Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mile High Brews: Dads and Dudes Breweria

It was Dave Barry that said "Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza." A very true statement typically associated with sports bars, or watching any sporting event on television, not always associated with high quality hand crafted ales. But in a small location in southeast Aurora, in a large shopping center surrounded by all the chain restaurants one could ask for, lies the smallest microbrewery in Colorado. To go with it, they are scratch making some great pizzas too using the same grain from the brewing process in the pizza crust, and the place is the Dad and Dudes Breweria.
Opened in 2010, walking into the Breweria is like stepping back in time. It is a bistro that celebrates American history, most notably the year 1933, when prohibition ended. Photos of the protestors and barrels of alcohol being smashed cover the walls. Above the bar is a sloped roof reminiscent to the bootleggers creating their own drinks at the time. Behind the bar area, dollar bills are taped all over the wall and a few windows allow guests to see the tiny production area for the brewing process. The brewing area is so small that they are only able to brew using the half barrel system, which makes the beers challenging to get, as they run out quicker, but also ensures the freshest beer available. In addition to their own six beers on tap, they also offer beers from other local breweries. So with a constantly rotating beer menu which ales are the ones that have to be tried?
Typically pale ales are bitter, unbalanced, and very hoppy in flavor, and do not have additional flavor added to enhance the beer. So when I saw a Rosemary Pale Ale on the tap list I knew that was a beer worth trying before the first sip. The aroma has very herbaceous and piney due to the addition of rosemary but at the same time the aroma of hops was very present. After taking one sip, it is truly amazing how balanced this beer is with so many assertive flavors present. While this beer does have a distinguished bitterness from the hops, they are cut and muted by the rosemary. Both flavors complement each other quite nicely and neither one overpowers the other. Finding a beer with herbs is truly unique, but finding one that is very well balanced is rare. This beer is great for any fan of pale ales but should be tried by anybody with an adventurous pallet and it pairs very well with the pizzas offered.
If a beer infused with herbs sounds a little too experimental for you, but something light bodied and refreshing is still what you are craving then the perfect beer to enjoy here is the Autumn Harvest Dark Wheat Ale. This beer was very deceiving in all aspects as it was dark in color but tasted nothing like a dark ale. It had a light body, a very nice effervescence, and no additional flavors added to it. There was no fruit flavor added to this ale so the only flavor that was present was the true taste of wheat. Finishing with one of the cleanest aftertastes a beer can offer, this one is very easy to sip over and over again. It is such a simple beer with no fancy flavor profile, and that is not only what makes it very original, but also very delicious. It is hard to come across a beer that is so clean in flavor and the guys at the Breweria have made it, and I bet you cannot just drink one.
Sometimes it is very true that the best places are the small locations that most people drive by without thinking twice, but ignoring the large chain restaurants and trying something new can turn out to be a great experience. Finding a place that not only hand crafts their own small batch beers, but also hand makes some high quality pizzas is that great experience. Mix that with a friendly staff that makes you feel like a regular on your first visit and that is the ultimate recipe for a great business, and that is what you will find at the Dad and Dudes Breweria.
Have a brewery or certain beer you want us to try, let us know by joining our Facebook page:!/pages/Mile-High-Brews/300062080014536

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mile High Brews: Dry Dock

It started with the Brew Hut, a shop for home brewers to but the necessary ingredients to make beer at home. In 2005, they decided to start making and serving their own beer in a tiny location with only four taps, seven stools, and a few tables. Then, in 2006, their HMS Victory E.S.B. won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup. By 2009, their brewery started to develop a large following and they expanded into a larger location and it was later that year that they earned the accolades they had worked so hard for. At the 2009 Great American Beer Festival, owner Kevin DeLange would win the honor of Small Brewery of the Year. By 2011, they were well known throughout the state and their Hefeweizen would win a gold medal. Hard to believe that all this happened at a small brewery in a strip mall in Aurora, Colorado. What brewery could I be talking about except for Dry Dock, the first microbrewery in Aurora?
