"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, January 14, 2013

Being the Proper English Gentleman at Denver Beer Co.'s New Barrel Room Annex

A misty moor, whale-oil lanterns flickering in a dim room, curls of ethereal smoke flowing from a Sherlock Holmes-esque pipe.  A boar’s head stuffed and mounted on a mahogany-clad wall, bookshelves lined with dusty, leather-bound tomes, and a regal portrait of a country gentleman accompanied by his faithful hound.  Despite a toxic River Thames, rampant disease, and the fact that people just threw their bodily waste out the window, the Victorian Era retains a great deal of romanticism for those who, like me, are easily suckered-in by nostalgia for a time before their birth.  We long for the “Good Old Days” conveniently ignoring the fact that only about 1% of the “Good Old Days” were actually good but that is the ingrained talent of the idealist.     

But where can the modern-day American indulge this nostalgia?  Where can the contemporary Denver beer geek fantasize about a hypothetical foxhunt, treat the palate to finely-crafted ales, and harrumph satisfyingly in an intimate, wood-paneled setting?  Bull & Bush Brewery certainly has the manor-on-the-moors décor down pat but that’s but one option and, for me, it’s a bit of a drive being on the opposite side of the metro area.  I suppose Pint’s Pub calls to mind Merry Old England, too, but, in my opinion, the space is too open and too well lit for patrons to experience an adequate-level of snugness.  Plus, with all the Old World tchotchkes nailed to the wall, the place looks like a British T.G.I. Friday’s (I guess across the pond it would more accurately be known as P.O.E.T. Saturday’s).  Woe is me!  Where can I enjoy the charms of the British Isles?  The new Denver Beer Co. Barrel Room annex, that’s where!

Adorned with antler chandeliers, exposed rock and brick walls, the eponymous barrels lining the walls, and reclaimed barn wood (which, I learned, needs to be baked before being screwed into the wall lest you wish it to be infested with bugs, mold, and cow dung) wafting a pleasing, rustic aroma into the space, the Barrel Room is the dark, intimate, and quiet Yin to the main taproom’s bright, open, and flamboyant Yang.  It’s a place to bring a date or host a small party.  A place to kick back, relax, and sip on “a unique beer menu…[of] limited edition IPAs, wood-aged beers and…sour beers.”  A place to enjoy your beer, close your eyes, and think of England. 

I was fortunate enough to attend the media soft opening which consisted only of the owners of Denver Beer Co., their friends and family, and a select few media representatives.  Four beers were available at the time of the event: Prelude, Saison Du Fou, Oak Aged Graham Cracker Porter, and Rwanda Abakundakawa Coffee Stout.

To the uninformed, Prelude, made with fresh-pressed apples, is hard apple cider.  It looks the part: clear, light yellow, and juice-like.  It smells the part: tart and apple-y.  And it tastes the part: dry, fruity, and with just a hint of something spicy in the aftertaste.  But Prelude is, in fact, brewed with the grain sorghum and is technically a gluten-free, hop-less beer.  Actually, I'm pretty hazy on the delineation between cider and beer.  Maybe it's a little bit of both.

Saison Du Fou is Denver Beer Co.’s foray into brett beers.  Aged in Chardonnay barrels for eight months, this saison is a cloudy orange color with a thick, creamy head.  The aroma is dominated by orange citrus wafts with a candy-like quality.  Likewise, the flavor is very orange-y but not quite like simply biting into an orange; it’s more like a complex, foreign-made orange-flavored candy.  You know those dehydrated orange chunks that shrivel and concentrate the flavor and sugar into a single bite?  That’s what this beer tastes like.

The Oak Aged Graham Cracker porter is just like Denver Beer Co.’s Great American Beer Festival-medaling Graham Cracker Porter but with the decadent addition of vanilla flavors imparted by the oak.  This one is dessert in a glass.

The coffee stout is very similar to others of the style but I would wager to say that, while roasted, it isn’t overly roasted; this beer features no black coffee bitterness, just a light and pleasant toasty quality.       

The new Barrel Room—once the gift shop next door—connects to the main taproom via the newly expanded (by 1,700 square feet) brew space.  Denver Beer Co. now boasts a 125% increase in capacity allowing for 3,500 barrels per year and the ability to fill more draft accounts around Denver.

For now, the Barrel Room will be reserved for special events, beer dinners, private parties, and general taproom overflow (the Barrel Room can handle an additional 55 people as well as 35 people on the new patio).  If you’d like to enjoy the ambiance of the Barrel Room, Denver Beer Co. is hosting a grand public opening on Friday, January 18th at 7pm.  For $60 (plus tax and gratuity), beer geeks can enjoy a beer dinner catered by Mikes2Kitchen in the cozy, new setting.  Make your reservations at 303-433-2739.

The festive atmosphere beer creates will never go away and we, as beer drinkers, will always enjoy a boisterous good time but it’s also beneficial to the soul to escape the hurried world, let one’s body sink into a chair, and languidly sip a good brew.  Toast to Old World charm and quietly enjoy your beer in Denver Beer Co.’s new Barrel Room.




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