Friday, August 30, 2013

Odd 13

It seems that more over the past year than ever craft breweries are leaving the large town scene and settling down into smaller towns. As recently as three years ago small towns like Frederick, Niwot, and Poncha Springs were only surrounded by craft beer towns that you had to drive to, but now they have benefited from the craft beer explosion and now all lay claim to a tap room. In 2013 the small town of Lafayette became a part of that list with not one, but two microbreweries opening up in this small town. One of them features a expansive tap list inspired by Belgian beers and IPAs and is Odd 13 Brewing.
Located just outside a neighborhood on a corner location the only way to describe this brewery is large and spacious. There is a large bar top that is accompanied by tables that can fit groups of all sizes. In addition there are games in the tap room to keep guests entertained. This leads to an outdoor area where there is a nice enclosed beer garden with picnic tables where guests can enjoy sitting outside, but are still blocked away from the road making it a quiet peaceful environment. Behind the bar is a shelf filled with glassware and an extensive menu that focuses on Belgian style ales, and hop forward IPAs. With two such diverse styles in so many different ways lining the taps, which one should be tries first?
With the IPA tap list being so extensive deciding which one to try first may not be easy, but there is one that combines the two styles of beer this brewery prides itself on. Of course that is a Belgian IPA that they call Professor Hops. With three different hops in this beer the aroma gives the impression that this is going to be a very hoppy beer, but after first sip you realize how complex of a IPA this really is. The hops are balanced out with refreshing citrus and herbal notes from the Belgian yeast strain, and there is also a hint of Brett yeast in this beer that adds complexities, and makes this a well rounded beer that is very easy to drink. For a more hop forward IPA there is Eric the Red, a Red IPA and also the most popular beer on the tap list at Odd 13. A sweet malty red ale is the base of this beer, but add three different hops including a dry hop with Mosaic and this beer is transformed. The hops dominate the aroma but the flavor is delicate with hints of tropical fruit. Combine that with the malty base of this beer and the end result is a dry, slightly bitter beer with hints of fruit and a tiny sweetness from the malts. Very complex and balanced with a fairly clean finish making it very drinkable, and very enjoyable.
The list of Belgian beers on the tap list is just as diverse and interesting, and it starts with a petite saison known as Doctor Cougar. Coming in at only 4.5 percent alcohol this is a great session beer that has a very pale color and delicate flavor profile. The yeast and subtle hop flavor are the prominent notes within this beer, but they are very balanced and do not overpower each other. The finish is very clean, making this a easy to drink beer that is very refreshing. For something strong within the Belgian family of beers reach for the Succubus, a Belgian Golden Strong Ale coming in at 9.7 percent. Rich and golden in color this is a very complex beer full of layers of flavors. The yeast strain gives off a bright fruit flavor that is balanced out by the bitterness of hops. In addition to that there is a hint of spice that makes this beer very unique and complex. Very refreshing for a strong beer, and so unique that it is a must try.
With a tap list that showcases the diversity within two classic styles of beer Odd 13 has made it easier to introduce beer drinkers to new styles of beer. Combine that with a friendly staff, spacious tap room that still feels intimate enough to talk to other guests, and a great outdoor patio this is a new microbrewery that is a must visit. So when looking for a new beer to try, or a new brewery to visit do yourself a favor and break away from the large towns and visit a small town brewery. Odd 13 in the small town of Lafayette is great reminder that some of the best beers come in the places you least expect to find them. 

