My calendar fills up fast. A combination of a love for socializing and an understanding that there is never “just one beer”, my nights and weekends fill up quickly. I’m also a bit obsessed with beer. It’s my life.
My schedule for the weekend was full of beer related activities, but I didn’t realize how packed with geekery and rarities it would be. My schedule included a beer release here, a quick stop at a house party there, and a brewery opening; there was nothing that spoke to the number of different beers – and sheer number of beers – I would imbibe. Actually, that’s a lie. I should have seen this coming.
Full disclosure: I intend for this “and then” tale to make you jealous and thirsty.
Friday started with a beer over lunch at Falling Rock. A tulip glass full of Avery’s 18th Anniversary, shared with a friend drinking a Great Divide Rumble, helped wash down our Johnny Cash burgers - 1/3 lb patty on Texas Toast topped with bacon, Cheddar Cheese, red onion and barbecue sauce. Back to the office we went, aglow with delicious beers shared under the ridiculously nice summer sun. The one block walk was a slow one.
Back in the office, a mere hour later, our office had a company wide meeting. The meeting closed with a command, a question, an answer, and a directive: “Denver, go crack open a beer” “Can we expense it?” “Yes” “PJ, go. Now.”
Sip, a liquor store a stone’s throw away in LoDo, has a great little beer selection. With the aid of a coworker, we hauled back a 12 pack New Belgium sampler, a 6 pack of Great Divide Hoss, a 6 pack of Upslope Pale Ale, an 18 pack of Bud Light (which no one bothered to open!), a bottle of Avery Mephistopholes, and a bottle of Russian River Supplication. This, friends, is how to do the 4pm office beer run correctly.
After work I headed home for a nap, and by home, I mean Star Bar, and by nap, I mean beer. AC Golden had three new beers on tap: a Saison, a Wild Ale, and a Russian Imperial Stout. The saison was solid. It wasn’t amazing, jaw dropping, or wait-in-line-able, but it was a solid brew. It’s a great base from which to jump off into wilder ideas, which Troy, the brewer, plans to do. The wild ale was delicious. It had a great pink hue and a slight tartness, and the 1/6bbl keg was kicked by 7pm. The stout was massive. I had a small 3oz pour, and could feel the warmth in every drop. At over 12%, this Russian Imperial Stout is a bear. Also on tap were Batch 19, Colorado Native, and Coors Light.
I know some people who won’t touch AC Golden, as they are owned by MillerCoors. I get it. I do. But, the beer is honestly worth a shot. We’ve all had the discussions about our hatred for BMC, and the theoretical question of “Well what if they made a good beer? Would you drink it?” Well the time has come to answer that question, because the good beer has arrived. Will you drink it?
While sipping on the stout, I had the chance to sit down with Scott Witsoe of the soon-to-be-new brewery Wit’s End Brewing Company. Wit’s End is nearing their opening date; they’re waiting on their city occupancy permit. The brewery, a 1 bbl system (31 gallons per batch), will be located near 2nd and Bryant, right across from Colorado Cider Company. Scott has been homebrewing for about 5 years, and was working a steady job until March, when he was laid off. It was a total surprise, but like many other new small breweries (Strange, anyone?), the timing was right: time to follow the dream and open a brewery.
Wit’s End plans to have 6 1bbl tanks, a small tap room, and a few quality taps around town. If and when things take off, Scott’s location has ample space to grow. Wit’s End is all about the “New American Brewing” style, not focussed on individual styles, as much as just making beers that taste great, says Scott. He plans to start things off with a Belgian Blonde and a Black IPA. Assuming nothing major goes wrong, Wit’s End will open in August.
It’s now 8:30pm. It’s now time for some Marquis Pizza on the stroll from Star Bar to the next stop. I was accompanied by Monica, of Marco’s Coal Fired Pizza fame, in a symbiotic walk-lean-walk amble.
Down the street at Translations Gallery, Brent’s Place, a charity that brings hope and community to children with cancer, was holding a fundraiser. The event included a bunch of local restaurants showcasing their favorite cocktails, and Black Shirt Brewing was pouring beer. Black Shirt Brewing is comprised of three wonderful people who met while serving at Duo Restaurant. Chad, Carissa, and Branden are extremely passionate and personable people, and with both brewing and serving experience, they’re going to do a great job selling their beer.
