Saturday, May 31, 2008

Left Hand Brews in the News

Left Hand BrewingAnother Colorado brewery is in the news this week. The Left Hand Brewing Company of Longmont Colorado was selected as the #1 Best Bitters in the country by the New York Times. Left Hand's Sawtooth Ale was selected tops over 24 other beers as a beer that best fit the traditional English bitter style. For an American made beer, it even beat out some British made bitters. A pretty good compliment I think. You can check out the full story over at the NYC in their article. I reviewed the Sawtooth Ale previously back in January of this year. The NYT nod makes me want to revisit this local brew again soon.

Up and Coming Releases

In other Left Hand brewing news, the brewery just released their June 2008 newsletter. You can sign up for their newsletter by visiting their web site. Or you can visit them directly and visit their tasting room and try out some of their award winning beers such as the Left Hand Milk Stout and the Sawtooth Ale.

Left Hand recently released one of their popular seasonal beers - their Rye Bock. This European style brew can be purchased in 22oz bombers. The Rye Bock is described as:

"Opening with an initial tangy, sweet, dried cherry nose alongside the spicy tingle of the malted rye, this most unusual lager finishes long and savorable. The sweetness of the malt is nicely balanced by the tanginess of the rye malt, causing one to perceive a loaf of bread in every bottle. Full bodied, dark brown in color, the Rye tips the scales at 7.6% ABV, and is available in our 750ml silk-screened Belgian beer bottle and kegs."

Coming later this summer in late July, Left Hand will release another seasonal, their Oktoberfest Marzen Lager. Ya, I know. Summer just barely got started and they're already talking Oktoberfest? Left Hand plans ahead and it already formulating this year's brew. Their Oktoberfest Marzen is described as:

" alluringly clear copper color, with a short white head and good lacing. The malt bouquet is accented by toasty, bready aromas. As you lift your stein in high anticipation, your palate is well rewarded for its patience. The sweetness of the German malts dominate upfront, while the noble pedigree hops allow for a proper dry finish, true to style. Medium-bodied, with the subtle elegance of a well-balanced beer."

Left Hand Concert Series

Music is also on tap at the Left Hand tasting room as they are hosting their Spring Concert Series. Concerts run from 4:30pm to 6:30pm each Sunday. Visit the tap room on these dates for some good tunes and good beer:

June 1st: Kort McCumber (American Folk)
June 8th: Sugarloaf String Band (Bluegrass)
June 15th: Hugh Jazz Quartet (Jazz)
June 22nd: Scott Von (Folk)
June 29th: Mile Markers (Jazz)

Left Hand Brewery Upgrades Equipment

Left Hand recently received new brew house vessels from JV Northwest. These large containers were rolling down the highway and luckily missed being swept up by the recent tornado in northern Colorado last week. Left Hand is upgrading it's auxiliary systems including work on the compressed air, hot and cold liquor tanks, water filtration systems, electric and other related items. All these upgrades will help Left Hand automate even more of the brewing process, cut costs and reduce errors. We loyal LH beer drinkers look forward to the fruits of their labors.

Left Hand Brewing Company - 1265 Boston Ave, Longmont, CO 80501 - (303) 772-0258

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Tommyknocker Butt Head Doppelbock review

Tommyknocker Butt Head DoppelbockToday the 6-pack sampler from Tommyknocker Brewery is half empty or half full (depending what your outlook is) as we move onto Part 3 of the Trail Mix series of reviews. I cracked open a nice cold bottle of the Tommyknocker Butt Head Doppelbock Lager this evening. This beer has the potential to butt heads with you as it comes in at a hefty 8.2% ABV. As it's name implies, it comes with a butt load (couldn't resist) of Munich, carapils, caramel and chocolate malts to give it a rich taste and to boost the ABV value as well. Right after opening up the bottle, the smell of these rich malts starts filling the air. It has a nice roastiness to it.

It's been several weeks since I've poured a darker brew so I was ready for a change. This one pours a deep dark amber. This time I didn't see any chill haze in the brew as I did in the other brews from Idaho Springs CO. It's nearly clear and has a moderate amount of carbonation. There wasn't much of a head to it when I poured and what was left of it went away fairly quickly. Still, the smell of this beer was so inviting. The German Hallertau hops also give this a distinctive Bavarian flair. Just the right smell I was hoping for in a double goat (ie doppelbock) brew.

Once I tipped back the glass, I could taste the abundance of malts. The caramel and chocolate malts in particular stood out. This beer doesn't taste like a porter or stout by any means as it is a bit lighter in body than those darker brews. This beer is bittered just right in my opinion. The sweetness of the malts balance well with the Hallertau hops. I'm really liking this beer!

So far, of the three Tommyknocker's I've sampled, I'm liking this one the best. The beer ranking sites seem to agree as well. See BeerAdvocate and Ratebeer for more reviews on this Doppelbock. Ratebeer also classifies this beer as a Winter Seasonal. I can see why they would say that, but this beer would drink well at any time of year.

I'm glad I saved this beer for a Friday as I really getting into this brew. Perfect for live blogging to. I'll give this beer a malty 3.5 out of 5 ranking and a thumbs up for a repeat buy.

Next up in the series: Tommyknocker Alpine Glacier Lager

Related articles:
- Tommyknocker Oaked Butt Head Bock review.
- Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale review.
- Tommyknocker Ornery Amber Lager review.
- After 15 years Tommyknocker offers up a Legend.

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My Humble Homebrew Beginnings

HomebrewingThis post is in response to a call from Beer Bits 2 to start a "Session"-like series of posts dedicated to Home Brewing. This series is entitled: Homebrew Blogging Day. Several bloggers will be participating in this effort. All the articles will be collected and summarized on Beer Bits 2 starting today. I promised myself that I would participate in this series despite my limited experience with homebrewing.

Every Journey Begins with Small Steps

Back in the winter of 1998, I was actively involved in one of those DOT COM start-ups. My current boss back then was also an entrepreneur and had started up his own Internet Marketing business. As things started to grow, he was in need of some additional help in supporting and designing web sites for his clients. I jumped at the opportunity to join him and started working with him in his basement office where his business was founded. My life would quickly change during a business meeting with him in the early going.

