Friday, December 30, 2011

Sneak peek at Black Bottle Brewery

Black Bottle BreweryA new brewery is coming to Fort Collins, slated to open sometime in late Spring to early Summer of 2012 and goes by the name of Black Bottle Brewery. I was invited to the home of the head brewer and owner - Sean Nooks - who lives in a home in Timnath, Colorado and has been doing all of his brewing out of his garage.

UPDATE: Black Bottle Brewery opened for business Dec. 1, 2012!

Sean was born and raised in Fort Collins and is a master Auto Technician as his current job. He's been homebrewing extensively for the last 6 or more years. Sean is a member of the Liquid Poets Society - a homebrew club in Fort Collins and has participated in shadow programs at both New Belgium and at C.B. and Potts.

Currently, Sean brews on a well made 25 gallon Pilot System which he intends to use at the brewery for coming up with new recipes. Sean has a lot of plans for the brewery and plans several different series of beers which he will offer once he opens for business.

Machete Series - a collection of stronger beers that go against traditional recipes.

No Season Series - this will be his off the wall stuff that can be made and drank anytime of year and isn't tied to a particular season.

Sloppy Seconds Series - beers made from the second runnings of some of his primary recipes. These beers are intended to be much lower in alcohol content and extremely sessionable. Some of these lower ABV beers will be called his "Social Security" brews, part of his Small Ale Project, that have a maximum of 3% ABV. Sean claims you can still made some awesome tasting beers that don't have to be higher in alcohol. These will be a monthly brew and be available at a lower cost.

Sean Nook - owner Black Bottle BreweryEarlier this year, Sean was a moment away from signing on a lease for a building in an old 1920's era building in downtown Fort Collins but backed out of it at the last minute due to some advice. Turns out he would have had to make over $50,000 worth of electrical improvements to that building in order to get that facility useable and licensed.

Sean believes he has finally found a great location, but won't reveal it to the public until he's signed on the lease agreement. All he wanted me to say is that the final building won't be next to all the other breweries in Fort Collins, but it will certainly be "bike-able" to it via the popular bike paths in town and be more centrally located. He hopes to sign a lease in January.

Black Bottle Brewery plans to open up initially with 15 of it's own beers and have a total of 40 taps on the wall. Sean wants to offer up several guest taps and offer his clientele a wide variety of beers. Not only his own, but also with some of the best the region has available.

There won't be any flagship beers, rather, Sean wants his customers to determine the flagships based upon what they like best. Black Bottle beers will be available no tap and he plans to sell them in bombers and in 750ml bottles. He plans on putting in a special growler filling station that incorporates filling along with CO2 to keep his beers at their freshest. Bottles won't be part of the initial opening phase but will be added later as part of Phase 2 of his business plan.

Don't expect to see any firkins, but rather he'll end up doing several regular add-ons to this best beers.

Why the name Black Bottle Brewery? Sean stated that originally way back when, most beer bottles were originally black in color and thought it was cool to bring back the old style. The color itself is "dark and edgy". Today, you don't see black bottles anymore because that color glass tends to be more fragile than brown, green or clear colored glass. Expect to see their growlers made out of something black - it may be glass or it may even be ceramic.

Upcoming beers from Black Bottle Brewery:

Black Bottle's Pilot SystemThe following beers comprise some of the beers you'll likely find on tap from time to time at Black Bottle Brewery. While none of these beers will be considered a Flagship beer (he's not doing any) they will be constantly rotating with some experimentation done on them from time to time.

Dirty Hippie - This light colored brew is best described as an over-hopped wheat beer - or Wheat PA so to speak. It's light, cloudy, unfiltered and built at a sesssionable 4.7% ABV. It's distinctly different, not like any wheat beer I've ever tasted. More hop yet with a distinctive wheat taste.

Floozy - This is Sean's Abbey-style wheat. It uses only all American ingredients. It too is cloudy with a very nice nose. It's also sessionable at 4.8% ABV. It used west coast hops (Cascade and Willamette) and is light and refreshing. I tasted some clove and hop up front. It's slightly tart and very tasty. Don't expect to find any fruit here.

El Diablo Manzana - a hard cider - yes, Black Bottle is going to make hard ciders too! This tasty cider is nicely sweet and has no preservatives. It's made with orange blossom honey added and comes highly carbonated. It's a very easy drinking hard cider.

Braggot - this is a yet to be named brew made with half part clover honey and half part Pale Ale. Sean blended 10 gallons of each into his 20 gallon batch. The two parts were fermented together with a wine yeast. This clear yellow braggot was over 6 months old and was wonderful. It has a very sharp nose. The taste reminded me of a mead up front then on the back end I got something totally different - the malt! It's honey sweet yet a tad funky like a saison. Another uniquely different brew. All of Sean's friends just rave about it.

Roll Down the Windows Dad - this is classified as a Smoked Lager, made as a porter with German Smoked malt and a Bohemian lager yeast. The name originates from memories of his father smoking in the car. It's an odd name, but so are his brews - different and unexpected. This stronger brew weighed in at 8.2% ABV. It immediately reminded me of an Alaskan Smoked Porter. Sean prefers to drink this one cold. It's roasty, smoky, black and with a dark brown head. It's thick, tongue coating and a good quality smoked brew.

English Porter - this one also has yet to be named. This porter is also a a Trappist blend and is similar to a Flanders Red and made with Brett. It actually has 4 different strains of yeast including a Belgian ale yeast. There is also molasses in the recipe for some background. The result is a black, subtle sour ale ale that's not too tart. While it is dark, it is not roasty - rather it's smooth and easy drinking with a nice mild presence of Brett. I was digging this brew. It weighed in around 7.8% ABV but the alcohol is well hidden in this drier beer.

All Says It's On - an Imperial Rye Saison. This brew poured a dark orange with red highlights and a nice big off-white head. It was very well carbonated. The taste is surprisingly awesome. It's somewhat sweet and tangy with a good amount of caramel malt goodness. The beer was made with regular Rye and some Chocolate Rye. The rye adds a nice malt background that's tangy sweet and changes the color and complexity. While it's darker than most, it wasn't roasty at all. Very clean tasting. It was one of my favorite samples.

Black Bottle Pilot FermentersJust A Minor Threat - an Imperial IPA. This was the last sample I had during the visit. It's a 2 malt and 1 hop (Centennial) IPA. it's best described looking like an orange haze and weighed in at 10.8% ABV. It was piney, but not overly hopped. There wasn't much crystal malt added, mostly all 2-row. All single hopped from the same harvest.

What was amazing about Sean's brews was that there were many of them and all of them were from very different ends of the beer style spectrum. He stated that his beers have "A.D.D. - so don't expect normalcy" in his recipes or selection. Expect the unexpected with Black Bottle Brewery. He tends not to follow style guidelines too closely and likes to break the mold. He wants to take his beers in all different directions.

If beer and hard cider weren't enough, Sean also makes his own wines which he also plans to offer at his brewery. There will be a little bit of everything.

There's certainly a lot to look forward to in 2012 for Black Bottle Brewery. Look for news coming soon of his final location selection and plans for opening day.

(Equipment pictures courtesy of Sean Nook - Black Bottle Brewery)

Update: Black Bottle Brewery opened for business on December 1, 2012. See the coverage of opening day including a photo gallery.

Related articles:
- A visit to Big Beaver Brewing in Loveland.
- A taste of Grimm Brothers Brewhouse in Loveland.
- Crooked Stave readies their Cellar Reserve Memberships.

This article came from - a Colorado beer blog.
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