AboutKara Rowland – PorchDrinking.com
Coffee and beer is hardly a revolutionary coupling. As is the case with most hackneyed combinations, however, there’s a reason these two are so often paired together — albeit usually in the context of a stout or porter, whose malty flavors and thick, creamy mouthfeel play well with the roasted bitterness of coffee beans.
Rogue Ales’ Cold Brew IPA aims to do something different, even in the less-common realm of coffee-infused IPAs and pale ales. The can boasts of a “hop punch,” an intriguing claim given the array of coffee beers I’ve had over the years, most of which treat hoppiness as an afterthought. Thanks to a generous hop mix that includes Liberty, Rebel, Freedom and Simcoe, the Newport, Oregon-based brewery manages to deliver.
When I moved from Washington, D.C. to Denver this past summer, my goal was to leave behind the hamster wheel that is political journalism. But in doing so, I was forced to make a sacrifice I hadn’t prepared for: leaving behind my favorite hamburger joint (Fuddruckers), which does not have a presence in Colorado.
To be sure, there are plenty of burger proprietors in the Mile High City, but I loathe having to choose between a customizable patty, decent sides and a flavorful beer list—you know, with options that offer more than merely an alternate source of hydration to water. With the addition of Cherry Cricket’s new location across from Coors Field, my problem appears to have been solved.
With temperatures in the mid-60s, there may not have been much “winter” in Boulder’s Winter Craft Beer Festival, but there were still plenty of tasty, cold-weather beer styles for revelers to enjoy this past weekend.
The options weren’t limited to porters, stouts and other dark beers, however. Loveland Aleworks had a slew of crisp, fruity sours on hand—a decision that Jason Brill, head of sales and distribution at Loveland, described as a no-brainer. “It’s really a core product for us,” Brill said. “A sour drinker is going to drink sours all year long.” (As a sour enthusiast, I can attest to the veracity of that statement.)
The Winter Craft Beer Festival is out with a pour list that’s sure to coax even the most stubborn out of hibernation.
The festival, taking place in Boulder on March 3, boasts a lineup of 52 breweries from 10 states this year, including Colorado mainstays Oskar Blues Brewery, Odell Brewing Co. and Left Hand Brewing, as well as out-of-state favorites like Surly Brewing Co. of Minnesota and Dogfish Head Brewery of Delaware. Cold-weather styles like porters, stouts and Belgian strong ales are prevalent, though the list is also rounded out by lagers, IPAs and offerings as diverse as sours and even a chili beer.
Regardless of their size or origin, participating breweries will have one thing in common this year: They satisfy the Brewers Association definition of “independent craft brewer.”
As someone based in Denver who makes a hobby out of beer writing, I have what can only be described as an embarrassing confession: I had never tasted New Belgium’s La Folie—or any other of its critically acclaimed sours—before last week.
The gravity of this oversight may be lost on the casual enthusiast, so allow me to explain. For 20 years, the Fort Collins-based brewery has been cranking out some of the country’s most complex wood-aged beers, starting with the first iteration of La Folie, its flagship Flanders-style Sour Brown Ale aged in massive oak barrels called foeders. New Belgium’s is now the largest wood cellar program in the U.S., with 64 French oak foeders and one American white oak foeder all imparting funky flavors to base beers as they mature.
Baere Brewing Company had never done an open fermentation before, nor had the three-year-old Denver brewery made a beer using grapes. In Unknown Parentage, they did both—with a dry, funky and all-around delicious result.
Many breweries begin with a familiar story: a homebrewer who’s tired of a desk job and decides to make a go at scaling up.
Brewability Lab is not one of those stories. Founder Tiffany Fixter had neither brewing experience nor a business background. What the former special education teacher did have, however, was an ambitious—even radical—idea. Why not tap into Denver’s affinity for craft beer to create jobs for adults with special needs?
I’ve learned a few cardinal truths in my years of craft beer fandom. Most fall into the category of brewing basics, such as the fact that Brettanomyces imparts a funky flavor or that fresh-hop season begins in late August. But there are some cultural observations, too—like the industry’s fanatical penchant for Star Wars.
Denver-based Wit’s End Brewing owner Scott Witsoe is no exception to this axiom. Witsoe and his crew unveiled three limited-release beers to coincide with the latest installment of the inter-galactic saga: The Last Jed-IPA, Stay On Target Southern English Brown Ale and Kyber Kristallweizen Pale Kristall Weizenbock.
Chances are most readers of PorchDrinking.com have been to scores of beer festivals, with many—while still awesome—fairly indistinguishable from the other. Left Hand’s Nitro Fest, now in its fourth year, is not one of those.
Imagine some of the world’s smoothest, rarest beers coupled with a psychedelic circus and a legion of hardcore, costumed fans on a warm fall night in Longmont, CO and you’ll get an idea of the experience.