"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!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Quest for 100 Pt. 2

After licking our plates clean at Wild Mountain Smokehouse & Brewery, Nicole and I snaked down Boulder Canyon Drive, parked at the Pearl Street Mall, and headed to brewery #99: West Flanders Brewing Co.

Upon approaching West Flanders, I was overcome with a sense of déjà vu; I think I’ve had a beer here before.  Indeed, it’s the former site of a BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse!  No beer geek likes to see a brewery close but, if it has to close, it’s nice that the defunct brewery wasn’t family-owned and that another brewery took over the space.  Well, actually, I think BJ's simply moved to another location so, really, there are no losers in this situation; BJ's keeps doing what they’re doing and West Flanders gets a venue that’s practically move-in ready.

We took a seat at the bar and took a moment to marvel at our surroundings.  A skylight over the bar lets sunbeams glint off silver and copper tanks, a languid light show illuminates the glassware, and photos of homebrew sessions adorn the walls.  There’s more character in the building now than when it was a chain brewery, that’s for sure.

We ordered samples of four beers: Angry Monk (7.1% ABV), Trippel Lutz (7% ABV), St. Mark’s Dubbel (7% ABV), and Lion Heart Stout (7.7% ABV).  I was mildly surprised when I glanced over the menu and noticed a glaring omission; with a name like “West Flanders,” one would expect to see a Flanders red or a Flanders oud bruin on the menu but, alas, no such beer was to be found.  It seems to me that if you name your brewery, say, “Plzeň Brewing Company” you might want to have a Pilsner on tap just as you’d probably want to have the demonymic ale at a place called West Flanders.  Perhaps they brew such beers on occasion but said occasion did not coincide with our visit.  No matter, the beer they did have was still quite lovely.

Left to right: Trippel Lutz, Lion Heart, St. Mark's, & Angry Monk
Angry Monk is, according to the brewery, a beer that does not fit any specific category—it’s just “Belgian.”  This clear, amber beer with a sweet licorice aroma has a flavor that is likewise sweet and tasting of brown sugar, toffee, and banana.  I guess if you just had to put a label on it, you might call it a mild abbey ale.

Trippel Lutz—named for brewmaster Brian Lutz—is a hazy, pale yellow beer with a citrusy aroma and a flavor like well-sugared lemon slices. 
Brewing equipment at West Flanders
The color of a copper penny, St. Mark’s is a blend of aromas and flavors ranging from dark fruit (black cherry, perhaps) to slight bitterness to sweet chocolate.  It’s a swarm of sensations and it takes some concentration to parse out each whiff and taste from the mixture as a whole.

Lion Heart with its black with red highlights has a chocolate-y aroma intermingled with a mild roast.  The flavor, too, is rife with chocolate and bitterness derived from roasted malts.

As we left West Flanders, we talked to our waiter about our quest for 100 and mentioned that our next destination, Shine Restaurant & Gathering Place, would soon have the honor of being our milestone brewery.  He looked up, smirked, and said, in so many words, that Shine was one drum circle away from being a full-on hippie commune.  That says a lot coming from another Boulder business; the whole town already feels like a miniature Burning Man festival.

Bar at West Flanders
As it was with our arrival at West Flanders, we were again struck with a sense of familiarity when we approached Shine.  Years ago, when we initiated our journey to hit every brewery in the state, we made a pilgrimage to Boulder in order to make headway on that goal.  By that point, we had only been to, like, five Colorado breweries.  On that visit that, now, seems so long ago, we had a few beers at a place called Colorado Brewing Co.  That brewery has, sadly, gone away and, happily, been replaced by Shine.  It serves as a reminder that, resilient though the craft beer industry may be, one must always expect at least a few casualties.  Still, though some breweries die, many more come to fill the void.  Since Shine is such a New Age establishment, we can just call it reincarnation.
You have to hug a tree to get into this tree-hugging establishment
And New Age it is indeed!  Visitors to Shine can expect plenty of potted plants, a blossoming tree mural, India-inspired design elements, and beer names straight out of the yoga studio.  And, like the many avatars of Vishnu, beer at Shine comes in various forms all of which Nicole and I sampled: Trilogy IPA (5.4% ABV), Imperial IPA (ABV N/A), Sanitas Imperial Stout (8.7% ABV), Pahoda Pilsner (5.2% ABV), Shine Pale Ale (6.5% ABV), Bomba Belgian Strong (ABV N/A), Down Dog Imperial Red (9% ABV), and Liberation Ale (5.8% ABV).

Left to Right: Liberation, Down Dog, Trilogy, Bomba, Shine Pale Ale, Pahoda, Sanitas, & Imperial IPA
Trilogy is a clear, brassy color with a piney aroma and upfront bitterness that packs enough of a punch to send a slight shiver down one’s spine.

The Imperial IPA looks much like Trilogy except it’s a bit cloudier.  It smells essentially the same, too, and the flavor also emulates Trilogy albeit with more hops and more malts.  It imparts a dry, leathery feeling to the tongue.
Inside Shine
Black with faint highlights, Sanitas is topped with a tan head and it smells lightly roasted, creamy, and chocolate-y.  The flavor follows the aroma’s lead.

Pahoda would make for great summer drinking.  It is clear, straw yellow and the aroma consists of sweet corn and yeast.  There’s a touch of spice (likely from Saaz hops) and crispness.  The mouthfeel is a bit buttery. 

The eponymous pale ale is a darker brass color than Trilogy and it is, basically, a less intense version of that IPA in terms of aroma and taste. 

Bomba, a clear, light amber beer, smells of bananas.  The flavor brings to mind the aforementioned fruit with flavorful but not bittering hops acting as support.
Inside Shine
Down Dog is hazy and coppery in color with a faint hop aroma—like pine needles.  The flavor is somewhat grassy and spicy like black pepper. 

A gluten-free beer, Liberation is lightly hazy and moderately brassy.  It features a strawberry or raspberry aroma and a mildly tart, berry flavor.  It’s a crisp and, coming from somebody who quite despises gluten-free beer, tasty brew.

Shine, you will forever hold the honor of being our 100th brewery; that is an accomplishment we won’t soon forget: our centennial brewery in The Centennial State.  But don’t think we’re resting on our laurels, dear readers.  Our goal was never to visit 100 breweries in Colorado, it was to visit all the breweries in Colorado and, believe me, 100 is hardly a triumph when one considers how many new breweries open in the state every month.  In fact, between Shine and the writing of this post, Nicole and I have hit three more (stay tuned for a post on that)!  It may be a Sisyphean task, this campaign to drink across Colorado, but it’s a task I relish.  I may make perpetual progress without ever actually completing anything but, by golly, I’m going to enjoy the ride.



Homebrew photos at West Flanders
Cool new place opening next door to Shine


  1. We´re hitting CO next month and since we will be staying not far from those brewpubs, they are definitely on the to-do-list. I hope to visit 25-30 breweries during my stay. :-)

    1. That's a big chunk of breweries but, if you're staying in the Boulder area, it won't be difficult to visit 25-30. Enjoy them!

  2. I bet we will! First four nights will be in Boulder and the rest in Denver.