Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Green Flash Extra Pale Ale review

Green Flash Extra Pale AleI've been out of new brews to drink for a few days now and I was itching to get something different and more along the lines of a session beer. I found a decent one in the form of an American Pale Ale (APA) called Green Flash Extra Pale Ale from Green Flash Brewing Company of San Diego, California. I had heard a lot about this brewery recently and was eager to try one of their beers. My local liquor store just started stocking brews from this brewery about a month ago and it was time to try one. During my beer run I also picked up a nice IPA and Strong Belgian, but I'll wait for later to review those. Tonight, I was going to drink a nice session beer.

This beer was eager to get out of the bottle. The moment I popped the cap the foam started oozing out of the top of the short squatty 12oz bottle. The beer pours a wonderful gold color and had a nice white foamy head. The foam went to the top of the glass and then some. I had to wait a bit for the foam to settle. The head sticks around for a while. You could see that it was well carbonated and clear, not hazy.

The aroma comes out a nice sweet grassy and citrusy smell. Green Flash put in a mix of Cascade and Chinook hops in this ale. Very aromatic. The taste was initially bitter but not overly so. There is a semi-sweet taste that is well balanced with the hop bitterness. You can't help but notice the hops throughout the entire tasting. It is one that I can get very use to. There is a generous amount of premium pale malt in this beer but maltiness is not the dominant character here, the hops are.

Green Flash Brewing CoThe taste reminds me of two things, a mild IPA and a hopped up macro brew, all at the same time. This is much better than a macro brew because the aromas and hops are so much more noticeable. This is a quality session beer that tastes good cold out of the fridge. I could easily drink a few of these on a hot day.

While I don't know the IBU rating, I'll bet it's between 45-60. The alcohol content is a low 4.8% ABV so you can certainly handle this brew without a problem. I got this beer at a 10% discount and paid $7.64 for a six-pack. A decent price considering many of the other craft brews go for a couple bucks more these days.

The beer rating sites tend to go low key on the session brews and give them a modest rating. BeerAdvocate gave it a "B" rating, while Ratebeer put it in the 65th percentile with a 3.24/5 rating and ranked this at the bottom of the brewery's many products. Still, despite being a session beer, I think many craft beer drinkers would go for this beer. It has quite a character of its own and goes down easy. I'll give it a 3.2 out of 5 rating and a thumbs up. I ended up drinking two of these tonight. As the beer warms up the bitterness starts to become noticeable. Keep this cold and you'll enjoy it more.

Related article:
- Green Flash West Coast IPA review
- New Belgium Mighty Arrow Pale Ale review
- Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale review

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Avery Brewing is Turning 15

Avery Brewing Company of Boulder, Colorado is celebrating it's 15th birthday this year. In honor of this momentous occasion, Avery is releasing it's annual anniversary ale. This year it's called: Fifteen. There will be a special release party on April 30th at the Avery tasting room from 4 to 7 pm. A $10 entry fee will get you into the celebration. Bottles of Fifteen will be available for sale as well as sampling.

According to Avery: "This years brew was fermented using a brettanomyces yeast strain, making it one of the largest--if not THE largest--batch of 100% brett beer made anywhere to date. A tart, unfiltered beer spiced with caramelized figs, white pepper and hibiscus flowers."

This is considered to be a "farmhouse" ale. It should be something special. Fifteen will be available as of May 5th in 22oz bottles. This beer has been in the making since last December and should be one of their best in years. Avery Brewing is located at 5763 Arapahoe Ave. in Boulder, CO.

Update: May 25, 2008 - I sampled a bottle of Avery's Fifteen last night and posted a review.


Related articles:
- Avery makes plans for sweet Sixteen
- Avery unleashes Brabant - barrel aged beer
- 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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Bristol Brewing Going Green

KXRM Fox 21 out of Colorado Springs posted an article about the latest push from Bristol Brewing Company to take their brewing operations green. Going "Green" is becoming more and more popular by many types of businesses and not just breweries. Read on for what plans one Colorado Springs, Colorado brewery has in mind.

Bristol Brewery Goes Green
By Laura Forbes - April 28, 2008

Green beer is normally reserved for Saint Patrick's Day Bristol Brewing Company is going green year round. Bristol has been in Colorado Springs for about 14 years. Owner Mike Bristol believes in looking to local resources to help the company help the earth.

"A lot of people brag about going green because we're doing this, but in our case, a lot of the things we attribute to being green are things we don't do," said Bristol.

For example, they don't ship beer outside of Colorado. "In the beer world distribution is the biggest problem, when it comes to an environmental footprint." said Bristol. "Its trucking beer, its dense, its heavy."

About 85% of Bristol beer stays in Southern Colorado, distributed on bristol's own truck, a mix of 20 percent bio-diesel. And about 65% of the beer goes out in draft form, so containers are reused. "As everybody knows being able to reuse is a whole lot better than recycling," said Bristol.

That was the idea behind another green move-- giving customers a ten cent credit for every six-pack carrier they bring in.

"You've got all the energy that goes into recycling, you've got to break it down and make it into something else. With ours, you bring in the carriers, and they go 50 feet and get filled up again," said Bristol.

Some of their specialty ingredients are locally grown and harvested, like the honey for Beehive Honey Wheat. And they have several green connections to Venetucci Farm. What's left behind from the barley used in beer making is known as spent grain, or mash. Bristol generates about 20,000 pounds a year. Instead of throwing it out, it is given to the farm.

Susan Gordon is a farm director at Venetucci. She said, "It had been used as a fertilizer on our fields, and we began using it as a supplemental feed for the chickens and the pigs."

"Its very helpful because it keeps our feed costs down," said Gordon. "The feed costs have really dropped since we started giving it to them."

Bristol is trying to grow organic hops at Venetucci. Its still experimental, and may not work in the Colorado climate. While Bristol says he'd like to buy from organic farmers, the quality just isn't there, at least, not yet.

"As soon as we can put out an organic beer that's as good as what we're going now, we'll jump on that," said Bristol. He says that's probably still a few years out, but it is still part of a long term plan to tap into green technology.

"Every time we do an expansion of our brewing equipment, we look at how we can be more efficient, easier on our people, easier on the world, so its sort of an ongoing thing, its part of every decision that we make," said Bristol.

He is looking at expanding his current location on Tejon Street, or moving to a larger space. After that, he says he will likely put in solar energy and heat recovery systems, probably within three to five years.

Related articles:
- Bristol Brewing to release Old 23 Barleywine.
- Bristol Brewing Laughing Lab review.
- 2008 All Colorado Beer Fest highlights.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

It's Time To Buy More Beer When

Beer
You know it's time to buy more beer when...

- the only beer you have left are the ones you gave low ratings to.

- the good beers that are left are all dark beers and it's getting hot outside.

- there's no new beers in the fridge you haven't tried yet.

- your favorite liquor store gave you a 10% off coupon.

- you need something new to blog about.

- the hop shortage is going to last for years and the number of IPA's in stock are going down.

- you realize the longer you wait, the higher the price for beer is getting.

- your homebrewing equipment isn't all together yet.

- another blogger gave a huge recommendation on a beer you've never tried.

- everything you have on hand is being cellared for next fall.

- the wife tells you that friends are coming over for dinner and boy are they thirsty.

- your growlers have been empty for more than week.

- you have more fingers on two hands than you have in two six pack carriers.

- your favorite baseball team blew another game in extra innings.

And the best reason to buy more beer - because you know you want to!