We had just completed a strategy session in my partner's basement when he asked me if I wanted to join him in a home brewed beer. "Really? You made this yourself? Cool!" I couldn't believe that someone could make beer in their own home. His beer was a clone of Odell's 90 Shilling that he had made himself. It was a dark and rich looking beer that he had kegged himself and poured from his own beer tap. Dang, this beer was good! I was going nuts over this beer and just started asking him a ton of questions on how he came to make this fine beer.

Baiting My Interest

My friend was kind enough to indulge me and invited me over to his house for the next time he was going to brew another batch. He was just starting out in homebrewing himself and was doing strictly extract brewing. This was his 10th batch of brew and was getting good at the whole process. He showed me how the malt extract and hops were boiled, how adding hops at different times would affect the beer's aroma and taste, how the wort was chilled, how to pitch the yeast and put it all in a glass carboy fermenter. The entire process took about 3 hours before we were done.

Now he told me that we'd have to wait a week or so before the fermentation process was over. I'd be over later for another meeting anyway so I looked forward to seeing how this all turned out. It was then I knew that I wanted to try this out for myself. It didn't take long to realize that I had a small local homebrew shop located in my own town. I headed down there at my first opportunity and talked with the shop owner to ask them what they recommended for someone just starting out.

The Homebrewing Journey Comes Home

I picked up a copy of Charlie Papazian's book on homebrewing and quickly tore through all of that material. The whole process seemed easy enough. I was just worried about keeping everything clean and sanitized so that I wouldn't contaminate the beer I would be making. I then started slowly accumulating all the equipment I would need to brew beer. After about a week and spending about $100 or so on equipment (cheaper back then) I headed back to the homebrew shop to pick up my materials for my 1st batch.

I knew I wasn't ready for all grain brewing, so extract brewing would have to suffice. I picked out a recipe for an Amber Ale and bought the extract, specialty grains, hops and some Irish Moss to brew up my 1st ale. I couldn't believe all of the little gizmos that were available to help brew, strain, measure and bottle a brew. Once I got everything home I planned out my 1st brew session.

I admit, I must have been way over cautious for this first batch of brew. I sterilized everything probably way beyond what was necessary. I had everything laid out all over my kitchen. My wife was worried that I was going to burn down the house with all of the stuff I planned on using. I put in about 5.5 gallons of water on the electric stove in a new stainless steel brewpot and went to work.

The First Batch of Beer

It didn't take long for the smell of boiling extract and hops to fill the house. My wife made the comment that the whole house smelled like a brewery. Ya think? I had to watch the brewpot closely as it tended to want to boil over easily. After an hour of brewing, the wort was ready to chill. The only way I had to chill down my beer was to put the entire brewpot into a huge 15 gallon bucket of ice. This process took about 20 minutes or more to chill the beer down to pitching temperature. Once that was done, I pitched the foil yeast package into the brew and sealed it up inside a 5-gallon plastic food grade bucket and put a bubbler on top.

Wow. This entire process had taken the better part of an entire afternoon, but boy was I excited about what I had done. I let the beer ferment in my cold dark basement for about 9 days before the bubbling stopped on the fermenter. It was then that I added some priming sugar to the mix and had a massive bottling session. This was the most work intensive process of the entire experiment. I had about 2 cases of 22oz bomber bottles that I filled and capped. I decided to put those away for a week or two before trying my first beer.

The First Tasting

Two weeks later, I could wait any longer and put a beer into my refrigerator. I waited a good hour before opening it up. I was worried though. How would it taste? Did it carbonate enough? Did the beer get infected? What if I don't like it? Enough worry - open up the damn beer already! The bottle opened with a familiar whoosh sound so I knew the beer had carbonated. It poured out a nice amber color and had a small off-white head. OK so the head wasn't as good as I hoped but it looked like beer.

The first taste was actually good! Wow. I had made beer! I couldn't believe it. All that preparation and work had turned out better than I expected it would. I was thrilled. It was from then on that I knew I was going to love hand crafted beers. It took a while before I drank through my entire 1st 5 gallon batch. I shared the beer with friends and they said they thought it wasn't half bad. I knew it wasn't the best beer, but at least it was something I had made myself.

Times Change but Another Era Begins

Sadly, as it turns out, I would end up only making one other batch in my home before taking a long hiatus away from home brewing. My wife didn't like how it made the house smell, plus I got too busy raising 3 kids. The DOT COM bust happened soon after that and my homebrew partner and I went separate ways. My local homebrew store closed down too and I didn't feel like going through the trouble of ordering all of my supplies or driving 40 minutes to the next closest store.

So, I stopped homebrewing in 1999 and haven't gotten back to it since. That is until now. I'm once again putting together a list of materials for a new outdoor homebrew setup. Most of my kids are grown up and out of the house and I've got more time on my hands (that is when I'm not blogging). I'm hoping to get into all-grain brewing and doing it even better this time around. I'm looking forward to it.

Related articles:
- Choosing a brew kettle.
- Homebrew shopping list ready.
- Colorado homebrew supply stores.
- Colorado homebrew clubs listing.
- My first batch of homebrew for 2009.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Odell Hosting Small Batch Festival May 31

Mark your calendars Colorado beer fans. Odell Brewing Company of Fort Collins is hosting their 2nd annual Small Batch Beer Festival at the brewery this Saturday, May 31st from 3pm to 7pm. There will be over 23 brews to sample, some food and live music to boot. Come taste some of their best kept secrets including their 2008 Gold Medal winning Odell's IPA. Click the graphic for details. Hope to see you there!

Odell Small Batch Beer Fest

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tommyknocker Pick Axe Pale Ale review

Tommyknocker Pick Axe Pale AleWelcome to Part Two in a series sampling the Trail Mix sampler pack from the Tommyknocker Brewery of Idaho Springs, CO. Tonight's pick of the pack is Tommyknocker Pick Axe Pale Ale. It's described as an English Style Pale Ale that is crafted with an abundance of three different kinds of hops, including Czech Saaz, British Columbia Bramling and some British East Kent Goldings. Each of these hops are a medium to low alpha acid variety which imparts a mixture of tastes and aromas. Tommyknocker states that this beer wass also dry hopped.

