Battle of the Brewers: The Legends vs. New Kids on the Block

Photo: CO Brewers Guild

Here in Colorado, our blood sweat and tears are made up of  malt, hops, yeast, and water – or so it seems after a long day of drinking (like St. Patrick’s Day). So to celebrate all the awesome, crafty sud-makers we have in our state, the Colorado Brewers Guild has revitalized the old Colorado Beer Week into Colorado Craft Beer Week, a celebration of local craft beers and the rock stars who brew them.

While breweries will be hosting their own events in their taprooms throughout the week, we at Denver off the Wagon like easy access to all our favorite brews, so with the help of Imbibe we’re throwing a party. Actually, two parties: Legends & Rarities, highlighting the founders of our great state’s beer culture, and New Kids on the Block, featuring breweries which have been around less than two years.

Tickets to Legends & Rarities • Tickets to NKOTB

There is no denying that both the geezers and babes are producing great beers, but a little competition never hurt anyone right? The New Kids already have a leg up, donning their jorts and studded leather jackets to pour beer and rock out to Journey at The Lobby on Saturday night.

But wait, since they are under two, many of these children of the 80s have yet to produce rare or specialty brews – thus the Legends even the bar, uncorking some unique and never before seen beers at Star Bar on Friday night.

Steve Jones of Pateros Creek Brewing Company makes a good point, “Stamina fades with age,” but that could just be because of all “the free weed and the groupies,” right Dave Thibodeau? Whether you’re a loyal Breckenridge fan or prefer small batch brews from Wit’s End, Colorado brewers “are all in it together,” says D. Boone of Prost Brewing. “We are all brother and sisters in brewing here in Colorado, be it six months to 34 years old.”

The collaborative spirit is alive and well in the craft beer industry, particularly in Colorado where “pirate brewing” (Ex. Chad Yakobsen/Crooked Stave brewing on Funkwerks system), is welcomed, but just like any set of brothers and sisters, these brewers don’t always play nice.

For the sake of rocking the boat, we pitted the New Kids against the Legends to see who will rule Colorado Craft Beer Week; see below for their responses – some naughty, some polite.

Dave Thibodeau, Ska Brewing Co.

What’s the best thing about being a “Legend”?

I’m going to have to defer to Willie Nelson or Doug Odell on this one but my guess is that they’ll say the free weed and the groupies.

Can you give us a preview of some rarities you will be releasing?

Our rarity for this event is our Vernal Minthe Stout, a milk stout brewed with peppermint, spearmint, vanilla beans and cocoa nibs.

What do you have to say about the New Kids on the Block?

I’m down with the NKOTB, and I have to say that I find Nick over at TRVE Brewing particularly dreamy. And Fish over at Telluride is sort of my “Donnie Wahlberg” of the industry, hangin’ tough.

Favorite CO beer?

I have to say that I’m very proud of Colorado’s brewing scene. The bar’s been set high, and boundaries continue to be pushed, and most of Colorado’s breweries are making excellent beer. My favorite Colorado beer is the one I’m drinking whenever you ask the question! Go CO!

Nick Nunns, TRVE Brewing Co

TRVE's crew plans to mimic the 80s band Celtic Frost

TRVE’s crew plans to mimic the 80s band Celtic Frost

How will you ensure the NKOTB rock harder than the Legends?

Rocking is all we ever do. We will bring sheer terror and great beer.

What’s the best thing about being a brewery under two in CO?

Camaraderie. All the new dudes and ladies in town making beer in town rule way hard. Of course, all the vets are still killin’ it too.

Favorite CO beer?

Well it’s probably Tunnel of Trees. Wait, did you mean other than our own?

 

Brandon Proff, Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew

Can you give us a sneak peak of your 80s attire?

We all have what would be considered 80’s attire in our normal wardrobe, which says a lot about our style (or lack thereof) as well as our inability to buy new clothing and dress ourselves properly.  More importantly, one of the main attractions when coming to our taproom happens to be a Back to the Future II movie prop replica hover board. I may take it down from its stand and bring it to the fest with me. We will see. Our risk analyst/accountant might advise me against it.

How will you ensure the NKOTB rock harder than the legends?

The hover board will probably help. I also think that the median age amongst all of us new breweries is lower than that of the breweries at Legends & Rarities, so we will last a lot longer on the dance floor… If they’re even going to have one at their event. They’re probably going to stand around and calmly chat.

What’s the best thing about being a brewery under two in CO?

The people! Every week we have so many new faces come into the taproom that are intensely excited about the craft beer culture in Colorado. It feels good to have such positivity towards what we are doing and what our goals are. We also know that being a new brewery means we are on a never-ending journey of education and improvement, and I appreciate that people see and accept that as a necessary part of our story.

Favorite CO beer?

That’s a tough one. As far as our beer goes, I am VERY excited about our Spring seasonal, IPA2 (Unique name, I know. At least we know we won’t get sued!) It’s a Double IPA that will tap at the beginning of April. Of everyone else’s, I am crazy about Elevation’s Downpour, Black Shirt’s Sour Mash Red Saison, TRVE’s Tunnel of Trees, Hogshead’s Chin Wag, Wild Wood’s Smores Stout… I could go on forever.

