"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!

The Plugs

I write about beer because I love beer, not because I think doing so will get me rich.  I'm passionate about my topic and I'd keep this blog running even if there were no perks involved.  But there are perks.  Not monetary perks, mind you, but bartered perks such as a free pint at the local brewery, a press pass, or, relative to this page, a cool piece of schwag in exchange for a mention on my blog.  I'm not in the practice of plastering my posts with advertisements but, due to my moral upbringing, I feel it necessary to do something nice for somebody when they do something nice for me.  With that in mind, I present to you The Plugs, a page where I can thank those who send me free gear without simultaneously bombarding my readers with sales pitches.

10/30/14 -- "Craft your Beer" by Brewed in Chicago

The craft beer website Brewed in Chicago is developing a new online game titled “Craft Your Beer” in which players will have the opportunity to concoct their own recipes using both traditional and experimental ingredients to create the best beers conceivable.  They can even design unique labels and name their virtual brew.  Why, with “Craft Your Brew,” beer geeks partake in everything the beer-making process has to offer except the actual drinking.

Or perhaps I spoke too soon.

“Craft Your Beer” is a game so, logically, a game must have a winner.  The online community will vote for their favorite recipes and the most popular ones will be brewed—for real, in meatspace, in the physical realm—at Chicago’s Empirical Brewery where the drinking public can imbibe what was once but an online fantasy.  The especially popular beers will be distributed on a seasonal basis.

“Craft Your Beer is exciting news for the craft beer industry” says Brewed in Chicago founder Brian Busche.  “Fans get to take their passion to the next level by producing beer and competing against each other, breweries will be able to avoid the uncertainty of experimental beer by following what’s popular in the game and consumers will benefit from new beer ideas that make it into the marketplace.”  

If you’d like to see this innovative idea come to fruition, visit the game’s Indiegogo campaign page and chip in a few bucks. 

8/18/14 -- Brewland's Indigogo campaign

When you’re imbedded in the world of craft beer, it’s easy to forget that, despite its exponential and impressive growth, it remains a niche industry.  I’m a craft beer fanatic, I’m friends with craft beer fanatics, and anybody else caught in my social circle eventually becomes, at the very least, a craft beer novice simply by being around my own sudsy enthusiasm.  When surrounded by like-minded folks, one overlooks the fact that not everybody shares the same opinion.  When a bar’s taps are dominated by macrobrewed brands, when a wedding guest drinks a mild pale ale and makes a face like he drank poison, and when a friend-of-a-friend hauls in a case of Bud Light to a BYOB BBQ—those are moments when beer geeks realize, while craft beer has come a long way, there’s still a long journey ahead.  We still need disciples of craft, we still need to evangelize the good word of good beer.  That’s where Brewland—and you—come in.

Brewland, a documentary on craft beer in America, is, according to its website, “a ‘coming of age’ tale about an industry struggling to define its identity in an ever-changing environment while growing at an unsustainable pace.  We will reveal how it has evolved through American history, the challenges of being a craft brewer, and what the future may hold for the craft brewing world.”  There’s just one problem; it’s an East Coast production team putting this documentary together and, while they insist “BREWLAND will be completed no matter what,” a little extra cash would help turn this regional New England film into a true, all-American, coast-to-coast movie; word on the street is there’s some pretty good beer cities west of the Mississippi—San Diego, Portland, and, oh yeah, a pretty nice little place called Denver.  Brewland is calling on you, Colorado, to help expand this project.  It seems a shame to film a craft beer documentary and leave out the most obvious locales. 

Yes, this is yet another crowd-funded endeavor but, please, hold your indignation for a moment.  I know you’ve seen a million of these and I know you think the world doesn’t need another beer documentary but refer back to the first paragraph and reflect on the people in your own life; has craft beer truly inundated all our lives?  Think beyond your immediate circle of craft-centric friends.  Does grandma know about craft beer?  Do your co-workers?  Your yoga instructor?  Your mail-carrier?  Your neighbors?  If you take an honest look at the situation, you’ll realize you probably know a lot more craft beer virgins than not.  And that’s in Colorado where the population knows beer like France knows wine, Scotland knows whisky, and Australia knows proper knife identification.  Think of the places across the U.S, that aren’t so accustomed to craft.  Brewland intends to help continue the education process for those who’ve yet to see the light.       

