Friday, May 31, 2013

Mountain Toad

Despite the fact that the small town of Golden has had a craft beer scene since 1993 it is still often viewed as a one brewery town thanks in large part to Coors. However in 2013 this town has seen more of a transformation to a craft beer town with the opening of two new microbreweries. The most recent opened their doors on Memorial Day weekend to greet the masses on Washington Street with their unique variety of ales. With a unique name to go along with it the newest microbrewery in Golden, Colorado is Mountain Toad Brewing a mix of home brewing and an idea to open a craft brewery realized and brought to life.
Located in a beautiful brick building the inside of this brewery is as colorful and lively as the beers it produces. The brick walls have been painted a bright green and yellow and paintings from local artist Jesse Crock are hung all around. The “L” shaped bar allows for guests to see all the barrels used throughout the brewing process, and also allows them to look outside on to Washington Street through the large windows. But the best part is the outdoor beer garden with picnic tables that allow guests to enjoy their beers in the great fresh air and with the wonderful scenery this town has. On top of the great environment Mountain Toad has created they had four great beers on tap when they first opened, and all of them are worth trying.
When it comes to something light and refreshing the first choice should be none other than the White Ranch Wit. A wheat beer slightly cloudy in appearance with a light body, but a full flavor. The addition of grapefruit rind adds a tart bitterness, and the addition of orange blossom honey adds a subtle citrus note along with a slight sweetness. But the two ingredients together balance each other out and leave the beer with a nice citrus, bitter, sweet flavor with undertones of yeast from the style of beer. Combine that with a clean aftertaste and this is a very refreshing beer. Despite the rich color another lighter beer offered is the Apex Amber. A surprisingly light body with a subtle malt flavor is the first aspect of this beer that one notices. The slightly stronger hop flavor is what sticks around the longest including the aftertaste. While the hops do not overpower the beer they are noticeable and add a bitterness to the beer. Over all it finishes most clean with just a faint taste of the hops, but taking another sip is very easy of Mountain Toad’s lightest beer by alcohol content.
For the craft beer drinker that wants to taste the hops from beginning to end there is the Mount Zion IPA available. This is a very traditional IPA from the nice copper color to the full hop flavor. This is a very dry, bitter beer that leaves a lingering aftertaste, but it fades away quickly with a subtle sweetness that allows it to be continuously sipped. Not a complex beer, but instead a traditional straightforward beer that fans of the hops are sure to enjoy. So to start with a light beer it is only fitting to finish with a dark beer, and how about a dry Irish stout but with a unique twist on it? The beer of course would be the Ryrish, a Dry Irish Stout but with rye added to it. This beer has all the qualities that stout lovers will still enjoy, an aroma that is full of roasted coffee, and a body that only a traditional stout could have. But the rye adds a nice spice note to the beer that adds a nice depth of flavor, and makes this a very complex beer that will be enjoyed by stout fans, and fans of more unique, experimental beers.
When it comes to breweries in Golden there are usually two that are consistently mentioned, Coors and GCB. Even though they are brand new to the craft beer scene in this small town it won’t be long until Mountain Toad is part of the conversation of must try breweries in this mountain town. With four great, and unique beers on tap plus more seasonal to come this is a place that will quickly have a large set of regulars, and a influx of new customers on a consistent basis. So when walking around Golden visit the brick building on the corner of 9th and Washington, and taste the quality being hand crafted inside.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Arvada Beer Co.

About 10 miles west of Denver and 10 miles east of Golden lies a small suburb that is surrounded by two rich craft beer communities. The suburb of course is Arvada which had a well known brewpub but never a microbrewery to call its own. That wasn’t until a corner building from 1916 in the historic old town part of Arvada became occupied and the first microbrewery in Arvada became a reality. With eight to ten beers on tap all named after historic landmarks, a friendly staff, and the local history this is Arvada Beer Company.
For a new microbrewery in a small town the tap room is surprisingly large with about 150 seats to accommodate their 14 taps. The windows allow great light to penetrate the taste room, and the outdoor patio allows guests the option to enjoy their great beers in the fresh air. Old bags of malt and grains hang from the ceiling, and there is a television behind the bar to keep guests entertained. But being in Old Town Arvada in such a historic building this brewery does a great job of bringing the history to life with the staff’s ability to educate guests on the history of this small town. In addition with beers named after historical landmarks of Arvada from as early as 1850 it provides a little insight to Arvada while enjoying your beer, the only question is which beer to try first.
At a brewery with anywhere from 8-12 beers on tap regularly it is important to start light and at ABC that starts with the Water Tower Wheat. A straw colored Bavarian Wheat that has all the classical flavors one would expect from this style but with a more subtle flavor profile. The light body has a clean taste with a very subtle hint of banana and clove, and finishes very clean. Not as strong of a flavor as similar styles but it has just enough to make you want to take another sip. For something really refreshing and enjoyable there is also a Shandy where the Water Tower Wheat is mixed with lemonade to create a truly refreshing beer with a great acidic, tartness where the banana and clove still shines. Truly refreshing and a more unique beer on the microbrewery level, either way both styles are a must try.
For something more dark, with slightly more body there is the 59’er, a dark German lager or Schwarzbier. Not only is this the beer that brought Arvada Beer Company to life from home brewing to professional brewing but it is one of the best beers on their extensive tap list. This is a very complex beer that remains balanced, but still manages to allow each flavor profile to shine. The malts provide both a roasted flavor and smooth mouth feel and the bitterness from the hops balances it all out creating a well rounded lager. Combine that with a clean aftertaste and this turns into a very refreshing beer that makes you crave another sip. Now of course a Colorado brewery wouldn’t be complete without a hop forward beer and that would be the Colorado State Fair Bronze Medal winner Goldline IPA. This beer is brewed with five different hop additions and then dry hopped with another three and the end result is a dry, bitter beer that fans of hops will love.
Despite being in a small community in between two major beer towns Arvada Beer Company has cemented their place in the craft beer industry. As part of the redevelopment of historic Old Town this brewery has shortly established themselves not only with high quality delicious beers, but with a friendly staff, and clientele to go along with it. Although they are currently the only microbrewery in this suburb along with a brewpub it is worth the trip to Arvada just to try their beers. So whether it be at a festival, or a destination trip make Arvada Beer Company a destination, you will not be disappointed.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

