Saturday, April 25, 2009

Fort Collins Brewery Barrel Licked Bock review

Fort Collins Brewery Barrel Licked BockSpecial releases from my local breweries don't come around that often and when they do I don't hesitate to pick up a bottle or two. This case is no exception. The Fort Collins Brewery in northern Colorado released their new Barrel Licked Bock this month in 22oz bomber bottles. This brew is a oak aged smoked bock that has been 14 months in the making. This brew had been cellared for a year and then place in oak barrels for 8 weeks. The resulting brew is a potent 10.4% ABV beer that I knew I had to approach with some respect.

Fort Collins Brewery (FCB) has been known for their smoked beer offerings. I had a good idea what to expect with this brew after having their other smoked beers like Z Lager and Kidd Lager, in the past. FCB describes their Barrel Licked Bock as having "a hint of vanilla and an ephemeral charred note and a warm smoky flavor".

The FCB Barrel Licked Bock poured a dark mahogany with ruby edges. The pour yielded a 2 finger tall tan head with a creamy lacing along the glass. The beer appeared to resemble a brandy due to it's red overtones. Held up to the light, I could see this beer was clear if looked at from the bottom, yet straight on I couldn't see through it.

The aroma of this beer was unique. I could smell a smokiness to this beer with a subtle partnering of oak. The aromas intensified as I let this beer warm up a bit. Just the smoke scent in the air along with the high ABV gave me a warming affect even before tasting it. FCB's smoked malts give me a sensation of roasted meat, almost like smelling a jar of bacon bits. I could get a slight hint of sweet malt as well in the air.

It was difficult to detect any hint of vanilla from the oak. I opened up a small bottle of vanilla extract from my kitchen to compare aromas. The smoke in this beer hid whatever vanilla traces there might have been here.

The initial sensation of this beer in my mouth gave me a tangy sensation. It seemed to react to the tip of my tongue. It felt smooth and creamy and modestly carbonated. This beer was no light weight by any means. This had body.

The taste gave me a combination of sweet caramel malt, smoke and oak overtones. The oak and smoke were mild in comparison to some other brews but just enough to be noticeable. The taste initially was surprising and became better the more I tasted it. It took a bit getting used to but after a while I really started enjoying this brew.

Smoked beers can be a challenge for some to enjoy, but if you know what to expect these beers are quite enjoyable. The high alcohol in this brew definitely left me with a huge warming effect. This beer seemed to permeate my skin and left my skin smelling like a campfire. Even my wife could tell that my beer was smokey an hour after I drank it. Ya, it was that potent.

I did notice that near the bottom of the bottle, the beer seemed to be a bit sweeter than at the start of the tasting. I think this is natural as the beer warms up. Don't serve this brew too cold as it will mask some of the flavors.

I enjoyed sampling this brew. I think in the future I'll stick to just 1 small glass of this rather than trying to finish an entire 22oz bottle as it is quite strong. Good none the less. I'll give this a respectable thumbs up with a caution flag for the oak and smoke and ABV.

Related articles:
- Fort Collins Brewery Big Shot review
- Fort Collins Brewery tasting room
- FCB pours new brews for September

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Oskar Blues Old Chub inspires new bread

This sounded so good that I had to pass it along. Fans of Oskar Blues beers will find this story tempting. The following is a press release from Oskar Blues dated: 04/23/2009

Whole Foods stores are now carrying Old Chub Beer Bread

Whole Foods stores in the gourmet grocer's Rocky Mountain region are now carrying a special tag-team baked good: Old Chub Beer Bread.

It combines our celebrated Scottish Ale with the wizardry of the company's Rocky Mountain Bakehouse in Aurora.

Each loaf of Old Chub Beer Bread is made with nearly a full can of Old Chub, in a wheaty sourdough base enhanced with a touch of honey and a hearty dose of sunflower seeds.

The loaves are then rolled in the beechwood-smoked malts we use in Old Chub, then baked to glorious perfection.

Andy Clark and his crew at the Bakehouse are now sending this delicious bread to Whole Foods stores across Colorado, and stores in New Mexico, Kansas and Utah.

The bread is found in the fresh bread racks in the bakery section of these stores. It sells for $3.99 and tastes like a million bucks.

We're psyched about our yeasty partnership with Whole Foods. Not to mention the glorious flavor of the bread and the bennies it delivers both of our quality obsessed companies.

Find this gem in the local Colorado stores below. If you don't see it Yell, Kick & Scream until you do!

Pearl 2905 Pearl St Boulder, CO 80301 Phone: 303.545.6611

Alpine Ideal 1275 Alpine Ave. Boulder, CO 80304 Phone: 303.443.1354

Broadway 1651 Broadway St. Boulder, CO 80302 Phone: 303.442.0909

Baseline 2584 Baseline Rd. Boulder, CO 80305 Phone: 303.499.7636

Superior 303 Marshall Rd. Superior, CO 80027 Phone: 720.274.1415

Westminster 9229 N. Sheridan Blvd. Westminster, CO 80031 Phone: 303.650.2333

Fort Collins 2201 S College Ave Fort Collins, CO 80525 Phone: 970.267.9200

Colfax 4357 W. Colfax Ave. Lakewood, CO 80401 Phone: 303.277.1339

Capitol Hill 900 E. 11th Ave. Denver, CO 80218 Phone: 303.832.7701

Belmar 444 S.Wadsworth Blvd Lakewood, CO 80226 Phone: 303.935.5000

Related articles:
- Oskar Blues Old Chub Scottish Ale review
- Oskar Blues debuts new tasting room
- Oskar Blues celebrates 6 years of canning
- Breweries of Longmont Part III - Oskar Blues

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Crabtree hosts Spring Fest 2009 April 25

Looking for a fun activity in Northern Colorado this weekend? Why not attend the Crabtree Spring Fest '09 in Greeley on April 25th! What's Spring Fest? It's a celebration of the return of Spring and the enjoyment of fresh brewed beer from Crabtree Brewing. In addition, there will be three live bands playing during the event.

Crabtree Brewing has been brewing beers for nearly 4 years now from their small warehouse in Greeley. For the last three years they have been celebrating their business success by hosting a Spring festival at their brewery.