John Frazee, Gravity Brewing

Can you give us a sneak peak of your 80s attire?

I was sporting cotton diapers for the first couple of years of the 80’s…

How will you ensure the NKOTB rock harder than the legends?

By letting the wide variety of innovative, quality beers speak for themselves.

What’s the best thing about being a brewery under two in CO?

Surprising skeptics with kick ass beer.

Favorite CO beer?

That one-off beer that I have not tried from that CO brewery that I’ve never heard of.

Andrea Miller, Big Choice Brewing

Andrea of Big Choice Brewing plans to bring the old Madonna back

Andrea of Big Choice Brewing plans to bring the old Madonna back

 

How will you ensure the NKOTB rock harder than the legends?

We will bring our A-Game all the way baby!  We are younger, full of energy and don’t care what people say about us!

What’s the best thing about being a brewery under two in CO?

Finding out that no matter how much good beer there is in Colorado, there is always room for more – so watch out!

Favorite CO beer? 

Anything of O’Dell’s – they know how to rock it!

 

Steve Jones, Pateros Creek Brewing

Can you give us a sneak peak of your 80s attire?

Pateros Creek is of the utmost class and highest caliber of people [tic]….that is why we will be in tracksuits and sweatbands of course, maybe a jeans jacket thrown in just for fun.

How will you ensure the NKOTB rock harder than the legends?

‘Cause we are younger! Stamina fades with age…

What’s the best thing about being a brewery under two in CO?

That we all seem to stick together and help each other out. Like a group of young kids around their older siblings, we know many of the new breweries personally.

Favorite CO beer? 

There are a lot of very tasty CO beers! But if I had to pick, I would maybe pick one of my favorites of all time: Nefarious Ten Pin by Ska Brewing.

Todd Thibault, Breckenridge Brewery 

What’s the best thing about being a “Legend”?  

Seeing the State of Craft Beer (Colorado) grow to what it is today.  Very proud.

Can you give us a preview of some rarities you will be releasing?  

Just for Colorado Craft Beer Week we will be releasing Stranahan’s Barrel Aged Pandora’s Bock

What do you have to say about the NKOTB?

Awww, aren’t they cute, I want to drink Colorado Craft Beer with them all day long.

Favorite CO beer?  

Right now, Elevation Apis IV, but it does change monthly.

Chad Yakobsen, Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project

Can you give us a sneak peak of your 80s attire?

Still putting the final touches but I see tight jeans, t-shirt with ripped off cuffs… maybe a mullet if I can find one… It’s going to be a party!

How will you ensure the NKOTB rock harder than the legends?

Legends.. you mean old men.. It wont even be a competition how hard all the New Kids are going to Rock!

What’s the best thing about being a brewery under two in CO?

We are all laying the foundation for the next generation of Colorado brewers and its f’ing exciting!

Favorite CO beer?

I love the beers we are brewing! If I had to choose one other then our own, I love me some AC Golden Hidden Barrel Project Apricot Sour!

Patrick Annesty, River North Brewery

Can you give us a sneak peak of your 80s attire?

I’m currently on the hunt for a neon ski onesie, but apparently such things have regained some sort of ironic popularity, as my attempts to pop some tags at my local thrift shop have been in vain thus far. Page my beeper if you find one.

How will you ensure the NKOTB rock harder than the legends?

I have a tremendous amount of respect for the CO craft titans; they paved the way for what we do today. But nowhere other than NKOTB can you knock one back in ridiculous attire with the new generation of Colorado brewers. It’s the young guns who will bring the craft beer movement full circle. So let’s dress up and drink to it!

What’s the best thing about being a brewery under two in CO?

In all seriousness, it’s the opportunity to learn every aspect of the craft beer industry. Matt graciously hired me as his first employee, and as River North has grown, I’ve gained experience in brewing, packaging, maintenance and cleaning, marketing, event planning, sales, and even learned about the joys of legislative red tape. At a bigger brewery, I’d only work in one aspect of the process…here, I get to do it all. And in a small company like River North, my opinions matter. I can see my suggestions and ideas translate into future projects, and witnessing the fruits of my labor provides a great sense of accomplishment.

Favorite CO beer?

Crooked Stave Brett D’Or, Chad is a maestro. And I’d be remiss not to mention our own Barrel-Aged Avarice.

Leslie Kaczeus, Bootstrap Brewing

Leslie of Boot Strap Brewing's hot pink wig and vintage tee

Leslie of Boot Strap Brewing’s hot pink wig and vintage tee

 

How will you ensure the NKOTB rock harder than the legends?  

Everyone knows that youth = vitality. Rock on New Kids!

What’s the best thing about being a brewery under two in CO?  

Everything is brand new and exciting for us.  We are constantly learning something new every day and experimenting.  We don’t have a history that tells us “you can’t do that” or “that won’t work”.

Favorite CO beer?

Of course we love our own beers especially our Insane Rush IPA but we also love Dale’s Pale Ale, Odell’s IPA, and Hazed and Infused.

