Posts BySeth Garland – PorchDrinking.com
It’s a rare, quiet moment in the house, about 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I’ve got an understandably stressed-out wife and a brother-in-law actively dying from cancer in my home. Peaceful moments are few and far between. Selfishly, I crave these quiet moments more than anything else in life right now—the moments when we don’t hear the labored wheezing or pained moaning that stems from cancer eating through the bones of a man who’s barely old enough to be considered middle-aged.
As I was using a plastic snow shovel to chip away at the glacier-sized chunks of hardened ice in my driveway the other day, I was reminded of just how much I loooove the holiday season. And what’s not to love? Dry, cracked hands that look like a relief map of the Mojave Desert? Check. General sense of terror every time I walk in public because no one got the memo about covering their coughs and sneezes? Double check. But at least there’s good beer.
You know the scene in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure where he’s saving pets from the burning pet store, and he keeps passing over the snakes because they gross him out? Eventually he bites the bullet, grabs the snakes and runs out screaming. Sometimes that’s how I feel about the Sours in my cellar. I know I’m going to drink them all eventually, but aren’t there any Barrel-Aged Stouts I can rescue first?
That’s probably a little dramatic. Just like with Sours, some snakes are pretty cool. I used to have an empty field by my house where we’d go and collect garter snakes to take to school and put them in teachers’ desks. That’s not really relevant other than now you know I was kind of a dick as a kid. I’m sure I’ve outgrown that through the years. Anyway, to push myself out of my cozy, hoppy, comfort zone, several times a year I like to sit down and get personal with a bottle of funky tartness. This month’s offering to the Sour Gods is Karl Strauss‘ fan-favorite Queen of Tarts.
Fans of Denver staple and craft beer OG Yeti from Great Divide already know the importance of starting with a quality base beer before throwing a bunch of variants out into the saturated market. With Yeti–one of the most recognizably branded beers in the country–there’s no shortage of variants, ranging from horchata and chai to the beloved barrel-aged chocolate and vanilla Stouts that have made their way onto store shelves at different points in time.
With so many solid variants available in stores, and even more available at Great Divide’s taphouse and RiNo Barrel Bar, how do you pick just one to review? And with so many other beers to choose from in the craft beer market at-large, how does a brewery stay relevant?
I am 100% sure summer just started, and now everyone’s talking about fall. But you know what, I’m not falling for it. Football can happen in hot weather. Pumpkin beers can cool you off on a warm summer evening. Oktoberfest can wait its happy little self a few more weeks so I can cram in some more patio time. But I suppose if I have to give in and deal with cooler nights, at least I know the PorchDrinking team’s out there, drinking good beers. The PD team abides. I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ they’re out there, takin’ it easy for all us sinners in this week’s What We’re Drinking.
Once in a while, some news story comes out talking about how the Northern Lights are visible from not-too-far away. This excites us sky geeks. For most of us in the U.S., unfortunately, the caveats are extreme (e.g. hiking three miles into un-mapped forest in the hopes that the sky is clear enough during the five-minute window when the Aurora Borealis can actually be seen). Finding a good location that’s dim enough to see this spectacle of nature is a challenge if you live in the lower 48.
On the other hand, if you live in a hot craft beer city like San Diego, it’s real easy to find quality beer. So save the skywatching for your bucket list vacation to Iceland, or if you have to lay low for a while and need to move to Alaska. We’re not here to judge; what you do in the privacy of your own back-alley gambling hall is your own business. Beer though…that’s our business. And business is booming, dammit.
Happy Friday kids! You made it. You know, one of the great things about beer is that you really can associate every season with something pleasant. Winter time? No problem we’ve got stouts. Summer? Break out the lagers, ball games and long nights on the patio. But when fall starts to creep in, even if it’s 100 degrees where you’re at right now, there’s something really special about fall. Football. Oktoberfest. Pumpkin beer, if that’s your sort of thing. And of course, the Great American Beer Festival is just around the corner. It’s a helluva time to be a beer drinker, and this week the PorchDrinking staff is showin’ off again with a ridiculous lineup of beers in this week’s What’ We’re Drinking.
I’m not hungover, you’re hungover. America had a mean beer selection at her birthday bash yesterday, and if you partook in the celebration, you might be feeling a little fuzzy today like me. Between fire trucks blaring their sirens–racing to put out a dozen fires from the idiots in the world who still haven’t caught on to the fact that fireworks are flammable–and dogs barking at the constant explosions, I didn’t get a whole lotta sleep.
Nevertheless, it’s Friday, and it’s a beautiful day for a beer, right? If you have to work today, I feel your pain. If you’re off, all the more reason to start day drinking. And we’ve got a helluva list of beers to get you started in this week’s What We’re Drinking.
This weekend, we celebrate all the craft-beer-drinking dads out there. We celebrate the non-craft-beer-drinking dads out there too, sorta, but they’re probably not reading this, so whatever. As a father myself, my favorite thing about Father’s Day is spending the afternoon doing what I love the most: not being bothered. It’s true that on any old weekend, I could mow the lawn into nice, crispy lines, throw some meat on the grill and crack open a cold brewski. But on Father’s Day, I get to do all of that without anyone hassling me.
Anyway, the PorchDrinking team has been out and enjoying this fantastic weather! Fantastic of course being relative, and assuming you haven’t been in Colorado for the past two months. Where’s the goddamn sun? Anyway, the crew’s got some fantastic brews for you to consider sharing with dear old dad this weekend in this week’s What We’re Drinking.
So many apostrophes. With all the hub-bubbin’ about 4 Noses new Boulder taproom and sour barrel-aging facility, one of the Broomfield-based brewery’s newest creations might have been a bit lost in in the shuffle.
‘Bout Effin’ Time is 4 Noses‘ first Imperial IPA, released at the end of March this year. For those who love hops and would enjoy a callback to the pre-sour-crazy days of hoppy beer’s heydey, this is a can to try and get your nose in.
“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.