Typically when microbreweries are mentioned the first question people ask is what kind of beers do they make? The answer is more often than not either German or Belgian style ales, with a mix of microbrewery standards like a fruit ale, and IPA. But in 2012 a brewery opened that does not serve any German styles, Belgian styles, or even have an IPA on their tap list. In the Sloan Lake and West Highlands area lies a small brewery serving traditional English style ales both on tap and from the traditional cask serving system. Even the name of the brewery is English, Hogshead a term of measurement used in England.
After taking over an old car service station the transformation for Hogshead began and the structure is the only thing that reminds you of what used to house this now brewery. The garage windows are still there but behind them now lie the 10 barrel brewing system that is used visible to guests through a doorway. A rustic wood bar top lets you sit and enjoy the neighborhood scenery through the large glass windows that surround the taste room. Picnic tables are around the outside to enjoy your beer on the patio. While the décor is minimal, the beer is bold, flavorful, and everything that one would expect from a pub in London and the only question is which one to try first.
When it comes to English style ales, one type comes to mind first and that is an ESB, and after one sip at Hogshead it is clearly obvious why the Chin Wag ESB is their signature beer. A medium color and complex aroma make this a very inviting beer to sip on, and even after the first sip this beer remains very complex. While the prominent taste after the first sip is malts, it quickly fades away to a hop finish with a slight bitterness. But there are more undertones of flavors within this beer. With each sip comes the rich flavor of toffee, and even a light, crisp flavor of orange. Despite the fact that these flavors are subtle they add a depth and complexity to this beer that makes it not only so unique but enjoyable as well.
Now if bitter beers aren’t your flavor and a light session beer is what you are craving then order a pint of the Lake Lightening, a year round Summer session ale. A light colored ale with a strong hop aroma, but subtle hop flavor. This beer is bitter, and leaves a lingering taste, and is also very dry on the tongue. For the dark beer lovers there is the Gilpin Black Gold, a traditional London Porter. A hearty body, and strong malt flavor make up the primary taste of this beer. However because the malts are roasted there are also flavors of coffee and nuts beneath the malts. A truly hearty beer that warms you up from the inside out and perfect for those cold, snowy days.
While all the beers out of a traditional CO2 keg are delicious the one thing that separates Hogshead from other breweries is the focus on bringing the tradition of London pubs to America. That is done through consistently offering cask conditioned versions of their ales which leaves the end product unpasteurized, unfiltered, and naturally carbonated. This occurs after the initial fermentation where a portion of the beer is transferred to a cask and allowed to ferment a second time. The end result is a more flavorful beer, that has a very creamy mouth feel due to the hand pull system, and it is also served at about 50 degrees making it much warmer. While it is not for everybody it is a unique, traditional way to taste a beer, and at the very least is worth trying. All three beers at Hogshead are available on cask, just as part of a rotation and each with a very complex flavor.
As the microbrewery expansion in Colorado continues to grow at an alarming rate the beers each offer are going to vary. At Hogshead the style of beer is a very unique change to Colorado, and something that has not been done before. Real English style ales served in two different ways, to create two different experiences for the same beer. A group of guys who love beer introducing Colorado to real ales out of casks, and at the same time not compromising the quality of the beer in the process. Whether it is a 10 ounce pour (sample size), 16 ounce (pint), or 20 ounce (proper pint) the beers at Hogshead are all very hearty, complex, full flavored, and do not disappoint.
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