Upon walking into Dry Dock, you don’t feel like you are in Colorado. The nautical theme reminds you more of being on the Atlantic coast. The ropes and logs that line the patio and the ship décor inside is nothing reminiscent of Colorado. Along the wall next to the bar is a mural of all the awards from both the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.  The continuously expanded brewery not only features great views into the brewing area but also has communal and individual tables, and shuffle board. There is a connecting door to the brew hut so if you are feeling adventurous and want to brew your own beer all the ingredients are available. With a menu of original greats, and new ones arriving regularly the question now is which beer to try?
When their U-Boat Hefeweizen won the gold medal and was viewed as the best in the country in 2011 it was a much deserved award. A German wheat beer that uses malted wheat instead of malted barley and a special strain of yeast is what gives this beer its unique flavor and makes it taste like banana. At Dry Dock, in addition to the natural banana flavor, there is also an undertone of clove and vanilla to give it extra depth of flavor and a slight hint of spice and sweetness. Served in a tall vase shaped glass this beer always goes down smooth, quenches the thirst, and is amazingly refreshing any day of the year. Most Hefeweizens will add citrus to the side, but at Dry Dock the beer tastes so pure and has such a complexity of flavors that it is a must try, and truly worthy of the gold medal it has won.
Over the past few years it seems like fruit ales not only have saturated the market but that the originality of them has gone by the wayside. There are a lot of raspberry and blueberry ales as far as mainstream beers are concerned, and sometimes not only is something original craved but also something very high quality. How does an apricot ale sound? A diamond in the rough of fruit flavored beers, this beer is a mouthful of apricots that tastes like you have a fresh piece of fruit in your hand on a hot summer day. From the aroma to the taste, this has such a pure and fresh apricot flavor but at the same time, the flavor of the beer is never lost. Unlike other fruit beers, this one tastes natural and is not overly sweet, and while the apricot flavor is strong it does not taste at all overpowering. While this beer is available year-round there is no better time to enjoy this beer than on a hot Saturday afternoon.
Not everybody likes wheat ales or lighter beers in general, and if it’s something dark, heavy and flavorful you crave than look no further than the URCA Vanilla Porter. All the qualities of porters that are loved are in this beer: the body, bitterness, malts, and natural sweetness, plus the addition of vanilla, and not just a hint of vanilla. Over two pounds of both Tahitian and Madagascar vanilla beans are used in the brewing process which adds not only a pure vanilla flavor but also the floral undertones associated with vanilla beans. Now, if you are a fan of porters but not so much of vanilla, Dry Dock does offer a naked porter which is the Urca Porter minus the vanilla. To make it taste as pure as possible, this beer is often offered on nitro tap so it is only available from the tap room, and it adds a very creamy head and a smooth, rich texture that coats the mouth on every sip. Both of these beers are some of the best porters you can try in all of Colorado, and have to be tasted.
While Dry Dock offers limited runs on certain beers all throughout the year none are more awaited and anticipated that the annual tapping of the Half Moon Pumpkin Ale. This ale is the true definition of what every pumpkin ale should be.  It has all the spice notes commonly associated with pumpkin ales like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves but where pumpkin ales vary, is in the flavor the beer is named for. The pumpkin flavor in this beer is so strong and pure that it tastes as close to pumpkin pie as you can get. A beer that is perfect on every autumn day this beer will not disappoint and will be missed until it is tapped again the next year.
Speaking of limited runs of beers, nothing is better than going to the tap room on Friday afternoon or early evening for Firkin Friday, a weekly tradition where one of the regularly offered beers has a unique spin put on it. Available for one day, only these beers are so unique you will have no issue remembering them and talking about them. Whether the beer is a hazelnut coffee milk stout which puts coffee houses to shame, a strawberry Hefeweizen that adds a nice acidity to an already balanced beer, or a maple bacon e.s.b. which proves that bacon really does make everything better. Available for one day only, these beers are so diverse and unique in flavor that sipping a pint might become part of your Friday routine.
