Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Left Hand Deep Cover Brown Ale review

Left Hand Deep Cover Brown AleHere is the last review from the Left Hand Brewing's Mountain Mixer pack. Today it's their Left Hand Deep Cover Brown Ale. I think the name of this beer is referring to the fact that this beer is trying to disguise itself as a brown ale. I'll explain in a bit. I am a fan of brown ales and they are generally dark and rich and nutty.

This beer pours a reddish brown but is very clear. Almost too red for it's own good. Would this beer actually be better classified as an Amber Ale? Perhaps. The brew registers at a mere 4.4% ABV and with only 20 IBUs. So it's low alcohol and not very hoppy. The brew poured without much of a head build up like other malty beers would. It had a very small light tan head with just a little bead.

I swirled this beer in the glass to get out the aroma. This beer is only hopped with just one type of flower - US Goldings hops. It has a nice aroma, lightly floral and with a hint of citrus smell. Not as noticeable as Cascade hops however.

The first sip reminded me of a light beer. Not what I'd expect from a brown ale. I could taste a bit of nuttiness in the brew but not much. Even the chocolate malt that was mixed in didn't leave much of a trace. This beer was made with Premium Pale 2-row, some Crystal, some Munich and a dash of Brown and Chocolate malts. I think they probably should have added a bit more of the darker malts as the "brown" turned into more of a light amber brew. The beer was smooth enough to drink and it left just a slight tingle on the middle front of the tongue which lingered well after the beer was gone. Not to say this beer coated my tongue, it didn't, but it left a little lingering feel.

One thing about a few of the Left Hand beers that I noticed is that after a few minutes, the hop aroma all but goes away. I was left wishing that the original just opened smell would have stuck around a bit longer. Still, overall I was modestly satisfied with this brew. Not my favorite brown, but good enough to drink again.

Ratebeer.com only gave this a 2.99/5 rating (43rd percentile) so I'm not alone in saying this is just an average brown. I've got 2 more of these in the case. Perhaps the next two will be a bit better.

Update: 12/2/2009 - Left Hand Brewing has announced that they will be discontinuing Deep Cover Brown Ale at the end of 2009. Coincidentally, Left Hand will be putting out their 400 Pound Monkey IPA as a new year round beer starting in January 2010.

Related articles:
- Left Hand Polestar Pilsner review.
- Left Hand Wake up Dead Imperial Stout review.
- Left Hand Sawtooth Ale review.

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Left Hand Sawtooth Ale review

Left Hand Sawtooth AleContinuing on with the sampling of the Left Hand Brewing Mountain Mixer 12-pack, I was able to try out their Sawtooth Ale last night. This is the 3rd beer in the four beer style sampler series. This beer is listed as an American Style Extra Special Bitter or ESB. What's an ESB? Here's what Wikipedia says about bitters:

"Bitter belongs in the pale ale style grouping, though bitter does have a greater variety of strength, flavor and appearance than mainstream pale ale. A bitter can be dark amber, approaching a stout, or be very golden and delicate like a golden summer ale. It can also go under 3% ABV as with Boys Bitter and as high as 7% with some premium or strong bitters. During the early to mid 20th century there were some regional preferences noted which may still be detected in the beers of some of the more established breweries. In Cornwall, Wales, North England and Scotland the preference was for sweeter, less hopped beer. In other areas, particularly Southeast England, the preference was for hoppy beers.

British brewers have several loose names for variations in beer strength, such as IPA, best bitter, special bitter, extra special bitter, and premium bitter. There is no agreed and defined difference between an ordinary and a best bitter other than one particular brewery's best bitter will usually be stronger than its ordinary. And two groups of drinkers may mark differently the point at which a best bitter becomes a premium bitter. Hop levels will vary within each sub group, though there is a tendency for the hops in the session bitter group to be more noticeable.

The term bitter by itself is little used in the United States. The term pale ale or ESB is more commonly used. Where bitter is used it indicates a pale ale of lower alcohol content brewed in a less hop-focused style than typical American pale ales. American bitters often use British varieties of hops."