This year's festival will run from 4pm until Midnight on April 25th. Crabtree Brewing is located at: 625 3rd Street #D, Greeley, CO (click for map).

Crabtree will offer up over 8 beers on tap, some great local cuisine and music all day long from three local bands. An $8 cover fee included a special limited edition pint glass and all the Crabtree brew you want. But, for my local readers, you can print off the following coupon and get $3 off the cover charge for you and all of your friends.


Featured bands include headliner: Ben Pu and Crew, The Kingpins, and the Wannabe Poets. All ages are welcome to attend. 21+ to sample the beer.

Spring Fest is quickly becoming a popular annual event in Greeley and with all the great beer and music here you don't want to miss it. Check out their newly redesigned website at www.crabtreebrewing.com for more information.

Related articles:
- Crabtree Brewing expands their hours.
- Crabtree Brewing taps their Braggot
- Supporting my local brewery - Crabtree

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Belgium to distribute in Wisconsin

Brewery Brings Bombers of Fat Tire, 1554 and Mothership Wit to America’s Dairyland

Fort Collins, CO – April 20, 2009 – New Belgium Brewing, the third-largest craft brewer in the U.S., today announced that 22-ounce bombers of Fat Tire, 1554 and Mothership Wit will be available in the Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin areas beginning May 4. The roll-out will begin with bomber bottles for approximately 60 days, to be followed by draft. Wisconsin is one of four new states that New Belgium is entering in early 2009.

“Wisconsin has a legendary and rightfully proud brewing tradition,” said Bryan Simpson, spokesperson from New Belgium. “We’re excited to join that scene and become a fully engaged member of the community.”

New Belgium is nationally recognized for its progressive environmental practices. By tapping into one of its core values of environmental stewardship, consumers can enjoy their new favorite beers even more. All of New Belgium’s beers are produced at a brewery where choices like reduced greenhouse emissions, green building techniques and water conservation are a cultural way of life.

Wisconsin residents looking to learn more about New Belgium can check out the New Belgium newsletter, The Tinkerer: http://www.newbelgium.com/the-tinkerer or New Belgium’s site: http://www.newbelgium.com/. For those who love man’s greatest invention (the bicycle) as much as New Belgium, join Team Wonderbike today: http://www.teamwonderbike.com/ .

Here are the beers New Belgium is bringing to Wisconsin:

Fat Tire - Like the ageless delight of pedaling a bicycle, Fat Tire Amber Ale’s appeal is in its feat of balance: Toasty malt flavors (sorta like biscuits just pulled from the oven) coasting in equilibrium with crisp hoppiness. Delicious stability - in the world of sometimes-precarious beer flavors – is perhaps what prompted one consumer to say, “This beer just makes you smile.”Fat Tire’s depth of flavor, achieved with neither a disproportionate sway toward hops or malts, tandems well with a full spectrum of today’s engaging cuisines. Salmon, dry-aged cheeses, roasted chilies, omelets at midnight, sweet potato French fries and just about anything with grill marks or garlic are just a few of the edibles we like to partner up with our Amber Ale.

1554 - Other than being dark in color, 1554 has little in common with Porters or Stouts. The beer is fermented at relatively high temperatures using a European lager yeast that imparts a refreshing, zesty acidity. Chocolate and coffee tones in the nose give way to a surprisingly clean finish. With 1554 we hoped to create a beer similar to what folks enjoyed nearly five-hundred years ago without ignoring five-hundred years of technological innovation.

Mothership Wit - New Belgium’s first organic beer offering, Mothership Wit elevates the zesty Wit or White beers of Belgium with wheat malt, coriander and orange peel spicing - all of which are organically grown. The Mothership experience begins with a cloudy pale yellow appearance capped by a creamy white head. Next is the alluring, slightly spicy, floral nose. The refreshing taste is the result of a gravitational balance of citrus and sour flavors held in suspension by a bright burst of carbonation.

By mid-2009, New Belgium beers will be available in 26 states across the United States. Fat Tire is the brewery’s flagship brew, with its other year-round and seasonal Belgian beers recognized for their mature flavors, unique history and high quality ingredients.

About New Belgium Brewing Company

New Belgium Brewing Company, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, began operations in a tiny Fort Collins basement in 1991. Today, the third largest craft brewer in the U.S., New Belgium produces seven year-round beers; Fat Tire Amber Ale, Sunshine Wheat, Blue Paddle Pilsner, 1554 Black Ale, Abbey, Mothership Wit and Trippel, as well as a host of seasonal releases. In addition to producing world-class beers, New Belgium takes pride in being a responsible corporate role model with progressive programs such as employee ownership, open book management and a commitment to environmental stewardship. For more information, visit http://www.newbelgium.com/.

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Related articles:
- New Belgium expands with new tanks
- New Belgium to offer Sunshine Wheat in cans
- New Belgium revisited

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Left Hand 2009 Oak Aged Imperial Stout review

Left Hand 2009 Oak Aged Imperial StoutWinter seems to be having a hard time leaving Colorado alone these days. So while the cold is still lingering around I found it the right time to pull out a big bottle of a dark brew that I spied at the store the other day. I'm no stranger to the beers from Left Hand Brewing of Longmont, Colorado. They've brewed up some strong kick ass brews in the past. So when I saw a new bottle of Left Hand 2009 Oak Aged Imperial Stout I couldn't say no. I've previously reviewed their regular Imperial Stout about a year ago but wanted to see how well the Left Hand brew would do aged from an oak brandy barrel.

According to the bottle, the oak aged imperial stout was blended using 75% of their regular Imperial Stout and 25% Imperial Stout aged in the oak brandy barrel. The brew is supposed to impart flavors with "hints of raisin, black licorice, coffee and dark chocolate". How could I say no to that? I let the chilled bottle sit out for about 30 minutes before opening the cap. There was a big "hiss" when I popped the top so I knew it had been bottle conditioned a bit.

Appearance: This stout surprised me a bit as it poured a bit less thick than most imperial stouts I've seen. It's quite dark but you can almost see through this brew. There was an abundance of ruby edging along the sides of the glass and it wasn't until I filled the glass over half way that I couldn't see through it any longer. Dark as it was, the brew only produced a very small tan head.