As for it's appearance, the beer pours out a dark copper color or rather a burnt orange color. The beer was aggressively poured yet could only muster a slight finger sized off-white head. The beer that poured down the edge of the glass left a clinging lace which remained for the entire sampling. The head quickly trickled down to just a few bubbles in height.

The beer itself was bottled in mid-March according to the label date so it wasn't that old yet. That's always a good sign when drinking a beer that's not a high alcohol brew. This one came in at 6.2% ABV. While the beer poured clear, it soon after got a noticeable chill haze. This is something that I've noticed in the last several beers I've kept in my fridge. Perhaps I've let it get too cold before opening. Either that or the haze is due to high-mass proteins in the brew. Despite that, it still looked like an inviting brew.

The initial hop aroma was just what I was expecting. It was a nice mix of floral, slightly citrus and herb aroma. It reminded me of an ESB or IPA at first. There were a few light streams of carbonation on this beer so I knew it wasn't flat.

The first few sips were very light and refreshing with a distinct bitterness from start to finish. The last thing you sense is a dryness to the beer. This beer has a very mild palate. It could have used a bit more body however. As this pale ale warmed, the aroma shifted ever so slightly. It became more herbal and earthy with a hint of butter. It started sticking to the tongue a bit more. In my opinion, this beer tastes better a bit cold rather than warm. It's a decent representation of an English Pale Ale but seemingly on the average side.

Check out the ratings if you will on BeerAdvocate and Ratebeer for more reactions. This beer didn't turn on any light bulbs for me but rather put on a medium dimmer switch. I enjoyed their wheat beer a bit more. I wouldn't turn down this beer if offered but I wouldn't work too hard to seek it out again. I'll give this beer a 3.0 out of 5 rating.

Next up: Tommyknocker Butt Head Dopplebock Lager

Related articles:
- Tommyknocker Jack Whacker Wheat Ale review.
- Tommyknocker Alpine Glacier Lager review.
- Tommyknocker Ornery Amber Lager review.
- Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale review.
- After 15 years Tommyknocker offers up a Legend.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Tommyknocker Jack Whacker Wheat Ale review

Tommyknowcker Jack Whacker Wheat AleAs introduced in yesterday's blog entry, I'm reviewing six different brews found in the Tommyknocker Brewery Trail Mix 6-pack. Today I'm covering the 1st of the 6 brews - the Tommyknocker Jack Whacker Wheat Ale. The name Jack Whacker comes from the nickname of the person who brings up the rear of an all mule pack train and whips the rear end of the ass to keep him moving. Funny name but how good is the brew?

Appearance: As you can see from the picture, this beer pours a cloudy light golden color. The small white head didn't last long and quickly disappeared. This is an unfiltered wheat beer by design. This beer had a decent amount of carbonation in it as there were plenty of bubbles dancing around inside the glass. Tommyknocker wants you to get the full flavor from this wheat beer. They put in a mix of 70% 2-row barley with 30% wheat into this ale. And for good measure they threw in a small amount of lemon grass for both flavor and aroma. Not sure what kind of hops are in here but the hops aren't the main story here - the lemon grass and wheat are.

Aroma: This beer has a classic wheat aroma. The lemon grass and the hops give this beer a nice lemon citrus added bouquet. I felt that this beer is best served well chilled and would be good for a warm summer day. Regrettably, this Memorial Day Monday was cloudy, cool and drizzling. Not the best of conditions but I was up for a wheat beer regardless. I was tilting back this beer as I stood under an umbrella while flipping burgers on my gas grill. It takes skill to hold a beer, an umbrella and a spatula at the same time.

Taste: The first taste of this beer was light and refreshing. It's not watery, but rather a good mix of malt, wheat and hops. It's slightly sweet as you'd expect in a wheat beer but it also had a nice bitter finish to it. It took a good 3 sips before I could really taste the bitterness. I could detect a bit of the yeast in the taste but it did not deter from the flavor. There is a touch of lemon on the palate from the lemon grass and a somewhat bread-like quality. The carbonation was just enough to notice but not overly done. This beer has a nice traditional wheat beer taste and is a good representation of the style.

This beer comes in at a 5.4% ABV and may be just a bit too high of an alcohol rating to be a session beer. Yet I'd have no problem quaffing down a few of these beers. I was in the mood for a wheat ale. At least now I can say I've grown to enjoy them.

In my experience, the majority of the wheat beers I've read reviews on tend to get average ratings. Perhaps it is due to the fact that they are much lighter in color and typically lower in alcohol than other beers. It's a shame really that wheat beers don't get top reviews. Why else do so many craft beer drinkers pick wheat beers to enjoy during the summer? This beer was a good example of the style but doesn't jump out at you with over the top flavor, hoppiness or aroma. Still, it's good by it's own merit. The beer rating sites were middle of the road on this one.

Overall: For a 1st choice in the 6-pack, I'd say this one gets a thumbs up from me. It hit me just right. Not too much of anything but just enough to get the job done. I'll give it a fair 3.2 out of 5 rating from me and may re-adjust this rating later after sampling the other 5 beers in the sampler pack.

Next up: Tommyknocker Pick Axe Pale Ale.

Related articles:
- Tommyknocker Butt Head Doppelbock review.
- Tommyknocker Alpine Glacier Lager review.
- Tommyknocker Ornery Amber Lager review.
- Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale review.
- After 15 years Tommyknocker offers up a Legend.

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Tommyknocker Trail Mix Sampler Pack

Tommyknocker Trail Mix Sampler PackToday I'm previewing a mini-series of reviews based on a sampler pack I picked up for the Memorial Day weekend. There is a small brewer and soda maker that hides up the I-70 corridor at Idaho Springs, Colorado called the Tommyknocker Brewery.