So in a nutshell, it's generally a lower alcohol and uses certain types of hops to get it's flavor. As for the Sawtooth Ale, this one comes in at 4.8% ABV and an IBU rating of 27. Because it went at or above the 4.8% ABV mark, it "qualifies" as an ESB. Left Hand Brewing lists the following malts in this beer: Premium 2-row, Crystal, Munich and their own Left Hand Custom Malt. (ooo a secret!) The hop selection consisted of 4 different types: Magnum, US Goldings, Fuggles and Cascade. I can always pick out the Cascase in the aroma.

Appearance: This beer poured a very red, almost orange color and had a moderate light tan head. The beer was very clear with no sediment at all. I tried to take 4 to 5 pictures of this beer just after I poured it into the glass but all of the shots turned out blurry. Apparently this beer didn't like it's picture taken. I finally got a sharper image only after I had drank about half of this beer. I let the beer air out a bit before sampling. The first aroma of this beer was was wonderful aroma. I was pleasantly surprised! It had a light citrusy smell and was did not have any off-aromas. All too often a beer will lose points with me right away if the aroma is just not right. This beer almost smelled like a New Belgium style beer at first.

Taste: The taste was nice and smooth on the palate that gave a slight tingle to the tongue that I can't quite describe, almost with herbal overtones. A few seconds after swallowing I was hit with a mild bitter after effect that was ever so slight. Some beers leave a very noticeable after taste but the one from this one was actually a nice affect. Left Hand calls this a "session" beer and I'd have to agree. It goes down easy and isn't strong and I could definitely see myself having more than one of these in a sitting.

Overall: While ESB's are fairly new to my palate, I'd say this one convinced me that I should try more of this style. My initial reaction was to score this lower than some of the porters I'm biased toward, but to be fair, I ended up raising my score after finishing this beer. I'm going to give this beer a 3.4 out of 5 rating and a raised glass to boot. Left Hand came up with a classic - I can see why this is their flagship beer. That leaves just one other Left Hand beer to sample next and it's a brown ale. More to come.

Related articles:
- Left Hand Milk Stout review.
- Left Hand Polestar Pilsner review.
- Breweries of Longmont Part II - Left Hand Brewery.

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Colorado Wants to Change It's Liquor Laws

I saw the following article out on the Rocky Mountain News web site. The article explains that there are some new pieces of legislation being introduced in the Colorado state capitol that wishes to overturn the long standing blue laws that prohibits the sale of liquor on Sundays in Colorado.

Now how many times have you run out of your favorite beer on a Sunday only to realize that you can't stock up until Monday? For me, it's happened a lot. I typically buy my beer on weekends (Friday and Saturday) and often wish that I could pick some additional beer up on Sunday, especially when I got too busy during the rest of the week to stock up.

It's been 75 years this month since prohibition was repealed and these outdated blue laws have been in effect. I say it's time to take these laws off the books and let the liquor stores open up on Sundays. This would help local mom and pop liquor shops get more sales and help satisfy their customers more with more convenient weekend hours.

There's even more legislation in the works to allow certain stores to sell more than just 3.2 beer and wine coolers. In addition, another bill may target the old laws that forbid liquor stores from selling food and from allowing a single person to hold more than 1 liquor store license.

It's time to make some changes Colorado. I'm hoping that Governor Ritter will see the light and let us buy beer and liquor on Sundays. (Read the Rocky article for more info).

Related articles:
- Colorado one step closer to Sunday liquor sales.
- Hey Ritter, sign that Sunday liquor law already.
- Liquor now sold 7 days a week in Colorado.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

2008 Big Beers Festival Homebrew Winners


Colorado was host to the 8th Annual Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival that took place during the weekend of January 11-12th in Vail. This year saw over 650 big beer fans participate in the weekend event. The following awards were given out in the 2008 Homebrew Competition at the 8th annual event:

Best of Show
Rich Krahl, Thornton, Colorado
“Wedding IPA”

Mixed Strong Dark Ales
Strong Scotch Ale – BJCP Category #9E, Baltic Porter – BJCP Category #12C
Russian Imperial Stout – BJCP Category #13F
Gold
Landon Anderson, New Castle, CO “Maria Porter”
Silver
Tom Gardner, Denver, CO “Way Heavy”
Bronze
Ryan Thomas, Westminster, CO “Wilson’s Imperial Stout”

