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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