As many a St. Patrick’s Day and other generally unimaginative drinking t-shirts claim: “You can’t drink all day unless you start in the morning.”
However true this may be, since you’ve graduated from your wild college days and have henceforth been marching steadily into adulthood and real responsibilities, killing a keg before noon in the Alpha Gamma Whatever front yard while Chad, Blake, and Moose egg you on doesn’t come with the same luster at age 31 that it did at age 21. Nowadays, if you want to drink in the morning, you have to do so in a more mature manner; surround the alcohol with appropriate A.M. hors d’oeuvres such as bacon and coffee so that it’s an actual event, not just some jackass kid filling his gullet with as much Busch Light as humanly possible.
Thanks to Denver Beer Co.’s Beer, Bacon, & Coffee Fest (held from 9am to noon last Saturday), upstanding adults relived a toned-down, relaxed version of their undergrad, pre-lunch exploits with better beer than what you were used to in school and without descending into outright debauchery.
On a brisk-yet-tolerable Colorado morning, I arrived at the Denver Beer Co. taproom at 8:45am with girlfriend in tow and waited with barely-contained anticipation with the other early-birds. In most cases, a fifteen minute wait isn’t so insufferable but chef Justin Brunson and his Denver Bacon Co. crew were cooking up thick, meaty slabs on the patio and wafting enticing aromas through the crowd making it feel as if we were Tantalus being tormented with the out-of-reach dangling fruit. Except it wasn’t some lame-ass fruit; I can live without fruit. It was bacon which I cannot do without. Thus, we actually endured more tortures than the aforementioned Greek monarch.
Before we tore a hole through the wall, 9am rolled by and we were ushered inside. We received our tickets for a free breakfast burrito from Chile Billy and our souvenir coffee mugs in which all our libations would be served. I was sure to get a red mug one since I already had a yellow one from last year’s event.
Our beer choices were as follows:
Swineheitsgebot: This rauchbier aged on Denver Bacon Co. bacon sounds like it’d be really off-the-wall in terms of flavor but, in actuality, it’s a slightly smoky beer with a little bacon aroma mixed in. It’s an approachable beer made even better when paired with the obvious: bacon.
Red Eye: Another rauchbier, this one aged on black and red Chipotle peppers thus imparting a smoky and spicy flavor.
Rwanda Abakundakawa: A stout made with Coda Coffee Company, this beer is for people who like a little cream in their coffee; it’s not aggressively bitter but rather smooth and easy-to-drink. Nonetheless, the coffee qualities still shine through.
Kenya Karitina: In my opinion, this oatmeal stout (also made with Coda Coffee) tastes much like a slightly bitterer version of Rwanda Abakundakawa.
Denver Breakfast Stout: This one was the boldest of the coffee beers. A chocolate espresso stout served on firkin, Denver Breakfast Stout tastes essentially like cold, bitter, black coffee. It’s custom-made for the adamant coffee lover.
Cascara IPA: I remember this beer from last year’s Beer, Bacon, & Coffee Fest. While I’m not a smoker (or a recovering smoker, for that matter), I really dug the tobacco-like qualities in this hoppy, American IPA aged on dried coffee bean fruit. This year, the tobacco flavors were quite muted and the hops took front stage. A solid IPA but I do wish the cascara flavors would have been as prominent as last year’s incarnation.
Belgian Breakfast Ale: I barely got to taste this Belgian pale ale with apricots, blueberries, and spices because the firkin kicked so early. I do remember a beer that was fruity, tart, and refreshing, though. If Denver Beer Co. makes this one again, I hope they make it in larger quantities because the tiny sip I did receive was intriguing.
Red Beer: This was simply an amber ale with a squirt of spicy Bloody Mary mix. It tastes much as you would expect: like a Bloody Mary with malty backbone.
Between beers, there were other activities to enjoy. One could sit back and do the crossword puzzle from the morning newspaper provided for each table. One could marvel at the assembly-line quickness of the Denver Bacon Co. crew and, of course, gnaw on their wares. One could snarf their free burrito, check out the new Barrel Room annex, or drink coffee sans beer at the Coda Coffee table. It wasn’t all about beer at Beer, Bacon, & Coffee Fest; there were enough non-alcoholic attractions to keep drinking in the morning classy.
We stayed long enough to taste Denver off the Wagon’s second anniversary beer Dubbel Fisting and, with that, we called it a day. This was the second go-around for the Beer, Bacon, & Coffee Fest and the second time I attended; if Denver Beer Co. keeps hosting this thing, I’ll keep attending because, in short order, it became one of my favorite beer festivals. A tip of my hat and a “top o’ the morning” to Denver Beer Co.—the only brewery I know with the creativity to hold a beer festival in the morning and the intelligence to keep it from degrading into something sloppy.