Your turn: When do you know it's time to go buy beer?


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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Stone Imperial Russian Stout review

Stone Imperial Russian StoutHere it is, the end of April and it snowed today down here in the northern plains of Colorado. So what better way to stay warm than to crack open a nice imperial stout. but this was no ordinary imperial, this was a Stone Brewing Company brew. I sampled their Spring 2008 release of their Imperial Russian Stout (IRS). Stone is known for their "big beers". My previous encounter with Stone was with their Arrogant Bastard ale and that was quite an experience. So at least I knew what I was getting into this time around. I chilled this beer ever so slightly as I wanted to drink this beer around 55 degrees F. It had been in the fridge about 1/2 hour and it seemed a bit colder than I wanted it, so I let it breathe a bit before sampling.

Appearance: The beer is a dark as night with no light shining through it. It poured with a dark tan head and grew to just over 1 finger high. While the head didn't last long, it did last long enough to show that it was capable of showing well. I've seen several stouts with similar heads. The only beer I've seen pour darker was the Oskar Blues Ten Fidy. The Stone IRS is a powerful brew on paper. It's measured at 10.8% ABV and an IBU of 90+. Strong and bitter by label but was it?

Aroma: I could smell the rich dark malts and a hint of black licorice. The other thing you could sense is the alcohol. It's definitely has a big part of the aroma. Stone put in a generous amount of Warrior hops into this brew yet that hop smell was hidden well. While I couldn't see through this beer I could detect the slightest bit of carbonation coming up from the bottom of the glass.

Taste: The first sip of this brew told me that this beer was still a bit too cold yet. I swirled the beer around in my mouth to warm it up slightly then swallowed. There is a huge amount of flavor here. You can taste the dark roasted malts. It reminded me of chocolate, coffee, licorice. The beer is mildly bitter but the sweetness of the malts balance it well. As in most stouts, the brew coats the tongue a bit. This is one of the reasons why when sampling a wide range of beers in a single evening, you want to sample the darkest beers last.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout back labelComparing this beer to other imperial stouts, I felt that this beer was better balanced and less "intense" than a brew like Old Rasputin. This beer starts out strong but grows on you as you go along. The warming effect of this high alcohol brew doesn't really hit you until half way through your first 12oz glass. After the first glass I was feeling good but not overpowered. Still, I feel if you're going to be drinking an imperial stout, it's best to go with one glass as two glasses may put you over the limit.

This beer got better the more I drank it. As it warmed the malts and aromas really started coming out. I didn't know at first if I was going to enjoy this beer but by the end of the tasting I was sold on this. This is one damn good Russian Imperial Stout. The beer rating sites concur with me. BeerAdvocate gave this a top A grade, while Ratebeer put this in the 100th percentile (highest) and a 4.24/5 rating. Worthy praise and I can see why.

Overall: I was really undecided how to rate this beer. I think it's best to finish your beer before passing judgment. If the beer gets better as you go, you should tend to wait to grade it. My initial rating was about a 3.7/5 but I think this deserves better. I'm going to give this a solid 4.0 out of 5 and call it one of the better beers I've had. Now granted, if this would have been a much warmer day, then I'd probably not go anywhere near this beer. But since it was snowing earlier in the day, I qualifies as a decent Springtime in the Rockies beer.

Now compared to it's brother, Arrogant Bastard, I much preferred the Stone IRS. It was better balanced and I didn't have to struggle with this despite the high ABV and high IBU. Kudos to Stone for making a truly wonderful Stout. I'll look to buy this again and perhaps age it a while and see how it tastes after a year.

Food Pairing Recommendation: I drank this brew while eating a delicious raspberry chocolate ice cream. Simply wonderful!

Related articles:
- Stone Levitation Ale review.
- Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale review.
- Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale review.
- Samuel Adams Imperial Stout review.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Odell Tapping Double Pilsner

Odell BrewingBreaking news from Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado. Scraped directly from their Myspace page.

Event: Double Pilsner Tapping Party - April 24th
Current Mood: Fermented
Category: Parties and Nightlife

Thursday, Apr 24, 2008
at 4:00 PM at Odell Brewery Tap Room
800 E. Lincoln Ave.
Fort Collins, CO

It's that time of year when Odell rolls out their Double Pilsner.

Odell Double PilsnerOdell says: "Double Pilsner is our tribute to the pilsner style, heavily hopped but balanced with malt and refined on our 5-barrel system. Originally brewed in Bohemia, pilsners were the world's first clear golden lagers and the start of a dramatic revolution in brewing. Today, pilsners are still a revered part of Czech and German life and an inspiration to our brewers."

8.1% ABV - 40 IBUs
Available May - August

BE THERE!

Related articles:
- CSU brewing class debuts beer at Odell Brewing.
- Odell Brewing discontinues Single Batch series.
- Celebrating with Odell Woodcut No 1.

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16th Annual Microbreweries for the Environment Benefit


16th annual Microbreweries for the Environment Benefit - Think Globally, Drink Locally: 20 Breweries, $2 Pints!

KGNU and the Boulder Weekly proudly present the 16th annual Microbreweries for the Environment benefit on Friday, April 25 at The Boulder Theater.

Since 1993, the Microbreweries for the Environment benefit has raised nearly $100,000 for local environmental causes. The proceeds from this year's benefit will further the environmental efforts of the University of Colorado Environmental Center, Colorado Conservation Voters, EcoCycle and Wild Earth Guardians.

Twenty Colorado microbreweries serve their best beers for only $2 each. Participating breweries include: Arctic Craft Brewery, Avery Brewing, BJ's Brewhouse, Boulder Beer Co., Breckenridge Brewery, Bristol Brewing Co., Flying Dog Brewery, Fort Collins Brewery, Great Divide Brewing Co., Left Hand Brewing Co., Mountain Sun, New Belgium Brewing Co., Odell Brewing Co., Oskar Blues Brewery, Pumphouse Brewery, Redfish Brewhouse, Ska Brewing Co., Steamworks Brewing Company, Twisted Pine Brewing, and Wolf Rock Brewing Company.

The evening's entertainment features music by Elephant Revival and Cornmeal. Elephant Revival's funky, gyptic, soul, folk music will set the stage for Cornmeal's progressive bluegrass and roots music. The music is sure to go well with Colorado finest brews. Visit elephantrevival.com and cornmealinthekitchen.com .

And, to top it off, the benefit is a zero-waste and carbon-neutral event.

Everyone is encouraged to walk, bike, or bus to the event. Doors open and beer tasting starts at 8:00pm, and music will run to 12:30am. Admission costs $21. Tickets are available at the Boulder Theater Box Office (303-786-7030 or www.bouldertheater.com). The event will sell out.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Belgium Revisited

New Belgium BreweryWhat do you do when you've got 1 hour for lunch and work just 7 miles away from New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins? You rush over there of course! I've been wanting to get back to New Belgium for a while now and took the opportunity for a quick sampling during my lunch break. I just love the atmosphere over at their tasting room. The staff is always friendly and eager to talk with you about their beers. Best of all, the samples are FREE. Can't beat that.

It was still a bit early, around 11:30am, and there were only a handful of patrons there. This tasting room is well lit by the sun and gives you a real cozy feeling. A female employee that I recognized from my last visit came over and started chatting. She seemed to remember me from last time - I was shocked. Behind her was a small shelf with one of the new Fat Tire cans on display. I asked if they had any sample cans to give out but she said that was one of the few prototype cans. They would be rolling out the canned version of Fat Tire starting in June.

