Friday, February 22, 2013

De Steeg Brewing

As of the beginning of 2013 there were twenty two microbreweries in Denver alone. While most of these breweries are confined to the LoDo area there has slowly been an expansion to the Platte Valley, and even the borders of Denver. But through all of that one area has not housed a craft brewery of their own and that is in northwest Denver in the highlands neighborhood. But that all changed in February of 2013 when on the corner of 43rd and Tennyson a small microbrewery opened serving high quality ales and adding another fine brewery to the Denver scene, at De Steeg Brewing.
Finding this brewery is not easy, as it is not facing Tennyson Street. Instead it is a small building in an alley but be patient, the hunt for the brewery will be well worth it. Just look for the white building with the vintage black sign with a goblet on it, and take a walk inside. Inside you realize just how small of a brewery this is. There is a small bar area and tables scattered throughout the tap room. Behind the bar is a large chalkboard that shows al the offerings on tap that day, and the production is slightly visible with a view of some of the tanks they use. Still there is a very comfortable and welcoming feel as soon as you walk in and it makes you want to sit down and enjoy a beer, the only question is which one?
Often when a fruit beer is seen on a menu the same two fruits are commonly used and that is either cherry or raspberry. But how about a Pomegranate Acai Wheat? Ultimately this beer can be summed up in one word and that is refreshing, but there is so much more going on in this beer. The aroma is very light and while the fruity notes are visibly, the wheat is not lost in the smell. The body is extremely light and the flavor of the beers is very delicate, and subtle. While the pomegranate is the primary flavor it does not overpower the beer, and the notes of acai are still detectable. On top of that so is the wheat, and this is all finished off with a clean aftertaste that makes whoever is drinking it feel very refreshed and wanting another sip of this crisp, clean, complex, and light ale.
Also on the lighter side of things at De Steeg just minus the addition of fruit is their French Saison, a very unique beer for its style. A wheat colored beer that is slightly cloudy in appearance, and a complex aroma that had a slightly fruity note. But once again the flavor of this beer is very unique as it is not as acidic and tart as most of the other saisons. To go along with the light body of this beer the tartness is lacking due to the strong yeast flavor this beer has. There is still a slight tartness and citrus flavor that is an undertone to the yeast and adds more depth of flavor. The beer leaves only a small aftertaste but is still very refreshing and easy to continue sipping, but at 8.1 percent alcohol sip this delicious brew slowly and savor this light but hearty ale.
Now for fans of the dark beers there is not a stout or a porter available here yet, but instead an English Brown Mild Ale. A rich brown ale that has a malty and subtle nutty aroma it makes you want to take a sip almost immediately. At first sip it is realized that it is served out of a nitro tap so the creamy, smooth mouth feel is the first thing you will notice. The taste however is very unique, and nothing similar to other English styles. While the malt flavor is prominent it is not overpowering due to the light body and clean finish. There is also one extra dimension of flavor that one would never expect, and that is the slight tartness that is an undertone to the malts. The beer finishes very clean, and is very refreshing. Combine that with the nitro pour and this is a very well rounded beer that anyone will enjoy regardless of which style they prefer.
Despite being located in a small building behind Tennyson Street the challenge to find De Steeg Brewing is worth it after one sip of the beers being offered. With a comfortable and homey environment, mixed with a friendly bartender, and great beers this new brewery has already established itself as one of the great ones of Denver. Mix that with styles of beers we are all familiar with but with such unique flavors it makes for a great combination of beers available. So when deciding a brewery in Denver to visit give the LoDo scene a break and instead head to the Highlands and check out De Steeg.
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Friday, February 15, 2013