Belgian & French Ales
BJCP Category #16
Gold
John Landreman, Colorado Springs, CO “Saison”
Silver
Bob Kauffman, Lafayette, CO “Saison ‘06”
Bronze
Greg Geiger, Littleton, CO “Ghent Night Train”

Sour Ales
BJCP Category #17
Gold
Jim Denier, Littleton, CO “Fruit Lambic”
Silver
John Applegarth, Grand Rapids, MI “Pseudo Lambic”
Bronze
Jim Denier, Littleton, CO “Sour Red Ale”

Belgian Strong Ales
BJCP Category #18
Gold
John Applegarth, Grand Rapids, MI “Monkey Shines”
Silver
Jim Denier, Littleton, CO “Rochefort 8 Clone”
Bronze
Ted Manahan, Ft. Collins, CO “Belgian Blonde”

Strong Ales
BJCP Category #19
Gold
Ryan Thomas, Westminster, CO “Ragnarok”
Silver
John Applegarth, Grand Rapids, MI “Old Grouch”
Bronze
Ryan Thomas, Westminster, CO “Gotterdammerung”

Mixed Strong Ales
Bock BJCP – Category #5
Imperial IPA - BJCP Category #14C
Weizenbock – BJCP Category #15C
Specialty Beer – BJCP Category #23
Braggot – BJCP Cateogry #26B
Gold
Rich Krahl, Thornton, CO “Wedding IPA”
Silver
Rick Bobbitt, Thornton, CO “Mountain Goat Eisbock”
Bronze
Ryan Thomas, Westminster, CO “Much Too Much”

Specialty Beer
Specialty – BJCP Category #23
Gold
John Allison, Boulder, CO “Russian Ryeperia Stout Porter”
Silver
Gordon Pencis, Aurora, CO “Bourbon Barrel Beetlejuice Stout”
Bronze
Brent Steinshouer, Aurora, CO “Fallen Angels”

Next year's event has already been set for January 9-10, 2009 in Vail, Colorado and should prove to be even more popular. Set your calendar's now!

More 2008 Colorado Beer Festivals

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Left Hand Polestar Pilsner review

Left Hand Polestar PilsnerAs an astronomy buff, I gotta like the label on this beer - two people looking at the Little Dipper and the North Star. Today's brew review is another from the Mountain Mixer from Left Hand Brewing of Longmont, Colorado - their Polestar Pilsner. This is a German style pilsner and is described as the "hardest beer to make" according to Left Hand.

This beer pours a very light golden color and raised a very big white head and a decent bead. There was a great clingy white lacing that remained on the glass for a long time. The beer has great clarity too.

Here are the specs on this beer: They used Weyermann Pilsner Malt exclusively along with Perle, Vanguard and Czech Saaz hops. It's the Perle hops that gave this beer that citrusy / grassy smell in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I like pilsners, just don't make it smell like a wheat beer.

Appearance and Aroma: Upon first smell I was immediately reminded of another beer I sampled a few months earlier. This smelled a lot like a wheat beer I just had! I cross checked the hops used in this beer and one of them matched the one in the wheat beer, so perhaps the hops were throwing me off. The beer has a citrusy, almost grassy aroma. Despite the initial smell I withheld judgment until the tasting.

Taste: The taste of Polestar Pilsner was an almost 180 degree turn in the right direction. This beer was a nice light refreshing brew that tasted much better than it smelled. It had a classic pilsner taste with a little extra that macro versions lack entirely.

Overall: I enjoyed drinking this beer as long as I didn't breathe deeply from the glass before I sipped it. The beers scored a 5.0% on the ABV scale and a moderate 33 IBUs. So it's not too weak yet a bit hoppier than most pilsners. Despite it's good taste, the aroma was enough to lower this beer on my ratings. While I would probably drink this beer again if offered it, it barely passes the buy again test. I'll give this a 2.9 out of 5 rating.