Even though Dry Dock has only been around for seven years, this brewery has already made an impact on the ever growing beer scene in Colorado. The awards and accolades continue to pile up for this ever growing location, and they still have not changed anything. The beers are the same and yet they never get old, all production including bottling takes place all at the Aurora tap house. While they have grown, the quality is still the same. Dry Dock is available at bars throughout the state, and they now distribute 22 ounce bombers to liquor stores or ship right to your front door, but nothing is better than going to the tap house. The environment is relaxing, and the bartenders are so friendly and treat you like a regular from the first time you go in there. Aurora’s first microbrewery has been a favorite in this suburb for a while and now it is becoming one of the best in the state, and the only question that needs answering is what is next for this small brewery?
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mile High Brews: Twisted Pine

Sometimes finding breweries can be like going on a scavenger hunt. Some of them are tucked away in hidden locations that can make them difficult to find, others are easy to drive right by without even realizing what is inside. Inside a warehouse in Boulder on Walnut Street lies one of these hidden gems that I encourage you to stop at and enjoy a couple of pints. Here we have high quality award winning beers that are both traditional and highly experimental, but with a selection of fifteen different beers you are bound to find one worthwhile, here at Twisted Pine.
The outside of this brewery is a total warehouse, while there are some tables and an outdoor patio, the sign is surrounded by sheet metal but once you walk in you are entirely transformed. All of a sudden it feels as if you are in a mountain lodge relaxing after a long day in the cold weather. The furniture is all hand carved and only adds to the rustic, old school mountain lodge feel. The décor is so consistent it even went down to the tap handles which also look hand carved out of pine. Along the side wall is hand painted glass of the mountains and flat irons Boulder is so known for, and above the art are all the awards this brewery has won.
The lounge area itself is tiny, at most there are ten bar stools and eight tables all with great views into the production area going on behind the bar area. It is kind of hard to believe that such a small brewery can produce so many high quality ales but also be able to produce enough ales not only to meet the demand in Colorado but five other states, and they will soon be adding two states to their distribution area. With fifteen great beers available, to try the question is which one to try first? Something traditional? Experimental? Seasonal? No worries, because at Twisted Pine there is something for every pallet out there.
Typically when trying out a new brewery the rule of thumb is to try something light and work to the dark. At Twisted Pine that is no different and a great first beer to try is the blonde ale. A very simple German style pale ale, this beer has a subtle citrus flavor but a clean taste once all is said and done. This is a beer that does not have a prominent flavor. While the main flavor is wheat it is still quite subtle and the malts and hops are very hard to detect. The only presence of those ingredients is in the slightly bitter aftertaste. A very refreshing beer that would be great in summertime but is ultimately great anytime, the blonde ale is a great starter beer that is a must try for any fan of wheat ales.
Sometimes wheat beers can be kind of bland and the addition of extra flavor can be risky. With such a light beer adding the right flavor can be hard as it can take over the flavor of the entire beer. That is why citrus is the most common addition to add a subtle acidity to an ale. Twisted Pine did not go that route, instead they chose to add spice to a wheat ale. What kind of spice? Chili peppers, more specifically the addition of Anaheim, Fresno, Serrano, Jalapeno, and Habanero peppers make this hands down the hottest beer and one of the most unique beers I have tried, Billy’s Chilies. The aroma of chili peppers adds a great introduction to this beer and at first sip the taste of the peppers hits your tongue but does not overshadow the taste of the wheat ale. However, the aftertaste leaves you with a lingering heat in the back of the throat that keeps you sipping for more. A truly unique beer that is definitely not for everybody but one that everybody should try. Thankfully the brewery offers three ounce samples so you do not have to commit to a full pint.