I sat down on a stool at the bar and looked at their beer menu. I've tried many of their beers before but wanted to get at least three that I'd never tasted before. I filled in my selections and off she went to fill my order. New Belgium gives it's visitors four free 4 oz glasses of beer to sample. Any more than that and you'd have to pay for it and get some beer to go.

I was quickly served 4 beers that were fresh from the tap and were surprisingly quite cold. Here's a quick rundown on the beers I chose today: Jessica's Ale (Lips of Faith), Abby Belgian-Style Ale, Mighty Arrow (Pale Ale) and an old familiar, La Folie (Sour Brown Ale). I've had the La Folie before and knew what I was in for and put that one aside to have last.

Jessica's Ale is a special tap room only beer that is part of New Belgium's "Lips of Faith" series. Employees compete to come up with new recipes and the best are made into beers and served to the public in their tasting room. I've had one of the Lips of Faith beers before when it was the Eric's Sour Peach Ale. That was tasty, so I was anticipating something different. Jessica's Ale is billed as a spiced Porter. It pours very dark brown with red overtones. It has a semi-sweet and spicy aroma of cinnamon and ginger. It also smelled a bit like raisins to me. The taste was much like the aroma, spicy but with a nice after hit of caramel malts. It also had what I call their signature Belgian yeast taste. It's very subtle going down. This would be perfect for sipping during a quiet evening at home. 6.8% ABV. Very enjoyable. 3.5 out of 5 rating.

New Belgium Beer MenuAbby Belgian-Style Ale - this is a Belgian Dubbel. It was a dark amber and had a nice lacy near white head. I've tasted something similar recently during a tour of a Rock Bottom restaurant nearby but this one was definitely more refined. It had the aroma of bananas and cloves. The brewers description stated that it also will smell of figs. Well I've never smelled a fig before so that was new to me. 7.0% ABV. You have to be in the mood for a dubbel. It had a nice malty flavor twisted in with a noticable belgian yeasty flavor. You have to be in the mood for this type of beer. While I enjoyed it, it wasn't my favorite. 3.2 out of 5 rating.

Mighty Arrow - this Pale Ale was a nice copper / gold color with a creamy white head. They put in a mix of Golding, Cascade and Amarillo hops with a honey malt base. I really liked the aroma of these hops up front. It's a good ale for a summery day. It has a slightly bitter finish to it, but thats just what I expected for this kind of ale. This reminds me of a mild IPA. 6.0% ABV. I'll have to get more of this. 3.4 out of 5 ranking.

La Folie - Last but not least, their famous Sour Brown ale. I've previously reviewed this beer many months ago but now am upgrading my ranking on this. I've come to appreciate what wood cask aging can do for a beer. This beer had been aged up to 3 years. It has an aroma that reminds me of vinegar but not overly so. The taste is very tart just as I remember it and I pucker a bit every time I have a first taste of it. This beer seems to be popular. Most of the patrons in the room were having it. The New Belgium employees also seem to push this beer. "Have you heard about our La Folie?" "Oh ya!" - I tell them - "That's why I came!" I like this beer in small quantities. A 4 oz glass is just the right size for this type of beer. A full glass might be a bit too much sourness for my system. It's still one of their best beers. Try this one with small sips. 6% ABV. Tart, sour, good. 3.6 out of 5 rating.

I really wanted to bring some of these brews home with me, but it was noon and I knew they would be sitting in a hot car all afternoon. So I opted to pass until another time. I'll have to get myself a small insulated cooler for my trunk and bring along a freezer pack next time. Lunch breaks don't give you time enough for the tour either. On my way out the door, they had a stack of Celebrator Beer News on hand so I took one to read later on. It's always a good time when I visit New Belgium. You can bet that I'll be back again soon.

Related articles:
- Tasting room notes from New Belgium (May 2009).
- New Belgium Dark Kriek review.
- New Belgium Brewing is giving away bicycles.
- New Belgium Frambozen review.
- New Belgium Mighty Arrow Pale Ale review.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Update on Russian River


Back in February, I reported hearing that Russian River Brewing would soon be expanding their distribution of their fine beers to other states, including Colorado. I had originally heard that April was going to be the month that this would happen but I hadn't heard anything recently about it. So, I did what any beer lover would do. I went directly to the source and emailed the owner and brewer at Russian River - Vinnie Cilurzo. Vinnie was kind enough to quickly respond to my inquiry with a nice email back to me. Here is what he told me:

"We are going to start shipping to CO in the summer, we do not have an exact date as we are still finishing up the construction at our production brewery."

"Our distributor will be Elite Brands out of Denver and the contact is Terry. She is a great person and runs a great company."

"We plan to sell Pliny the Elder and Damnation in kegs to begin with (and) bottles of Damnation and limited bottles of Pliny the Elder. Eventually we'll get Salvation there as well."

Thanks,
Vinnie

Vinnie Cilurzo
Brewer / Owner
Russian River Brewing Company
725 4th St.
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Tele: 707.545.2337 x 4
Fax: 707.545.2338
sign up for our e-newsletter at
www.russianriverbrewing.com

My taste buds are already watering anticipation. It may be just a bit longer to wait but for these fine beers from California, it will be well worth it. In the meantime, the closest thing I'll get to a Russian River is the Collaboration Not Litigation beer that Russian River and Avery Brewing jointly puts out here in Colorado. It's a mix of both of their Salvation brews. Anyone else looking forward to their expanded distribution like I am? Let me know.

Update: June 19, 2008 - Latest word on the street (from BeerAdvocate) is that shipment of RR brews to Colorado won't happen now until sometime in mid-August. The wait continues but will be worth the wait.

Related articles:
- Russian River Pliny the Elder review
- Russian River Blind Pig IPA review
- More Russian River beers heading to Colorado

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Avery Hog Heaven review

Avery Hog HeavenDuring my most recent beer run, I wanted to try a few new styles of beer. One of the styles that has eluded me so far is an American Barleywine. I set my sights on Avery Hog Heaven from Avery Brewing in Boulder, Colorado. This is considered one of the "big beers" as it is one of the strongest beer styles out there. You know up front that you've got to prepare yourself. The beer has a 9.2% ABV and an IBU rating of 104. Yikes! I've had a few strong beers before so I kinda know what to expect out of this. Or perhaps I don't. I've seen this beer in the cooler over and over again but I've hesitated buying it as it is a Barleywine. I'm still garnering a taste for the big hopped beers like IPA's so taking up another strong beer category was something I put off until now.

This beer hit me as soon as I popped the top off the silver-foil topped bomber bottle. I could smell the hops and alcohol from 3 feet away without really trying. OK, time to prep myself for a big beer. This beer is a deep garnet color with some golden highlights coming from the bottom of the belgian snifter glass. This beer came with a nice big tan head that left a decent sized bead throughout the sampling. Now I must admit that my Spring allergies were starting to kick in and my ability to smell things is slightly impaired, but this beer broke through my congestion with little effort. It is unlike any beer I have sniffed to date. Perhaps it the high alcohol and high doses of Columbus hops that this beer had. I know that this beer has a ton of 2-row and Caramel 75L malts but whoa, it had an intense aroma. I might even say it was slightly offensive at first but later I realized it was just intensely hopped.

