Aug 21, 2013

Guest Contributor - A look at Colorado

As many of you know, from time to time I am lucky enough to have a guest contributor on this little blog. I love them, because not only does it expand the reach of this blog, taking us places that I haven't been, can't get to, and in a lot of cases, may never get the chance to experience. It also add's a certain depth, and preservative that just one person can not bring all on their own.
You can't argue, its one of the most beautiful places on earth
Well, I am happy to present to you all, for your reading pleasure, our next guest contributor, Jon. Jon is actually an old family friend from my days growing up in Maine. His dad was the dean of students at my high school at the time, as well as the piano player in my dad's church. My family has known Jon and his family since I would guess the late 80's. Jon travels a lot for work, all over the world in fact, so, lets keep our fingers crossed that we will hear more from Jon again soon! So, let Jon give you a quick look at one of his favorite beer destinations (well, its a lot of peoples favorite!), Colorado! So, crack open a rocky mountain brew, crank up the John Denver, and enjoy!.

Hiking and Beer!
I travel around the country (and the world sometimes) as a consultant helping raise money for non-profits,
churches, and schools.  When I’m on the road, I’m always on the lookout for microbreweries to visit and/or tour.  Colorado is one of my favorite places for many reasons, the top two likely being the mountains and beer.  In the past couple of years, I’ve had the privilege to visit more than 20 breweries in this great state.  Most of them are within an hour of Denver, and most are very good!

Here are a few of my favorites:

Fate (Boulder) – this new brewery just opened in early 2013, and also has an impressive food menu.  I was fortunate to visit on a day they were featuring their Coffee IPA.  Among several other winners, this beer is incredible.  The brewer likes to experiment.  Also on the menu was a Watermelon Kolsch Style Ale, a rye wheat beer called Ryedorado, and a black and white IPA called Jacko that they don’t charge for if you order it while wearing a white glove.

Sour room at New Belgian
New Belgium (Ft. Collins) – this is absolutely the best brewery tour/experience I have ever had outside of Guinness in Dublin (and maybe better – just not in Dublin).  They brew several good beers that most of the Beer Czar’s readers likely know, but they dedicate a lot of effort to their limited releases (the Lips of Faith series) and their latest creation the Coconut Curry Hefeweizen is pretty special.  It’s not overloaded with coconut, but has just a hint of that flavor and it makes for a very good brew!  Also interesting on their tour is an entire room filled with 35 former wine vats from wineries that can no longer use them.  They have recently dedicated this space to developing various sour beers – something that I wasn't really looking forward to.  I must say, although I don’t think I’ll be going to the liquor store hunting them down, they were pretty interesting and much better than I would have thought.  Another thing to note about New Belgium is their back story – the brewery was born out of the founders bike trip through Belgium.  They treat their employees like royalty, and at the ten year anniversary, send them to Belgium on their own brewery bike tour.

Denver Beer Company (Denver) – this relatively new brewery is right in downtown Denver – not too far off the end of the main walking street, and just two blocks from perhaps the greatest REI store in existence. Their beers are pretty solid – my favorites are the Graham Cracker Porter and the Belgian Cherry Candy Crusher.  They have a great outside spot with picnic tables, board games, and it is one of the best spots in Denver to grab a drink if you've been working downtown. Or you’re just passing through on your way to some other breweries.

Upslope (Boulder) – One of the beers they are well known for is their Thai IPA.  While it’s not my favorite, they also make a Cabernet IPA that is phenomenal.  It is just as it sounds – an IPA aged in used oak cabernet barrels that has a sweet, but rich
wine taste.  I’m not totally sold on barrel aged beers yet as most I’ve had tend to have just a bit too much going on for me, but I could drink this one all day.  Another beer worth mentioning here is the Milk Stout, which in my opinion rivals or is better than the more well known Left Hand Milk Stout (also very, very good) from just up the street in Longmont.

Above are just a few of my recent favorite spots.  Here is a list of several I’ve visited that I would recommend while in the Denver area:

Avery Brewing (Boulder)
Boulder Beer Company (Boulder)
Fate Brewing (Boulder)
Upslope Brewing (Boulder)
Denver Beer Company (Denver)
Prost Brewing (Denver)
Strange Brewing (Denver)
New Belgium (Ft. Collins)
Odell Brewing (Ft. Collins)
Mountain Toad Brewing (Golden)
Left Hand Brewing (Longmont)
Oskar Blues Brewing (Longmont)

Remember, these breweries are all at least 5,000’  and most of these beers are pretty high in alcohol content.  Samples are your friend for a day of beer tasting!

Colorado also has more cans readily available than any other place I’ve been.  The reason: so you can take them hiking and pack in and pack out responsibly without the weight of bottles.  Genius!  New Belgium has started canning more of its beers just for this reason (or so they claim….).

A final awesome note about Colorado.  Not only do they have what I believe is the best beer scene of any state, they have arguably the best music venue anywhere: Red Rocks is just minutes west of Denver.  There, they serve up awesome music and the best beer selection of any venue you’ll visit.  I was there to see Queens of the Stone Age last week.

Jon Sturdevant

I want to thank Jon again for his contribution. Colorado is a great place to spend a few days, or a week, for so many reasons, beer being just one of them. If you get a chance to visit the Rocky Mountain state, we would love to hear about it. Or, if you have an great beer travel stories, or recommendations, by all means, please drop me a line, we would love to have you contribute. Thanks again to my friend Jon, nice work, keep it up, hope to hear more soon!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

No comments:

Post a Comment