AboutChea Franz – PorchDrinking.com
With her hit Netflix show “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” and her book The Life-
I have a confession to make. I sometimes hide beer from my husband. We’ve all been there before where the fridge becomes a free-for-all for everyone in the household. Being in my mid-thirties, I’m well past the point of leaving post-its to call beer dibs, so I resort to hiding precious beer that I’ve been clamoring to enjoy—in the broom closet (he’ll never find it there). And in my broom closet that is where you’ll find Ska Brewing’s Sour Apple Gose, a beer that is meant to be savored even if it’s in secret.
Imagine, if you will, a bicycle trip through Belgium. That bike ride served as the catalyst for a butterfly effect that helped to change the face of beer in America and encouraged a new generation of brewers and beer drinkers to prize flavorful, full-bodied and well-balanced liquid. This surge, partially powered by New Belgium Brewing, has swept us into a new world of craft beer. Had this journey not taken place, there would be no Fat Tire. Without Fat Tire, there would not be New Belgium Brewing Company, and, without them, we may not have access to such a bountiful cornucopia of craft beer.
Nestled at the foot of the Continental Divide at 8,000 feet lies Buena Vista, a Colorado town known for its pristine mountain peaks and roaring rapids. This weekend more than 45 breweries will be pouring beer along the Arkansas River at the Second Annual Rapids & Grass Beer Festival, a weekend long event on June 29 – July 1, that includes unlimited beer samplings, live music and rafting. If the sweeping mountain views of the Collegiate Peaks and the Sangre de Cristo mountain range weren’t enough of a draw, the beer will be; Jester King Brewery, Beachwood Brewing, Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales and Wiley Roots (slushy sour, anyone?) are among many notable breweries that will be pouring beers.
Here in Colorado, it’s the beginning of the season for patio sitting, flip flop wearing, and summer time imbibing. The abundance of sunshine has got me in vacation mode and not just any kind of vacation mode—the kind where you sink your toes in the sand and smell the salt in the air. Sadly, I won’t be embarking on such a vacation anytime soon but Funkwerk’s Pineapple Provincial, paired with a tiny umbrella, will take you on a tropical vacation one delicious sip at at time.
Back in January, Ska Brewing released Rue B. Soho, a grapefruit lager that marks the brewery’s first release in 2018 that’s now available in all of Ska’s markets. For me, it’s a crushable beer that hearkens back to time of care-free nights and rowdy music; a time where your ticket stubs were a badge of honor and wearing the band’s t-shirt to a concert was so passé.
After a bit of time in hibernation, Lone Tree Brewing’s Horchata Stout comes back for a third year—this time with refreshed artwork. Horchata Stout is part of the brewery’s Branching Out series which consists of experimental, super limited beers in large format bottles that are great for sharing. On a side note, I was able to capture a photo of Horchata Stout not only resting on a lone tree but also nestled among branches. How’s that for art in the most literal sense? Okay, now back to the beer…
Lately, there has been quite a few articles about the rise of pastry stouts and why this is a problem, such as this recent article from the Chicago Tribune that argues we’re forgetting what beer tastes like. In case you did not know, a pastry stout is beerspeak for liquid dessert. Most often, pastry stouts include cacao nibs, vanilla, coconut and other adjuncts that help enhance the stout to emulate sweet treats.
The pastry stout debate, IMO, is moot. As craft beer continues to diversify, so do our taste buds. What is beer supposed to taste like nowadays? The answer is no longer “hoppy,” but subjective. It could be barrel-aged and malty, super hazy or fruity. The craft beer landscape is vast and ever-changing, with new hop varieties, ingredients, and techniques that pop up every day. Whether you’re a Reinheitsgebot beer purist, or you prefer your beer to taste like a chocolate bomb, the beauty of craft beer is that there is something for everyone. And pastry stouts, much like other styles of beer, if done well, are fantastic. WeldWerks Brewing‘s Peanut Butter Cup Achromatic Imperial Stout is one such example.
Whether it’s highly sought after collaborations, sold out brews or buzzworthy beers of yesteryear making a sudden reappearance, we’ve got the lowdown on what you should try before the year is over! Word to the wise: some of these beers have already been released via one day sales and are unavailable—like Tom Cruise’s youth. We recommend you brush up on your bribe game, head to your nearest bottle trade and do some serious campaigning.
On Thursday, October 26 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. friends, family, and Fort Collins community members will come together to raise money for a CSU Ram family in need. Hosted by New Belgium Brewing and Colorado State University at the New Belgium Porch at CSU’s football stadium, this Thursday’s “Happy Hour on the Porch” will be donated to CSU Associate Athletic Director Doug Max and his family who suffered a devastating loss recently when a fire heavily damaged their home and took the life of their daughter Rachel.
Once again, for the fourth year in a row, we get to try Strangely Epic, a blend of two celebrated beers from Strange Craft Beer Company and Epic Brewing. The beer was first created in 2013 for Denver’s Collaboration Fest. Crafted at both breweries and named Strangely Epic and Epically Strange (for where each beer was brewed and blended), the collaboration brews release is eagerly awaited each year.