The taste was again different than what I expected. It had a strong mouth feel but it was lightly carbonated. I could sense the alcohol right away, a slight burn. Within the first half a glass I could feel how strong it was. Some strong beers don't hit you right away but this one does. I can taste a lot of caramel malts in this beer, but I also get a slight aftertaste which is hard to describe. It reminds me slightly of cough syrup but not in a bad way. I found myself going easy on this drink as I knew it was going to really hit me hard after the entire 22oz bottle.

This is probably one of the most intense beers I've ever tasted. It's close to one of those Flying Dog beers but with a much different hop taste and feel. The beer coats the tongue slightly and leaves you wondering just what it is that this beer reminds you of. Strong is a good word for this beer and is not intended to be drunk by a Bud or Miller drinker. It's dry hopped to the max. It "burps" well after a few quick gulps. Not sure if I could drink more of this. Certainly 1 glass was enough for me. I'm not sure just how long it's been on the shelf at the store. It had a slight layer of dust on it. That probably means it's been there several months, but that should be ok with this style as it supposedly cellar ages well.

Being a big beer, I figured that the beer ranking sites would like it and I was right. Beeradvocate gave it a B+ while Ratebeer put it in the 96th percentile of all beers with a 3.81/5 ranking. Hmm, that seems very generous for this beer. If you're not a Barleywine fan you may not like this beer initially and it will take some getting used to. After the first glass I was wondering if I really wanted to finish the full bottle.

By all respects, this beer looks good, smells intense and has a taste unlike most beers I've had. It's hard to really enjoy this beer without prior experience with barleywines. So perhaps my rating of this beer is premature in coming as I've not had any other barleywine to compare it too. It's not one of my favorites but is something I may want to revisit later once I've had a few more barleywines. But for now, I'm giving it a 3.1 out of 5 rating.

Related articles:
- Avery Salvation review.
- Avery Collaboration Not Litigation Ale review.
- Avery Fifteen Anniversary Ale review.

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Colorado Shows Well at 2008 World Beer Cup

World Beer Cup 2008The Brewers Association announced the winners from the 2008 World Beer Cup on April 19, 2008. There were 2,864 beers in 91 different categories from 644 brewers represented this year, the most categories in the recent history of the World Beer Cup. Colorado breweries did very well this year taking in 22 medals and one Champion Brewery award. The following awards were given out to Colorado brewers in 2008:

World Beer Cup 2008 Winners List (Colorado Breweries)

Category 6: Fruit & Vegetable Beer
Silver: Blue Moon Chardonnay Blonde, Blue Moon Brewing, Golden, CO

Category 8: Coffee Flavored Beer
Gold: Java the Hut, CB & Potts Restaurant and Brewery – Flatirons, Broomfield, CO

Category 10: Specialty Honey Lager
Gold: Blue Moon Honey Moon, Blue Moon Brewing Co, Golden, CO

Category 12: Other Strong Ale or Lager
Silver: Double Pilsner, Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO

Category 15: Wood and Barrel-aged Beer
Bronze: Bourbon Barrel Stout, Rockyard Brewing Co., Castle Rock, CO

Category 25: Dortmunder/European Style Export or German-Style Oktoberfest/Wiesen
Bronze: Llano Lager, SandLot Brewery, Denver, CO

Category 36: American-Style Amber Lager
Silver: Old Scratch Amber Lager, Flying Dog Brewery, Denver, CO

Category 53: English-Style India Pale Ale
Bronze: Vapor Cave, Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co,. Glenwood Springs, CO

Category 56: Extra Special Bitter or Strong Bitter
Gold: Standing Wave Pale Ale, Kannah Creek Brewing Co., Grand Junction, CO

Category 59: English-Style Brown Ale
Silver: Sweet George’s Brown, Dillon DAM Brewery, Dillon, CO
Bronze: Big Ben Brown Ale, Bull & Bush Brewery, Denver, CO

Category 60: Brown Porter
Silver: Cutthroat Porter, Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO

Category 62: Sweet Stout
Gold: Left Hand Brewing Company Milk Stout, Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO

Category 66: Old Ale
Bronze: HMS Bounty Old Ale, Dry Dock Brewing Co., Aurora, CO

Category 67: Strong Ale
Bronze: Sopris, Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co., Glenwood Springs, CO

Category 69: German-Style Kölsch/Koln-Style Kölsch
Silver: Colorado Kölsch, Steamworks Brewing Co., Durango, CO

Category 75: Irish-Style Red Ale
Bronze: Red Rock, Rock Bottom Brewery – Denver, Denver, CO

Category 81: American-Style India Pale Ale (77 entries – biggest entry)
Gold: IPA, Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO

Category 84: Imperial or Double Red Ale
Bronze: Gordon, Oskar Blues Brewery, Lyons, CO

Category 86: American-Style Sour Ale
Silver: Eric’s Ale, New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
Bronze: Le Terroir, New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO

Category 89: American-Style Imperial Stout
Gold: Gonzo Imperial Porter, Flying Dog Brewery, Denver, CO

Champion Brewery and Brewer Awards
Brewers Association World Beer Cup 2008 Champion Brewery
Large Brewing Company Category
Blue Moon Brewing Company, Golden, CO


The largest category of entries came from the American-Style India Pale Ale which had 77 entries this year and Odell Brewing Company of Fort Collins won Gold for best in show. Way to represent Odell!

Just in case anyone was counting, Oregon garnered 14 Medals and 2 Champion Brewery awards. California blew away the field with 35 Medals and 1 Champion Brewery award. Germany won 25 Medals and 1 Champion Brewery award. And Japan won 10 Medals.

The full list of winners can be seen at the Brewers Association website.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Spaten Optimator review

Spaten OptimatorI got a tip from one of my relatives back in Michigan about this beer and found one in my local store. It's called the Spaten Optimator. This is a classic imported German Doppelbock. A nice dark lager from the Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu brewery in Munich, Germany and belongs to the InBev family. To my knowledge, this is the first doppelbock that I've tried but after tasting it I could swear I've had this before. This beer comes in a 16.9 oz gold foil covered brown bottle. Best of all, they are sold individually for a very low price, so it was well worth a try.

Appearance: This doppelbock poured a dark brown color with faint red highlights around the edges of the glass. This beer had a nice thick tan head that quickly melted down to nearly no bead.

Aroma: Optimator had a sweet aroma, almost like spice bread. I could faintly smell the German hops, but what I really smelled was the rich malts that this brew contained.

Feel and Taste: The mouth feel was very creamy and it was carbonated just right. The malts hit me up front and lasted through to the end of the swallow. There were a lot of malts in this beer. It was mostly caramel malt that I tasted. I didn't detect anything roastier than that.

This beer was just modestly bittered. It was sweet, but with just enough hops to balance it out. I don't know the IBU rating but I'd guess it's fairly low. Being a doppelbock, it's alcohol content was slightly higher than regular lagers at 7.2% ABV. This beer drank easy and I'd have no problem having more than 1 bottle of this.

Ranking: This Spaten beer got decent ratings by the beer ranking sites. Beeradvocate gave it a B+ while Ratebeer put it in the 92nd percentile overall and a 3.67/5 ranking. I can see why my relatives back home recommended this beer. They've been to Germany on several occasions and know a good German beer when they taste one. Zum Wohlsein! I really enjoyed this beer and would recommend it to anyone who wants to try a good German Doppelbock. I'll give this beer a 3.6 out of 5 rating. Now I wish I had picked up a couple more of these.

