Former Future Brewing Company hosts swanky beer tasting at The Oxford Hotel

Exterior of The Oxford Hotel

Exterior of The Oxford Hotel

Imagine a swanky party in a turn-of-the-century hotel suite; resplendent with thick, frilled draperies, dark wood cabinetry, an ornately-carved four-poster bed, and a fireplace in the corner. Imagine a penthouse with a view of a downtown urban area, hardwood floors, plush, leather seating, and decorative molding on the wall. The setting is chic, the partygoers are laughing gaily, and libations are flowing. What, do you suppose, the people are drinking in such a classy locale?  Champagne?  Cocktails?  Decades-old Scotch? No, if you were among the lucky few to receive tickets for Former Future Brewing Company’s tasting event in the Presidential Suite at LoDo’s Oxford Hotel, the drink of choice was beer.

The result of the collaborative efforts of James and Sarah Howat, Former Future is a Denver-based brewery that’s currently searching for a location (presently, they brew at Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew). In the meantime they’ve turned to us, the beer geeks, to help steer their business in the right direction. Hence, this past Saturday’s tasting event was a chance for the Howats to collect valuable feedback on their beers. This isn’t a one-time data collection, though; in fact, customer feedback will always be a major component of Former Future’s business operations.


Besides seeking input from beer drinkers, Former Future also defines itself as a brewery that reimagines classic beer styles. They put modern twists on age-old favorites thus creating completely unique concoctions. The four beers available at the event were: The Harvester saison, The Red Coat English IPA, The Magistrate chocolate stout, and The Mariner salted porter.

The Harvester was brewed with rye and wild yeast captured from an apple tree in the Howats’ Baker neighborhood. The beer’s aroma is fruity (most notably, and unsurprisingly, apple) and bubblegum-like while the flavor is refreshingly citrusy, crisp, and dry.

Nowadays, “IPA” is synonymous with “hop-bomb” but that wasn’t always the case. When it was first conceived by the British, the IPA was earthier, less bitter. It was American brewers that pushed it over the edge with monstrous amounts of hops. The Red Coat, with its piney nose, subdued hoppiness, and lightly toasted aftertaste, harkens back to those early days of IPA.

While it is classified as a chocolate stout, there is no actual chocolate in The Magistrate. It is from the malts that this beer derives its chocolate aroma and taste. The Magistrate is very low in roasted bitterness and high on creamy sweetness.

The Mariner is a salted porter. Yes, it’s a porter—with salt. This was, by far, the most unusual beer at the event and, from what I overheard from conversations around the room, the beer with the most detractors. Personally, I hope Former Future keeps this beer around because I enjoy salty foods—pretzels, saltines, prosciutto…etc.—but I do think that a different beer style would showcase the salinity better than a porter.  Maybe something slightly lighter such as a brown ale.

While sipping our samples, my girlfriend and I floated about the room, snacked on some cookies from The Cookie Brewer, and talked to other beer geeks and bloggers like Dave from Fermentedly Challenged, representatives from the Denver branch of Girls Pint Out, some homebrewers from Boulder, and Sarah Howat who owed me a T-shirt because I helped name the brewery’s mascot: Professor Phineas Barleyhop (I contributed the “Phineas” part).

I have been to the grand, open chaos of Great American Beer Festival, I have experienced the wild wonders of Rails & Ales Brewfest, but there’s something about the intimate elegance of Former Future’s tasting event that will stick in my memory for a very long time.

If you weren’t among the fortunate few to attend, you can still enjoy Former Future beer at the upcoming South Denver Beer Festival. Also, keep an eye on their Facebook page to keep tabs on their progress in finding a location.

About Chris Bruns

Chris Bruns is a self-professed beer geek living in Denver. Chris spends much of his time brewing beer at home with friends and family, attempting to visit every brewery in Colorado, attending special beer events and festivals, purchasing and assessing the latest releases from local breweries, and blogging about his adventures in the world of craft beer. He is also the Denver Craft Beer Examiner on Contact Chris by e-mail at or through his blog at