Their beers and soft drinks are easily identified by the clever little cartoon miners on their labels. The reason I chose Tommyknocker beers to sample was very simple - they put out a fantastic 6-pack sampler called their "Trail Mix" with 6 different beers. It's like being right at their tap room without leaving home. I didn't have to shell out a lot of money to try 6 different beers.

I almost never see a sampler pack do it this way. Normally in a brewer sampler pack, you have to buy an entire 12 pack and might get 4 different beers in triplicate. But not here. Tommyknocker knows that some beer drinkers (like me) simply want to try one of their beers and not have to invest in a bigger pack to get a big variety. Man, I wish more brewers would do this (hint hint). In particular, brewers who wish to expand into other states might want to put out a 6-pack sampler like this.

There have been a few other breweries I've seen put out smaller sampler packs, like Flying Dog and their 4-pack of Canis Major brews. But this is not the norm. Breweries want to sell in quantity and putting out 6 different beers in a single 6-pack might not make good business sense. But for me, a guy who likes to try as many beers as possible without having to spend a lot of money, I appreciate the variety and affordability that this sampler provides. This type of sampler won't work for every situation however. If you like to sample beers with friends then a 12-pack sampler might be a better option. But if you don't always have a drinking buddy handy and you're wanting to find a new session brew, this type of thing works well.

Tommyknocker beer labels 2011Update 2011: All Tommyknocker beers have a new look. Gone are the cartoony labels. Now it has a more modern classic look.

During the next few blog posts, I'll be reviewing the 6 different beers from this sampler. These beers include Tommyknocker's: Jack Whacker Wheat Ale, Pick Axe Pale Ale, Alpine Glacier Lager, Butt Head Dopplebock Lager, Ornery Amber and their Maple Nut Brown Ale. Most of these beers have won medals in major competitions over the last several years. I can't wait to dive into these beers and post some reviews.

First up: Jack Whacker Wheat Ale.

Related articles:
- Tommyknocker Pick Axe Pale Ale review.
- Tommyknocker Butt Head Doppelbock review.
- Tommyknocker Alpine Glacier Lager review.
- Tommyknocker Ornery Amber Lager review.
- Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale review.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Avery Fifteen Anniversary Ale review

Avery Fifteen Anniversary AleAvery Brewing Company of Boulder, Colorado just celebrated it's 15th anniversary this year and as it has traditionally done over that last several years, it has come out with a unique beer to commemorate it's birthday. 2008's Anniversary Ale entitled Avery Fifteen is described as a wild farmhouse ale and is fermented with Brettanomyces, a wild yeast considered to be a strain normally to be avoided by brewers unless of course that's the thing you had in mind. Whenever you brew with "brett" you know it's gonna be a wild ride as the organism tends to give a sour and somewhat tart affect.

Last years Fourteen ale was a dark American Strong Ale and was praised by the beer masses. Could this year's ale be even better?

So how did Avery Fifteen stack up? This beer poured a nice golden color with slight reddish overtones. The sunset shone through this brew with nice clarity. There was a nice big white head to this beer and had an abundance of bubbles coming up from the bottom of the tulip glass. So far so good. This looks like a great beer.

Avery created this ale with a combination of pale malt and wheat as it's base. Then they dug deep for some unique flavors and include some black mission figs, a sprinkling of hibiscus flowers and a dash of white pepper. Instead of using a typical Belgian yeast, Avery decided to experiment a bit and ferment this brew with Brettanomyces. Wikipedia describes it as:

"Brettanomyces is viewed as a contaminant and the characteristics it imparts are considered unwelcome "off-flavors". However, in some styles, particularly certain traditional Belgian ales, it is appreciated and encouraged."

If anyone knows how to deal with "brett" it would be a top notch brewery like Avery so you can assume this fermentation was going to be controlled. The first whiff of this beer revealed a somewhat sour and spicy aroma. It smelled vaguely of another sour Belgian "La Folie" from New Belgium, only a bit funkier. The aroma is intriguing and invites you to taste it. But be prepared, this beer could taste like anything.

I was expecting a very tart taste from this beer but it never came. Instead it was somewhat fruity and mildly spicy but not sour. That was a surprise. My initial reaction was "Hmmmm....". Not what I expected at all. It was a floral, semi-sweet and only mildly bitter beer. The figs probably account for the sweetness of this ale but the brett certainly gives this beer an indescribable funkiness that is truly unique. This beer was chilled well but changed in flavor a couple of times as it warmed. I suggest serving this beer well chilled.

One interesting thing happened half way through the tasting. I swirled the beer to stir up the aroma a bit. I suddenly got hit with a nasty off-aroma that did not strike me well. The initial sour aroma had turned slightly spoiled. I don't know how to describe it. All I can say it - avoid swirling this beer unless it is still cold. As it warms, agitating this beer will change it's smell. Once the beer settled down a bit the initial sour aroma came back.

After the first glass, I was a bit unsure if I wanted to finish the entire 22 oz bottle. The experience was a mixed one. It started out a bit surprising, then took a turn to the bad side but then something surprising happened. The near 8% ABV beer started growing on me a bit. It certain isn't one of my favorite beers, but for a brett it had a unique characteristic. I'm not about to pan a beer just because it wasn't what I expected. I've learned that lesson. The full experience of this beer isn't appreciated until you've had at least a glass and a half of it. By then, your senses have been flooded with it's funkiness and you start to get a taste for it.

I suggest you sip this beer slowly. You'll probably be put off initially and question what the heck this beer is trying to prove. But as the "warming" feeling of the alcohol hits you and it warms, it changes. You need to get past the first nasty affect of it and then it will grow on you. I managed to finish the entire 22 oz bottle and am glad I didn't stop at the first glass.

I realize that most of the beer review sites gave this brew a lower grade. Most likely because they tried to compare this beer with last years Fourteen beer. Well don't even try to compare it. Fifteen is it's own unique animal. It's not for everyone and I suspect the majority of you will be turned off by it. But like a marathon runner, you need to try to go the distance with this beer to appreciate what Avery was trying to create here. You're going to get the whole range of reactions to this beer. While it's certainly not my favorite and I question whether I'd buy it again, I'd still salute Avery for creating a having the guts to create a beer that doesn't doesn't try to fit the mold.