When people think of Boulder, Colorado one place comes to mind, and that is Pearl Street. So it is only fitting that when in Boulder to drink a beer that was brewed to celebrate the 150th anniversary of this unique town, and you will find that in the Pearl St. Porter. The first aspect of this beer that makes it different from other porters is that the Pearl St. is a Baltic style porter. A Baltic porter is a regular porter that has been fermented longer so it has a higher alcohol content, this particular one is 6.7 percent by volume. It still has the characteristics that are loved in porters, the malty and bitter flavor, plus a subtle chocolate flavor. But what differentiates Pearl St. Porter is its surprisingly light body which only makes it that much more refreshing. This special beer is only available during the winter so buy up when available because it will be a long year before it can be enjoyed again.
When a brewery decides to roast either its malts or barley it creates a very dark beer and the end result is typically a stout. Dark roasted malts can add a bitter flavor to a stout that mimics the bitterness associated with coffee. Add ground coffee to emphasize the flavor and the end result is a true coffee stout, and at Twisted Pine their Big Shot Espresso Stout is the true definition of what a high quality coffee stout is. Heavy body, bitterness, and a strong coffee flavor that does not overpower the qualities of a stout that are loved, but takes a traditional stout to a whole other level. The coffee flavor slightly enhances the bitterness but also adds a clean true coffee flavor. A very unique beer that has almost two different flavors, and one that is a must try.
Now if coffee isn’t a favorite flavor, but you still like stouts and are feeling adventurous the Razzy Xpress stout is so unique it has to be tried. Typically fruit in beers is reserved for wheat ales or a lighter beer, and more assertive flavors like chocolate are reserved for dark beers. But to go along with the uniqueness of this brewery they created a winter seasonal stout that combines both flavors, and the end result is a chocolate raspberry stout. This beer is so unique, balanced, and hearty that it has to be tried. There is not a single flavor that is dominant.  In each sip the flavors stand on their own and you can taste the raspberry, chocolate, and all the great qualities of a stout. This is a can’t miss beer during the coldest months of the year when it is available.
In a town like Boulder where the first microbrewery in Colorado opened, and now with eleven total it can be hard to stand out. Yet, despite all the competition, Twisted Pine has found a way to not only stay competitive but brew some of the most unique beers I have tried. Whether it be honey brown ales, fruit wheats, or even chili pepper beers they are all full on flavor and have the quality that keep you wanting more. After the first sip it becomes obvious just how passionate and committed this brewery is to crafting great beers. If looking just to pick up a six pack or whenever in Boulder, make Twisted Pine a brewery to try.
Like what you are reading? Have a brewery you want us to visit? Let us know at the official Mile High Brews Facebook page:!/pages/Mile-High-Brews/300062080014536

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mile High Brews: Breckenridge

Leaving a baseball game at Coors Field and want a couple of postgame pints? You could go here. Finished a long day of skiing and want to relax over a couple beers? You could go here. In downtown Denver and want not only some beer but also some barbecue? You could go here. Visiting the town of Grand Junction along the western slope and craving some beers from the Rocky Mountains? You could go here. With four locations throughout the state, and a reputation for high quality ales, what brewery could I be talking about except for Breckenridge?
With so many locations to choose from, the best location to visit is the one in its namesake town on Main Street in Breckenridge. It is a nice old time feeling two story building with the best scenery anybody could ask for. To be able to throw back a couple of pints staring out the window on the snow filled Rocky Mountains is the most relaxing way to spend an afternoon. As for the other locations, the one in LoDo, across from Coors Field, is nice but it has too commercial a feel and being right across from a baseball stadium does not lend itself to a relaxing time enjoying high quality beer. It lends itself more to huge crowds of people wanting to either start or continue their buzz before or after a game.
With that being said though it is not always about the location that will make or break a visit to any of their locations, because it is always going to be about the beer. Fortunately Breckenridge Brewery has plenty of beers to choose from ranging in several styles. While more on the traditional style and less experimental they have still managed to create some fantastic ales and stay relevant and successful during the beer renaissance that continues to occur in Colorado.