Related articles:
- Tommyknocker Butt Head Dopplebock review
- Tommyknocker Oaked Butt Head Bock review
- Fort Collins Brewery Barrel Licked Bock review

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Oskar Blues G'Knight review

Oskar Blues Gordon aka G'KnightTime for another Colorado beer review! Tonight, I ventured back to one of the local breweries, Oskar Blues from Lyons / Longmont, Colorado. I had previously enjoyed their Ten Fidy imperial stout but wanted to continue to sample more of those "gonzo beers in a can". This time I chose their Oskar Blues Gordon beer, now known as Oskar Blues G'Knight.

This brew is billed several ways: one as a Double IPA, another as a Strong American Ale and third as an Imperial Red. Well, whatever the category, I knew up front that this was not going to be a typical beer. This beer was most likely going to give me a mouth of flavor. Just reading the label told you this beer had 8.7% ABV and was not going to be a session beer. Since this was a Double IPA, I knew I was in for some hops tonight and I was right.

I popped open the beer can and poured it into an English pint glass. All my other glasses were in the dishwasher tonight so this would have to suffice. It poured a nice copper red color that came with a large off-white head. Right away I was met with a strong hoppy aroma even before my nose got to the glass. Whoa! It almost reminded me of some of those Flying Dog brews that are so heavily hopped. I knew that since this beer has an IBU rating of 85 that this was going to hit me with hops all night long. But little did I know that I was in for a surprise.

I enjoyed taking several deep whiffs of this beer before tasting it. It literally fills the top of the glass with hoppy goodness. This was a type of hop smell I could really get into. The first taste I was expecting to be hit with a real bitter mouthful but was pleasantly surprised at how smooth it was. It really didn't remind me of a strong bitter beer at all. This "Big. Red. Sticky." beer had a nice balance of malt and hops. I didn't even notice any telltale alcohol bite either. Very nice! I could really become an IPA lover with beers like this. This is quite good.

I just happened to be listening to one of my favorite beer podcasts at the time of this tasting - The Good Beer Show - and was amazed that they too were tasting and reviewing this wonderful Gordon / G'Knight beer. Salute! It's fun to be tasting to the same beer that others are reviewing, it's interesting to hear what others are experiencing. This brew I was tasting came from a 4-pack. It's a bit more pricey than other beers. I ended up paying $10.99 for this 4-pack. It's much more reasonable to buy this by the 12-pack and next time I'll do just that. Even the clerk at the store checkout was raving about Gordon, so I knew this beer was going to be a treat.

Charlie the beer dogEven my old dog Charlie knew something smelled good. As soon as I opened this up and poured it into the glass, he came over and started smelling the air. He wouldn't leave! He wanted to know what that good smell was all about. Well sorry Charlie, only real beer drinkers get to sample this beer. He just sat and stared while I drank it so I had to take his picture. Poor beast. Maybe in your next lifetime.

The beer rating sites seem to all like this G'Knight. Beeradvocate gave it an A- and Ratebeer put this in the 97th percentile with a 3.86/5 rating. As for me, I certainly will give this a decent score. I'm amazed how over the course of six months that I've gone from an IPA avoider to an IPA seeker. I'll give this a definite thumbs up and a 3.8 out of 5 rating. It's still not my favorite style (yet), but it's definitely growing on me. Good thing I still have 3 more of these left for later this weekend.

Update: As of early 2011, due to a cease and desist order from Gordon Biersch, Oskar Blues was forced to change the name of this beer from Gordon to G'Knight.

Related articles:
- Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout review
- Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale review.
- Oskar Blues will can Mama's Little Yella Pils.
- Oskar Blues Old Chub inspires new bread.
- Oskar Blues Old Chub review.

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Fat Tire Cans Previewed

Thanks to J over at the Brookston Beer Bulletin for finding this image. This summer, the New Belgium Brewery of Fort Collins, Colorado will begin canning their flagship Fat Tire Amber Ale. This move by New Belgium will kick start their entry into the canned craft beer market. While canning Fat Tire may be considered a test by New Belgium, it could prove to be something worth pursuing with their other year-round brews. Perhaps this move will help lower shipping costs as cans are much lighter than bottles. What started with Oskar Blues several years ago now seems to be catching on. Now that New Belgium is going to can Fat Tire, you will probably see other brewers follow suit. The look of the can turned out well I think.

Related articles:
- New Belgium to offer Sunshine Wheat in cans
- More Colorado craft beers heading to cans
- Craft beer in cans more expensive than bottles?

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Getting back Into homebrewing

Homebrewing BeerIt was bound to happen sooner or later to a craft beer enthusiast like myself. I've got the bug again to get back into homebrewing my own beer after a 10 year hiatus.

I was first introduced to homebrewing by a co-worker back in the late 1990's. He had his own kegerator with two taps set up in his basement. One tap poured his favorite Odell's 90 Shilling and the other was a beer that he had brewed himself. I was fascinated with the fact that he made his own beer and asked that he show me how he did it. It didn't take long to realize that I could do this myself.

At the time, my town had it's own homebrew supply store and I was easily able to get a starter kit and all the ingredients I needed to make my first ale. And I was amazed how good my first batch turned out.

A month or two later after most of my first batch was gone, I decided to make another batch with a different recipe. That batch didn't turn out to be as tasty as my first batch but it was still decent beer.

But sadly, soon after that, I became too busy with family and work to homebrew. My wife was also complaining that my brewing made the entire house smell like beer. So, my equipment sat in the basement for a few years and was later sold at a garage sale. I was content to buy craft beers at the local liquor store. That is until now.

I've really got the bug for trying as many craft beers as I can get my hands on these days. I've been writing this beer blog since last October and I've become more and more interested in how local brewers are making their beer. Top that off that I frequent a few online beer forums who constantly discuss homebrewing. I'm itching to get back into it but was concerned about the cost of supplies and ingredients.

With the hop and malt shortages going on these days, a 5-gallon batch of homebrew is probably a lot more expensive to make than it was 10 years ago. Hop prices alone have almost tripled. So, I thought it might be best to check things out a bit first before diving in head first (no pun intended).

I remember my frustration of using an electric stove and a small brew kettle. It took forever for that little stove to bring 5 gallons up to a boil. I had boil overs, my liquid malt extract nearly burnt on the bottom of my kettle, my 5-gallon stainless steel kettle got discolored and the cooling of my wort took a very long time as I did not have a wort chiller.

Despite all that, my cheap plastic fermenter and plastic bottling bucket churned out some decent brew. Only thing was, being plastic, my equipment was difficult to clean and easily got scratched. I knew that the next time would have to be different.

Homebrewing EquipmentSo this got me thinking about buying all new equipment. I want to get something that I know can last me a long time and grow as I grow.

I spent about a good hour and a half last night preparing a list of equipment that I thought I would need. I visited several homebrew supply web sites to help me put together my list. Some of the top of the line equipment looked oh so sweet, but the price tags on some of those modern brew kettles were pricey.

One 15-gallon stainless brew kettle with a false bottom, built in thermometer and ball joint spigots cost upwards of $500. Ouch. I think long term I'd like to get one of those but don't think I could afford to buy top of the line right now.

Yet, I filled out my spreadsheet and put together a list of equipment. For a medium to high-end kit that included a high end 15-gallon brew kettle, outdoor gas burner, propane tank, 2 glass carboys, a wort chiller, test equipment, bottling equipment and hoses - the cost came in at between $600 to $850. Wow, that's a lot of money.