Check out the reviews if you will but wait until after you've tasted it for yourself before reading. Expect your taste buds be tested and tested hard. Look beyond your initial reactions and continue to drink. You'll either grow to appreciate it for what it is or outright dismiss it. I'll give this beer a 3.0 out of 5 rating but with a caution sign. If you can get past the first half dozen sips then you'll start to see what Avery was trying to do with this ale. Chances are Avery will take some notes on the reactions to this beer and continue experimenting for next year. (Brabant for example).

Related articles:
- Avery Ellie's Brown Ale review.
- Avery White Rascal review.
- Avery Salvation review.
- Avery Hog Heaven review.
- Avery Collaboration Not Litigation Ale review.
- Avery The Reverend review.
- Avery The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest review.
- Avery Ale to the Chief review.
- Avery The Czar Imperial Stout review.
- Avery Redpoint Ale review.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Boulder Beer Mojo IPA review

Boulder Beer Mojo IPAThere are such a wide variety of IPA's on the market today (perhaps a bit too many to count). IPA's drink well on a nice late Spring day. Recently, I reviewed another IPA and since IPAs are a new favorite style of mine, I bought another in the same style. This time it was the Boulder Beer Mojo India Pale Ale from the Boulder Beer Company.

This Mojo is brewed with a nice blend of Pale, Wheat and 20L Caramel malts to give it a light copper color. The beer pours with a healthy white head with a lacing that sticks well to the side of the glass. This IPA is slightly different than most IPAs as it has a bit of wheat mixed in. While it doesn't remind you of a wheat beer, it does speak to you as a nice summertime beer.

Many IPAs are loaded up with a ton of hops. This beer, while brewed with a decent amount of Centennial and Amarillo hops, isn't a hop bomb. It has a pleasant citrusy and floral aroma. It's similar to a Cascade aroma but a bit spicier. There was a mild amount of carbonation bubbling up. Just enough to make this beer stay active in the glass. I really love the aroma the Amarillo hops give off. I'm looking forward to using that in one of my 1st homebrew batches.

This beer is higher in alcohol than most ales. At 6.8% ABV, it's just enough to warrant respect but not high enough to leave a tell tale alcohol smell. The IPA has a nice tangy taste with a decent bitter finish. It's a clean taste and is smooth sipping. The wheat blended into this beer makes this perfect for a nice warm day.

It's a nice contrast to the big IPA's such as Dogfish Head 90-minute or Green Flash's West Coast IPA. This is the type of IPA you could easily drink a few of. The overall experience isn't really outstanding but then again I don't think it was meant to be a knockout. This one is for enjoying and sharing with your friends on an easy going day. This beer gets a green light in my book and I'd certainly buy it again.

IPA's tend to get a better grade at the beer ranking sites than other styles. Perhaps due to the full range of hop and malt flavor you get from this kind of beer. I'm rating this beer high enough for a repeat purchase but not so high as to give put it in the top of the list. It garners a 3.3 out of 5 ranking and worth another look.

For those of you who've tried this beer before, let me know what you thought of it. Do you think this is one of the better IPA's out there? With a long holiday weekend before us, there's plenty of time to sit back and enjoy some of the best craft beers out there. Enjoy!

Related articles:
- Boulder Planet Porter review.
- Boulder Cold Hop review.
- Boulder Beer opens tap house at DIA.

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Green Flash West Coast IPA review

Green Flash West Coast IPAToday's brew review is a selection from the Green Flash Brewing Company of San Diego, CA. I chose their West Coast IPA as I was in the mood for something hoppy. This beer is billed as a hop monster and had a robust 7% ABV so I knew what to expect. It's meant to be "an extravagantly hopped, full-flavored" IPA. I say "Bring it on!".

I used a Samuel Adams custom beer glass for this tasting. Upon pouring, I saw a nice orange copper colored beer with a nice nearly white head fill the glass. What I didn't expect was a glass full of cloudy sediment filled beer. Now when I say sediment, I mean it was chock full of it.

There were bit chunks of material floating all over the beer. I was concerned. Was this yeast sediment or perhaps hops? I had to look it up and seemed to find that several other people found large amounts of sediment in this beer.

My logical conclusion is that this beer has yeast deposits naturally floating around in this beer. I was at first put off by the site of this but decided to drink it and judge it by other factors before passing judgment. By the way, the 2nd beer I opened was just the same, so it wasn't a fluke.

Once I got over the visual impairment of this beer, I sampled it. Woah. Hop explosion! There be an abundance of hops in this beer including Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial and Cascade. All of which gave this beer a piney, fruity, citrusy, pungent and floral effect all in one sniff and sip.

The taste was expectantly bitter but offset well by a moderately malted mix. I'm so glad that I love IPAs now. It was just what I was expecting from this ale and it didn't disappoint. It was a nice bitter from start to finish. The hop aroma was perfect for this style.

To help offset the bitterness a bit, I chose to drink this beer paired with some slightly sweetened Kettle Korn popcorn. Mmmm tasty!

Admittedly, I kinda freaked out a bit when I saw all the sediment. I decided to try to filter the beer a bit to get rid of the sediment. Big mistake. By filtering the beer, I essentially de-carbonated the beer and it fell flat. Ooops. I won't do that again.

I opened up a 2nd beer, which had the same amount of sediment, and drank it straight out of a glass this time. Despite being able to detect some solids when I drank this beer, it ended up being a really good drinker. I'm looking forward to having more from this 6-pack.

I'm going to give this beer a 3.4 out of 5 rating. My rating would have been higher if not for all of the sediment. Looks do count in my book. Nice beer Green Flash, but please clean it up a bit next time. Anyone else have a reaction to seeing a lot of sediment in your beers? Post a comment below to share your thoughts.

