"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.



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. 



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gm1m2/r^2 Brewing

            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


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 

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

Equation: GT = H + MB + Y + W


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.



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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.