The first beer anybody should try at Breckenridge has to be their trademark signature beer the Avalanche Amber. This beer is best described in a few simple words, subtle but delicious. The use of both pale and caramel malts gives this beer its amber color and a slight sweetness of flavor, and the minimal use of hops adds just enough bitterness to cut through the sweetness. The end result is an amazingly balanced beer with such subtle flavors and a clean after taste. Avalanche is a great ale to enjoy year-round.  There is a reason that this beer has lasted the test of time and is still one of their most popular beers offered.
Wheat beers can be pretty bland, plain and simple. Typically they can be very one note and usually need citrus on the side to enhance the flavor, and are usually unfiltered. The wheat ale here is unfiltered, but does not use citrus. Instead agave nectar is used and the end result is a truly unique wheat beer with a flavor that cannot be replicated. The addition of one unique ingredient that many are not familiar with takes this beer from ordinary to truly unique, refreshing, and a taste in your mouth that leaves you craving another one. The wheat flavor is still prominent and good on its own; the addition of agave adds an entirely new dimension. Great in the summertime, and a truly refreshing beer that is a must try especially if you are new to more experimental flavors of beer.
When the weather starts to turn cold and winter hits there is nothing better than a dark, heavy beer to help warm you up. When the brewery is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains the beers had better be that much more warming.  Let’s start with the Oatmeal Stout, a beer black in color, loaded with multiple kinds of malts, and of course oatmeal, this beer has so much depth and flavors it’s difficult where to even begin with it. This stout uses both chocolate and caramel malts which adds a nice sweetness and subtle chocolate flavor. There are also roasted malts that give off almost a coffee-like aroma, and when combined with the chocolate, add a great base flavor for this stout. The oatmeal does not add any flavor but believe it or not it actually adds a texture to this beer. By adding an ingredient as simple as oatmeal it adds a creamy element to this beer in your mouth and it makes the finish almost dry. Although oatmeal stouts are common, the one offered at Breckenridge is one of the best, and a truly unique beer that is a must try.
In addition to the oatmeal stout, Breckenridge also offers a nice smooth Vanilla Porter. This particular beer Breckenridge has been making since 2000 but did not start selling regularly until 2007 to compete with other microbreweries, and the new bold flavors that were being created. As far as porters are concerned this is a very high quality porter with the bitterness that is expected. The addition of vanilla beans from both Papua New Guinea and Madagascar add obviously a strong vanilla flavor but also a subtle floral flavor that underlies the vanilla. The quality of ingredients alone makes this beer delicious and a must try for any fan of porters.
Every brewery offers seasonal ales and Breckenridge is no exception offering up specialty beers during the summer, autumn, and winter. The Summerbright Ale is a wheat ale with citrus, and while it is very refreshing on a hot day, the Agave Wheat is slightly better and is more enjoyable. Come autumn they offer up the After Rakin’ Autumn Ale. This beer is a hybrid attempt between a German Lager and an American type ale. The end result is a full bodied, full flavored beer that combines the best flavor profiles of hops and malts. If you are not a fan of all the pumpkin ales that hit the market in September and October than this is the perfect ale for you and will quickly become a new favorite. The Christmas ale is a very strong ale that packs a strong punch at over 7% alcohol, and with a sweet flavor of both caramel and chocolate. This beer instantly warms you on the coldest of winter nights and is a must-try each season.
In a day and age where so many microbreweries have achieved success based on experimental flavors Breckenridge Brewery has stayed true to their roots through creating simplistic beers. A very straight forward brewery that has not changed their philosophy and they have stood the test of time. Simplistic, subtle beers that keep you craving more, it is no wonder their fan base keeps growing. Each location is unique on its own but all the beers are delicious. If you are new to trying microbreweries, or an avid fan that wants a great ale, Breckenridge is the right place to try.