Update 5/27/2008: I wrote to Green Flash and asked them about the sediment I found in the beer and if that was normal. I got an email response from Mike Hinkley from Green Flash and here is what he said:

"Due to the intense amount of dry hopping the beer has loads of proteins in solution that bond and show as sediment in the bottom if the beer gets very cold. We are working on reducing the sediment in the bottles, but there will likely always be some cloudiness and some sediment in the bottom. Perhaps your beer got very cold and caused a lot of bonding. You are correct in the beer will taste the same either way. There is nothing wrong with the beer other than perhaps the presentation if cloudy beer or a little sediment bothers you. Cheers. Thanks for your support. Mike"

Related article:
- Green Flash Extra Pale Ale review.
- Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA review.
- Russian River Pliny the Elder IPA review.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Great Divide Looking to Change Image

Great Divide Brewing Company Don't look now, but those familiar Great Divide Brewing Company beer labels are preparing to get a whole new look. Great Divide is in the process of obtaining approval for changing nearly all of it's labels for their Colorado brews. came out with the rumor a couple of weeks ago and followed up with additional proof as they displayed several new labels for the Great Divide beers. Some labels have yet to be revealed but from the looks of it, Great Divide is heading back into a more classic look with these labels. No idea on when the new look will go into effect. The new labels can be seen below.

What do you think about the new look for Great Divide beer labels? Let me know and post a comment.

Related articles:
- Great Divide Hades Ale review.
- Great Divide St. Bridgets Porter review.
- Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout review.
- Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout review.

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2008 Memorial Weekend Events in Colorado

The Summer Beer Festivals are in full swing in Colorado and Memorial Weekend is offering several events with Colorado beer drinkers in mind. You'll have to head up to the mountains this weekend for some great beer, music, fun and food.

Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival
May 24-25, 2008
Park Hyatt Resort and Spa, Beaver Creek, CO
Highlights: Great eats and musical treats at the annual Blues, Brews & BBQ festival. This fitting start to summer (and BBQ season) in the mountains features daily kids activities, cooking demonstrations, and two free Blues concerts featuring Donna Jean and the Tricksters and Marcia Ball. Barbecue favorites will be prepared by top BBQ chefs from Kansas City, Des Moines, Iowa, Colorado and other locations nationwide. Meanwhile the Beaver Creek Park Hyatt Resort & Spa hosts the largest Colorado Microbrewery Beer Tasting in the state, featuring over 100 special concoctions from 35 Colorado-based breweries.
Web Site

Boulder Creek Festival
Sat, May 24th 2008 - Mon, May 26th 2008
10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m daily
Location: 14th & Canyon - Boulder, CO
For over twenty years, the Boulder Creek Festival has been the unofficial kickoff to summer in Boulder County. Widely considered Boulder County's favorite event, the Boulder Creek Festival includes three days of festivities featuring a large variety of events, activities, food and entertainment unique to the Boulder community. The Festival is free to the public and features something for everyone: 10 separate event areas with 500 vendors showcase everything from community arts and crafts to health alternatives and technology while five performance stages feature a spectrum of music and dance. The Festival also features carnival rides, food and beverage vendors, and the signature event: the Great Rubber Duck Race! Join us over Memorial Day weekend 2008 for the 21st Annual Boulder Creek Festival, the best event in Boulder! Info 303-449-3137 or visit Web Site/

6th Annual Yagatta Regatta
Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs, CO
Saturday, May 24th, 2008
Hosted in scenic Glenwood Springs, the Colorado Yagatta Regatta is a one-of-a-kind rafting floatilla and costume contest that brings together the whitewater community, Glenwood Springs locals and visitors for a fun, family-friendly day on the Colorado River and at Two Rivers Park. Come out from 12-9 p.m. on Saturday, May 24, 2008, for river rafting, microbrew tasting, live music, food, fireworks, kid's activities and more!
Web Site

7th Annual Festival of the Brewpubs
May 25, 2008
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, A-Basin, CO
Join A-Basin for their largest party of the year! Spend the day sampling mugs of beer from a variety of Summit County brewpubs for one low price per 14 oz mug (must be 21). Breweries include Pug Ryan’s, Breckenridge, Dillon Dam, Backcountry and Wolf Rock. Cost: $20 for 14oz plastic beer mug and unlimited tastings. NEW this year -$40 Limited Edition Stainless Steel Beer Mug, 14oz and unlimited tastings. Time: Purchase mugs from 11am. Beer pouring begins at 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. Entertainment: DJ from 11 - 1 p.m. That Eighties Band 1-4 p.m. in the base area. All music is FREE.
Expect great springtime skiing and much more!
Web Site

More Colorado Beer Festivals can be found on this website's list.

Know of any other Colorado beer related events going on this weekend? Post a comment here and let us know about it!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Colorado Homebrew Supply Stores

Colorado Homebrew Supply Stores

Curious about making your own beer? Looking for a homebrew supply store in the Colorado area? Homebrewers in Colorado can pick up beer and wine making supplies at these following local supply shops. This list was compiled with help from the American Homebrewer's Association web site and is updated regularly.

If you know of a Colorado homebrew shop not on this list, please leave a comment to this article along with the name, address, phone number and web site.

Colorado Homebrew Supply Stores List
Last updated: Feb. 20, 2016.

Jump to Regional Listings:
Denver - Boulder/Longmont - Northern - Southeast - Mountains/Southwest

Denver Metro Homebrew Stores

The Brew HutBrew Hut, The
15108 E. Hampden Avenue
Aurora, CO 80014-3906
Email: brewmaster[at]
Phone: (303) 680-8898; (800) 730-9336

Castle Rock Homebrew SupplyCastle Rock Homebrew Supply
1043 Park Street (behind the Gun Shop)
Castle Rock, CO 80109
Phone: (303) 660-2275
Fax: (303) 317-8160
Email: eric[at]

Altitude Brewing & Supply
2801 Walnut St, Unit C
Denver, CO 80205
Phone: (303) 292-2739 (BREW)
Email: mike[at]

1133 N. Broadway
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: (720) 485-4959
Email: jamie[at]
Opened May 2015.

Grainy DaysGrainy Days
1245 E. 39th Ave., Building C #301
Denver, CO 80239
Phone: (720) 441-3882
Email: grainydaysllc[at]

Beer at HomeBeer at Home, Inc.
4393 S. Broadway
Englewood, CO 80113-5719
Phone: (303) 789-3676
Email: beer[at]

Barley HavenBarley Haven HomeBrew
1050 S Wadsworth Blvd, Suite B
Lakewood, CO 80226
Email: orders[at]
Phone: (303) 936-2337

Tom's Brew ShopTom's Brew Shop
883 Parfet Street, Suite J
Lakewood, CO 80215-5548
Phone: (303) 232-5347
Email: kegs[at]

Bierhaus Brewing & SuppliesBierhaus Brewing & Supplies
5950 S Platte Canyon Rd.
Littleton, CO 80123
Phone: (303) 862-6612
Email: info[at]

Quirky Homebrew
425 W. 115th Ave, Unit 6
Northglenn, CO 80234
Phone: (303) 457-3555
Email: quirky[at]
Opened: October 2013.