A Year of Caution

It’s hard to believe that it was May of 2012 when on the border of the Denver in the Stapleton area a microbrewery finally opened its doors to the masses. Tucked away in a small set of office buildings surrounded by large warehouses this destination brewery isn’t the easiest to find but once inside the friendly staff and unique beers making all the searching worthwhile. Now in May 2013 it is time for this start up brewery to celebrate their first anniversary and on May 18 the celebration of their tap room will be a day of festivities at Caution Brewing in Denver, Colorado.
Those that already go to Caution are familiar with the unique beers that owners Danny and Betty Wang serve on a regular basis. Beers like the Lao Wang Lager, Toasted Black Bat Porter, and Snake Hug Red Chile Ale are all so original and could only be found here. But for the first anniversary this small brewery is pulling out all the stops and hosting a 16 tap takeover that add plenty of more original beers that Danny is known for. So what’s on tap? On top of all the flagship beers offered there will be several new ones of all different styles that appeal to the craft beer drinker in all of us. Included in this list will be a Oatmeal Cinnamon Stout, Juniper Berry Double IPA, Gluten free saison with lemongrass, a Mango Blonde Ale, a Chocolate Hefeweizen, plus many more.
Besides the abundance of beers that will be available there will be plenty available at the tap room to keep all the guests entertained. On top of the great food trucks that will be there Caution will also be hosting Redline Radio for some live music. To cap off a great American Craft Beer Week American Craft Beer Radio will be doing a live broadcast from 12-1. But the biggest and most exciting announcement of all will come from the owners themselves. After a year at a small location and tap room Caution will be announcing that they are opening up a second location, the only issue is we all have to wait to find out where.
With the ever growing craft beer scene in Colorado it is safe to say that all these breweries might not make it to celebrate their one year anniversary. Then there are these really small ones that are so off the beaten path with a loyal customer base that before you know it have already been in business a year and are allowing the same loyal customers to celebrate. That is the case at Caution where high quality, unique beer mixed with two very friendly owners have created a nice establishment for themselves within the crowded Denver beer scene. With a growing tap list of unique beers, a growing customer base, and soon to be new location it makes us excited to see where this small brewery is by the time they turn two.
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Friday, May 10, 2013

