Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mile High Brews: Strange Brewing

Sometimes in life people can find a hobby that can turn into a passion, and in even rarer occasions that passion can turn into a profession. Well this is exactly what happened in Denver, Colorado when two avid home brewers and IT techs found themselves unemployed from the now defunct Rocky Mountain News. So with a 20 gallon home brew equipment, some recipes, and combined retirement savings John Fletcher and Tim Myers set out to make their passion a reality, and in May of 2010 they opened the doors to Strange Brewery, a Belgian style brewery where as the slogan says it “All friends were strangers once.”
Most microbreweries are in high traffic areas to attract new guests, and are well signed so that these guests can find them with ease.  Not Strange though. After exiting off I-25 and navigating through some warehouses you approach a tiny warehouse and that is where this microbrewery lies. Inside the walls and floor are all wood with minimal wall decoration, and after navigating through a maze of tables you find your way to the clear bar top with hops and vines underneath. Behind the bar are more wood walls with minimal views into the production area and tap handles that spell out the Strange. Within five minutes of being in there it is clear that it is a community bar for people to interact, from the picnic tables inside to the circle of chairs on the parking lot patio. With a welcoming environment and friendly clientele it makes wanting to enjoy a pint that much more enjoyable, the question is which ones are a must try?
 With a name like Strange it is only fitting that one of the first beers that should be tried is not only a gold medal winner, but also a gluten free beer. What this beer lacks in ingredients it makes up for in flavor and you can’t even notice there is no wheat in this ale.  The special types of hops they use in this beer create a grapefruit flavor even though there is not a drop of citrus to be found. Very light in body and subtle in flavor this beer is as good as they get on a hot summer day, and one worth trying for any beer lover. You will not even realize it is gluten free.
Now if a beer with a subtle fruit flavor sounds good, but you’re craving a beer full of fruit flavor than look no further than the Cherry Kriek, or roughly translated the Cherry Cherry. A Belgian wheat ale is already good enough, infuse that beer with tart cherries and it adds a very unique flavor, and finally age that beer in oak barrels and you get a smooth beer packed with a cherry flavor that will keep you coming back for more. This beer has so many cherries that it actually changes the color of the beer to a dark red, but it still does not overpower the other great flavors in this beer. The wheat is still noticeable, as is the flavor of the yeast all brought together by the tartness and sweetness of the cherries. A truly one of a kind beer at a one of a kind brewery it is no wonder this beer is always on draught.
Coffee is a great drink on its own, and honey is a great ingredient on its own but sometimes it needs something to enhance it. Add some malts and hops and combine the two ingredients and you will find yourself enjoying the Paint it Black Stout. An incredibly dark beer with a surprisingly light body this is a beer any stout lover will enjoy. The sweetness of the honey cuts the bitterness of the coffee, and the malts only help to add another dimension of chocolate and caramel flavor. Add that with the great mouth feel that can only be experienced from a nitro tap and this stout hits so many great levels of flavor and texture that it might be hard to stop at one pint. But if you keep on drinking try one of the many other great offerings of smooth and delicious pale ales and IPAs, all so unique and smooth that they redefine what a pale ale and IPA really are.
It’s hard to believe that such a small brewery cannot only produce such high quality ales, but also keep such a large variety available for its customers. But with small batches, experimental recipes, and guests with the taste for adventure it really proves that anything is possible in the world of craft beers. With a rotating menu, and the classics always available it is no wonder that Strange has had no issue staying a local establishment. Sure it is hidden, and more of a destination than a drive by but every sip is worth it, and should be visited by anybody in Downtown Denver craving a high quality ale.
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