Care to chip in a few bucks and help this movie get beyond the Appalachians and into the Rockies and Sierras?  Want to do your part in the widening of craft beer culture?  Check out Brewland’s Indiegogo page, peruse the perks associated with each level of donation, and seriously consider tossing a few bucks into the pot.    

5/5/14 -- Colorado Breweries by Dan Rabin

Colorado Breweries, a brewery and travel guide, attempts the impossible: profile every brewery in the state of Colorado.  It gets pretty close to that goal, too.

Dan Rabin, a beer and travel journalist, compiled 149 Centennial State suds-slingers and, while that number is not accurate at the time of my writing, it’s still as near a comprehensive list as can be expected in this era where new Colorado breweries seem to open as often as the sun rises. 

How is it that Rabin came to the number 149?  First, he had to decide when enough was enough: “When I began working on the book, there were around 120 breweries in Colorado,” says Rabin.  “New breweries were opening at a fast clip, as they still are…It eventually became obvious that if I was ever going to finish the book, I needed to choose a cut-off date for new brewery visits.”  Rabin is no stickler when it comes to corporate and chain breweries, either; Colorado Breweries is an inclusive book: “Each individual brewing location for the chains is treated as a separate entity.  When a company has multiple locations within a region, the breweries are grouped together with abbreviated discussions of each one.”

Colorado Breweries is far from a mere list; each brewery is given the full treatment with brewer interviews, history and fun-facts of the company, taproom descriptions, and a mention of the flagship beers and Rabin’s personal favorites.  Rabin also included a few non-beer tidbits of information in his book claiming “the vibe of a brewery is often influenced by its surroundings, I’ve included information about the local area for many breweries.”

Although Colorado Breweries is chock-full of interesting beer-related material, there are a few things you won’t find in its pages: “I avoided long detailed discussions of individual beers or numerical ratings.  People who find that type of information valuable can easily find that stuff online.”

Some stand-out moments in Colorado Breweries include the following:

--I could imagine the smirk that must have crept across Rabin’s face when he wrote, “Breweries are sometimes built around a theme, be it dogs, fairy tales, musical styles, or what have you.  For better or worse, Loveland’s Big Beaver Brewing Company is the only brewing business I’ve encountered with a theme based on genitalia.”  It’s an accurate statement; some of the names of the flagship beers are Bust-A-Nut, Wonder Weiner, Beaver Stubble, and Sweet-n-Sour Booty.

·       -- Years ago, I tried to visit Floodstage Ale Works in Brighton only to find it seemingly closed.  “Closed” as in out-of-business; there wasn’t much more than a “weathered brick structure set back from the street…it’s not a place that would grab your attention” as Rabin explains.  Yet, it’s included in Colorado Breweries with the disclaimer that it “keeps a low profile.”  Low indeed!  I guess I need to make another trip back to Brighton because Floodstage fooled me the first time; now I know it’s actually an operating brewery.

·         --While a majority of BJ’s Brewhouse locations do not brew in-house but rather import their beer from one of a few centralized facilities, the BJ’s in Boulder doesn’t just brew but is dedicated to brewing experimental beers.  There are 134 BJ’s in operation but most patrons will never taste the company’s most interesting offerings unless they visit the Boulder branch.

·       -- Mike Kasian, brewer at Boulder’s Shine Restaurant & Gathering Place, “has the distinction of having had three different brewing jobs without changing work addresses.”  Shine’s space had been the home to two other breweries that eventually closed and, while the business and the owners have changed, the only constant connecting the three businesses is Kasian himself. 

Thinking of giving Colorado Breweries as a gift?  It’s appropriate for beer lovers of all calibers.  “Colorado Breweries is intended to be equally valuable for beer experts and for people just discovering the joys of good beer and beer travel,” says Rabin.  “It’s my hope that by learning about a brewery before visiting, readers will find their visits more rewarding.”  Likewise, both Colorado and out-of-state readers will find something worthwhile in this book: “People from out of state might discover that there’s a particular region in Colorado that they want to explore in depth.  People from Colorado are likely to discover that they’ve overlooked fun brewery stops in small towns such as Berthoud, Windsor, Paonia, Ridgway, Pagosa Springs, Central City and other off the beaten path locations.”