If you like German style pilsners then you'll probably like this beer. Ratebeer.com gave this beer a 34th percentile and a 2.88/5 rating. Not that great. Most other ratings were somewhat similar to mine and they forgave the aroma. Sure, I may have given too much emphasis on aroma, but for me, a beer needs the complete experience to score a decent rating from me.

Related articles:
- Left Hand Milk Stout review.
- Left Hand Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout review.
- Left Hand Deep Cover Brown Ale review.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Left Hand Milk Stout review

Left Hand Milk StoutToday is a two brew review day as I had a nice big 12-pack sampler of beers from Left Hand Brewing Company from Longmont, Colorado staring me in the face and I just have to have one more beer today. Left Hand Brewing offered up a 12-bottle Mountain Mixer and provided four different beers to sample and enjoy. Seeing how I am a fan of the dark side of brewing, I first chose to taste their Left Hand Milk Stout. I've tried a few dark stouts in my day including Guinness but had never had a milk stout. But what in the world is a milk stout you say? Does it include actual milk? No. Not a drop of cow juice was mixed into this dark beer, but rather the brew was primed with a milk sugar which helps balance the roastiness of this stout beer.

This beer poured almost black. While it isn't thick by any means, this beer is as dark as they come. As pictured above, this beer pours with a rich thick head that actually went slightly over the top of my glass when poured. The foam lingered on the side of the glass as it settled and left just a small tiny bead. Immediately you could smell a rich roasty, coffee and chocolate like aroma with a slightly different hop smell. This Left Hand brew uses Magnum and US Goldings hops, a much different smell than your typical Cascade that was in my last beer. Here, the malts are definitely the main feature here. This stout comes in at an ABV of 5.2% with an IBU of only 22. Left Hand uses a variety of malts including: Premium Pale 2-row, Munich, Crystal, Roast Barley, Flaked Oats, Flaked Barley and Chocolate malts. Wow - now that's a line up of malt!

This beer had a very rich malty taste with a true roastiness to it that stayed on the middle of my tongue throughout the session. Nice, and not chalky but borderline so. If you love coffee roast, you'll love this beer. I love the smell of good coffee but prefer not to drink that bean. But this beer is very smooth without the harshness and acidity of coffee.

There was a slightly different taste to this as well due to the lactose sugar that was used in this brew. This is what helps distinguish this beer from other stout styles. A slightly sweet character in a roasty environment.

This is the first beer from Left Hand Brewing Company that I've had the opportunity to sample. So far so good. I have a Brown, and Pilsner and their flagship Ale to sample next and am looking forward to it. I'll give this milk stout a decent 3.5 out of 5 rating. Definitely worth a try.

Related articles:
- Left Hand Snowbound Winter Ale review.
- Left Hand Deep Cover Brown Ale review.
- Left Hand Sawtooth Ale review.

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Avery Ellie's Brown Ale review

Avery Ellie's Brown AleToday's beer review comes from Avery Brewing Company of Boulder, Colorado and is named after one of the brewer's favorite pets. I present to you a review of Avery Ellie's Brown Ale.

Upon first pour, I saw a very dark brown, almost dark red in color when held to the light. There was a nice light tan head to this beer. The smell of this beer seemed somewhat sweet. I could really pick out the Cascade hops in this beer right away.

Avery brewed this beer with 3 different hops: Cascade, Bullion and Fuggles hops, but it appears that they go very sparingly with those hops as the IBU measurement is only at 17. That's fine, I'm not currently a big hop person, but I'd like to see a bit more hoppiness in my browns than this.

The first taste was of the caramel and chocolate malt. Avery didn't go overboard with the malts and was noticeably lighter in taste than a porter. As a brown ale, this fits the bill nicely and reminds me of some of the other tasty brown ales I've sampled before. Still, I felt that this brown was not as outstanding as I've had before.

While Ratebeer.com gave Ellie's Brown Ale an average score, I too would have to agree that this is an average brown. I'd like to see a bit more taste and a bit more bitterness from this. Browns by nature are sweet but are usually balanced by the right amount of hops. While this beer is slightly more alcoholic than a session beer, I'd probably classify this as a session brown beer. I could drink a few of these easily as I love browns.