Hall Brewing

When it comes to microbreweries in Colorado there are a few towns that are always associated with the best craft beers around. Towns like Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs have always housed some of the original and most highly regarded microbreweries in the state. But north of Colorado Springs and south of Denver in the small suburb of Parker, Colorado a new microbrewery is creating fresh, high quality farmhouse ales in a variety of styles. On top of it they don’t even have a tap room for people to visit; instead they distribute bombers to liquor stores throughout the area or can be found on tap at various bars. All you have to do is look for Hall Brewing Company.
The brewery itself is located on a farm in Parker, Colorado and is made out of Colorado Beetle Kill pine giving the building a very rustic look. Located on a small farm they do much more than just create their own beer they also grow vegetables and their own hops. When they first started distributing their beers to liquor stores in January of 2013 they had three beers to choose from, and a short time later there were new styles being fermented. But out of the original three which included a farmhouse red, IPA, and stout it can be hard to choose exactly which one to try.
 The IPA pours as a rich copper color and has the hop forward aroma that one would expect from an IPA. The taste however creates a very unique taste that gives this typically bitter beer a whole new flavor profile. While the primary taste is the bitterness of the hops the beers itself is not as dry as most IPAs and has a complex flavor that is not often seen. While it still has a hop forward flavor it is not as strong as one would expect and there are a lot of complexities that make this such a well rounded beer. There is a subtle sweetness that helps to cut through the bitter taste from the hops and the combinations of all the flavors create an almost earthy taste. The aftertaste does last, but that will not stop anybody from taking more and more sips due to the depth of this ale. It is like an IPA you have never had before.
When it comes to red ales there are two kinds that beer drinkers are familiar with, an Irish Red and an Imperial Red. But what about a Farmhouse Red? The deep red color makes this look like a hearty beer but it has a surprisingly light and crisp body. The initial aroma and flavor is a strong malt flavor and that carries through to the aftertaste. There is also a slight bitterness to this beer through the hop additions. While this beer may not have the complex flavors that the IPA does it is still a great beer that has a strong flavor. The aftertaste is very clean and combine that with the full flavor of the beer the end result is a very enjoyable beer that is easy to sip from beginning to end.
Also available from Hall is a deep, rich, and dark Farmhouse Stout. After just the pour it is clearly obvious just how full bodied this beer will be by the dark brown, almost black color. After one sip that is validated with a rich, heavy beer full of flavor. The primary flavor is a roasted malt flavor that is reminiscent of coffee. This is complimented by a bitterness that helps to make the beer both complex and well rounded. There are so many levels of flavor that is finished with a faint aftertaste that only leaves you craving another sip. A strong beer that does take a while to drink but one so good that it makes it easy to drink and a beer any stout lover will highly enjoy.
Despite not having a tap room that has not stopped Hall Brewing from spreading the word of their beer, and ensuring it gets into the hands and pint glasses of those wanting to try it. Already selling 22 ounce bombers throughout the Denver metro area, and already on tap at local bars and restaurants it is clearly obvious that word of their beers is spreading fast. And to think that this is all happening in a small suburb of Denver where there isn’t a large craft beer scene. So when browsing the bombers at a liquor store or glancing over a tap list at a bar don’t overlook Hall Brewing Company.
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Friday, February 8, 2013

J Wells

Boulder, Colorado is a town rich in craft brewing history. Within such a small town there is the original Colorado microbrewery, one of the more iconic ones in the state, and there are more opening up on a regular basis. But while these breweries lay claims to be the original, iconic, environmentally friendly there aren’t many breweries that pride themselves solely on the quality of the beers they make. That was until James Wells name came up in the craft brewing scene and opened up a tap room of his own in Boulder, J Wells Brewery where as the slogan says it “Life’s too short for ordinary beer!”
Tucked away in a small warehouse on 49th Street this brewery is slightly off the beaten path. There is not a huge sign to attract visitors, so to go here is a destination. The inside is a very small tap room that is not highly decorated. There is a couch, tables, and a small bar top with a dart board, and board games to pass the time as you drink. Behind the bar and tap handles lies the open production area for all guests to see. Large bags of malts, the kegging equipment, and boil area are all visible giving guests a front row seat to see how the beers they are enjoying are made. When it comes to choosing a beer to drink the tap list is small but flavorful, and the quality is tasted in each style.
For fans of the light beer there is a classic American Pale Ale called Jamie’s Pale Ale. A light colored ale that has all the classic flavor profiles that one comes to expect in this particular style. A crisp aroma with a subtle hint of citrus leads into a light bodied ale. The subtle citrus aroma carries through to the flavor but still remains very faint, and there is only a hint of it. The primary flavor is the hops, and the bitter flavor they bring to this beer. While the dominant flavor of this beer is the hops the bitterness is not overpowering. The bitter flavor compliments the beer and the subtle citrus flavor and it all finishes with a clean aftertaste making enjoying a pint or two that much easier.
Now if more hops is what you want then there is the Hop Haze Imperial IPA registering at 9% alcohol and 120 IBUs. But once again while this beer does have a strong hop flavor it is not dominated by the hops and still remains a well rounded beer. Like with the pale ale there is a small hint of citrus in the aroma and in flavor. The hops are still prominent and the flavor bitter, but it is balanced out by the malt added to the beer. Not only does the malt cut the bitterness but it also adds body to the beer as well as a richness and slight sweetness. The aftertaste does linger from the hops but not so much that you don’t want to take another sip. A very unique IPA with a flavor complex flavor profile not often seen and a must try.
Of course a brewery needs to offer something dark, and at J Wells you get something that’s not only dark but also unique, and full flavored. A Chocolate Milk Stout. A rich dark stout that has all the familiarities one would expect to see. The rich, dark color, the full body, and the roasted flavor are all in this beer. However the addition of chocolate gives the beer more depth of flavor, as well as a richness, and sweetness that is not found in a typical stout. Also available is the Lights Out Stout, a more traditional stout that still has all the flavor profiles that one would expect, a full bodied beer with the roasted, coffee flavor expected with that style.
Despite the small tap list, and discrete location that should not stop anybody from paying a visit to J Wells Brewery. A onetime home brewer for many years that is now a part of the constantly growing craft beer scene in Colorado, but with one main difference. To be able to go to a microbrewery and interact with the owner and head brewer, and then to see just how passionate of a person James Wells is and how much he cares about the quality of his product. Then you taste the beers he makes and the quality comes through in each sip of each style. Even though this brewery is a little harder to find than most it is worth it and should be at the top of the list of Boulder area breweries to visit.  
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Friday, February 1, 2013