I could simply buy a lot of good craft beer at the store for all that money. I realize that I could buy a deluxe starter kit for much less than that, but then I'd be sacrificing on some quality. I figure I could save a couple of hundred bucks and buy a simple no-frills 10 gallon stainless brew pot, but I feared I would out grow it within a year or so.

I'd be interested in finding out what other homebrewers would recommend. If you had to start all over again, knowing what you know now, what do you think would be the short list of "must have" equipment. Where do you suggest trimming the cost and where do you recommend investing heavily in up front?

I'm still going to start out with extract homebrewing for a few batches and then move up into all-grain and try mashing and sparging after I get my feet used to the water so to speak.

I've picked up two homebrewing video's from Basic Brewing and have been reviewing those. The videos were well made for a restarting homebrewer like myself. The extract video was a good review and the all-grain video was a good overview of what I can expect once I get into that phase.

I'll stick to making 5-gallon batches at first but envision wanting to go up to 10-15 gallon batches at some point. So perhaps I could get away with a 10 gallon pot to start out with and save some money.

I'll update this blog periodically on this endeavor as it progresses. I'm going to buy equipment a bit at a time and target this fall to create my next batch. I plan to brew outside on my back patio this time instead of taking over my wife's kitchen. I've even rejoined the American Homebrewers Association again just for the occasion.

If any of you readers have suggestions as to suppliers, equipment and techniques you've used, please post a comment below or contact me. Thanks!

Related articles you may enjoy:
- Colorado Homebrewing Supply Stores.
- Putting together the home brewery - Part 1.
- First batch of homebrew for the year.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Odell to Produce Limited Edition Oak Beers

Odell Brewing
Found this article today in the Fort Collins - The Coloradoan online newspaper that I thought would be of interest to Colorado craft beer lovers. Coming as early as June of this year we can look forward to buying some limited edition casked ales from the Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins. Read below for a copy of the article and all the exciting details.

Odell aims to shake up market with one-time ales
BY CARI MERRILL - CariMerrill@coloradoan.com

When you think of special and reserved labels, an exclusive Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Riesling might come to mind.

But Odell Brewing Co. is changing the face of beer and adding designations that aren't just for wine anymore.

The local craft brewer is brewing special recipes of beer and fermenting the brews in oak casks to create a unique and limited selection beer.

Each batch of the ale, which will have more vanilla and caramel tones, will make enough for only roughly 120 cases before the recipe is retired, creating an exclusivity factor not usually associated with beer. Each 750 mL bottle - hand-corked, hand-signed and numbered - will sell for $24.99.

"It's a one-time kind of thing," John Bryant, Odell chief operating officer, said of the process they hope will put them at the forefront of the market.

"It's to keep challenging ourselves to be creative," Bryant said.

Doug Odell got the idea after attending a brewing class in England, prompting him to come home and invest in the $450 oak barrels.

The process takes longer than the typical brewing and fermenting beer process.

For example, the company's signature Easy Street Wheat can go from brew to bottle in three weeks. The brews in the oak casks, however, will sit for roughly eight months. Odell personally taste tests the beer every three to four weeks and expects the first batch to be done in June.

"To me, that's what craft brewing is all about," said Odell, a craft brewer for 33 years. "It's a good way to keep the brewers interested as well."

Customer input could be used in future recipes. Bryant and Odell say brewers often take feedback they get from the tap room into consideration when creating new recipes.

"I think people really get behind a project when you do that because they feel like they're contributing," Odell said.

That is the kind of culture Odell wants to keep at his brewery, one where he knows all of the employees by name and where Odell brews are exclusive to Colorado and seven surrounding states.

"I like the fact of going to different parts of the United States and getting something you can't get anywhere else," he said of Odell's business model that helps the region stand out and creates a smaller, more managed approach to business.

The brewery recently came in 33rd on the Brewers Association top 50 craft brewers in the country.

---

Odell's has already been experimenting with cask ales for a while. Last month, I wrote about a visit to their Tap Room and I got to try a casked version of their Odell 90 Shilling. Casking an ale definitely changes the character of a beer, sometimes in ways you wouldn't expect. Perhaps it depends on how long the brew stays in the cask and how well the ale mixes with the wood and the bacteria that's naturally found in the wood. I look forward to grabbing one of these limited edition bottles and will report on it once they are released.

Related articles:
- Odell officially taps their Woodcut series
- Odell Woodcut No 2 to tap in June 2009
- Celebrating with Odell Woodcut No 1

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunday Liquor Sales Legalized in Colorado

GOV. RITTER SIGNS SUNDAY LIQUOR SALES LAW - official press release from the Colorado Governor's office.

Gov. Bill Ritter today signed Senate Bill 82 into law, repealing a 75-year-old prohibition against Sunday alcohol sales at liquor stores. Colorado now becomes the 35th state to permit Sunday retail sales of beer, wine and spirits.

The new law, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Veiga and Rep. Cheri Jahn, takes effect July 1.

"This is a law whose time has finally come." Gov. Ritter said. "The ban on Sunday sales was an antiquated law that long ago outlived its usefulness or relevance. Everything we know about modern consumer demand says the people of Colorado want the conveniences, options and choices this law will bring. This is about stepping into the 21st Century.

"Let's also be clear: This does not mean we will be any less vigilant in our efforts to fight underage drinking, DUI or alcohol abuse. We will remain as vigilant as ever."

"I'm delighted to have moved this measure successfully through the legislature," Sen. Veiga said. "This is a win-win for Colorado consumers and Colorado businesses."

"As a small business owner, I cannot imagine having the government tell me what days of the week I am allowed to open my doors," said Rep. Jahn, who owns a cleaning business. "This decision should be dictated by consumer demand. It's time to level the playing field in Colorado. Liquor stores owners will now be able to join all of the other businesses in having the choice to be opened or closed on Sundays."

Editorial Note: Ok so what about not being able to buy a car on Sunday then?

Related articles:
- Attitudes toward beer start early.
- Liquor now sold 7 days a week in Colorado.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Avery Salvation review

Avery Salvation"Oh my my, oh hell yes." - Tom Petty

I think I've found one of my favorite Belgian Strong Ales today. I opened up a 22oz bomber bottle of Avery Brewing's Salvation. This is no light weight Belgian, it's a strong Belgian ale that comes in at 9% ABV. This beer is described as "a lighter bigger beer" and it does live up to that description. This is one kick ass Belgian strong ale.

From the first taste I knew this was going to be one of my favorite brews. This beer pours a lovely copper gold color with little or no haze and has a generous white frothy head. The foam seemed to coat the edge of the glass as it went down. The beer simply looked impressive even before tasting it.

The aroma was simply wonderful. It has a wide range of flavors that you can pick out. It had a distinct Belgian smell along with some fruit and spice. It reminded me of peaches and cinnamon. Apparently there are also some nutmeg aromas in this beer. I'd describe this as a very sensual aroma. It's enough to get me excited enough to drink this beer.

The first sip hits you right away with a tarty sweetness but with a nice hop bite and a slight alcohol bite. This is no weak beer my friends and deserves respect. I detected a trace of lemon in the first couple of sips. There is a distinct hop after bite that hits you about a second after you drink it.

Avery put in some 2-row barley along with some Cara 8 and Cara 20 malts. Blended into this beer is some Styrian Goldings hops. It's not that bitter, coming in at an IBU of 25, but you can tell there is a fair amount of it in this Belgian ale.