Avery mixed together a blend of two-row, chocolate, Munich 10L and Caramel 120L malts into their brew. I can see why many would love this beer. It even won a Bronze in the 2005 Great American Beer Festival. I'm going to give this beer a rating of 3.3 out of 5 and keep it in mind for another try later on. I've got 5 more bottles in my six pack and should be able to evaluate it further later this week. Good brew Avery! It's one I'd buy again.

Related articles:
- Avery White Rascal review.
- Avery Salvation review.
- Avery Hog Heaven review.
- Avery Collaboration Not Litigation Ale review.
- Avery Fifteen Anniversary 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, January 25, 2008

Colorado's Oskar Blues Brewery Expands

Chalk up another expansion for a Colorado Brewer. As 2008 has ushered in, so will soon a new era for the Lyons Colorado Oskar Blues Brewery. Business has been so good over their 5-year history that the now famous craft beer in a can maker has got to expand. Already during this last year, the small mountain town brewer has come out with their 4th beer (Ten FIDY Imperial Stout) in their line of hand canned facility / restaurant and a new 35,000 square foot facility will be added in nearby Longmont, Colorado to help with the growing demand for their beer. I've personally visited Oskar Blues 2 years ago and tried one of their fresh brews on tap (One Nut Brown Ale) along with some yummy food. I plan on reviewing some of their canned craft beers in the near future. I look forward to seeing even more innovative brews from them in the future. Production at the new facility should begin in March 2008.

For more information, read the recent news release covered by Beer Advocate.

Update: The expanded brewery is now open. Read more here.

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Denver Celebrates Winter Brew Fest

Beer is still quite the drawing factor in Colorado as Denver is hosting yet another beer festival tonight, January 25th, 2008. The "Winter Brew Fest" is hosting 17 of Colorado's finest brewers' beers (over 40 different beers) at the Oriental Theater on West 44th Avenue in the Mile High city. The event will run from 7pm to 10pm and tickets are supposedly already sold out.

People without tickets may still be able to join in the fun as they will be letting people in on a 1-out 1-in basis. This event will benefit the Colorado Environmental Coalition. All who get there early will also receive a commemorative drinking glass to sample their brews with. Tickets are $30 at the door if there is still room.

There will be live music there as well by Danny Vegas and Classic Movies, followed by the headliner: THE REALS! As this event has always been popular it may need to grow into a larger venue next year. Let's hope so.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Belgium La Folie review

New Belgium La FolieHoly Sour Power! I tried New Belgium La Folie at the New Belgium Brewing Company tap room in Fort Collins, Colorado a few months ago along with 3 other samplers of their ales. This was the ale I had been hearing about and wanted to give it an honest review. And what better way to try it then on a free tasting session!

La Folie was my first ever sour ale and I was warned by the New Belgium staff there that you will either love it or hate it - so be prepared. This stuff was served from a tap in their tasting room but was also available in hand numbered large green bottles.

My first sip from the tap was WOAH - that was sour! My mouth puckered. La Folie was both sweet and sour yet has a somewhat vinegary taste to it. This stuff woke up my sleepy mouth. I wasn't sure about this beer after it first hit my tongue. After a 2nd and 3rd sip, however, I had gotten used to the tartness and felt compelled to finish the glass. It was a taste that very slowly grew on me and I had to get through my initial instincts to put it down.

I liked it well enough to buy a bottle and take it to Cincinnati to share with some co-workers / beer geeks there. Word of warning, If you transport this stuff by airline and open it in a much lower altitude be warned - this stuff can explode once uncorked!

I lost over 1/2 the bottle in a geyser when it opened in my Cincinnati hotel room. There was sour ale everywhere! The entire room smelled of sour funk. Needless to say, my friends had never tried a sour beer before either and they had a much stronger reaction to it than I did. After their first sips they didn’t want more but simply said it was "interesting".

In the 750ml size, it was a tad pricey to buy a big bottle but if you enjoy sours beers and want to try something different - try this. It comes in 22oz bottles today and is a bit more reasonable. Watch out, prices can vary from $14 to $18.