Aroma: The head didn't seem to matter to me as much as it's aroma. Just as soon as I opened the bottle, I could detect the oak brandy barrel scent immediately. It gave the brew a sense of funky sweetness to it. You got the feeling this brew was a strong one and judging from the 10.2% ABV I knew it was going to pack a punch. I didn't want to drink this brew too cold, so I left the brew sitting in the glass for several minutes more before tasting. A good imperial stout is most flavorful as it warms.

I swirled the stout in my glass and took in a big whiff of this brew. Aside from the oak barrel overtones, the warmed brew gave off a big chocolaty nose and was very inviting.

Mouthfeel: Left Hand's oak aged imperial stout was less viscous than most other beers of the style have been. While it seemed lighter in mouthfeel it was mighty potent in the alcohol bite and flavor. It coated the tongue well and left a nice drying effect in my mouth.

Taste: As for the taste, I noticed a wonderful chocolaty roastiness along with some brandy overtones from the wood. This flavor appealed to me right away. Some Russian Imperial Stouts are a bit too dry and coffee-like. Not this brew. This was a well balanced stout with a hint of funky sweetness and just enough bitter to balance it out. It had less emphasis on the coffee and more so on the chocolate and malts. I think the brandy barrels really added a wonderful effect to this beer.

I could feel the effect of the higher alcohol content nearly right away. This is not a beer to be taken lightly. Don't plan on driving after a full 22oz bottle of this. It was the equivalent of 4 regular beers in strength in the bomber. I was feeling quite warm and cozy after this brew.

Overall: I admit this quickly became one of my favorite imperial stouts. It was certainly more enjoyable than the aged North Coast Old Rasputin. The Left Hand brew had much more flavor to it. I simply didn't want to put this beer down. I tasted this brew right before heading to bed last night and I slept like a log. Glad I chose to drink this one at home.

I'm giving this beer a HUGE Thumbs up and a definite repeat buy recommendation. I think this brew would stand up to cellaring quite well. Left Hand only makes this brew every 2 years or so and it was well worth the wait for this one.

Price range: From $8.49 to $9.99 for a 22oz bomber bottle.
Availability: Every 2 years in late-winter / early Spring.

Related articles:
- Breweries of Longmont Part II - Left Hand Brewing
- Left Hand Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout review
- Left Hand Milk Stout review
- Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2008 review.
- Mikkeller Beek Geek Breakfast review.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Beer Wars: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Last night was the premiere of the "one time" movie event called Beer Wars Live. Beer Wars was a documentary about the struggles of craft beer industry to get a foothold into the small 5% of the beer market not controlled by the big beer makers. The movie was produced and directed by Anat Baron, former exec who worked on the Mike's Hard Lemonade business. The entire event lasted just over 2 hours including pre-event trivia and film clips, a "live" introduction by Ben Stein and Anat herself, the ~90 minute film and finally a 30 minute panel discussion lead by Ben Stien and joined in by Charlie Papazian, Greg Koch, Sam Calagione, Rhonda Kallman, Maureen Ogle and Todd Alstrom.

Given the fact that this event was a documentary and not a feature film, I won't focus on the entertainment factor of this film but rather comment on what I thought the film was trying to point out to the general public. I'm going to break down some points into what I'll call the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

First, the Good

The film did a wonderful job describing the beer landscape in America. You got to know who all the main players were, a bit of the history surrounding the beer industry and spotlights upon a few of the players in the smaller craft beer market. Anat chose to focus on a couple key players: Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head and Rhonda Kallman, co-founder of Boston Beer and entrepreneur with a new beer called Moonshot.

Several other craft brewers were featured in cameo appearances but for the most part Sam and Rhonda and Anat herself were featured.

What struck me was just how tough and cut throat competitive the beer industry is and how complex the 3-tier production - distribution and retail arena is. The big beer makers: AB-InBev and MillerCoors now make up the vast majority of the beer sales in this country let alone the world. The craft beer industry is essentially struggling to survive on just a 5% slice of the entire beer pie.

The film did a great job showing how tough business can be for craft brewers to get shelf space at the local retailers and how the big boys play hardball to keep the small guys at bay.

I enjoyed the segments that featured talks from breweries like New Belgium, Stone Brewing and Sam Adams. Even the segments on Anheuser-Busch and Miller and Coors were interesting to watch. Anat covered the industry situation very well including how the roles of Government and lobbyists play in this market.

After the film was over, there was a live discussion with many of the same "stars" of the movie and the audience got to get a more personal and intimate look at these beer industry leaders.

But now the Bad

While I understand that doing a "live" segment of any event can have it's up's and down's, the live intro seemed very awkward. Anat and Ben introduced the movie "live" but fell victim to either technical difficulties or a lack of preparation. Anat seemed more like a movie star accepting an Academy Award in introducing the movie than a beer industry expert. The intro could have been skipped in my opinion and they could have simply rolled the film to get things started.

The film included a lot of old TV and film segments from old commercials and news stories. The quality of those video segments simply looked horrible up on the big digital screen. While the majority of the film looked good, the old documentary segments reminded me of playing old 8-bit video games on a High Def screen. The visual quality of the old clips simply didn't look good.

Certain segments of the film focused on the personal life of Sam Calagione and Rhonda Kellman. During one scene at Rhonda's home we got to meet her family and heard the screams and cries of her daughter agonizing over seeing her mom leaving her ( once again) to go out and hustle product to stores and bars. I could have done without having to see that. Keep the kids out of the movies please. Sure, it shows a human side to the brewers, but in a beer documentary, I'd rather see more about beer than a segment reminiscent of Jon and Kate plus 8.

Anat seemed to put herself in the spotlight a bit too much in her film. The beginning of the film was basically all about her and made her out to be a quirky little cartoon character hero. It struck me as odd that someone who is so close to the beer industry and so heavily involved was allergic to alcohol. Well, it's her film, so she could do what she wanted to basically. But I felt that could have been cut out.