As autumn fast approaches, and we start seeking winter warmers and other beers that are heavier in body and spiced with fall in mind, it’s important to remember— it’s only September! Many breweries are releasing their fall seasonals, but with warmer temperatures still trending in Colorado, I’m looking for something fruity with a more substantive ABV. Luckily, Bonfire Brewing has just that—Pink-I Raspberry IPA.
Situated on the Cache La Poudre River and about 65 miles north of Denver lies Fort Collins, home of the CSU Rams and where craft beer flows in abundance. Two years ago, I moved to Fort Collins from Denver and I was a bit apprehensive; Denver was home to me. There was always something to do — whether it was a Rockies game, art opening or new brewery to check out. And admittedly, as a proud Colorado Buffalo (#Skobuffs), Fort Collins felt a little like enemy territory.
But like one of those teachable Hallmark movie moments, Fort Collins proved me wrong. This college town is the fourth largest city in Colorado but it has plenty of local charm. Fort Collins is laid back like a lackadaisical Sunday afternoon. It’ll make you want to hop on your cruiser bike and ride over to the nearest brewery and watch the sun sink down across the foothills. Fort Collins has made me a tourist in my own state — which is really refreshing. And so, I present to you, the best spots to visit the next time you’re in Fort Collins — in my humble opinion, of course.
Toppling Goliath Brewing Company, a brewery that RateBeer has awarded several “best” categories including double IPA, strong stout and American amber or pale, will be making its Colorado debut during the week of the Great American Beer Festival. The esteemed Iowa brewery will have a special GABF tapping at Tap and Handle in Fort Collins, Colorado at 5 p.m. on Monday October 2 (the brewery will also make its way down to Denver on October 4 at LowDown Brewery).
There is never a dull moment in the world of craft beer. Today, it was announced that a group led by New Belgium Brewing Company has entered into an agreement to purchase the assets of San Francisco’s Magnolia Brewing as part of a bankruptcy proceeding. This partnership will be a majority-owned subsidiary of New Belgium, with Elysian founder Dick Cantell as well as Belgian lambic producer Oud Beersel as minority partners. Both Magnolia locations, their existing brands and staff, will continue to operate, working alongside Magnolia founder Dave McLean, who is included in the partnership. This will be Cantwell’s first brewing project since leaving Elysian in April of 2015.
A little over a month ago, we reported on New Belgium’s decision to reimagine their specialty brands with the suspension of their popular Lips of Faith series and the implementation of their Wood Cellar Reserve series. Two weeks ago while attending the debut of Le Kriek Noir, the first entry in their new cork & cage Wood Cellar Reserve line, we were also treated to a sneak preview of what’s coming down the pipeline as well as a familiar brand that will also receive some fresh new packaging.
On Tuesday New Belgium Brewing Company announced that the second beer from its highly anticipated Wood Cellar Reserve series will be released this upcoming Saturday. At 8.5% ABV, single Foeder Oscar No. 65 is an unblended dark sour that has been maturing for 12 months in a 100 percent Missouri white oak foeder. According to the brewery, the beer pours dark walnut red with subtle notes of vanilla and coconut. These notes play beautifully with notes of plum skin and cherry Coca-Cola. This is a first run through using this foeder and only fresh beer will touch the American oak for the first time, thus the flavors for this release cannot be replicated—making this release truly special.
Sometimes tap rooms can act as testing grounds that can bring unassuming beers to the forefront, allowing for crowd pleasing favorites that otherwise wouldn’t be canned and distributed to share in some of the spotlight. Upslope Brewing’s Tap Room series is just that, offering a rotating series in which larger batches of popular tap room beer is brewed — split between kegs and cans, and then once it’s gone; that’s it for the year. Previous releases in 2017 have included Strawberry Mint IPA, Peanut Butter Porter and Hefeweizen. I was able to get my hands on its Champagne Saison with Nelson Sauvin, a beer that I like to call “fancy beer for outdoorsy folk.”
Tucked away in an industrial part of town near the old Fort Collins Airport, you’ll find a bright red building, originally an airplane hanger, and now a family-run brewery called Horse & Dragon Brewing. Inside, long community tables and round tops casually welcome you to put your phone away and have a seat. There are no TVs, live bands, or food trucks for entertainment. Instead, the brewery welcomes you to come in, grab a beer, chat with some friendly patrons or staff, and enjoy the moment. And immediately, you will feel welcome. There is an inexplicable vibe that Horse & Dragon exudes, that can only be attributed to owners Carol and Tim Cochran. Their love of craft beer and the Fort Collins community is poured into the brewery and here is their story.
Denver’s premiere festival, What the Funk!? Invitational showcasing wild, spontaneous, sour and barrel-aged beers returns Wednesday October 4 at The Studios at Overland Crossing. Over the years, the events surrounding The Great American Beer Festival have become just as popular and successful as the headlining event itself, and What the Funk!? always ranks at the top of our list as well.
At 10:30 p.m. we approach a line that spills out the door of New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins. The red carpet is rolled out, and folks are dressed to the nines wearing elegant cocktail dresses, suspenders, and fedoras to go along with the “film noir” theme of the evening. In a return to the cork and cage format of La Folie’s past, New Belgium’s Unveiled & Uncorked bottle release party was a celebration of the launch of the brewery’s Wood Cellar Reserve, a series of very rare, small batch wild and sour ales—and the star of the night was Le Kriek Noir, the first release from Wood Cellar Reserve.