If you are going to enjoy sour ale you must expand your beer palate and be willing to try a sour barrel aged beer with an open mind then you'll probably be able to acquire a taste for this popular style. I'll give this a 3.1 out of 5.0 rating, only because I wasn't used to a sour ale yet. This may change over time. (In fact, now I love this and would rate it much higher)

New Belgium La Folie original bottleUpdate 4/23/2008: I tried another glass of La Folie on tap at the NBB tap room and boy have my tastes changed over the last six months. Now that I've had this a few times, it is simply wonderful when enjoyed in small quantities. A 4 oz sample size is just right to slowly sip and enjoy . I've upped my ranking to a 3.6 out of 5. La Folie has a nice unique character. This subsequent tasting was a lot less acidic / vinegary than the first.

Update 8/13/2009: In 2009, La Folie is now available in annual batches of Lips of Faith 22oz bomber bottles. I sampled another bottle and I must say this beer is now one of my all-time favorite sour beers. I paired it with Gouda cheese and crackers. Simply wonderful. The main picture has been updated above.

Related articles:
- New Belgium 2° Below Ale mini-review.
- New Belgium Frambozen review.
- Summertime and the living is easy.


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Full Sail Top Sail Imperial Porter review

Full Sail Top Sail Imperial PorterTake me to your Imperial Leader! I think I'm becoming a porter lover, at least if you consider the past few beers I've reviewed. Last night I decided to try something new and different. I've had porters before but never an Imperial Porter until now.

I wanted to try a porter with a bit more kick to it. I settled on a Top Sail Imperial Porter from Full Sail Brewing out of Hood River, Oregon. I had never tried an imperial porter, much less an imperial anything. The Full Sail brand was also new to me. I normally drink local beers first as a rule, but on occasion I'll try another state's craft beer. The Full Sail web site indicates that their flagship brews are an amber, IPA and a Pale Ale, so this Imperial Porter was one of their Brewmaster Reserve 2007 specialty beers.

The label stated that this brew was 7.5% ABV so I assumed this was going to have a bit more kick than a regular porter. Apparently this was a limited run beer and once the beer is out of stock it won't be made again. Shame too. I did notice that they will be making a Top Sail Bourbon Imperial Porter later this year that has over 9.85% ABV. Perhaps I'll look for that soon and compare it with this one.

Appearance: This beer poured very dark brown, almost black with a very nice brown head. While this beer wasn't quite as high in alcohol content as the standard would indicate, I figured that by being a few % points higher in alcohol than regular porters that I'd feel it a bit more after drinking an entire 22 oz bottle.

Full Sail Top Sail Imperial PorterAroma: As I poured the beer into my trusty beer glass, I noticed a rich malty aroma that I've come to love with porters. It didn't have a very big hop smell but had just enough to indicate that there were some bitterness added. What I did smell was the rich malts.

Taste: The first few tastes were just what I expected from a good porter. It wasn't too sweet and had a nice smooth finish to it without any chalky after taste. This was a good porter.

By the end of the 22 oz bottle, I figured I'd feel it a bit more than I would have with a lower alcohol beer, but I didn't. The slightly higher alcohol content was not as strong as I would have thought. Probably a good thing too. I'd drink this beer again anytime. I'm going to give it a respectable 3.5 out of 5 rating. It pays to try new beers from other states. I'm now wanting to test out more of their beers. Cheers Full Sail!

Related articles:
- Full Sail Black Gold Imperial Stout review.
- Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter review.
- Ska Nefarious Ten Pin Imperial Porter review.
- Deschutes Black Butte XX review.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Longer Wait for New Aspen Brewery

Back in October, I reported that a new brewery was being built in Aspen, Colorado. The opening day was supposed to have been in December. Unfortunately, construction delays have pushed back the opening until sometime in late January according to the Aspen Times on January 10th. Here is a transcript of the Aspen Times story:

Aspen Brewery opening delayed - Aspen Times - January 10, 2008

ASPEN — Beer lovers looking to wet their whistles at the new Aspen Brewery will have to wait a little longer.

The new brewery and tasting room, originally scheduled to open in mid-December, won’t be open until at least the end of the month, said co-owner Duncan Clauss.

