Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mile High Brews: Bristol/Black Fox

Colorado Springs, Colorado about 2 hours south of Denver is known for many tourist attractions and landmarks. You have the Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, the Unite State Air Force Academy, and beer. Driving on I-25 South, exit 140 onto Tejon Street, park at the blue star and in front of you will be a unique brewery with straight forward, full flavor brews. This of course is Bristol and Black Fox Brewing.
Established in 1994, Bristol’s has always been a brewery that has stayed true to its local roots. They are available throughout the state in bars, liquor stores and of course in growlers straight from the source. Some of their beers are widely distributed year round while other remain very limited, and are only available exclusively at the brewery, like their highly sought after pumpkin ale in the fall.
I first tried Bristol’s a few years back, and instantly developed a taste for it. The beer I tried was Laughing Lab Scottish Ale, and with its strong malt flavor, and clean after taste it made it very difficult not to enjoy, so I explored around to sample their other varieties. Mass Transit Amber Ale was the next one to try, and between the medium body and well balanced taste this beer was definitely worthy of trying. After two successful tastes I knew I had to check this place out with my own eyes and see if the experience of seeing the brewery matched the taste of its beers.
Upon walking up to Bristol’s I was greeted with mash from a tank being emptied into a window and once I walked in the aroma of hops, and mash filled the air. It was a long and narrow bar/lounge area with the fermentation tanks being divided from that room by only a thin wall covered with windows so any guest could see the production going on. A shuffle board table that has been very well used lined a wall, tables were spread comfortable throughout, and of course there was a bar to sit at and sample these great flavors. The environment inside seemed to be very sterile with sheet metal lining the walls, and at the same time it was also very modern with glass blocks stacked against the walls.
The bartenders were very friendly offering up samples, and answering any questions guests had. The variety of beers on tap was plentiful offering up more beers than are available in bars or liquor stores. Tours and growlers are available, and I enjoyed a growler of the Mass Transit Amber Ale, and the flavor did not disappoint from my first experiences with this brewery to my visit. What makes Bristol such a good brewery is that the style of ale and flavor profile are very simple and straightforward. The beers the regularly offer year round are the Mass Transit Amber Ale, Laughing Lab Scottish Ale (winner of numerous Great American Beer Fest medals), Beehive Honey Wheat, Red Rocket Pale Ale, Compass IPA, and their newest addition is the Yellow Kite Pilsner. All these beers have a very well rounded taste, and do not deviate from the perception of what each of these beers should taste like.
Now if one is feeling more adventurous, then it is more up your alley to sample beers from the same brewery just under a different name, Black Fox. Black Fox takes the traditional beer and makes it untraditional with flavor profiles that one would never imagine drinking. They are beers that border more on the idea of sweet and spicy, and are also beers with more savory notes than sweet notes. It hits the pallet in several different areas and always makes for an exciting experience drinking one of these brews. The two Black Fox brews that are a must for any beer lover to try are the Diablo and Siempre Loco. The Diablo is a dark saison that is flavored with cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and New Mexico Red Chile. It offers up the warm earthiness of the cinnamon, and then in the back of your throat you get the heat from the cayenne. Very well balanced and full of flavor.
The Siempre Loco I first sampled during Cinco de Mayo one year where I was looking for a beer that would fit the holiday, but wasn’t a typical beer served with a lime wedge. Again it is a saison style ale but the flavor profile was out of this world. Lime zest, black peppercorns, and cumin are all used in varying stages of the brewing process and the levels of flavor show during every sip. The tartness from the lime comes through instantly, but then you are hit with the earthy notes of the cumin seed, and a slight spice from the black peppercorns, all with a clean aftertaste. It takes a few sips to get used to, but after that this beer will long be in your memory.
Bristol/Black Fox is a unique experience in its own right. Who would have thought that in one location there would be very simple, classical beers and also beers full of big, bold flavors. Beers that can please everybody’s pallet and with a wide variety to offer it is not intimidating to sample all offerings put before you. This is one brewery that should be on a list of tourist attractions the next time anybody is in Colorado Springs. 
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mile High Brews: Avery's

Boulder, Colorado is one town that is known for its beer. Home to eleven breweries and brew pubs, the variety is plentiful, and sampling them all in one visit can be difficult. Depending on your taste you might be in the mood for a dry, full hopped, flavored IPA, a full flavored slightly sweet brown ale. Or your tastes could be for the bitterness of a pilsner, the heartiness of a stout, or my personal favorite a Belgian style ale with citrus and spice notes. If you are in Boulder and this is what your taste buds crave, then look no further than Avery Brewery, on Arapahoe Street.
Avery’s has been making big, bold flavored beers since 1993, winning medals at the annual Great American Beer Fest along the way. They have five beers that are offered year round: IPA, Ellie’s Brown Ale, Joe’s Premium American Pilsner, Out of Bounds Stout, and White Rascal Belgian White. They are also known for flavorful seasonal brews, especially Old Jubilation Ale, a winter seasonal featuring flavor notes of chocolate and hazelnut. In addition, they also have a run of limited 22 ounce bombers that pack a full punch of flavor, and can be hard to get.
Once I found this brewery, hidden amongst a gathering of warehouses, it became obvious that this brewery was popular. All the tanks were outside behind the brewery (which is also where the tours occur so dress accordingly if you take one), all the picnic tables were full, but finding a seat at the bar was pretty easy. The inside of the bar was pretty minimal. There were a few signs around the wall and a map with thumbtacks in it showing everywhere they distribute. After sitting at the bar, the bartenders were neither friendly, nor did they have much knowledge of their beers. They did not offer any recommendations as to which beer I should try.
When I asked them a question, they acted burdened to offer an answer. Once all was said and done they seemed happier when people left, as opposed to welcoming in new guests. In the end the beer at Avery’s is very good, full of complex flavors, and it is very good that they distribute. This was hands down the most disappointing stop on my brewery travels, so I would encourage that the beer is tried, but just find a six pack at your local liquor store, or try a pint from a bar, do not go out of your way to see this place in person. It will leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mile High Brews Part 1

Since the day I turned 21, I have had an affinity for drinking a nice cold beer. Living in Colorado has made this much more enjoyable and adventerous than I ever could of imagined. Even though Colorado houses the second largest brewery in the world with Miller-Coors in the mountain town of Golden, there are actually over 100 microbreweries, and brew-pubs throughout this entire state. Whether you are in downtown Denver, the Rocky Mountains, or on the Western Slope there are a wide variety of beers to try. That is what this is all about, my travels to these breweries all around the state, my experiences with the people, the environment, and of course the beer. The adventure of stumbling across a local brewery could turn out to be one of your new favorite beverages, and the hidden gems of each one, whether it is a flavor combination one could never expect to find in a beverage, or finding a small brewery that has actually won multiple medals in competitions. This is the Mile High Brews travels, experiences, and recommendations, please join me on my journey, offer me new places to try, and be adventurous to support the local, and independent breweries that have the passion to turn four simple ingredients into something wonderful.