South Denver Beer Fest

About 30 minutes south of Denver lays the small suburb of Littleton, Colorado. While this small town does lay claim to a brewpub and have a couple microbreweries in the works it is often overlooked and not mentioned as a craft beer town. That all changed on May 4th and 5th when over 60 breweries from around Colorado and the rest of the country gathered at Clement Park to pour their craft beers to the masses. This was at the inaugural South Denver Beer Fest, a two day festival that celebrated some of the best craft beers, ciders, and meads from all around the country.
Contrary to other beer festivals in smaller towns this had a wide open space to enjoy the festivities. Away from the chaos and lines there was plenty of park space to walk away and enjoy the all the craft beer around. So with the Rocky Mountains in the background and a sample cup in hand we set off to find some great beers, and ciders. What we did find were an eclectic mix of both unique and original beers including some sours, and classical beer flavors throughout the day. Here is a recap of some of our favorites.
From Boulder, Colorado comes one of the newest brewpubs in that area Fate Brewing, and with that came their interpretation of a traditional Kolsch Style Ale. A light crisp ale with a sweet malty base, a light hop note from the noble hops. A golden color ale that is light and refreshing year round but a great beer for warm weather, but to make it unique for the summertime this new brewery added watermelon to it to create a totally unique beer. This adds a very subtle fruit flavor but balances out the whole beer and adds a unique flavor that keeps you craving more. The hops and malt flavor are not lost, and the watermelon adds the perfect taste during these warm spring and summer months. Without any hesitation this one of the most unique and refreshing beers poured at the festival.
From a classical beer with a fruity twist to a unique beer altogether was the Raspberry American Sour Ale from Loveland Ale Works. This style of beer that is not easy to come across was a traditional sour but with the addition of raspberries it added a whole new dimension of flavor to this beer. The mouth puckering sourness was the prominent flavor but it did not overpower the strong aroma and flavor of raspberries. The natural tartness and sweetness of the fruit added a great flavor followed by the sour of the beer. A very unique and flavorful beer worth trying at festivals or in their tap room during the summer making it one of the best aged beers at this inaugural festival.
Now unique and experimental beers aside there were also plenty of more traditional style beers to choose from at this festival and pointing one favorite was not possible due to the abundance of various styles. For fans of the Belgian style ales Elevation Beer Co. from Poncha Springs was there pouring the newest addition to the black diamond series, the Third Base Tripel. Red Ales were available in abundance but the nothing was better than the red from Bierwerks in Woodland Park. Of course a beer festival in Colorado wouldn’t be the same without the hoppy beers, and the best one available was the Colorojo from Wynkoop in Denver.
With the beer festival season officially upon us now there could not have been a better way to start than at the South Denver Beer Fest. With the beautiful scenery of the Rocky Mountains, great weather, and most importantly an abundance of high quality beers to choose from this brand new festival will become a great addition to the Colorado beer scene in years to come. With the beer scene growing in this small suburb the festival should also continue to grow, and become one of the more sought after ones with each passing year.
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Friday, May 3, 2013

Yak and Yeti

About 10 miles west of Denver along I-70 lies the small town of Arvada, Colorado. Typically this is a town that most people would drive by and not stop at but within this small suburb lies a small craft beer culture. This is no truer than right outside the historic old town part of Arvada sits a small Nepalese restaurant where they also happen to brew their own beer on sight. With many different styles to choose from and unique flavors not seen elsewhere this small brewpub is the Yak and Yeti.
After finding this brewpub which looks more like a house than a restaurant you are instantly transported to Nepal on the interior. The brewing equipment is visible through a glass window behind the host stand but everything else is traditionally decorated to fit the theme. The bar top is lined topped with marble and above guests are papered lanterns of various color. Comfortable booths line the walls around the bar, and just to the left lies the beer list. With eleven different styles of beer to choose from the decision can be overwhelming, but thankfully head brewer Adam Draeger offers a great variety of both traditional beers and unique beers with more experimental flavor profiles.
For fans of fruit beers, gluten free beers, and very unique beers then there is the GF Apple Ale, a gluten free apple beer. A light, golden colored ale that has one flavor profile and that is apple. The aroma is more subtle but it makes you want to try it, but the taste is where the apple comes through. The beer has a strong flavor but is balanced out by the grains and hops that the apple does not overpower the beer or make it too sweet like a cider. It finishes very clean and is so interesting and unique that another sip is necessary. A great beer that will appeal to any sort of beer drinker, and a must try when at this brewpub.
Going from light to dark but still staying along the same lines of a unique beer is their version of a stout which happens to be a milk stout. But unlike most stouts that have a natural coffee flavor this one is enhanced with spices that can also be found in Chai Tea. A rich, dark beer with a thick tan head the spice notes come through strong in the aroma. The flavor however is a very complex beer that is full flavored, and well balanced. The chai tea spices are the prominent flavor with great notes of cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and star anise but are mellowed out by the sweetness of the milk sugars also in the beer. All this with the full body of a stout and it creates a well balanced beer, and their best selling beer come winter time. Although this beer is perfect for the colder months it is a must try anytime you are in there.
For fans of more traditional beers there are still plenty to choose from here, and at the same time make sure fans of the hops don’t leave dissatisfied. The Himalayan IPA is a traditional IPA with a rich copper color that is full of the hops flavor people have come to expect. But contrary to most IPAs on the market this one came with a subtle sweetness that brought out the pure flavor of the hop without all the bitterness commonly found in this style. The aftertaste was strong but not so overpowering that you did not want to continue drinking it. For fans of a more subtle hops flavor there is a traditional Pilsner on tap as well. With a light straw color and prominent but not strong hop profile this beer is very traditional and one that is very easy to enjoy.
Sometimes craft breweries and brewpubs in Colorado come from the most unlikely areas. While Arvada is a well known suburb with a microbrewery established finding a brewpub within a Nepalese restaurant is probably the least expected place to find craft beer. However don’t let the menu or style of cuisine at the restaurant deter you from experimenting as it will be some of the most surprising and tasty beer you will find. Whether you are a fan of traditional or experimental beers there is something for everybody at Yak and Yeti. All to d now is head west of Denver to Arvada and try for yourself.
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