And the Ugly

While Ben Stein may be somewhat of a pop icon to the MTV generation due to his appearances in films and TV, he simply didn't belong up there as a moderator in a craft beer discussion. His questions were awkward and sometimes silly. He cut off people when asking questions and simply didn't seem very knowledgeable about the topic at hand. He was more concerned about who's turn it was to talk and to ensure the film clips got played correctly. I felt Charlie Papazian was mostly ignored on the panel and probably would have made a much better moderator than Ben Stein.

The movie itself focused too much on the story of Rhonda Kellman and her struggles to get a caffeinated beer on the market. Her Moonshot beer was called into question as to whether or not it should have been a focus in the movie. Later on in the live panel discussion, Mark Alstrom of BeerAdvocate simply slammed Rhonda's beer calling it CRAP in a film clip and then put her and Mark on the spot to get their reaction to that. I was shocked that Rhonda subjected herself to such harsh criticism live from the Alstrom brothers. That was simply uncalled for.

For people on the West Coast, where the film was debuted and where the live discussion took place, the event wasn't live and was taped. Many of the movie theaters had problems showing the taped event. Some theaters didn't get any sound and many people had to be given refunds due to all the technical difficulties. That's poor planning on behalf of Fathom Productions and for a company that specializes in special events like this, the problems could have and should have been prevented.

My last beef about this movie was the price. The ticket price was $15 and if you bought your ticket ahead of time there was a surcharge fee tacked on by most theaters. My ticket cost me $16. For a 2 hour movie event like this, it should have included a coupon for a free beer later on for the price. I think it would have been better off simply charging regular admission and skipping the "live" stuff altogether. For those who didn't see the movie, go rent it on DVD this summer.

Wrap up

Overall, I enjoyed most of the Beer Wars event. I'm glad I went to it. It left me with a much better understanding and appreciation of the craft beer industry and how it works. It made me painfully aware of how our own local craft brewers have to fight hard to survive. It also left me highly concerned over how the 3-tier system works and how the giants in the industry can take advantage of their position and push out the smaller guys. AB-InBev was made out to be a huge villain in this movie. Something they probably deserve. Having a live panel discussion was a good idea in theory, but it could have come off a lot better than it did.

How about a sequel? Well, if there were to be any sequel to this film, it should probably be done another 10 years down the road to see how much ground, if any, the craft beer industry can gain over the big giants. There are many other craft brewers out there that could be spotlighted and I'm sure I'd love to hear their stories as well. I would also like to see more coverage of the homebrewing market and how the average Joe is enjoying making their own beer.

Other reviews of Beer Wars:

- 2BeerGuys
- Andy Crouch's BeerScribe
- Appellation Beer
- Barleyvine
- A Good Beer Blog
- Kasper on Tap
- Lyke2Drink
- Top Fermented
- Yours for Good Fermentables


Related articles:
- Samuel Adams Beer Dinner recap.
- The people you meet at the GABF.
- Great things come in small batches.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Belgium to offer Sunshine Wheat in cans

The good folks over at BeerAdvocate.com pointed this out today, thought I'd also pass along the press release from New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, CO.

Fort Collins, CO (April 2009) - New Belgium Brewing today announced that it will be packaging and distributing Sunshine Wheat in aluminum cans in Colorado only this spring. New Belgium, known for its commitment to quality and sustainability, will begin distributing a short run of cans in April. New Belgium installed its first canning line in 2008 and began rolling out Fat Tire in cans last summer.

A filtered wheat beer, Sunshine Wheat swirls in the mouth with ripples of coriander and orange peel tartness, settling into a sea of honey and apple tones. A recent web poll on www.newbelgium.com indicated that Sunshine Wheat was in the top three favorites for the next canned New Belgium beer.

"People have been asking for a more portable Sunshine Wheat for a while, so we're excited to make this our second canned offering," said Bryan Simpson, spokesperson for New Belgium. "Cans have many intrinsic benefits that New Belgium values; they are easily recyclable, transport lighter than glass and can be easily packed in and out when camping or enjoying the Great Outdoors."

The cans, which are 100% recyclable, will feature Sunshine Wheat's original watercolor artwork with color twist to reflect a summery green and yellow.

About New Belgium Brewing Company
New Belgium Brewing Company, makers of Fat Amber Ale and other Belgian-inspired beers, began operations in a tiny Fort Collins basement in 1991. Today, the third largest craft brewer in the U.S., New Belgium produces seven year-round beers; Fat Tire Amber Ale, Sunshine Wheat, Blue Paddle Pilsner, 1554 Black Ale, Abbey, Mothership Wit and Trippel, as well as a host of seasonal releases. In addition to producing world-class beers, New Belgium takes pride in being a responsible corporate role model with progressive programs such as employee ownership, open book management and a commitment to environmental stewardship. For more information, visit www.newbelgium.com.

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Related articles:
- New Belgium Dark Kriek Lips of Faith review.
- New Belgium Mighty Arrow Pale Ale review.
- New Belgium revisited.

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Participate in the Odell Twitter brew project

Odell BrewingAs the popularity of social media increases by leaps and bounds, so are businesses starting to take advantage of popular tools like Twitter. Even in the craft beer world, hundreds of breweries are now starting to see how Twitter can be used to spread the good word about their popular brews. Odell Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado is taking Twitter one step further. They're planning on brewing a Twitter brew based solely off of suggestions from followers on Twitter.

Earlier this month, Odell started tweeting about their plans to come up with their first ever twitterbrew. They are using the hash tag of #odelltwitbrew to track the news and comments regarding this new project. So far, the Twitter nation is responding well to this venture.

Here's what Odell Brewing is saying about this project:

A Twitter Taste in Your Mouth

Odell Brewing Releases First Twitter Community Brew

On May 30, 2009, Odell Brewing will release the first Twitter community inspired brew.

Followers have until April 19, 2009 to tweet their suggested beer styles for the first Twitter Brew poll. The top beer suggestions will be voted on, and subsequent polls will be conducted to determine beer qualities like color, strength, body, and hop character. Twittering beer lovers can also tweet ideas for beer names and tap handle designs.

The voting will end on May 8, 2009 and brewer, Jeff Doyle will then brew the Twitter Brew on Odell Brewing’s Pilot brewing system. “There are so many people who are interested in brewing but don’t really have the means to do it,” said Doyle. “The Twitter Brew will give them the chance to get involved with the whole process.”