This beer was decently carbonated and the head was simply marvelous. I licked the head off this beer and was rewarded with a nice sweet taste. This beer definitely gets better as you drink it. Being a higher alcohol beer, I'd suggest that you only drink no more than 1 22oz bomber as you will definitely feel this one. It has a slightly dry finish and a bit tart as well. It's a tad sweeter than some Belgians I've had. You can definitely feel the alcohol kick in after just one glass. I was feeling pretty good after that.

The beer rating sites seemed to like this beer as well. BeerAdvocate gave is a B+ rating, while Ratebeer put it in the 89th percentile and a 3.59/5 rating. As for me, this is going to be one of my favorite beers that I'm sure I'll want to buy again. It's good enough for a huge Thumbs up rating from me. This was one kick ass strong Belgian that had just the right mix of yeast, malt and hops. Way to go Avery. I think you've got something here. Even the label on this beer is awesome. It reminds me of an old biblical document. Definitely recommended. Drink it a tad on the cold side.

Related articles:
- Avery Ellie's Brown Ale review.
- Avery White Rascal review.
- Avery Hog Heaven review.
- Avery Collaboration Not Litigation Ale review.
- Avery Fifteen Anniversary Ale review.
- Avery The Reverend review.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lunch at Coopersmith's Pub and Brewing

CoopersmithsOne of the nice advantages of living and working in the Fort Collins, Colorado area is that we have a large number of large breweries and craft breweries close by to visit. I took the opportunity for a long lunch break from work to visit a small brewpub and restaurant in town by the name of Coopersmith's Pub and Brewing.

Coopersmith's is nestled in the heart of Old Town in downtown Fort Collins. This restaurant and brewery is split into two separate facilities. One is their restaurant / brewery called Pubside and the other is a pool hall just across the walkway and is called Poolside. Coopersmith's makes beer on both sides of their establishment. Over 18 styles of beer are available including their own brand of cider.

Seeing how I still had to go back to work that afternoon, there was no way I was going to be able to try all 18+ beers that they offered, so I settled on a sampler of five different beers. Coopersmith's offers a small 5-oz sampler size for $1.95 each, but if you order 5 or more of their samplers you get a discount. My 5 beer sampler cost $8.00.

Among their list of beers that were available, I chose to try the following: Albert Damm Bitter, Columbine Kolsch, Marzen Lager, Punjabi Pale Ale, and Horsetooth Stout. Our server lined up these beers from lightest to darkest. I chose to try these beers a bit out of order this time around and went for an IPA first.

I'll admit that I'm still developing a taste for IPA's but wanted to give the Punjabi Pale Ale a good tasting without being influenced by the other beers first. The aroma of the Punjabi Pale Ale had the usual hopped up goodness I was expecting. This beer was reddish in color. It was very tasty and not overly bitter like some IPA's can be. It was also a tad sweet which was a nice surprise. This IPA was quite good. Even my friend who had never had an IPA said that he enjoyed this beer. It was good smelling and had a nice balance between the hops and malts. This beer was 6.8% ABV and was just right. 3.4 out of 5.

Coopersmiths exteriorThe next beer I tried was the Marzen Lager. This beer is supposedly a classic German springtime lager and was made from Pilsen, Munich and Honey malts. The beer was amber in color, similar to the IPA. This beer's taste sneaks up on you. At first sip you don't really taste much but then a few seconds later the malts hit you. I'd almost call this beer Delayed Reaction. This beer came in at 5.8% ABV. Even after several sips, the malts don't hit you right away. This beer is also slightly sweet but is balanced with a hint of darker malts and German noble hops. Tasty. 3.3 out of 5.

The 3rd beer of the sampler was the Albert Damm Bitter. This is described as a more traditional style session ale with a generous kettle hop addition. This beer was also amber in color and came with a nice creamy head. This smelled good but upon first sip it wasn't nearly as bitter as I would have expected. In fact this beer seemed a tad on the watery side. I could also detect a slight bubble gum like taste to it. This just wasn't what I was expecting from a Bitter. Meh. 2.9 out of 5.

The 4th beer was the Columbine Kolsch. I've become a fan of Kolsch beers and was looking forward to drinking this beer. This was a pale yellow color with a short head. It smelled somewhat like a wheat beer. The first sip was almost what I expected a Kolsch to taste like but then I was struck by a very weird aftertaste. I had never tasted anything like that before and was at a lack for words to describe it. It wasn't a very pleasant aftertaste and left me with a puzzled look on my face. It almost was like a spoiled wheat. This too had a bit of bubble gummy taste to it but with something else that hit the middle of the tongue. 5.3% ABV. This was not a good example of a Kolsch and I didn't want to finish it. 2.6 out of 5.

I saved the darkest beer for last, their Horsetooth Stout. This oatmeal stout is named after the mountain and reservoir west of town. This beer was black with a nice head. This beer was supposedly nitro infused at the tap but I didn't see any cascading bubble effects in this glass. This beer had a nice aroma of darker malts. The taste was smooth. Not too much on the coffee side but just enough to let you know that this was a beer with a lot of good dark malts and oats. 6.2% ABV. The malt taste hits you a second later after tasting it. I liked the balance of this stout. Enjoyable. 3.2 out of 5.

I was slightly surprised that I ranked the IPA as my favorite of the session. The Marzen and Stout were a close second.

The pubside area was filling up quick with locals. I'm glad we got there a bit early for lunch. I ordered a buffalo burger with pub chips to go along with my samplers. It was a good choice and helped to clear the tongue between tastings. Between the samplers and the food plus tip, it cost me $20 for this lunch. A tad on the pricier side but in my opinion was worth it.

I didn't have time to go over to the poolside for a game of billiards but look forward to visiting Coopersmith's again to try out more of their beers. Worth looking for when you come to visit Fort Collins and go brewery touring.

Related articles:
- 2009 Colorado Brewers' Festival highlights.
- Odell Brewing officially breaks ground on expansion.
- Tasting room notes from New Belgium Brewing.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

One Less Blue Law in Colorado

Woohoo! The Denver Post is reporting that Colorado Governor Bill Ritter has vowed to sign into law Senate Bill 82 which will allow Sunday liquor sales at Colorado liquor stores for the first time in decades. Ritter plans to sign the bill into law in a ceremony on Monday, April 14th. The law will go into effect on July 1, 2008 just in time for the 3-day holiday weekend.

This is a cause for celebration for many but a concern for others. Liquor store owners will now need to stay open 7 days a week in order to stay competitive with other liquor stores. Sales revenues are bound to go up as well as tax revenues for the state. Others are worried that there will be more drunks on the roads on Sundays. But for the vast majority, this bill will move Colorado into more modern times. Getting rid of old outdated religious based laws is simply a step in the right direction. Colorado will now join over 30+ other states that allow Sunday liquor sales.

The bill does NOT allow convenience stores and grocery stores to sell full strength liquor and beer. A similar bill was voted down by the Colorado Senate earlier this year. Some say that this new law will give too much of a monopoly to liquor stores in Colorado. If anything, sales of the weaker 3.2% beer that was the only beer you could buy on Sundays will probably go way down or practically disappear. With full strength beer becoming available on Sundays after July 1st, there will essentially be no need to buy 3.2% beer any longer, unless of course drinking that stuff is your thing.

Time to celebrate Colorado beer drinkers! Now any day can be a day to buy and drink our fine Colorado ales and lagers. Now if July 1st will just hurry up and get here.

