"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, 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.



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