Twitter brewers can try their beer at the brewery’s Tap Room during the tapping party on May 30, 2009.

# # #

So get out there on Twitter and send in your suggestions to @odellbrewing soon and participate in helping to create and twitterbrew this new craft beer from Odell Brewing.

You can bet that Fermentedly Challenged will follow this effort closely and report all of the latest updates from this venture. You can follow me on Twitter as well @ChipperDave.

Update 4/21/2009: Odell has officially released the final 5 selections on beer styles for this brew. Vote on your favorite at http://www.polldaddy.com/p/1557662/ . Voting is open until 5pm April 24th. Hurry! Styles to vote on include: Altbier, Schwarzbier, Scotch Ale, Super Session Ale, Maibock and Roggenbier.

Related articles:
- Odell Woodcut No. 2 debuts April 20th
- Odell expansion nears but cancels festival
- CSU brewing class debuts beer at Odell Brewing
- Odell Red Ale review

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Avery makes plans for sweet Sixteen

In Avery's own words: Finally, we're SIXTEEN! Old enough to drive! All by ourselves! Dad, can we have the keys? No really, we'll totally take care of her - keep her clean - fill up her tanks - show her off to our friends and let 'em see what she can really do. Really? Thanks dude! Promise to make you proud. Now to go find Jasmin, Peches and Miel (girls names).

These are the lines etched onto the side of Avery Brewing Company's upcoming Anniversary Ale. Avery is turning 16 this year and once again will be gracing their loyal followers with a special anniversary ale.

This year, Avery is coming out with Sixteen Saison Anniversary Ale, a special Saison (French for Season). Avery describes this brew as follows:

"Well, we got her started and decided to add a few things to the tank. SIXTEEN is a harmonious combination of jasmine, peaches and honey fermented with an unmistakable Belgian yeast strain all weaving a marvelously spicy and fruity, massively estery and dry, saison ale. Thanks to all of you for the most excellent 16-year joy ride!"

SIXTEEN should be debuting sometime near the start of summer, just like their other anniversary ales did. In the past, Avery has tried to out do themselves each year since their 12th anniversary with a different and unique brew. Here's the rundown on the past anniversary ales:

Twelve: a Belgian Saison (different spices than 16)
Thirteen: a Weizen Doppelbock
Fourteen: a dark dry hopped ale
Fifteen: an experimental Brett ale (won a medal at 2008 GABF)

If Sixteen is as good as it's predecessors then it should be one of their best brews yet. Sixteen is slated to weigh in at a respectable 7.89% ABV and come in large 22oz bomber bottles. It should be a beer worth waiting for.

Related articles:
- Avery Ellie's Brown Ale review.
- Avery White Rascal review.
- Avery Salvation review.
- Avery Hog Heaven review.
- Avery Collaboration Not Litigation Ale review.
- Avery 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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Monday, April 13, 2009

Victory Prima Pils review

Victory Prima PilsToday I'm wrapping up a 3-day beer sampling from Victory Brewing. In my last two reviews, I tasted the Victory HopDevil IPA and the Victory Golden Monkey. In today's post I will review the final brew in their variety 12-pack - the Victory Prima Pils.

Let me just say up front that I'm not much of a pilsner fan any longer. Ever since I gave up my macro lager days and switched over to more flavorful craft beers, I've mostly avoided drinking pilsners. In fact it's been over a year since I last reviewed a pilsner (Left Hand Polestar Pilsner). So, going into this review I wasn't expecting to be overly impressed but I wanted to keep an open mind just in case.

Instead of using a pilsner glass, I chose to drink the Prima Pils from a Sam Adams custom glass. I felt this glass was good enough for most lighter colored beers so I went with it.

Appearance: The Prima Pils poured a medium pale yellow color that built a small 1-finger tall white head. There was plenty of white lacing although it appeared to be quite slippery and could not stick to the glass at all. This brew had plenty of carbonation in it despite being 3 months past it's "Enjoy By" date of January 2009. Perhaps this is why this beer was on sale at my local store. Despite this, the beer still looked good enough to drink. It looked identical to your typical macro lager but I still wondered how it would taste.

Aroma: Instead of getting a bland pale malt aroma, the Prima Pils offered up a distinct hop aroma. It was slightly biscuity, grassy and citrusy with a touch of floral in the nose. Victory used a combination of German and Czech whole flower hops in this brew in combination with a good amount of 2-row German malts. The hops and the malt gave this brew an inviting smell. I knew from the smell that I was going to get more than just a common pilsner in this tasting.

Taste: Once sipped, the brew instantly covered my tongue with sweet malts. There was very little bitterness in this brew. It initially reminded me of the belgian-like Golden Monkey but without the stronger yeastiness. This brew was clear and crisp. No sediment in this brew. A very sessionable beer as it weighed in at just 5.3% ABV.

If I closed my eyes, I could swear the smell was reminiscent of an IPA and had some hints of lemon in this brew. Yet, it was a touch on the sweet side but was balanced just enough with the hops. The Prima Pils was light and refreshing but with a bigger taste then your common macro brew.

Overall: Pilsners are hard to judge. They are also hard to mess up (brewing wise) yet are more difficult to make remarkable. This beer was good and very repeatable but as with most pilsners are, it wasn't very memorable. This beer would probably taste best very cold on a hot spring or summer day. I'll give this brew a respectible thumbs up. Don't expect to be overly impressed with this beer and you won't be disappointed.

Related articles:
- Victory HopDevil IPA review
- Victory Golden Monkey review
- Left Hand Polestar Pilsner review

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Victory Golden Monkey review

Victory Golden MonkeyToday's brew review is the second beer from Victory Brewing's variety 12-pack I recently picked up and is called the Victory Golden Monkey. Golden Monkey is classified as a Belgian Tripel ale and evidently must have some kind of secondary fermentation in the bottle as there tends to be a lot of yeast sediment at the bottle of the bottle. My brew had a very noticeable amount of sediment in the 12oz bottle and I wondered if this was par for the course for this brew.

