Posts BySeth Garland – PorchDrinking.com
“Hype is a funny thing,” Larry Bell told me on his way from Kalamazoo to Chicago. Bell is a craft beer pioneer and founder of the eponymous Bell’s Brewery. “Hype doesn’t come from us. It comes from what people’s expectations are. I’ve seen how hype affects people, but even with 30 years in the business, I can’t explain it fully.”
In Colorado, which was once (and perhaps still) considered the craft beer capital of the world, there are some legendary flagship brews we haven’t had easy access to until very recently. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Founders’ All-Day IPA and Brooklyn Lager are just a few. This all changed at the end of 2018 and Midwest and East Coast transplants living in Colorado celebrated the return of their long-lost favorite brews.
If you’re in a part of the country without snow on the ground right now, you might not fully appreciate the solace that lies within winter beers. You may have already read that it’s a primal instinct for humans to party. But taking it a step further, there’s something much more instinctively satisfying about getting together with your fellow primates; braving the cold and celebrating the very fact that you’ve braved the cold. Being out in a public gathering area during cold weather somehow amplifies the sense of community. Maxline Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado is exactly the kind of place you’d want to go and brave the cold weather.
You know what’s great about beer? Whether you love the holidays or find yourself embracing your inner Scrooge, beer tastes sweet either way. It’s either used for a celebration or for comfort, depending on your current level of holiday stress. If you’ve gotten all your shopping done, gold star for you. You’re quite a few steps ahead of me. But if you’re forgetting to stock your beer fridge in lieu of stocking stockings, the PorchDrinkers have some great ideas for inspiration this week to fill the craft beer void in your life. This is What We’re Drinking.
In a city like Denver where the craft beer market is insanely competitive, party planners and marketing teams now build events around a top-notch tap list—it’s no longer an afterthought or bonus. Take Denver Zoo, for example. Not so long ago, patrons would have been stoked to have any kind of beer available as they peered at Pachyderms. But now, during the 28th annual Zoo Lights, the park proudly presents its visitors with a carefully cultivated beer menu, which includes over 20 craft brews.
Cheer and happiness and all that festive crap is important, I suppose. But once in a while, the get-off-my-lawn crowd needs a shoutout. If you love the holidays and feel all warm and tingly at the sight of fresh December snow, this ain’t the article for you, Cindy Lou Who. This one’s for the grinches, the scrooges, the grown Charlie Browns; the curmudgeonly and cantankerous cranks of the world.
My promise to you right off the bat, is that there will be no cute rhymes here. If there’s anything I hate more than holiday music, it’s the nauseating rhymes companies try to incorporate into everything. Between the stress of shopping, the weather, traffic and that unbearable Mariah Carey song, we need an Ultimate 6er – and not just any 6er – to get us through to New Year’s Day. There are 12 shopping days left until Christmas, and today is 12/12. So here’s a 6er of beers that are all at least 12% ABV to pair with the season’s most pervasive annoyances.
Fall can be a beautiful time of year. But it can also be an unpredictable time of transition. Maybe you live in a perilously bipolar climate, where one day you’re reaching for the sunscreen, and the next day you’re in the middle of an Armageddonian blizzard. Maybe your fantasy football team isn’t living up to its potential, so you go to your local watering hole to drown your misery in a new seasonal brew, only to find seven different pumpkin ales on tap.
I’ve got nothing personally against pumpkin beer, although some people feel differently. And to be fair, in the fall there are plenty of other beer releases (wet-hopped beers, Oktoberfest, stouts, etc.). But in the midst of the cold weather-fueled Halloween frenzy, we overlook one of the most interesting events of the season: Día de Muertos (or commonly in America, Día de los Muertos). Elevation Beer Co. in Poncha Springs, Colorado has been celebrating the event for a few years, which roughly coincides with the annual release of their imperial porter, Señorita.
As a kid, I loved Halloween and all the teeth-rotting candy that came along with it. Warheads and Sour Patch Kids were my favorites. In the same time period, my parents (in an attempt to prove to me that beer was gross) let me take a sip of a certain domestic lager. It worked, for a while, because I still remember that sip of beer and it was disgusting. But palates change, and now of course I know how delicious craft beer can be. My love of mouth-puckering sour treats, however, was left behind long ago with my last pair of Bugle Boy jeans.
It’s a week later, and if you’re still recovering from the Great American Beer Festival and its peripheral festivities, you’re in good company. But with so many Oktoberfest events coming this weekend, there’s most certainly no rest for the wicked. On the other end of the spectrum, the breweries that went home with gold, silver and bronze hardware are still basking in the warm glow of victory.
For every medal, there’s a story, and the last-minute drama that accompanied Ska Brewing and their gold medal win for Oktoberfest in the Vienna-Style Lager category this year is definitely no exception.
There’s a Talking Heads song you probably know if you were old enough to drink when Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout was released. David Byrne’s songs weren’t always coherent, lyrically, but damn it if they weren’t cool. As I get older, this line often runs through my head: And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?
How Great Divide got here was through the vision and hard work of founder Brian Dunn. In the ‘80s, while Talking Heads were writing songs about buildings and food, Dunn was overseas building farms in developing countries. When he returned to Colorado, he started homebrewing and went to grad school. When Great Divide officially launched in 1994, Dunn was the only full-time employee – brewing, bottling and selling the beer himself. After some fantastic initial success, Great Divide bought a building (an old dairy processing plant) in downtown Denver in 2001.
It’s a well-known (if not scientifically documented) fact that as we get older, we start complaining more about the weather. Sit near an old man on a park bench sometime, there’s really no condition that he can’t find fault with. Too hot. Too cloudy. Too much humidity. Lots of hot air these days; very few cool breezes. Nothing’s ever right or as good as it used to be. EDM music and so forth…
What if you like warm weather, yet long for the beers of winter? What about those of us who hate driving in the snow, but love football? People who are in limbo during this time of year want some beers that can meet the needs of any climate. The changing of the seasons truly is a bittersweet symphony, and as we clumsily straddle the fence that separates pre-autumn excitement from end-of-summer blues, let’s look at six tasty brews that that can help us savor the remaining warmth while preparing for the imminence of gawking leafers and poorly raked yards.
I’ve always been a bit cynical. I’m not a rare breed in that sense; the beer world has many stubborn, cranky cynics. We’re the ones shouting at you to get off our lawns with your sour, hazy, glittery slush stouts as we rock cantankerously back and forth on the porch with our pint glasses full of clear, reliable IPA. But even the most hardened beer traditionalist among us can look forward to summer. In summer, we can rise from the ashes of our self-loathing like a magnificent, tipsy phoenix. Even if for just a season, we can crack a smile and enjoy the sun on our face while the bubbles of an unfamiliar brew caress our puckered lips.
In that spirit, Colorado’s Rockyard Brewing Company is showing us how it’s done. Shedding its skin and undergoing a major renewal of its own, the brewery has done away with ALL of its award-winning original lineup.