Barley HavenBarley Haven Draft 'n Still
Address TBA - Specialty Overflow Inventory Warehouse
Sheridan, CO
Opening September 2014.

Do Your BrewDo Your Brew
9050 W. 88th Ave
Westminster, CO 80005-1586
Phone: (303) 476-3257
Email: contactus[at]

Boulder-Longmont Area Homebrew Stores

Boulder Fermentation SupplyBoulder Fermentation Supply
2510 47th St., Suite I
Boulder, CO 80301
Phone: (303) 578-0041
Email: fermentationsupply[at]

Lafayette Homebrew SupplyLafayette Homebrew Supply
400 W. South Boulder Road - Suite 2500
Lafayette, CO 80026
Phone: (720) 484-5756
Email: george[at]

Bald Brewer Homebrewing & Winemaking SuppliesBald Brewer Homebrewing & Winemaking Supplies
651 8th Ave.
Longmont, CO 80501-4938
Phone: (303) 682-4314
Email: mark[at]

Northern Colorado Homebrew stores

Hops & BerriesHops and Berries - Old Town
130 W Olive St, Unit B
Ft. Collins, CO 80524-2833
Phone: (970) 493-2484 x801
Email: manager[at]

Hops & Berries SouthHops and Berries South
1833 E. Harmony Road, Unit 16
Fort Collins, CO 80528-3414
Phone: (970) 493-2484 x802
Email: manager[at]
Opened April 20, 2012

DD's Home Brew Supplies
2015 9th Street
Greeley, CO 80631
Phone: (970) 356-1822
Email: ddshomebrew[at]
Opened January 2, 2015
Facebook Page

Warhammer Hydro and Brewing SupplyWarhammer Hydro and Brewing Supply
1112 N. Monroe Ave.
Loveland, CO 80537
Phone: (970) 635-2602
Email: sales[at]

Southeast Colorado Homebrew Stores

5765 North Academy Boulevard
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
Phone: (719) 598-1164
Email: sales[at]

Old West Homebrew Supply
229 East Pikes Peak Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Phone: (719) 635-2443 or (800) 458-2739
Email: sales[at]

Wine-Crafters & Homebrew Supplies
625 Paonia St.
Colorado Springs, CO 80915
Phone: (719) 528-1651
Email: dlujan[at]

HiCountry Homebrew and Gifts
243 N Washington Street
Monument, CO 80132
Phone: (719) 481-3477
Email: brewwineguy[at]

Kitchen & Homebrew Supply
118 W Midland Ave.
PO Box 328
Woodland Park, CO 80863-2120
Phone: (719) 687-0557
Email: info[at]

Mountain and Southwest Area Homebrew Stores

Indoor Garden & Brew Supply
584 Highway 133
Carbondale, CO 81623
Phone: (970) 963-2468

Durango Brew Supply
463 Turner Dr. #102-D
Durango, CO 81303
Phone: (970) 403-8158 or (855) 290-8158

High Country Home Brew
US Hwy 285
Pine, CO 80470
Phone: (303) 838-0199
Email: Highcountryhomebrew[at]

Kettles Homebrew Supply
233 E. Aspen Avenue
Fruita, CO 81521
Phone: (970) 858-4700
Email: kettleshomebrew[at]

Indoor Garden & Brew Supply
115 6th Street
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
Phone: (970) 945-2469

Everybody's Brewin' It
62 Agate Avenue
Granby, CO 80446
Phone: (970) 887-0333
Same location as Never Summer Brewing Company.

Lil Ole' Winemaker
516 Main Street
Grand Junction, CO 81501-2608
Phone: (970) 242-3754
Email: lilolewinemaker1[at]

Wine or Wort Home Brew Supply
150 Cooley Mesa Road (next to Costco)
Gypsum, CO 81637
Phone: (970) 524-2337 (BEER)
Email: info[at]

Tommyknocker Brewery & Pub
1401 Miner St.
Idaho Springs, CO 80452
Phone: (303) 567-2688
Email: tkbrew[at]

The Homebrew Connection
20 South Nevada
Montrose, CO 81401
Phone: (970) 249-4683
Email: thehomebrewconnection[at]

Vail Valley Ace Hardware
2111 N. Frontage Road W Ste C
Vail, CO 81657-4952
Phone: (970) 476-8282
Email: team[at]

Related articles:
- Choosing a brew kettle.
- Colorado Homebrew Clubs listing.
- Brewing Definitions.
- List of Colorado Breweries and Brewpubs.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

New Belgium Releases Folly Packs Featuring Old Cherry Ale

New Belgium Old Cherry AleSay hello to an old friend - New Belgium Old Cherry Ale, but remember, this one only comes with some company. The New Belgium Brewery of Fort Collins Colorado is bringing back one of it's discontinued Belgian beers. A beer that stopped production 10 years ago is back in a new 12-pack mixer collection called "Folly Packs". This isn't the reformulated "Two Cherry" ale that came out in 2001, but rather the original formula from 1995. I caught word from The Full Pint Dot Com and just had to spread the news about one of my favorite local breweries. Old Cherry Ale is described as:

" amber ale fermented with dark red Montmorency cherries grown in Washington State. Old Cherry Ale has a rich cherry aroma, and a delicate balance of cherry tartness and barley malt sweetness."