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Front Range

Just east of Boulder and south of Longmont, two craft beer rich communities, lays Lafayette, Colorado, a small town that has a real local sense about it. So, when Chris Dutton, an avid home brewer, and Will Boggs a seasoned restaurant worker had the software company they were working for bought out they decided to return to their first love. Combine that with sourcing as many ingredients like grains and hops locally as possible and partnering with neighboring independent restaurants and you get the first microbrewery in Lafayette. Serving a great variety of beers that are globally inspired this is Front Range Brewing Company.
Located off South Boulder Road in the Lafayette Marketplace, the sign indicates where you need to go, but walk slightly towards the back past several small restaurants and you will be greeted with a microbrewery. Walking in to the brewery the bar is towards the back so greeting you is all the wonderful brewing equipment including an abundance of barrels that lead you to the bar top, tables, and small beer garden outside. The bar top is lined with bottle caps from breweries all around the world, and hanging on the walls are artwork from all the beers offered. This is a very spacious tap room that is also very inviting to drink a couple beers, but with a globally inspired tap list, which ones to try?
With diversity in style of beers, one of the first styles to try at Front Range are those inspired by Belgium, starting with the Ginger Saison. Very traditional to style with its light body, bright acidity, and effervescence the beer has added depth of flavor due to the addition of ginger. The spice that the ginger brings rounds out the entire beer making it both complex but very well rounded. The prominent flavor does not overpower and the beer remains balanced, refreshing, traditional, and finishes clean making it a very enjoyable version of a classical beer. For something a little on the lighter side but just as refreshing, is Walter’s Lemon Witte. A very traditional Belgian White ale with coriander and lemons peeled by hand, this beer is simply refreshing and perfect for hot summer days. With flaked oats added to the beer it creates a smooth mouth feel that finishes just the same making this a very enjoyable, thirst quenching beer. Also available for wheat based beer lovers are the High Plains Wheat, an American style and the Colorado Sunset Kolsch a German style.
For something slightly darker in color but still a light and enjoyable beer is the ALTitude Red Ale, a unique variation of a traditional German Altbier. The prominent flavor in this beer is the strong malt flavor, but unlike traditional altbiers this particular one is lightened up slightly. The hops in this beer are Amarillo and El Dorado which impart a brightness and subtle fruit flavor to make this beer lighter in body, refreshing, and more unique in terms of taste. In addition of regular beers on tap there is the TrHOPical IPA, and an Imperial Milk Stout, but being such a new brewery it is impressive to already have a barrel program in place. From Rocky Mountain barrels, this new brewery has barrels of all sorts ranging from bourbon to tequila, and often you will see split batches in these barrels for some great experimental beers.
Friendly staff, diverse beer selection, and most importantly good high quality beer with a relaxing tap room, which is exactly what Front Range Brewing Company has already established in their short time being open. To have so many different styles and do them all well is a testament to the pride the brewers take in their product, and the friendly staff makes guests feel welcome from the moment they walk in. With only time to grow, this brewery will have a great mix of both traditional and experimental beers that guests will be rushing to sample. So when heading north of Denver stop by this small town and experience its growing craft beer scene for yourself, with the first microbrewery in Lafayette.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Engel Weisse

In the growing craft beer community within Colorado there are still styles of beer that are not very common, so to find one is a always a good thing. One of those styles is the Berliner Weisse, a very light and sessionable sour wheat beer originally from Berlin. Of course, being in Colorado, these classical beers are often reinterpreted and modernized to bring out an even more complex flavor profile. This is exactly the case in Poncha Springs, Colorado where Elevation Beer Company brewed a Berliner Weisse but allowed it not only to ferment but also age in oak barrels. To make it truly Colorado it is named after the Angel of Mt. Shavano which overlooks the brewery and has a truly local name, Engel Weisse. After acquiring a couple of bottles here are our thoughts on this very unique beer.
 Coming in at 4 percent alcohol and only 4 IBUs it was already known that this was going to be a very light, crisp beer. Due to the size of this bottle, at 1 pint and 9.4 ounces a large stein was the vessel of choice, and after an aggressive pour, this beer was a true beauty. A cloudy gold color made up the body of the beer, and a vibrant white foam made up the head which faded away quickly. This was a very effervescent looking beer full of carbonation. Once the head settled a little bit it was time to get a feeling for the aroma which was complex, but simple. The primary aroma was the wheat, but there were also subtleties of oak. In addition, this beer had a brightness and hint of fruit in the aroma. With an aroma so complex this is one beer I could not wait to take a sip of.
After the first sip, this is a beer that lived up to its style and was very authentic. It had a light effervescent body that was very carbonated to compliment the flavor. While wheat was the primary aspect of the aroma, the main flavor profile was a bright acidity with a subtle hint of fruit, which is the nature of sour beers. While there was a strong sour note to this beer, it was well complimented and slightly muted by the other flavors going on, mainly the oak. The barrel being used for this beer was originally a bourbon barrel and the Engel Weisse was the second beer to go into it. To ensure that a beer this delicate was not overpowered by bourbon they were rinsed out and the only flavor extracted during fermentation and aging was the oak. It added a very great flavor in addition to the sourness, and also created more of a complex mouth feel that added depth to the beer. The aftertaste of this beer was very clean making it very easy to sip on and drink from beginning to end.
With a lineup of great beers already established to their name the Engel Weisse at Elevation Beer Company is a great addition. With so many complexities and flavors going on this relatively unknown beer has been given a modern update, but has stayed true to the original style. Within this one bottle is a beer that will cater to fans of multiple styles. So whether you are a fan of traditional German ales, barrel aged beers, or sours, the Engel Weisse will appeal to a wide array of craft beer drinkers. So when in search of something refreshing and sessionable to drink look no further than the most recent addition to Elevation’s Double Black Series, and see why this small brewery continues to impress with every new release.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Stapleton Tap House

