbing, TRVE’s taproom is the best place to escape the brvtal, svmmer svn and enjoy an intimate drinking experience with friends or, if yov’re seated at the popvlar commvnity table, with friendly strangers.  Plvs, when the next blizzard hits the city, what better way to ride ovt the storm than in a cozy room drinking beer and lavghing boisterovsly with fellow merrymakers like the Norse warriors of old?  Get yovr Beowulf on at TRVE.



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Epic Beer Weekend: Part III

Read Part II before going any further.  Thank you.

The Rails & Ales Brewfest came to a close and soon so, too, would the Epic Beer Weekend. Rails & Ales may have been the climax but the story’s not over yet; there’s still the dénouement—the resolution—to attend to. 

When we travelled to Alamosa, we took the Front Range route down I-25, cutting west at Walsenburg, over the pass, and to our destination.  Going home, we took the scenic route but not to rubber-neck; Nicole and I have both driven these particular highways before—we knew what the surroundings looked like.  I guess we’re just jaded Coloradoans; flatlanders would gape for hours at the natural beauties we flippantly passed at 75 MPH.  Grandiose though the drive may be, we had another mission in mind—a mission for beer.

Poncha Springs and Salida are two dot-on-the-map towns nestled in the southern corner of the Arkansas Valley and, at first glance, you’d be surprised if they even had one brewery between the two of them.  You must remember, though, that this is Colorado—the beeriest state in the union! There are actually three breweries in this remote corner.

First stop: Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub in Salida.  Upon arrival, it’s difficult to determine if Moonlight is, indeed, a brewery; there’s no outdoor signage to indicate they serve homemade beer with their pie.  This, I think, is a mistake.  New York and Chicago are the pizza capitals of the country but, when you get down to it, every town across the nation has a pizza parlor or two; it’s not the most unique restaurant concept.  Happily, today, the independent American brewery is less a rarity than it used to be but it’s still much less common than a pizza joint.  Let the people know you make beer, Moonlight.  You do more than pizza and you should advertise it especially in Colorado where the population craves craft beer—don’t hide your true self!  
See? It is a brewery!

We walked in, the glint of polished tanks in the corner exposed Moonlight’s brewpub status, and we took a seat on the patio.  As usual, we ordered a flight of everything: MoonLite Cream Ale (5% ABV, 17.3 IBU), IPA (6.1% ABV, 120 IBU), Amber Ale (6.1% ABV, no IBU data), Robust Porter (5.3% ABV, no IBU data), and ESB (no data).

MoonLite is a clear, straw-yellow beer with white foam and a corny, yeasty, bready flavor.  As the name suggests, it has a creamy mouthfeel and a dry finish. 

The IPA is slightly hazy with a brassy orange body.  Pine needles and orange fruit take front-and-center in the aroma and a bitter, pine resin-like hop flavor grabs on to the back of the throat and doesn’t let go.   

Again, brassy orange is a good descriptor of a beer.  This time, I’m talking about the Amber although it is slightly darker than the IPA.  Caramel aromas and a light, malt-forward flavor complete this beer.

The porter, with black body and reddish brown highlights, is all chocolate.  The foam looks like frothy chocolate milk, the nose is similar to chilled hot cocoa, and milk chocolate dominates the palate.

A light, coppery color, toffee and caramel aromas—like taking a whiff of an open Cracker Jack box—and a flavor that’s also reminiscent of the aforementioned ballpark treat defines ESB’s characteristics perfectly.  Despite the “B” in the style’s name, ESB is actually not too bitter—at least not bitingly so.

From near to far: MoonLite, IPA, Amber, Porter, & ESB
We snarfed our pizzas (damn good, by the way), listened to the street performers squeeze their accordions, and were on our way to Amícas Pizza & Microbrewery (yes, another pizza parlor/brewery in the same, small town—there’s always room for more of a good thing, I think).

Unlike at Moonlight, Nicole and I ordered one beer to share but, good lord, what a beer it was!  For their tenth anniversary, Amícas rolled out Honey-Bourbon Imperial Brown (10% ABV) brewed with Salida-made honey and aged in bourbon infused oak barrels.  There’s nothing about this beer that doesn’t sound fantastic! 

Tan head.  Dark but almost transparent mahogany body.  Sweet, vanilla-like aromas.  A slight, never overpowering alcohol burn from the bourbon intermingled with vanilla/oak flavors.  A wood quality, like a dry Popsicle stick, that can be tasted nearer the end of the glass.  This is what Zeus drinks on Mt. Olympus.

Honey-Bourbon Imperial Brown
We left Amícas shortly thereafter.  It’s a fine, hippie-centric establishment but we had one more brewery to hit before concluding our Epic Beer Weekend.

Elevation Beer Co. in Poncha Springs—which emphasizes barrel-aged and specialty beers—is one of the newest breweries to grace our state.  Located near the county fairgrounds, it’s actually somewhat hard to find considering the size of the town.  The simple, metal siding-clad exterior of the building conceals an interior that appears to be a millionaire rancher’s personal living room: copper accents, tractor seat bar stools, furnishings made of corrugated metal and weathered fence posts.  This taproom is the visual definition of the word “rustic.”

We’d already had our fair share of beer by this point so we each ordered a single taster.  Nicole had the Mount Blanca Saison (5.5% ABV) and I ordered Barrel Aged Apis IV (10.7% ABV)—the “IV” referring to the fact that the beer is a quadrupel.

Mount Blanca & Apis
Apis, like Honey-Bourbon Imperial Brown, is brewed with local honey.  It is a clear but dark beer, a piece of cherry wood with one too many coats of stain.  A thick, beige head holds in a wood and dark fruit aroma—black cherries, perhaps.  These same dark fruits along with black licorice complete Apis’s flavor.

Mount Blanca is hazy, a darkish shade of yellow, with a spicy aroma not unlike that of a Hefeweizen.  It boasts a citrusy and peppery flavor.

After leaving Elevation, we made the long way home back to Denver, plopped down on the couch, and napped for days.  Questing after Colorado’s hidden gem breweries takes a lot out of a person, even beer warriors such as us.  No matter, we did more in one weekend than most beer geeks do in a year; we could sit on our butts for the remainder of the summer and have had our fill of locally-crafted beer.  Epic heroes never truly rest, though.  We have plenty more adventures planned for the upcoming weeks.  Stay tuned.

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