Golden Monkey is made from 2-row German malts, spices (unknown) and a Belgian yeast strain. While this isn't a purely Belgian recipe, it still qualifies as a Tripel recipe. It sounded intriguing so I decided to check it out.

Appearance: I decided to use a New Belgium laser etched globe glass for this pour. Golden Monkey poured a light golden color (as expected) that quickly built a huge 3-finger creamy white head that just wouldn't quit. I noticed that the nucleation from the bottom of this glass was very strong. The massive stream of bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass created a big swirling affect that caused the sediment from the bottle to churn vigorously. I'd never seen such a strong bubbling reaction from the New Belgium glass before but it was fascinating to watch just how much the brew danced in the glass.

The beer was only modestly carbonated in the bottle but it seemed like someone had dropped an Alka-Seltzer tablet in the glass. There was so much yeast sediment in the glass it looked like the beer was never filtered. I could see through the beer just fine however. The head lasted for over 10 minutes and the lacing was just amazing along the glass.

Aroma: Instantly, I could smell a strong aroma of bananas and cloves. The Belgian yeast really was dominant here. The aroma was very pleasant as the light German malts came through as well.

Mouthfeel: Golden Monkey had a medium body mouthfeel. It was bubbly, very smooth drinking and creamy. I knew I was getting a lot of yeast sediment in my drink but could not detect it in the mouthfeel. I deliberately ignored looking at the sediment while drinking this brew as I didn't want that to distract from my sampling experience.

Taste: The brew taste started out with a malty and fruity sweetness with a touch of peppery spiciness. There seemed to be a bit of mild funkiness from the yeast but barely so. The brew was only mildly bitter and seemed to be very well balanced.

I found myself immediately enjoying this beer. It had a wonderful taste that seem to fit just right. And for the price, this brew seemed like a beer that you'd pay a bit more for. This bottle cost me just $1.25 but tasted like a brew you'd pay $4.00 or more for. Ya, it was that good.

Overall: Before I knew it, this brew was gone in a flash. Victory Brewing has come up with a very enjoyable Belgian Tripel that I'd be happy to buy again. If you can get past all of the floating sediment and focus on the taste I think you'll be very pleasantly surprised by this beer. The banana, clove and other spices in this brew hit me just right. Even the strong 9.5% ABV on this beer didn't seem to distract from the experience. If I hadn't read the ABV on the bottle I wouldn't have thought it was that strong of a beer.

Well done Victory. I look forward to sampling this again. Next up will be their Prima Pils.

Related articles:
- Victory HopDevil IPA review
- Victory Storm King Imperial Stout review
- Westmalle Trappist Ale Tripel review

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Victory HopDevil India Pale Ale review

Victory HopDevil India Pale AleDuring a recent beer run I spied a deal on a 12-pack variety box from Victory Brewing of Pennsylvania. Their variety pack cost just a mere $14.99 and had three different brews that I had never tried before, so I felt it was the perfect opportunity to taste some good brews for just over a buck each. The three beers included the Victory HopDevil, the Victory Golden Monkey and the Victory Prima Pils.

All three brews were of the lighter colored variety and seeing how it's Springtime, I wanted to start getting back into the lighter refreshing brews and start putting the dark beers aside. For my first brew review I chose to sample the Victory HopDevil India Pale Ale.

Appearance: I haven't had an IPA for several months now and I wondered if I was going to be ready for it. The HopDevil poured a nice copper color with a hefty 2 to 3 finger tall off-white head. As I swirled the beer in the glass it left a decent lacing along the sides. The brew was mostly clear with just a slight chill haze.

Aroma: The aroma is exactly what I expected from an IPA. It had a scent of light pine with a noticeable citrusy nose. It was very pleasant to inhale and smelled very clean.

Mouthfeel: HopDevil is a medium bodied brew that was bitter throughout and left a nice coating on the tongue after drinking it.

Taste: Ah hops. They dominated the entire sampling. Hop Devil was citrusy, grassy with a nice malty complexity. It was highly refreshing for an IPA, yet with all of it's bitterness it begged to be paired with some spicy food. Victory HopDevil was a good example of an IPA. It had slightly less IBU's than some other IPA's but that's not a bad thing by any means. It wasn't overly hoppy and had just the right mix of hops vs. malt. I figure this brew would go well on a hot day.

I'm giving this brew a respectable thumbs up. While it wasn't one of my favorite IPA's it was good enough to warrant a 2nd bottle. The next time I drink one of these I'd be tempted to pair it with some spicy Mexican food. Worthy.

Related articles:
- Victory Storm King Imperial Stout review
- Green Flash West Coast IPA review
- What did you drink at the 2008 GABF?

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cellaring notes on Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Old Rasputin RISAging beer in your basement is an activity only for the most patient. It's not often when I can manage to put away a good beer and let it sit for over a year before touching it again but I managed to do just that with this particular beer.

Back in March 2008, I bought a 4-pack of North Coast's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. I had reviewed this beer over a year ago but wondered how aging a big 9% ABV like this would stand up to time. I decided to put a single bottle away in a dark basement corner and promised myself I wouldn't open it for at least a year. Well here it is 13 months later and I felt that I could wait no longer. I pulled the bottle out of the corner, dusted it off and put it in the fridge to cool down a bit.

Based off my notes from last year, this brew originally poured with a humongous foamy head. Not so this time. While admittedly, I poured this beer a bit colder and into a different shaped beer glass than last time. The head only modestly rose just over a finger width in height but still had enough carbonation to give a decent "hiss" when opened.

Immediately, I could smell a wonderful rich malty aroma coming out of the glass. It was full of chocolate and coffee scents and was very inviting. The aroma had certainly not faded over time and was still very enticing.

As for the taste? I immediately sensed less of an alcohol bite than I remembered last time. The brew was still very roasty and bitter. More bitter than I remembered last time. The Old Rasputin is not a sweet imperial stout by any means. It had quite a dry finish to it and left a slight coating on my tongue.

All of the malts were still there. Very rich, viscous and full bodied. Whatever sweetness there was originally had faded into more of a dry roastiness. Aging had mellowed the hops noticeably but left the maltiness fully intact.