Living in Colorado the craft beer scene is becoming overwhelming. To go along with that it is becoming increasingly difficult to visit all these tap rooms, and try all the new great beers coming out. With over 180 already open in the state, and more on the horizon, the challenge to taste these breweries is going to become even more difficult. Thankfully there are now businesses opening that are making it easier to try more Colorado craft beers, and most recently that occurred in Denver where a craft beer bar recently opened their doors. With 30 different taps from 30 different Colorado breweries this is the Stapleton Tap House.
Located by the movie theatre within the Northfield Shopping Center, this is a small but welcoming bar to visit. Owned by husband and wife team Michael and Diana Kearns they have managed to create a modern, but spacious environment. With a decent sized bar to go along with all the tables, this is a great place to enjoy beers either alone or with a large group of people. Add the friendly staff into the mix and this becomes an easy destination to find. But of course the main reason to make a visit is for the beer, and there is plenty to choose from.
Not only is the tap list extensive, featuring 30 different breweries, but the featured breweries are ones that will not be found at many other bars and ones that will take some searching to find in a liquor store. In addition, the featured breweries are from all areas of the state. Some of which include Elevation Beer Co. and Telluride Brewing from the southwest, Grimm Brothers and Funkwerks from up north, and of course some great Denver breweries as well like Caution, Strange, and the iconic Wynkoop. With such a diverse group of breweries occupying the tap lines the beers being offered were just as diverse and this is truly a place where there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The styles of beer being served are just as diverse as the breweries available, but hands down the most popular style on these tap lines is the IPA. On opening weekend there were plenty to choose from all in varying styles. This was led by the Escape to Colorado IPA from Epic Brewing Company, but also featured were Breakfast Grapefruit IPA from Strange, First Cast from Elevation, and a Double IPA from Telluride. But all styles were available including the Worthog Stout from Bootstrap Brewing in Niwot, the Tropical Saison from Funkwerks, Bitter from Pateros Creek, along with many other hard to find and lesser known breweries.
With a great location, and very diverse selection the Stapleton Tap House is a great location for the biggest fan of craft beer and those who are new to trying it. Within the confines of one building they have managed to create a visitor center of what makes Colorado great. Combine that with reasonable prices including $1 taster options, a friendly staff, and relaxed atmosphere this is an obvious choice to experiment with new beer styles to try. So, when looking for a new beer to try, swing by the Stapleton Tap House and toast the best of Colorado craft beer from the comfortable confines of one location.

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Avery XX

In 1993 when the craft beer scene in Colorado was still very young and microbreweries were few and far between one opened their doors in Boulder, Colorado. The goal was simple: to create high quality ales and lagers that are not only traditional but also unique that show creative and bold flavor profiles. Several beers later including year round, seasonal, barrel aged, and limited releases to go along with several awards this brewery is preparing to turn 20 years old, and it is just as popular as ever. Still an iconic destination for craft beer fans when in Boulder; this is Avery Brewing at the two decade mark.
With a $40 presale ticket you will be part of a great festival located at the tap room where all these great beers have been made for twenty years. Not only will it get you a great barbecue spread, live music from both the Matt Flaherty Band, and Roots and Rhythm but the celebration is about two decades of great beer, and with your admission you will get to choose six different ones to try. Not only does that include the beers available year round, and some of the tap room exclusive beers, but what about some of the beers from the cellar of owner Adam Avery? All Avery beers but some that have been again for ten years or more in all different styles from throughout the years. That alone makes this a can’t miss event, but if you are unable to make it then of course there is a special Anniversary Ale out as well. The 20th Anniversary IPA is available in bombers, and after acquiring a couple of bottles here is what we thought of this milestone ale.
Coming in at 20 degrees plato and 9.7 percent ABV this is a true example of an Imperial IPA. After a large pour from the 22 ounce bomber into a traditional pint glass this beer had a rich copper color with a vibrant white head sitting on top of it. The aroma of this beer was very strong and complex, with the hops being very prominent on the nose. To make the aroma even more complex there was also a strong note of citrus on the nose. With so many complexities going on in the aroma this was a beer I could not wait to take a sip of, and the taste of this Anniversary Ale was definitely worth celebrating.  
The taste of this beer was very similar to the aroma, but with more complexities. The primary flavors were bitterness from the hops along with a bright acidity and citrus flavor. The two balanced each other out but the flavors still came through, and that was all complimented by a very dry mouth feel with each sip. Through it all the most prominent flavor was the citrus that was also balanced out by a tiny amount of sweetness from the grains. That only helped to give this beer so many layers of flavor with bitterness, acidity, tartness, and sweetness all in one sip.
Now of course the aftertaste of a beer dictates a lot, especially if it will be one sip or the entire bottle, thankfully in this case the aftertaste makes drinkers want to the entire bottle. As a whole the aftertaste is clean but it has only the slightest lingering flavor. The hop flavor fades away very quickly making another sip very easy to take, but there is a lingering very subtle aftertaste reminiscent of melon which is so unique you keep taking sips to make sure that is in fact what you are tasting. All in all this was a very complex beer that had layers of flavor and a lot of depth, and one that beer drinkers of all types would find enjoyment in. After 20 years of high quality ales Avery went all out for this year’s special release, and now it is time to enjoy the celebration and raise a glass to congratulate Adam. Of course and wait to see what awaits us for number 21.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Best of IPAs

