Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bucking the style at Buckhorn Brewers

Buckhorn BrewersThey snuck in with little warning. If you blinked you might have missed them. Back in July 2013 a sign suddenly appeared on the western edge of Loveland along US 34 that simply said "BREWERY". And hidden back in a group of small buildings in a former meadery location came Buckhorn Brewers, Loveland Colorado's 6th craft brewery. It was one of those small nano breweries I've been wanting to visit and on a rare sunny day in the midst of the recent destruction from the flooding disaster, I decided to pay them a visit.

Buckhorn Brewers is located on the north side of US 34 at 4229 W. Eisenhower Boulevard in Loveland, just a mile or two before you get to the Dam Store at the edge of town. They took over the old Bacchus Meadery location when they closed down. It's a tiny place with a small parking lot that several businesses share. They've got an outdoor patio with room for about 12 people outdoors, and inside a fairly tiny tasting room with converted barrels for tables and room for about 12 more.

Right off the bat, you realize something is different here. The setting is about as informal for a business as you can get. Nothing fancy. Plain bar stools, wooden tables on top of steel barrels, a white board with their beer list with their slogan "Buck Your Style" written above, yellow sheets of paper with hand written descriptions of their beers, and signs that are clothes-pinned to a rope across the bar. The wooden sign at the door states: "Buckhorn Brewers - Craft Brew Cowboy Style!"

The beer taps also looked a bit different. Wooden cut-outs, some with aluminum foil wrapped around them and beer names written with magic marker. Due to their small size, and limited quantities of beer, they are currently only open 3 days a week (Friday, Saturday, Sunday).

There were quite a few locals here already. The patio was full and several seats inside were taken. Almost standing room only that day. The brewery had 6 beers on tap that Saturday:

- Wild Lane Farmhouse Ale - with orange & lemon peel, chocolate malt. 6.3% ABV.
- Rusty Nail - a Pale Ale - marris otter malt & English noble hops. 4.2% ABV.
- Buckhorn Bitter - an ESB - sweet, malty and not bitter. 3.2% ABV.
- Eden Valley Oat Soda - oat wit brew with Juniper boughs. 3.54% ABV.
- Hang Em High API - a reverse IPA - malt forward, hoppy finish. 6.4% ABV.
- Storm Mountain Marshmallow Stout - roasty w/ marshmallow root. 4.86% ABV.

I ordered a sampler of each of their beers. One thing you'll notice is that several of their beers are very low in alcohol, two of which are just over the 3% ABV range. Designed to be sessionable for sure. There were a couple over 6%, but for the most part, these beers were all medium to light bodied beers. To be honest, the brews had a "homebrew" like character. Decent enough for selling, yet a bit on the ameteur side.

I met the owner and brewer there, Dave Currie and Jerry Daniel, and they were kind enough to talk with me about their operation. Dave stated that he definitely wanted to give their beers a "homebrew" feel. Buckhorn brews beers in custom fabricated 4 barrel kettles. In a side room Dave showed me his fermentation vessels. They aren't the normal kind of fermenters. Instead of being metal and conical, his are large square thick plastic fermenters. Apparently, these vessels were used in the old Bacchus Meadery. Dave said he brew's maybe 1 day a week currently, but that will change over the coming months as things pick up.

Buckhorn Brewers definitely "bucks" the trend compared to the other brewers in town. They take things a bit more casually here. It's a friendly, small and cozy. Just don't expect any frills here. It's down to the basics - it's ultra-local. I suggest trying the Rusty Nail Pale Ale and the Hang Em High API. Look for a beer garden to open in the building's backyard later on.

Dave Currie

To find this place, head west just barely out of town on US 34. It's about a mile or so east of the Dam Store. Look for a handmade sign on the north side that says Brewery with an arrow pointing north. Turn in and head to the back of the dirt driveway and you'll find it.

(Click on any image above to enlarge)

Related articles:
- Blown Spoke's apples fall close to the Beaver tree.
- Nothing is Verboten about this Loveland brewery.
- Loveland Aleworks preps for opening. (2012)

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