"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, May 27, 2013

Rallying the Troops: Drinking Beer, Fighting Hunger

Beer and food pairings are all the rage: seared Chilean sea bass with Japanese sweet potato mousselin paired with chardonnay barrel-aged bière de garde, charcoal-grilled Canadian sirloin with sautéed asparagus tips and ginger-infused nectarine puree paired with imperial Scottish gruit ale, and hand-strangled koala stuffed with 57 Hot Pockets and rare, heated gazpacho paired with Russian kvass blended with quadrupel brewed with the sweat of St. Relindis of Maaseik.  That’s all well and good but can I, like, just get a taco or something?  An expertly paired beer/food course is something I can totally get behind but, oftentimes, I just want to try a bunch of craft beer and stuff my face with BBQ ribs and bratwurst.  Thanks to the Front Range Rally, held in Loveland and benefiting the Food Bank for Larimer County, beer geeks like me got the chance to taste a ton of craft beer and pair it with the unpretentious scrumptiousness from award-winning, local food trucks.
The beer list and our funky cups
Set in the parking lot of the Loveland Food Share, the Rally, unlike Telluride Blues & Brews Festival or Rails & Ales Brewfest, may not win many awards for majestic scenery but the asphalt slab for which the beer tents used as foundation wasn’t without its charms.  Being held at such a site, the Rally seemed like a spontaneous occurrence—like a flash mob of beer, food, and music just popped up in this parking lot!  It was less contrived, more honest than most beer festivals that can sometimes try to razzle-dazzle you with silent discos, quirky locals, and presentations all of which I do enjoy but, really, when it comes down to it, I’m here for the beer and it can be refreshing to cut the frills from time to time. 

Nicole and I pulled up to the Rally entrance, showed our IDs, got wrist-banded, received our food truck tokens, and picked up our tasting glasses.  My delicate beer geek sensibilities were faintly offended to see that the drinking vessels were plastic cups with a molded shot glasses in the center (you pour the shot into the center cup, your chaser into the outer ring, and then throw it down your gullet).  It seemed weird; like I was in Cancun over Spring Break.  But, in the end, does it really matter?  Is anybody that interested in proper vessels when they’re walking around a parking lot, eating grilled cheese sandwiches, listening to local folk rock bands, and enjoying a warm, spring afternoon?  No, absolutely not.  Not even I was interested.  I’m just being a persnickety little prick, I guess.    

Fortunately, the parking lot was quite large allowing for many breweries to share the space—32 in all and one cider-maker—and each brewery brought several beers.  Suffice to say, there were plenty of suds slinging in Loveland and, while I tried a lot, I barely made a dent in the provided beer list.  Here are some that I thought stood above the crowds and why:

Watermelon Kolsch-Style Ale from Fate Brewing Company.  Holy cow!  If they took the word “refreshing” and pureed it into liquid, it would be this beer.  It’s light, watery, but still flavorful: the perfect thirst quencher.

Bandit Brown from City Star Brewing just because we finally tasted the base-style for those fabulous vanilla and whisky-barreled versions we had at the Berthoud taproom (click here).

Juicy Peach Ale from Big Beaver Brewing Co.  Like Watermelon Kolsch, it’s just plain refreshing and it definitely lives up to its name in terms of flavor.

Rub-A-Chub Kolsch from Big Beaver for the name alone.

Near Da Beach from Pateros Creek Brewing Co.  I’ll just let their press release do the talking for this one: “Spiced Colonial Ale – With the help of Funkwerks and CB & Potts, we hand made a jerk seasoning using habanero, allspice, cumin, and nutmeg and then brewed a biscuity English-style ale with a sweet pineapple finish.”

Sofie and Sofie Paradisi from Goose Island Beer Co.  These guys may incur the wrath of slighted beer geeks for selling out to Anheuser-Busch but they still make some great stuff. 

As it is with almost every beer event, it’s not about the beer so much as it is about the people you meet—people such as the social media manager at City Star (whom I’ve Twitter’d to on more than one occasion) as well as the guys behind Echo Brewing Co.  We met up with volunteer and fellow beer blogger Dave of Fermentedly Challenged plus a lot of people with Indiana connections (Nicole was wearing a Sun King Brewery shirt).  One of those Indiana folk was a brewer at The Fort Collins Brewery.  We also chatted a bit with the folks at High Hops Brewery because I know they have strong connections in the hop farming industry and that’s an agricultural pursuit in which I’d like to get my parents involved.  Probably a good retirement job, don’t you think?

It was an excellent event and props go out to the volunteers and brewers who made it so special.  Even when a gust of wind came blowing down the slopes and when the cardboard garbage cans and tents—unable to stake into the asphalt—starting lifting off the ground, the people running the show where right there picking up loose trash and tethering down canopies with their own body weight.  No wind was going to stop the beer from pouring at the Front Range Rally!

Compared to other beer festivals, the Rally was quite small but, as the cliché goes, great things come in small packages.  It wasn’t overwhelming, it was outside in the sunshine, there were lots of small, somewhat obscure local breweries, and many of the attending breweries brought along some of their wackier, non-flagship beers which I always appreciate. 

The Front Range Rally is set to be an annual occurrence so, if you missed it this year, catch it again in 2014.  It’s fun and, although no beer geek needs an excuse to drink, drinking for charity usually make you feel just a little better about it.



I really enjoyed the small, welcoming atmosphere of the Front Range Rally.  As we wandered from tent to tent, we were able to actually talk to the brewers and learn a little bit about the beers that we were drinking.  But, there was too much to choose from and we didn’t have a chance to try everything.

Compared to a larger beer festival like Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the Front Range Rally wasn’t at all intimidating—I felt I could actually take a moment to relax.  We were able to chat with fellow beer geeks as we waited in line and met a couple with t-shirt slogans written in binary code.  We also met some other beer lovers that had recently moved from Indiana so it’s a good thing I wore my Sun King shirt.

Chris and I agree that big beer festivals are awesome because they offer so many different beers but the big festivals are impersonal; you don’t get to enjoy your beer before you’re filling your glass again.  My solution: regional GABFs.  There are so many regions that Chris and I don’t get to visit during the year and you can’t visit them all in one or two nights at GABF.  If they parced it out into different sections of the country and held these events at different times throughout the year, beer geeks might better explore our nation’s great beers.

Some of the Rally highlights:

1) The food from Quiero Arepas, one of my favorite food trucks.

2) Watermelon Kӧlsch.  I have been trying to get my hands on Hell or High Watermelon from 21st Amendment Brewery for a while now. This was satisfying substitute.

3) Pome Mel, a cider from Colorado Cider Company made with Colorado wildflower honey.

4) Juicy Peach Ale from Big Beaver Brewing Co., a nice thirst-quenching brew that is perfect for a hot, summer afternoon.

5) Bandit Brown.  This is one of my favorite beers that City Star Brewing makes. They have several variations that I want to try, including hazelnut and vanilla.


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