Black Shirt Brewing is planning a 4 bbl (124 gallons) brewery in Five Points. They were pouring their one and only batch so far, a dry hopped Red, and it was one of the best Reds I’ve had in a long time. More on them as their opening date – sometime late fall – gets closer.
In addition to Black Shirt’s Red, I was able to sample some of the other cocktails being served at the fundraiser. Mind you, we’re about 6 hours into the night at this point, so my recollection of what I tried is a little fuzzy. But I know it was delicious. Props to SALT, tucked away in the corner, for using Leopold’s New York Apple Whiskey and standing out in my mind. Monica proceeded to lecture me on art, cocktails and the skill it takes to not remember stuff.
Saturday was personal. Keep your hands to yourself. Let’s just say it included a lot of La Folie and fun in the sun.
Renegade Brewing opened Sunday. This new 15 bbl brewery is on 9th between Santa Fe and Kalamath. The place was packed for their opening day, with every table and stool occupied, and standing room only filling up the rest of the thankfully air-conditioned space. Renegade offered three different beers – Ryeteous IPA, 5 O’Clock, and Una Mas – some merch, and brewery tours for opening day. Manna Food Truck was outside filling empty stomachs as well. I only had time for one beer, but the Ryeteous, advertised at over 100 IBUs, hid the hops well and went down easy.
Brian O’Connell, his wife, and a small crew of help served the new brew hungry masses, gave tours, sold merch, and kept a smile going the whole time.
The last stop on the beer train was a beer geek get-together. This is the tour de force, the raison d’être, the “holy shit this is happening” of beer geekery. A few people who work in or around the service industry got together Sunday afternoon and pulled something special out of their cellars. These few, dubbed the Knights of the Round Table, included people like Matt and Brad of Freshcraft; Wil, currently of Freshcraft and formerly of Fruition; Myriam, formerly of Freshcraft; Casey of Argonaut’s; Andre of Mile High Wine & Spirits; Bryan of Great Divide; Jensen of Tag; and Anthony of various beer pathways. Everyone brought a few bottles from deep within their cellars.
We sat around, geeked out for about 6 hours, and drank an absurd amount of rare beers. Here are the ones we remembered after the fact:
- Jenlain – Blonde
- George Gale & Company – Millennium Brew
- Amager Bryghus – Sundby Stout
- Girardin 1882 (Black Label) – Gueuze
- Hanssens – Oude Kriek x2
- Dogfish Head – Fort 2008
- Deschutes – Jubel 2010
- Avery – Fifteenth Anniversary
- BFM Brasserie Des Franches – Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien
- The Bruery – Oude Tart
- Russian River – Perdition Batch 1
- Drie Fonteinen – Oude Geuze x2
- Cascade – Cuvee Du Jongleur
- Brouwerij De Landtsheer – Malheur 12 – 2008?
- Deschutes – Mirror Mirror 2009
- The Bruery – Trade Winds 2009
- The Lost Abbey – Carnevale Ale
- Ommegang – Biere De Mars 2009?
- Pretty Things – Baby Tree
- Deschutes – The Abyss – 2009
- The Bruery Provisions – Salt Of The Earth
- Defiant Brewing Co. – Belgian Style Tripel Ale
- Firestone Walker – Eleven Anniversary
- Founders – KBS
- Founders – Breakfast Stout
- Bells – Java Stout
- Cervesa Del Montseny – Lupulus
- Bells – Third Coast Ale
I hadn’t heard of a good portion of these, and hadn’t tasted most of them. And I never thought I’d chug a few gulps of something from Pretty Things, but when a bottle of Firestone Walker 11 comes around, you empty your glass.
I left beer soaked and happy, with a little heart burn from all the sours.
How was your weekend?
Tags: 5 o'clock, AC Golden, argonauts, avery, batch 19, beer, black shirt brewing, brent's place, colorado cider company, colorado native, Copper Kettle, Falling Rock, freshcraft, Fruition, great divide, la folie, manna, Mile High Wine and Spirits, millercoors, office beer, renegade, Russian Imperial Stout, ryeteous, Saison, scott witsoe, sip, star bar, strange, TAG, translations gallery, troy, una mas, weekend, wild ale, wit's end