With so many breweries in the United States there is one style of beer that remains a constant on tap lists everywhere, and that is the IPA. Those pale ale variations that make hops the front and center ingredient, allowing drinkers to taste all the subtleties within this plant. This is a style of beer where the flavor profiles are endless, all because of a small plant added during the boil of the beer. They can be floral, dry, bitter, and have a strong note of citrus. The possibilities are endless due to the amount of varietals there are available. To go along with the amount of hops available, the amount of styles of IPA seem to be as endless, and in Colorado that is the case. So, here are some of the best IPAs available throughout the Mile High State.
First Cast IPA: Elevation Beer Co., Poncha Springs, CO. This is easily the most traditional IPA on the list and it is a beer like this that proves you don’t need to be experimental, because it is very simplistic but very refreshing. A traditional copper color with three different hops including Chinook and Summit, but it is the third hop varietal that makes this beer so unique, and that is the Zythos hops which is a new strain. The Zythos not only adds a hint of citrus but a pine flavor that compliments the bitterness of the other hops. Extremely simplistic, but with a very complex flavor First Cast defines what a traditional IPA should be and is easily one of the best in Colorado.
Nebula Belgian Black Double IPA: Odyssey Beerwerks, Arvada, CO. There is only one word to describe this beer and that is complex, and as far as IPAs are concerned this is one that will be enjoyed by fans of multiple styles of beer. While it is still a hop forward ale with four different hops in the final product, it is much more complex and well rounded. In addition to the four hops, there are also six different types of malts that add a subtle sweetness to balance out the bitterness. To cap it all off, this beer is fermented using a Belgian style yeast strain. The end result? A full flavored ale that has sweetness, a great yeast flavor, subtle citrus, but most importantly a strong hop flavor to remind us that we are in fact drinking an IPA, and not only one of the most unique, but also most flavorful in Colorado.
Farmhouse IPA: Hall Brewing Co., Parker, CO.  A farmhouse style IPA from a brewery that does not have a tap room, instead only distributes bombers to local liquor stores, is hands down the most balanced IPA on the list. Slightly darker in color than most traditional IPAs this style brings forward the flavor of the hops, but it does not overpower the beer like in so many others. The malts create a great foundation that provides a subtle sweetness for this beer, and the hops true flavor comes out with each sip. There are hints of floral and citrus flavors with each sip, all of which can be attributed to the hops, but there is very little bitterness that are common for IPAs.  Finish it with a very clean aftertaste and this is one of the easiest drinking IPAs, but the most balanced in the area.
Hoptree IIPA: Lone Tree Brewing, Lone Tree, CO. With eleven different hop additions, and a solid malt foundation this is without a doubt the hoppiest beer on the list. With a floral and citrus based aroma it leads into a bright citrus taste that is full of complexities. The malt flavor of the beer is there only as a foundation, but with each sip you taste the hops in various levels. The true flavor is prominent, and in this beer’s case it is mostly citrus. Along with that the bitterness is just as prominent to create balance, and more depth of flavor. This beer does not finish clean at all leaving a bitter aftertaste that fades away quickly making this a beer that should be enjoyed slowly, but that only gives you that much more time to enjoy it. This beer is for the IPA fan who cannot get enough hop flavor, making it not only one of the hoppiest but one of the top IPAs in Colorado.
It is often said that when it comes to craft beer there are no rules, and that is the case with the above list of IPAs. When the same style of beer is made and reinterpreted four totally different ways, you get four equally delicious beers, but all for different reasons. Whether it be a new and unique hop strain, a different yeast strain, balancing the flavors, or pushing the envelope with the amount of hops in the beer the possibilities are endless. Regardless of flavor profile or color IPAs are an extremely popular beer, and with so many available on the market there is one for everyone to enjoy.

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