Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A visit to Big Beaver Brewing Company

Big Beaver Brewing Company signLoveland has been invaded by big beavers! Well at least one anyway. Yesterday, I finally took a visit over to one of Loveland Colorado's littlest breweries - Big Beaver Brewing Company. It's a small, community brewery that caters to the growler crowd.

If you blink, you might miss their small sign outside along US 34 heading west through town just past Wilson Avenue. Recently, they added a front entrance from their recent acquisition of a new front room in their business complex. The front room, while currently undecorated, will soon become their new tap room, while their side room (named Saint Peter after the former church that used to reside there) will remain for the overflow crowd. The small back tap room which now seats just around a dozen or so will end up being just their brewing operations.

My small group of 3 happened to arrive early at Big Beaver on a Tuesday around 1:30pm mistakenly thinking they had opened around 1pm. Turns out the sign said they opened at 2pm. Doh! On the way back to our car we just happened to run into the owner of Big Beaver, Peter Villeneuve, and he told us to come on in anyway as his staff was already there and about ready for customers anyway. He told us about his expansion plans and invited us to sit down.

Big Beaver Brewing CompanyThe tasting room is essentially a huge hand-built bar that blocks off the brewing room. There you'll see 4 fermentation tanks and a couple of large brew pots. Our hostess told us they had recently added two extra fermenters around Thanksgiving time and doubled their brewing capacity.

Big Beaver's brews are cleverly named with some direct sexual innuendo intended. Besides their obvious Beaver logo, their beers were aptly named: Shaved Tail Ale, Wonder Wiener Wheat, Bust A Nut Brown Ale, Red Arse Ale, Screw the Pooch Pale Ale, Potent Peter IPA, Beaver Stubble Stout, Whiskey Dick Stout, Burning Beaver Ale (Chili Beer), Fruity Booty and Big Beaver Bock.

We opted to get their 8-beer 2oz sampler tray and 1 of their specialty brews and give them each a try. Here are some brief notes on each beer starting from their lightest colored to their darkest colored. Beers are ranked from one star (*) lowest to 5 stars (*****) highest.

Shaved Tail Ale - This was a Belgian-style ale. Golden yellow in color with a pleasant Belgian yeast aroma. It was softly sweet and low in bitterness. 5% ABV - 25 IBU. Very light and enjoyable. (***)

Wonder Wiener Wheat - 5% ABV - 28 IBU. A very pale hazy yellow brew. It had a slight "tang" to it and a bit of a banana estery aroma, but in a good way. This is an easy drinking wheat that I could end up having a lot of. Not bad at all. (***)

Bust A Nut Brown Ale - 5% ABV and 30 IBU. A very light brown colored ale and clear (not hazy). It was light bodied and lowly hopped. A semi-sweet brown. It reminded me a lot of New Castle Brown Ale. A tad lighter in taste than I expected. (**1/2)

Big Beaver tastersRed Arse Ale - 5.2% ABV - 27 IBU. This brew was mostly golden with some red tinges on the sides. A classic "Red ale" taste that was smooth without being too hopped. I couldn't smell much hops in this but it certainly had a hoppy taste. This brew also had a bit of a "tang" to it, yet it was smooth and enjoyable. (***)

Screw the Pooch Pale Ale - 6.2% ABV - 38 IBU - This brew was classified as a California Pale. It was a bit hoppier than the Red Arse. Again, I couldn't smell the hops as well as I could taste it. The glass that I had an aroma that reminded me of sanitizer and masked the true aroma of this beer. It was OK overall, but not my favorite. (**)

Potent Peter IPA - 6.2% ABV - 50 IBU. This was their hoppiest brew. A slightly darker yellow and clear looking. It had a nice bitterness without being too hoppy. A decent IPA yet average. (**1/2)

Whiskey Dick Stout - 7.2% ABV - 35 IBU - Here was a very smooth and very dark brew that was directly infused with whiskey. It wasn't aged in a barrel. No, this had whiskey added directly to the brew. It starts out as a mild stout without much roastiness and hits you with a strong whiskey back end flavor. My group was mixed on this one. It's definitely different and warrants further study. (**1/2)

Beaver Stubble Stout - 6.9% ABV - 35 IBU - This one ended up being our group favorite. This very dark brew had a very nice roasted malt flavor and texture. It's a highly drinkable stout and one we wanted more of. We ended up getting a growler of this one to go. Yum. (****)

Enjoying some Big Beaver brewsBurning Beaver Ale - 5.2% ABV - 25 IBU. We opted to try one of their specialty beers and this one was a Chile beer. It had just enough mild chile heat to notice without being too spicy to enjoy. It was a dark yellow color and slightly cloudy. Not bad at all and well balanced. This is a chile beer I could easily drink. (***)

I was pleasantly surprised on how easily drinkable all of these beers were. None of them were harsh and most of them were low enough in alcohol that you could make session brews out of them.

Big Beaver has no plans to bottle their brews or distribute to restaurants in kegs. They want to stay a small community brewery that caters primarily to the growler crowd and locals. They were offered a tap at the Budweiser Event Arena in Loveland during the Eagles hockey games, but they had to refuse as they felt they couldn't brew enough beer to keep up with the demand that would be needed.

It's actually nice to see a brewery that knows the boundaries that it wants to stick to, at least for the time being. Loveland may be a small to medium sized town, but it's quickly becoming a brewery town much like Fort Collins.

I'll definitely be back to Big Beaver again soon. I enjoyed the small intimate atmosphere and even ran into an old friend while I was there (hey Bob!). Check them out sometime.

Here's a short video of the interior of their tasting room.

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Big Beaver Brewing Company
2707 W. Eisenhower Blvd, Unit 3 & 9 - just west of Wilson & US 34
Loveland, CO 80537
(970) 818-6064

Related articles:
- A taste of Grimm Brothers Brewhouse in Loveland.
- Touring New Belgium's Liquid Center.
- Left Hand Brewing's tasting room.
- A taste of The Livery in Benton Harbor.

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