Related article:
- Sunday liquor sales legalized in Colorado

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Oskar Blues Opens Longmont Facility

If you're a fan of Oskar Blues and their best craft beer in a can, then you'll love this news. Oskar Blues' new brewing facility has just opened up in Longmont, Colorado. The facility itself is over 10 times bigger than their original brewery in Lyons, Colorado. This last weekend marked the start of their first batch of Dale's Pale Ale to be brewed there. The new facility was built at a cost of over $3 million. This new facility will focus on the brewing, canning and shipping of beers to many states in the US. Their small facility in Lyons just wasn't big enough to keep up with the ever growing demand for craft beer in a can. Now with their new production capability, Oskar Blues will now be able to produce over 30,000 barrels of beer a year.

Oskar Blues produces four styles of beer in a can including their flagship Dale's Pale Ale, Gordon (Strong Ale), Old Chub (Scottish Strong), and Ten Fidy Imperial Stout. These beers are currently available in over 18 states and soon California will be added to the list.

The new facility will now provide Oskar Blues with a greater ability to make experimental batches. Soon we may be able to see some new specialty beers being produced. Oskar Blues will still make beer out of their smaller Lyons brewery but that will now focus on making beer for just their restaurant.

The new Longmont facility may soon open up a tasting room later in the year. Details on that are forthcoming.

Related articles:
- Oskar Blues debuts new tasting room - Tasty Weasel
- Oskar Blues celebrates six years of canning
- Cellaring notes on Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Taste of Rock Bottom Centerra

Rock Bottom CenterraI missed out on an opportunity to tour a brewery on April 7th, the 75th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition, so I decided to pay a visit to a local restaurant / brewery one day late. There is a fairly new brewery in the Northern Colorado area that is situated in the middle of a shopping complex just off of US 34 and Interstate 25 at Centerra. Rock Bottom Brewery Centerra Promenade opened this new restaurant about a year ago and is a hidden gem among the bigger craft and mass market breweries in the area. I've only been to this restaurant once before shortly after it opened and sampled one of their initial brews but wanted to head back there to sample more of there crafted ales and lagers. I headed over there during a lunch break and took a seat at the bar and ordered the Brewmaster's Luncheon special along with a sampler. I expected to try up to 6 beers as that what was on their beer board but what I got was actually a treat. The site's Brewmaster, Dave Peacock, was on hand and must have noticed that I brought along my tasters notebook and personally struck up a conversation with me. It didn't take long before he started pulling up several more beers for me to try.

At first count, I was offered their regular six beers on tap. They included their Lumpy Dog Light Lager, Double Barrel Pale Ale, Iron Horse Red Ale, Molly's Titanic Brown Ale, their Specialty Dark beer which this month was an Oatmeal Stout, and a seasonal wheat beer which they referred to as an American Wheat. This alone would normally have been plenty for me to sample, but the more I spoke with Brewmaster Dave, the more he started bringing over even more beers to try. He first asked me if I had ever had any casked beers. I've only had one to my knowledge and that was the La Folie from New Belgium. He hand pumped two different cask beers for me to try as well: a casked version of their American Wheat and a casked version of their Iron Horse Red. When I mentioned the La Folie, he told me that he wanted me to try a Belgian recipe he was experimenting with and quickly brought over a glass of a new Belgian recipe he had just made up.

Now the count was up to 9 beers, but that wasn't the end of it. Rock Bottom restaurants also brew up a monthly Year of Beer brew. This month's beer was just tapped the day before. It was a Rye beer that they named: Catcher in the Rye. Along with that, they also had some of last months beer still available, an Irish Red ale named Fire Chief Ale. Wow. Now I had 11 sampler glasses in front of me and a plate of food as well. Time to get to work on tasting!

I've never attempted to review so many different beers all at once, so rather than give a long winded review on each one, I'll simply give a short highlight and a rank.

#1 - Catcher in the Rye - my first taste of rye beer. Gold colored. Nice light aroma. A lighter tasting brew, not malty and low hopped. Good. 3.2 out of 5.

#2 - Fire Chief Ale - An Irish red with a fare amount of hops. Richer malt taste. Poured red with a nice white head. Nice balance between malt and hops. 3.4 out of 5.

#3 - Cask Wheat - Dave the Brewmaster told me this version had only been in the cask 10 days and he had left out the coriander and orange peel from this wheat. 5.4% ABV. I could only detect a slight woodiness to this beer. Cloudy yellow. A tad watery and needed something. Probably the spices. Not much flavor. 2.8 out of 5.

#4 - Experimental Belgian Ale - this brew is targeted to become their December brew but the brewmaster wanted my opinion of this. I instantly got a big aroma of bananas and bubble gum. Different! It tasted nearly the same as it smelled with a bit of bubble gum flavor along with the typical belgian yeast taste. It was a dark gold with a tan head and nicely carbonated. Not bad but may want to work on that aroma a bit. 3.3 out of 5.

#5 - Casked Iron Horse - an amber ale with a light tan head. Nice slight hoppiness and bitter finish. Could sense a bit of "wildness" to this from the cask. Enjoyable. 3.3 out of 5.

#6 - Lumpy Dog Light Lager - one of their standard year rounds. Looks like a Bud. Yellow with white lace. 4.5% ABV. A session beer. Would be better served much colder. Not remarkable. OK. 2.9 out of 5.

#7 Double Barrel Pale Ale - English style pale ale. Caramunich and caramel malts. 5.67% ABV. Copper color with near white head. Nicely hopped. Good balance of malt and hops. Smooth. No bitter aftertaste. Used Northwest hops. 3.4 out of 5.

#8 Iron Horse Red Ale - This was the same beer that they casked in #5. 5.31% ABV. Used English pale and crystal malt with UK Kent Golding hops. Goes down well. Nice distinct hop smell and taste. I liked this a bit better than the cask version. 3.4 out of 5.

#9 Molly's Titanic Brown Ale - English style brown ale. 5.14% ABV. Dark brown with red overtones. Tan head. Can taste the darker malts here. Would have liked a bit more hops in this beer. This beer recently won a Gold medal at 2006 GABF. For a gold medal winner I really wasn't impressed. Nice caramel malt taste but I've had much better. 3.0 out of 5.

#10 Specialty Dark - an oatmeal stout with a Nitro finish. It's hard to get that nitro effect in a 4 oz sampler glass. Didn't really notice the nitro in this, but then again it had been sitting there for almost an hour before I could sample it. 5.2% ABV. Tasty. Good roasty chocolate malts. Not as "coffee" like as other darks. Smooth and not overbearing. Near black with tan head. Very drinkable. 3.3 out of 5.

#11 Seasonal Wheat - their American Wheat. 5.4% ABV. This wheat was NOT cloudy as the casked version was. This beer did have the coriander and orange peel and had a much better aroma. In fact it was much more tasty than the cask. I think I saved their best beer for last. Yellow with white head. Nice blend of spices. 3.5 out of 5.

By the end of the 11th sample, my sense of smell was beginning to leave me. I think my taste buds were beginning to get overloaded. The sandwich and chili I had with the samples was very tasty and I'm glad I selected that in their Brewmaster's Luncheon. I was amazed at just how many different beers a small brewery like this could put out. For being opened for just about a year, this place has a lot going for it. Thanks to Dave Peacock for taking the time to talk to me about his beers. I look forward to coming back and trying out more of their monthly Year of Beer beers. If you're in the Loveland / Fort Collins area, it's quite easy to get to. Just exit east on US 34 and turn left into the Centerra complex. Head towards the north side of the complex and you'll find the Rock Bottom Brewery. Well worth the trip.

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