Delays in construction have delayed the grand opening by more than a month.

“We are working day and night to get the doors open,” Clauss said.

Clauss expects to get the brewery’s four fermenters operating next week, and it will take two weeks for the beer to be brewed. During that time, Clauss hopes to put the final touches on the interior of the building, located at 557 N. Mill St.

“Our brew system is in place but we don’t want to rush it and serve bad beer,” he said, adding four different brews will be available at the beginning. “We are very close. We are anxious as everybody to get it open.”

Clauss, and his business partners, Rory Douthit and Brad Veltman, last fall signed a three-year lease in the 2,000-square-foot space owned by local attorneys Ron Garfield and Andy Hecht, as well as several other investors.

Aspen Brewery will operate with a manufacturing/wholesale license, meaning it doesn't follow state or city liquor laws, which forbids liquor sales at retail outlets on Sundays. The difference is that Aspen Brewery is manufacturing a product and selling it wholesale.

The license applies across the board, so whether a thirsty customer wants to sample beer at the brewery's tasting room or take some home in a growler (a beer-to-go glass bottle), they can do it seven days a week.



---

Commentary: I'm sure that the locals and skiers in Aspen can't bear to wait another few weeks to sample the 1st local brew the area has seen. I look forward to seeing what they plan to serve up when they open up. I've added them to the Colorado Breweries list.

Related articles:
- Aspen Brewery opens!.
- Aspen Brewery gets compromise from city.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

4-Packs the Wave of the Future?

By now, most beer enthusiasts have heard about the current hop and malt shortage going on and how beer prices are going up in 2008. What you might not have noticed is a trend by craft brewers to "trick" you into not noticing the higher beer prices by putting out some of their brews in 4-packs instead of 6-packs.

While the standard may still be 6-packs, 12-packs and 24 (cases), there's going to be a growing trend to keep you trying and buying craft beers in smaller quantities - 4-packs.

Perhaps 4-packs are the way brewers are going to get you to try new brews without having to buy an entire 6-pack. Nothing is worse than trying out a new beer and having to invest in an entire 6-pack only to find out that you don't really like that beer and end up giving away or throwing away several bottles of beer you don't like. For us, the beer experimenters, we love nothing better than to try out as many different beers as possible.

Another reason for 4-packs is the fact that some specialty beers are quite expensive to make and to require consumers to buy an entire 6-pack might cost them over $20. Breaking it down to a 4-pack seems a bit easier on the wallet.

I for one like to buy sampler packs. These usually come in 12-packs. Samplers usually have between 3 to 6 different beers to try with 2 to 4 duplicates of each beer. Even with a 12-pack sampler if you didn't like several of the beers you still got stuck with all those extras. Well, now you can lower your risk and try out some 4-packs.

Here are two examples that I've seen come out this year.

Flying Dog Brewery has just announced their Canis Major 4-pack sampler of their Big Beers. Beers that are hoppier and higher in alcohol content. This 4-pack will have 1 each of their big beers: Kerberos Tripel, Gonzo Imperial Porter, Horn Dog Barley Wine and Double Dog Double Pale Ale. Not a bad little gimmick for getting you to try their brews without investing in a big 12 pack.

Another brewery who is putting out a 4-pack is the Boulder Beer Company with their Mojo Risin' Double IPA. This beer is going to be a bit pricier anyway since it's a limited release so why not cushion the blow to the wallet by putting them into 4-packs?

A couple other brewers putting their beers in 4-packs: Great Divide (Yeti Imperial Stout), Dogfish Head (90 Minute IPA and others), North Coast Brewing (Old Rasputin, Old Stock Ale). The trend seems to be more common with higher alcohol beers.

I'd hate to think that all craft breweries are going to start going this way to give the appearance that beer isn't going up in price. But let's face it. Our beer is going to cost us a bit more these days and probably will so for the next several of years. Hop crops can't keep up with demand and they can't be doubled in a year as it can take several years for new hop farmers to come on board with decent crop yields.

Then again, perhaps having more 4-packs out there will allow us beer lovers to try even more beers without having to invest a lot of green. I'll drink to that.

This article came from FermentedlyChallenged.com
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