Friday, March 16, 2012

Mile High Brews: Rockyard

About halfway between Denver and Colorado Springs right off I-25 lies the small town of Castle Rock, Colorado. Aside from the outlet malls that most there is very little reason to stop by and visit here. But amid all the large chain shops there is a local restaurant that is brewing their own craft beers. With a family first philosophy and awards winning ales that are very straight forward in flavor this is a must try the next time you are in Castle Rock. Formed in 1999 and still producing the same high quality ales this is Castle Rock’s lone brewery the Rockyard American Grill and Brewing Co.
Upon walking in it is quickly realized that this is not just another brewery but it is a local establishment, full of families enjoying a meal to the regulars who enjoy a pint every day. A lodge style environment with great views to the brewery equipment, and animal d├ęcor on every wall it is very easy to relax and feel at home at a place like this with the help of a fireplace in the lounge area. The love for wildlife is so deep that animals even grace the logo and label of every style of ale ranging from rattlesnakes to bald eagles. Speaking of the animals that represent the beers the question remains on which beers are the must haves once you find that comfortable seat at the bar? 
When sampling new beers it is best to sample from lightest to darkest, and when one of the lightest beers offered is a two time medal winner it is definitely one of the first ales worth trying. The Double Eagle Ale is the standard for what an American style wheat ale is, a bright gold color, filtered, a strong wheat flavor with a clean aftertaste. One of the few wheat ales without any additional flavor added to it to enhance its flavor, this beer is truly unique in how simple it is. No citrus, fruits, or exotic ingredients, just the purity of the wheat and malt used to brew it. A very clean, crisp, and refreshing beer that is great to sip on anytime of the year, it is no wonder this beer has won multiple awards, and a growing group of fans who flock to this brewery to drink it.
From one of the lightest beers to one of the darkest stouts are some of the heartiest beers one can drink, and the Lightning Strike Stout delivers on all the great characteristics stout lovers enjoy. Caramel and chocolate malt based with the addition of roasted malts, barley, and oats this beer has a great coffee flavor, with a light body and smooth aftertaste. The large amount of malts used also helps to create a subtle sweetness to go along with the full body this beer has. While this beer is available in six packs this particular beer should be enjoyed at the location where it is served from a nitro tap which only helps to enhance the creamy texture on the tongue that should be enjoyed with all stouts.
While that is only two of the most popular ales offered at Rockyard they also have a Lynx Light Lager, a helles style beer that is very light and refreshing with almost no aftertaste. A beer that is a perfect palate pleaser great for people first trying new beers. Also available is the Redhawk Ale which is a nice amber ale that is both malty, hoppy, bitter, and slightly sweet. A very complex beer with a lot of subtle flavors that do not overpower each other, and a medium body that makes this a very enjoyable ale. Last regular beer offered is a staple of Colorado microbreweries and that is the Hopyard IPA. The use of three malts and Amarillo hops grown in the United States this beer is everything that IPA lovers will enjoy and with the use of a domestic hop it gives the beer a unique hoppy flavor that is not too bitter. Even if IPAs are not your favorite beer this is one worth trying, and it might even make you a fan of them.
After thirteen years Rockyard brewery is still going strong keeping a loyal following and attracting new guests every day. With high quality ales that are very straight forward in flavor and a wide variety for beer lovers of all style it is no wonder this small microbrewery is only increasing in popularity. While there are no out of the box flavors of ale here, it doesn’t matter because the ales are so pure and tasting the ingredients on their own is unique it its own right. While they do distribute six packs to various liquor stores around the state nothing will beat the experience of going to the brew house and having one fresh, so the next time you are in Castle Rock ignore the large chains and support the local independent business down there.

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