I remember remarking that the Old Rasputin was a very remarkable and enjoyable R.I.S. but it had not been my favorite imperial stout. I can still say that today. It was simply dead on for style but was a bit too dry on the finish for my tastes.

Beer FloatI decided this brew needed to be paired with something and I grabbed a big glass of chocolate ice cream and ended up pouring some of the Old Rasputin on top of the ice cream to make a chocolate beer float. Oh my! This was absolutely wonderful. The chocolate and dark malts blended in perfectly with the chocolate ice cream and created a perfect dessert.

After taking a few bites of the beer float and then returning to sip the Old Rasputin it made the brew even better. The ice cream had counteracted the dryness of the brew and made the experience even better.

While aging may have mellowed the alchy bite and the hops a bit, it certainly didn't change the malt profile of this brew. Now in hind site, I realized that for this particular brand of brew, aging improved this beer only slightly. I wonder if further aging would do much more for this beer - probably not. I believe that I enjoyed the year old Oskar Blues Ten Fidy imperial stout better than this.

But, aged beers are a personal taste and I invite you to try this yourself. Be sure to take good notes before and after you age a beer. Only then can you make a good judgment for yourself.

So how about you? Have any of you experienced a really good imperial stout that had been aged for at least a year? Let me know how your experiments turned out and post a comment below.

Related articles:
- Original Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout review.
- Cellaring notes on Oskar Blues Ten Fidy.
- Beer cellar aging - a short experiment.
- Cellaring notes on North Coast Old Stock Ale 2008.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Great Divide posts April highlights

April showers bring May flowers…but hops don’t bud ‘til autumn. Here’s what’s happening this month at Great Divide.

Tap Room

Great Divide will be tapping some traditional cask ales this month on the 16th and 30th. You can inquire in the Tap Room for details.

The Hop Disciples meeting for April is on the 23rd, and Great Divide will offer some Stranahan’s barrel-aged concoctions as well as other special beers-in-progress. Time: 6:00 pm Place: Great Divide Brewing Company Brew House…where the magic happens.

This month’s beer and cheese pairing is on for the 28th from 5-8 pm, and will feature ales from Great Divide Brewing Company paired with artisan cheeses from St. Killian’s Cheese Shop in the Highlands. RSVP to info@greatdivide.com.

Colorado Rockies Opening Day: April 10th
Rockies Real Ale: On tap
Tap Room Open: At noon

Seasonal Release Party!
Saison and Dunkel Weiss
Friday April 17th 6-8pm
$15 gets you in the door with unlimited access to beer and snacks.

Great Divide Brewing Company
2nd Annual Big Beer Homebrew Competition
Great Divide Brewing Company of Denver, Colorado is hosting its Second
Annual Big Beer Homebrew Competition. Great Divide employees will be
judging the entries based on appearance, body, aroma, taste, and overall
drinkability. Official awards ceremony will take place on Friday, June 5th,
2009 at 6:00 pm in the Great Divide Tap Room.

Prizes will be awarded for first, second, and third place. The brewers of
all three winning beers will receive an official certificate of merit as
well as their choice of any one case of Great Divide beer. First and second
place brewers will be awarded a fifty-dollar gift certificate
redeemable in the Great Divide taproom for merchandise or beer. The brewer
of the first place entry will also be given the opportunity to assist in the
brewing of one 50-barrel batch of Great Divide beer.

Official Rules and Regulations:
- Entries must be delivered in person to Great Divide Brewing Company.
- Entries must be at least 8% alcohol by volume.
- Entries must be in 12- or 22-oz. bottles with hand-written
labels attached by rubber band or tape.
- Information on labels must include brewer’s name, beer style, and percent
alcohol by volume.
- Four full 12-oz. or two 22-oz. bottles are required for judging.
- There are no style limitations.
- Original recipes only.
- Recipes may be extract, partial mash, or all grain.
- Beer cannot be brewed using any commercial brewing equipment, or in any
facility in which beer is commercially brewed.
- Brewers must be at least 21 years of age.
- Entries are limited to one per person.
- Each entry may have only one official brewer.
- Entries must be received between 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm Monday through
Saturday, from Monday, May 4th, 2009 to Saturday, May 30th, 2009.

Brewery News

According to the Brewers Association, the craft beer industry grew more than any other sector of American beer last year, with an impressive 5.8% increase in volume and a 10.5% increase in dollars in 2008. These new statistics weigh in heavily to give craft beer a sales share of 4% by volume and 6.3% by dollars for last year. Thanks to everyone for drinking great beer.

Brew Ninja Allen Johnson, acting on his completely irrational belief that coniferous trees and fermented malt beverages go hand in hand, tried to sneak a handful of juniper berries into a batch of Denver Pale Ale. His efforts were thwarted by fellow brewer Taylor Rees, who smelled the berries and immediately knew what Allen was up to. Meanwhile, Beer Traffic Controller Ryan Rafferty held a Tootsie Roll eating contest without telling anyone. Immediately following aforementioned contest, Ryan crowned himself Tootsie Roll Eating Champion of the World 2009.

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

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Fort Collins Brewery releases Barrel Licked Bock

Springtime is here and with it comes the release of a fresh seasonal brew from the Fort Collins Brewery. Today at the Choice City Butcher & Deli in Fort Collins, Colorado from 5:00pm to 7:00pm is the official tapping party of FCB's Barrel Licked Bock.

Barrel Licked Bock has been a brew long in making. FCB placed this brew in whiskey barrels over 14 months ago and has aged this brew until now. Barrel Licked Bock will be available at the FCB tap room and will also be available in 22oz bomber bottles, in growlers and in kegs.

It's not often that a local brewer comes out with a special aged brew and this beer should prove to be something special. Look for it in local Colorado stores starting this week.

To sample some of this brew today, head on over to Choice City at 104 W. Olive St in Fort Collins, CO. Tell 'em Chipper Dave sent ya!

Related articles:
- Fort Collins Brewery Big Shot Seasonal Ale review
- Fort Collins Brewery pours new brews
- Fort Collins Brewery Tasting Room

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Beer Wars April 16 for 1 night only

Live from Los Angeles, an evening dedicated to celebrating the world of craft beer and the American entrepreneurial spirit.