Due to the growing and thriving nature of the local beer scene, there are quite a few omissions in Rabin’s book.  Does this mean we’ll be seeing a second volume in the near future?  “That’s a conversation I’ll be having with my publisher sometime soon, “says Rabin.  “I’ll wait until the ink is dry on the first edition before I broach the subject.”

12/11/2013 -- Brewery Passport
When you've visited as many Colorado breweries as Nicole and I, you come home with a lot of thoughts, a lot of memories, and a lot of schwag; it's hard to keep it all in order.  Typically, we've used Chris Wright's The Beer Journal and that's been sufficient with the exception of a few points.  First, the newer editions are hardback and the pages are small and glossy.  While this gives the book a classy appearance, the hardback cover doesn't roll-up and fit into Nicole's purse very well and the small and glossy pages make it difficult to jot down all our thoughts--there's not enough room and the gloss smudges easily.  Plus, when a book looks that high-end, you almost have an aversion to writing in it; it's just too fancy to be practical.  Besides that, The Beer Journal isn't specific to Colorado.  We visit lots of out-of-state breweries but Nicole and I are chiefly concerned with what's going on in-state.

Enter the Colorado Brewery Passport: 2nd Edition.  It's paperback so it can be rolled and folded and, like a real passport, it will accrue some wear-and-tear or, as I prefer to think of it, battle scars.  It will have some character.  When you're done with the Brewery Passport, its dog-ears, rips, and stains will tell their own story.  It will be well-traveled and will show its miles unlike the The Beer Journal which looks as if it ought to be under glass and on display.  The Brewery Passport also features big, open, matte pages, making it easy to scribble between sips.  

The best part of the Brewery Passport is that it's Colorado-specific--each page features the name of a Colorado brewery along with the address, website, and phone number.  All you have to do is write the date you visited and start scrawling all over it.  If you collect stickers or coasters, put 'em on the corresponding page and you've got yourself a fairly well-organized collection.  The Brewery Passport is very up-to-date, even including Grist Brewing Company which opened just a few weeks ago.  Since the Colorado beer scene is always expanding, there's also a few blank pages in the back for when the next new brewery opens (I foresee those pages being filled quickly). 

Nicole and I will likely finish out The Beer Journal (we're almost done with it) but, once the pages are filled, we'll use the Brewery Passport exclusively.

10/24/2013 -- Custom On It
If you want to slap your logo on a shirt, wristband, poker chip, koozie, pencil, sticker, calendar, water bottle, key chain, or pretty much anything else you can imagine, check out Custom On It.  They sent me a killer "bar key"-style bottle opener with the Beer in Colorado logo; check it out below.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I would love to hear your thoughts about our new competition, please see our press release. Cheers, Marty.

    Press Release
    For Immediate Release

    Contact: Marty Nachel aleconner@aol.com

    Date: April 20th, 2015
    What: #1 Beer Fan Competition
    Who: Fans of Beer Everywhere in the United States
    When: Competition begins May 1st and ends in December 2015
    Why: To recognize and celebrate American beer fans
    Where: Chicago-based competition open to all U. S. residents

    Commercial brewers have a multitude of competitions at which they can win all sorts of awards for their brewing prowess, but who celebrates the beer consumers who support these brewers? Until now, no one.

    The #1 Beer Fan competition is designed to recognize and celebrate the most passionate and knowledgeable beer fans in the country. The #1 Beer Fan will be chosen from among the hundreds (thousands?) who choose to participate in this competition.

    This months-long competition will winnow down the field of qualified entrants through a series of tests, tastings and participatory events, including:

    • Round 1: Contestants will submit a short video to be voted on by the beer community.

    • Round 2: Contestants will complete a comprehensive online beer exam.

    • Round 3: Contestants will participate in an in-person beer evaluation in the Chicago area in fall of 2015.

    • Round 4: Finalists will compete in a reality show style competition that will be filmed and released in 4 episodes.

    • Final Round 5: Remaining finalists will compete in front of a live audience and a professional judging panel to determine the #1 Beer Fan.

    #1 Beer Fan Competition is a joint venture between Beer Community Organizer, Don DiBrita (Beerdogging.com), and beer book author and beer educator, Marty Nachel. In addition to creating a fun and entertaining competition, beer awareness and education is their ultimate goal.

    Check out our website: http://1beerfan.com/