 

Hannah Lloyd, Fate Brewing Company

Can you give us a sneak peak of your 80s attire?

Tight and bright, big hair, fanny pack….you get the idea 🙂

How will you ensure the NKOTB rock harder than the legends?  

By bringing a stellar line-up of new Colorado craft beer.

What’s the best thing about being a brewery under two in CO?  

The novelty! We get to define ourselves and excite new customers on the thing that we love most….good beer.

Favorite CO beer?

That’s a tough question. I’d have to say Modus Hoperandi from Ska Brewing Company because I grew up in Durango and love the hop forwardness and drinkability of the beer.

Danny Wang, Caution Brewing Co

Caution Brewing is going for the Bon Jovi look this weekend

Caution Brewing is going for the Bon Jovi look this weekend

How will you ensure the NKOTB rock harder than the legends?

We are named CAUTION, after all. Like Danger Kitty and all others before us, we plan on rocking until we can’t rock anymore.

What’s the best thing about being a brewery under two in CO?  

Being able to brew whatever we like to drink ourselves! And the constant influx of new fans. That kicks ass too.

Favorite CO beer?

Besides our own? I’d have to say offerings from Strange and Wit’s End tops our list!

 

Scott Witsoe, Wit’s End Brewing Co

Can you give us a sneak peak of your 80s attire?

Fortunately the art on one of my brewery tees just so happens to be inspired by a classic video game icon.  That, and a jacket you have to be a “member” to wear will complete the ensemble.

How will you ensure the NKOTB rock harder than the legends?

That’s an easy one…it’s because we got it (the right stuff).

What’s the best thing about being a brewery under two in CO?  

The whole world is ahead of us!

Favorite CO beer?

My favorite CO beer is the one in my hand…(yes this is a cop out, but too many great beers to choose from!)

Paul Sullivan, New Belgium Brewing Co.

What’s the best thing about being a “legend”?

I don’t know if we would consider ourselves “legends” really (even though I love the name of this event) but we definitely feel really proud that we have worked hard to continue to make great beers over the years as we adjust to an ever changing scene.  Along with the beers, I think we all feel equally as proud of the company culture we have been able to maintain and trying to be nice people to each other and every community in which we sell beer.

Can you give us a preview of some rarities you will be releasing?  

We are doing a brand new line of beers this year called our Hop Kitchen which will be one off hoppy beers.  We also have our rotating Lips of Faith line of beers.  Currently we have Cascara Quad and Heavenly Feijoa Tripel!

What do you have to say about the NKOTB?

I think it’s awesome that so many new breweries are popping up and making some damn good beer.  I feel like it gets people excited about trying new beers, talking about beer and experimenting with styles.

Favorite CO beer?

That’s a tough one; I really like Odell Lugene right now but it’s really fun to try everything.

Josh Breckel, Left Hand Brewing Co

What’s the best thing about being a “legend”?

Still being around. This is our 20th year and we have gone through a lot. It’s also been great to be part of something that has become so important to our society. Craft beer has given back in so many ways, money raised, jobs produced and good times had by all!

Can you give us a preview of some rarities you will be releasing?  

We have three beers coming out right now. We have our Beer Week Sauce made just for beer week which is a coffee infused porter using Sumatra from Allegro. Next is a new release from our Ambidextrous Ales series. This is Great Juju. Each summer our summer seasonal is Good Juju and so we thought we would have a little fun and make an imperial version. And what better name to use then “great?” Last is our Twin Sisters Imperial IPA. We only make this beer every other year so whenever it comes out it’s definitely a special treat.

What do you have to say about the NKOTB?

Good luck suckers! Just kidding. I think it’s great. Here’s the deal, there is plenty of room for many more people to come and play. Craft beer sales are just around 6%. We all need to work together to continue to grow the segment.

Favorite CO beer?

Is this real question? Milk Stout Nitro. It’s delicious. Absolutely delicious!

 

You don’t have to live in Denver to partake in CCBW festivities at your local brewery. Live in Grand Junction? Head over to Kannah Creak Brewing Co on March 24 for a Western Slope Rare Beer Tasting. Still avoiding the coming of spring in the high country? Head to the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa all week for $5 pints of Colorado craft beers or to Bonfire Brewing in Eagle on March 23 for the Rye Pils Release Party. Be sure to check out the Colorado Brewers Guild website for more information and events during Colorado Craft Beer Week.

About Sarah Haughey


Editor, Denver off the Wagon. Sarah is a native of the "Napa Valley of beer," but her beer-drinking roots stretch all the way back to the Emerald Isle where Haughey (Haw-hee) is famous. Sure, our name may have got it's rap from the corrupt prime minister, but we like to think it stands strong due to our long-standing ability to pound a few too many pints. After stints on the East Coast and in San Francisco, Sarah came running back to Denver where her full-time job is exploring all the city's new craft breweries one sip at a time. Follow me @sarahhaughey4 to see where I'm grabbing a beer or for news about local breweries. Like to cook? Me too, check out: Lifewithalittlespice.com