Supposedly, the only way to get your hands on some of this beer is to purchase a "Folly Pack". Reportedly included with the 12-pack are: Fat Tire, 1554 Black Ale and Mothership Wit. You may also be able to find it with some of their new beer Mighty Arrow.

Hurry though, the Old Cherry Ale may only be around for a limited time. It was first brewed in 1995 and last seen in 1998. Don't miss your chance to pick up some of this 6.5% ABV fruity goodness. I'll have to head over to their tasting room to see if this is being served on tap in their tasting room.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Samuel Adams beer dinner recap

Samuel Adams Beer Dinner at RiojaAmerica is celebrating American Craft Beer Week and breweries all over the country are helping to spread the word about craft beer and how well it goes with all kinds of food.

The Boston Beer Company set out on a 10 city tour and partnered up with some great restaurants to showcase their ales and to share some great meals with the beer loving public. I was lucky enough to receive two complimentary tickets to the May 15th Denver beer dinner at the Rioja restaurant in downtown Denver. I wanted to share this experience with some friends so I brought along a couple of co-workers with me.

The Rioja restaurant is in the heart of downtown Denver Colorado and is in a perfect location. It is close enough to walk to from the theater center and about 5 blocks from Coors Field. We arrived just a few minutes before the dinner was to start. We were ushered into a side room where 40 to 45 fellow craft beer lovers were enjoying a sampling of one of three Samuel Adams craft beers.

Our hosts for this evening were Bob Cannon and Katie Powell from the Boston Beer Company. Bob is one of the brewers for Samuel Adams and Katie is part of the Marketing group. Once everyone had gotten a chance to get to know each other, we all took our seats. Bob Cannon then spoke to the crowd to share his insights into the joys of fine craft beer and how well it pairs with food.

The menu for this evening was personally selected by the head chef and co-owner of the restaurant, Jennifer Jasinski. Prior to the meal, Jennifer worked with Boston Beer to sample and pair each of the three beers to be served with some of the best dishes she could come up with. Placed on each setting at the table was a custom printed menu for the evening. Every course of the meal would either be cooked with some of the paired beer or contain some of the same ingredients found in the beer. As you can see from the menu, we were going to be in for a real treat tonight.

The first selection of the night was called the "amuse". This was a small item meant to awaken the palette. The amuse contained two types of seafood including some crab meat. We also received our first beer of the evening which was their Samuel Adams Summer Ale. This ale was a freshing wheat beer that had several exotic spices including some coriander. It had a wonderful citrusy aroma and would go great with many types of food including fish. Perfect type of beer for a warm summer day. The amuse was meant to be a quick start to the meal. Just enough to wet the appetite.

Quickly after, the appetizer was served. This was the 1st course of the meal. We were served a wonderful "coriander crusted scallops" dish. Atop the scallops was a tuna tartare, along with a carrot coriander nage and a pickled cucumber salad. Notice the inclusion of coriander - one of the main spices of the Summer Ale. I was really getting into this. The scallops were cooked to perfection and paired perfectly with the Summer Ale. I was really "digging" this food and was ready for more.

The proportions of this course was perfect as I still had plenty of room for the rest of the meal. Again after this portion of the meal, Bob stood up and told us a bit more about their next beer and about their special custom made Boston Lager glass that came with it. Each of the guests were given a complimentary Boston Lager glass with their meal. This glass had a lot of curves built in and had a laser etching in the bottom which made the beer bubble up from below. Their flagship beer "Samuel Adams Boston Lager" was to be the beer to be paired with the main course.

The main dish tonight was the "Boston Lager braised beef short ribs". Along with that came some faro risotto, herb roasted organic stuffed squash and some crispy onion toppings. This time, the food was cooked in some of the beer it was paired with. The ribs were melt in your mouth good and again, served in just the right proportions. We received a full glass of Boston Lager with this course. One of my friends there wasn't a big beer lover but stated that once you tasted the beef and then took a drink of the Boston Lager the beer really tasted superb! I'm a big fan of ribs and this meal was definitely hitting the spot.

The last course of the meal was dessert. The servers brought out a small beer glass filled with vanilla ice cream and cherries with an edible straw in the middle. Beside this was two chocolate cookies with cream filling. I first expected to have their third beer poured into a separate glass but then saw the servers pour the Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat beer on top of the ice cream. This created an awesome looking Vanilla Cherry Float. The cherry wheat beer really brought out the aroma of the cherries in the glass. You could stir up the concoction with the straw and sip it and then eat the rest of the straw. Wow. That was tasty. I've tried beer floats with porters and stouts before, but never with a wheat beer. It was great! I also tried the Cherry Wheat beer by itself. You don't notice the cherry aroma or flavor as much as a stand alone but when you taste the beer with the ice cream and cherries, the cherry flavor is really brought out.

Midway through the dessert, our wonderful chef Jennifer came out of the kitchen to talk with the crowd. She received a wonderful and well deserved round of applause from the entire room. Jennifer was kind enough to describe how she paired her recipes with the beer and pose for a quick pic with yours truly. The food here at the Rioja is truly a work of art and is highly recommended. I'm hoping that Boston Beer selects the Rioja again sometime for a dinner.

The meal wrapped up shortly after 10pm. The entire meal was the perfect example of how great craft beer can be paired with a wide variety of food. From seafood, to beef, to even ice cream there's bound to be one beer that will taste great with it. The three of us had a fantastic time. We'd definitely do this again. A big thanks to Bob, Katie and Jennifer and the wonderful staff at Rioja for hosting this most excellent meal. If you ever get a chance to attend a beer dinner sponsored by one of your favorite breweries - DO IT! It just may inspire you to cook some of your own meals and pair it with your favorite beer.

I took a short 3-minute video of one of Bob's beer talks. It was taken with a very low res digital camera. The image quality is poor but I believe you can hear Bob if you turn up the volume a bit and capture a taste of what the evening was like. Can't wait for the next dinner. Salute!

Related articles:
- Samuel Adams Cream Stout review
- Samuel Adams Honey Porter review
- Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock review

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