Saturday, March 30, 2013

West Flanders

When it comes to breweries in Colorado one things always reigns true, everyone has a different story. Whether it is one person following their dream, a change of career, or turning a hobby into a profession they are all different. But what about when two brothers opened a New Orleans style brewpub in 1996 with the help of a brew master, and when ownership changed they went their separate ways but the dream of a new microbrewery did not. Then 13 years later in 2009 the dream was brought up again with a new restaurateur and the plan was coming to life. Finally in 2012 the dream was realized when the brewery opened their doors on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado and now craft beer lovers in this community can enjoy the offerings at West Flanders.
After walking through the crowds of Pearl Street into West Flanders the friendly greeting makes one comfortable and relaxed in this small location. Being in a small location the environment feels very industrial where every inch of space was needed to create the craft beers the serve. The small upper level is full of table but at the bar is where customers will want to pull up a seat. Behind the rows of tap handles lie rows of tanks all showing which beer is stored in them. Directly above guests lie all the glassware hanging below their menu with all traditional tulip glasses indicative of the Belgian beers served here. Photos of Boulder scenery and brewing equipment line the wall opposite of the bar bringing both the local landscape and craft beer into one place. The environment is great and exciting, now to decide which beers to try.
West Flanders has a variety of beers but some of the most unique ones available are the Belgian style ales. For starters there is the St. Mark’s Dubbel, a dark red ale that is full of flavors and balance. A very sweet, caramel flavored beer that has a nice amount of hop additions that are there just to balance the beer out. A very traditional Belgian style ale that is very refreshing and easy to enjoy. Also available is another traditional Belgian ale and that is the Trippel Lutz. Despite the pale, wheat color this is a very full flavored beer. A nutty aroma leads into a crisp, tart, almost fruity taste with a slight nut flavor as an undertone. The slight bitterness from the hops is a welcome addition to create balance and it makes this beer very well rounded and enjoyable. Now for something really unique that brings together the best of Belgian beers but with a unique twist try nothing other than the Angry Monk. This ale has all the qualities that one would love in a Belgian beer but with flavors that are not standard. With a strong flavor of both banana and licorice this beer has a flavor profile that is far from the normal. The effervescence stays true to the Belgian style beers. Very unique and very refreshing this is a beer that is worth trying.
If you are not a fan of Belgian beers but still want a great brew there are other house made offerings at West Flanders. One of the other unique beers available is the Woodshed Smoked Porter, made with Beechwood smoked malts. Now unlike most porters this particular one does not have the typical roasted coffee flavor that one would expect to find in this style. Also this beer is slightly lighter in color being dark brown instead of black, but the most important aspect of this beer is the flavor. The beer is still full bodied but remains very smooth. The smoke flavor while present is very subtle and does not overpower the other flavors; instead it acts as a compliment to all the other delicious malt flavors. All this is finished with a smooth, clean aftertaste that makes this beer feel very light, and easy to enjoy sip after sip. Now if Belgian beers are not what you are after, but a English style ale instead than thankfully there is something for you at West Flanders, the Es Bueno their take on a traditional ESB. Again this is a very balanced beer that is copper in color and has a nice sweetness from the caramel malts used in the brewing process. Combine that with the combination of both American and English hop varieties and the bitterness balances out the sweetness but the two flavors work together in harmony. The end result? A very enjoyable beer that fans of both malts and hops will enjoy.
In spite of the ever growing beer scene in Boulder, Colorado there are breweries that still manage to create such high quality ales that they are able to separate themselves from all their competition. West Flanders was able to do that with their traditional and experimental take on primarily Belgian style ales. Combine that with beers that are common and popular and it is a recipe for success. To top it all off they are in one of the most popular places in Boulder on Pear Street surrounded by other dining options. So when in Boulder walking along the Pear Street mall walk a little further to a tiny brew pub, and enjoy what West Flanders has to offer.
Is there a brewery you want us to visit or a special beer we have to try? Let us know at

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