Lone Tree Brewing

About thirty minutes south of Denver lies the small suburb of Lone Tree, Colorado, a small town that is made up of large chain shops and restaurants. It used to be if one wanted a high quality craft beer here they would either have to go to a chain microbrewery or one of two mega sized liquor stores in the area. But in December of 2011 that all changed when friends John Winter and Jason Wiedmaier met for a couple pints and decided to become business partners. But what business? Of course it meant going into the craft beer business where and the end result is now Lone Tree Brewing Company.
Located in a small warehouse behind a row of popular furniture stores this brewery is not directly visible from the road and slightly off the beaten path. It almost makes one forget that they are in such a large corporate area, and inside you find yourself in a comfortable neighborhood brewery. A large seating area makes for an open brewery but one still small enough that you can converse with those around you and that is all surrounded by multi colored walls of subtle, earthy colors like yellow, orange, and green. The production area is not behind the bar like in most breweries, instead it is right next to the seating areas and across the tap room a chalkboard wall allows you to see exactly which beer is fermenting. Of course the end result is the beer and whether it is a flagship beer or a seasonal offering there are plenty of great ones to choose from.
For fans of the hops in there beers Lone Tree has two different styles that cater to the hop heads out there. For a mellower hop profile there is the award winning Outta Range Pale Ale. Various hop additions throughout the brewing process creates a more bold hop flavor than a typical pale ale. A very pine strong aroma makes this beer smell like the wilderness and that is followed with a complex flavor profile once it hits your tongue. A dry, bitter taste is the prominent flavor but then there are undertones of pine, and citrus to compliment it and create the complexity. The finish lingers only a little bit making taking another sip that much easier. Now if even more hops is what you crave then there is the Hoptree IIPA, a double IPA with eleven hop additions. A malt base creates a richness to the ale and the hop additions create a bitter, dry flavor that IPA lovers will thoroughly enjoy. A beer that takes a while to drink, but one that is full of complexity and richness that it is still a highly enjoyable IPA.
Now if hops aren’t the flavor profile you are after then there are plenty of more offerings to select from, and one of the best to try is the Acres O’ Green Irish Red. A deep red ale with a full body and a very straight forward malt flavor profile. This beer is very rich from all the malts but is not too heavy. The hop flavor is very subtle and creates only a light bitterness to cut through the malt flavor. With an extremely clean aftertaste this beer is very easy to enjoy time and time again. For fans of the light beers there Ariadne’s Blonde a Belgian style ale light in flavor and with a spice note from the addition of coriander. With a rich malt flavor, the spice note, and lastly the hops to balance the whole beer out it creates a finished product that is extremely refreshing and unique to its style. Medium, light, and of course there has to be a dark beer to finish off the night with and what better way to do that than by enjoying a Toot’s Oatmeal Stout? A traditional stout that is full of a great roasted barley flavor with hints of coffee and chocolate. The oatmeal creates a full body and rich mouth feel.
Sometimes the best breweries are the ones you stumble across accidentally. Who would of thought that in an area built around large corporations and chain stores that a small independently owned business would exist, and compete with a the large shops? Also to be able to do it a couple miles away from a large chain brewery. But with not only a wide variety but also with high quality ales, and a friendly staff to compliment the beers it is no wonder why Lone Tree Brewing has not only a large group of regulars but an ever growing new customer base. Next time you had a busy day of shopping and are thirsty swing by the intersection of County Line and Acres Green and stop by the tap room and taste the quality for yourself.
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