With over 95 million beer drinkers, beer is an American icon and is interwoven into our culture, yet the real story of these independent brewers has never been told. Beer Wars introduces the who's who in beer while following the journey of small, independent brewers who are challenging the corporate behemoths. The evening will feature the world premiere of the groundbreaking documentary Beer Wars, followed by a spirited LIVE discussion with brewers and experts from the film. Using clips and never before seen footage to spice things up, this inspirational event will cap a movement 25 years in the making at a time when everyone is looking for proof that the American Dream is alive and well.

Panelists include:

* Sam Calagione – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery founder
* Rhonda Kallman – Founder of New Century Brewing Company and co-founder of Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams)
* Greg Koch – Stone Brewing Company founder
* Charlie Papazian – Brewers Association president
* Maureen Ogle – Beer historian and author of "Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer"
* Todd Alstrom – Beer Advocate founder

Playing in 440 movie theatres nationwide on Thursday, April 16th, Beer Wars LIVE will begin a conversation about the future of beer in America.

Purchase tickets for the LIVE event on April 16th at 8pm ET/7pm CT/6pm MT/8pm PT (tape delayed) at www.fathomevents.com/upcoming/details/Beer_Wars.html

For more information, visit www.beerwarsmovie.com

Related articles:
- Boulder Beer giving away free beer for a year.
- April Colorado Beer Events
- May Colorado Beer Events

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Odell Woodcut No 2 debuts June 1st

It's been nearly 8 months since the Odell Brewing Company of Fort Collins, Colorado debuted it's inaugural Woodcut Oak Aged beer series and later this month they will roll out their second edition of these batches.

I had the pleasure of being on hand last August for the tapping party for their Woodcut No. 1 batch and if this batch is as good as their first then it should sell out quick. The following statement was released earlier today from Odell Brewing.

Odell Brewing Releases Woodcut No. 2 Oak Aged Golden Ale

[PRESS RELEASE] On June 1, 2009, Odell Brewing will release the second barrel aged beer in its Woodcut series.

Woodcut No. 2, an oak aged golden ale, was brewed over six months ago on the brewery’s pilot brewing system. The golden ale has been aging in virgin oak barrels and will bottle condition in cork finish, 750 ml bottles.

Crafted with fine specialty malts and hops, Woodcut No. 2 is a golden copper color. The rich toffee-like malt character is balanced by soft tannins. Freshly cut wood and vanilla bean aromas compliment the beer’s smooth finish.

Odell Brewing’s inaugural Woodcut offering was named one of the best beers of 2008 by Draft Magazine and Modern Brewery Age magazine. “Odell Brewing is pushing into new waters with grace and success with the Woodcut Series,” Draft Magazine.

Only 175 cases of the Woodcut No. 1 were released, and the beer sold out in one week. The second release will be limited to 350 cases, all hand signed and numbered.

Eager beer enthusiasts can celebrate the release of Woodcut No. 2 at the brewery’s Tap Room on June 1, 2009 at 2:00 pm. Bottles will be available for purchase for $24.99. To learn more, visit www.woodcutbeer.com.

Odell Brewing is a proud sponsor of the Cicerone Certification program and an award winning brewery, nationally and internationally: 2008 North American Beer Awards – gold medal for 5 Barrel Pale Ale. 2008 World Beer Cup® – gold medal for IPA, silver medal for Double Pilsner, silver medal for Cutthroat Porter. 2007 Great American Beer Festival® – gold medal for IPA, silver medal for Easy Street Wheat, bronze medal for Extra Special Red. 2007 Stockholm International Beer Festival – bronze medal for 5 Barrel Pale Ale. 2007 Australian International Beer Awards – silver medal for 90 Shilling, silver medal for Cutthroat Porter, silver medal for Easy Street Wheat and bronze medal for 5 Barrel Pale Ale.

# # #

Late Update (April 17, 2009):

Odell just put out an email stating that the debut of Woodcut No. 2 has been delayed until June 1st due to the bottles not being carbonated enough yet. All bottles are 100% bottle conditioned and Odell's simply won't release the bottles until they are ready. Stay tuned for further updates.

Related articles:
- Odell officially taps their Woodcut series
- Odell drops, adds beers
- Odell Brewing Tap Room

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Boulder Beer giving away free beer for a year

How does free beer for a year in Colorado for you and a friend sound? It could come true for you if you enter Boulder Beer's Pearl Street Scavenger Hunt slated for Saturday, April 18, 2009.

So how do you go about trying to win free beer?

Simple, you and a one friend, age 21 and older, be one of the first 35 teams to register for the Pearl Street Scavenger Hunt through the Boulder Beer site. Click on the "Buy Cool Stuff" link to find the ticket page to buy a $20 team entry fee. If you signed up in time and receive a confirmation email back from Boulder Beer then you will get a clue to help you find the pre-party location in order to get further details.

Your $20 entry fee will get you a lot of great beer to drink during the scavenger hunt.

Teams of two will follow clues leading them around the Pearl Street Mall area in Boulder, Colorado looking for treasures on their list and taking a few pictures to earn points. Points are also earned by correctly solving puzzles, performing silly tasks and answering fun questions at downtown drinking establishments where Boulder Beers are served.

Teams with the most points win. 1st place wins FREE BEER FOR A YEAR which equates to both participants on the winning team getting a free case of beer per month for 12 months from Boulder Beer.

2nd place wins a full 1/2 barrel keg of Boulder beer. 3rd place team wins a pony keg (1/4 barrel) of Boulder beer.

Not bad for an afternoon of fun eh?

Teams must bring either a camera phone or a digital camera with them to play. The Scavenger Hunt lasts from 2:00pm to 5:00pm on Saturday April 18th with a post-party at the final stop from 5pm to 6pm. Teams MUST show up at the pre-party location at 1pm in order to play as that is where they will receive all their instructions and clue packets. HURRY SIGN UP BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!

Update: Oops, too late. You already missed it. All teams are filled up. Sorry!

Related articles:
- Boulder Beer releases seasonal brews.
- Boulder Beer Cold Hop review.
- Boulder Beer Mojo IPA review.
- Boulder Beer Planet Porter review.

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