This past week, May 13th-19th, marked American Craft Beer Week. American Craft Beer Week is basically a week to celebrate the small and independent breweries and the fine work that they do.
For the first time that I can remember, local brewery Tenaya Creek went all out to ensure that craft beer fans got a chance to whet their palates with some rare offerings. Each day, Tenaya Creek released a new beer (sometimes more), and all are worth talking about.
Monday: Summer Shandy
I guess this was more of a beer cocktail, but it was delicious nonetheless! This shandy is simply a pairing of Tenaya Creek Hefeweizen and lemonade, and it is quite refreshing and delicious. Just imagine drinking a slightly carbonated, slightly wheaty glass of lemonade on one of our hot Vegas days.
Tuesday: Tenaya Creek Pilsner Dry-Hopped with Citra
This fine drink turned out to be the favorite of many of the folks that I talked with. Take Tenaya Creek’s already flavorful pilsner, dry hop it with Citra hops, and what you get is a great beer with a strong citrus nose, followed by the crisp pilsner taste that the base beer is known for. The Citra mixed in very well, and did not overpower the always tasty pilsner.
Wednesday: Hop Ride Dry-Hopped with Simcoe, Hop Ride Dry-Hopped with El Dorado, and Hop Ride Dry-Hopped with Nelson Sauvin
This day saw Tenaya Creek bust out the big guns with three different dry hopped varieties of Hop Ride IPA. The first, and most popular, was the Simcoe version. This one was bursting with the citrus, piney nose that the hop is known for, while adding just a balanced, complimentary amount of flavors to the taste. The next variety was El Dorado. El Dorado is known to have a watermelon, or pear like flavors, but I didn’t get much of that. What I did get were a lot of earthy flavors. I would however love to to give this one a try again, with perhaps a cleaner palate. The final variety was dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin. Nelson Sauvin can either present a very tropical flavor, or a very wine-like flavor. Thankfully, this one turned featured the former flavors. I really enjoyed the tropical nose, and the slightly tropical flavor, which only added to the fantastic bitterness of the Hop Ride.
Thursday: Calico Brown Ale with Toasted Coconut
Not surprisingly, this was another popular brew. I find that in a lot of coconut beers, the coconut either overpowers, or doesn’t quite come through enough. This is one of the exceptions! The coconut is nicely balanced and cuts through the malty brown ale without ever becoming overpowering. The finish is also fantastic, leaving the toasted coconut flavor lingering on your taste buds.
Friday: Hauling Oats with Coffee, Cocoa Nibs, and Vanilla
When all was said and done, this was my favorite beverage of the entire week. To start with, Hauling Oats is a well balanced, light bodied oatmeal stout. It really is a truly “year-round” stout. The addition of cocoa, vanilla and coffee does little to change this, but it does add much more depth to the brew. It becomes almost an easy drinking dessert beer. I’ll simply leave you with a quote from a fine gentleman by the name of Mike G. (@thegaddrow):
Saturday: Old Jackalope Barley Wine Dry-hopped with Simcoe
I love Old Jackalope, I really do. I look forward every year to its release, and I generally make sure I have a few bottles stashed away for a rainy day. So basically, in my opinion, Old Jackalope can do no wrong. When dry hopped with Simcoe, it simply makes this barley wine taste as fresh as the day it was bottled. You get a bit of citrus on the nose, but when you take your first sip, you still know you are drinking an American barley wine. I’d highly recommend this one, dry-hopped or not.
Sunday: Easy Ride Pale Ale with Oranges, on Nitro
I have a very simple description for this one: orange creamsicle! When you first take a big whiff of this one, you get a big bitter orange smell. The first taste yields a nice, fleshed out body, thanks to the nitro pour. As it warms, it tends to get creamier, and taste like the frozen treat mentioned above.
All in all, I could not be happier with the beers Tenaya Creek put forward this week. While the Hauling Oats was my favorite, I loved every beer that came my way, and number one was a hard choice. Let’s just hope that we see some of these resurface in the very near future and that they aren’t just “one-offs.”
This past Friday, Dave and Wyndee Forrest launched a Kickstarter campaign to open CraftHaus Brewery. While I met with them to discuss their plans, a donor had just pledged $400, putting CraftHaus over the $5,000 mark, or about 26% to their goal of $20,000, in only four days.
CraftHaus isn’t the only new brewery in planning in Las Vegas, nor is it the first to use Kickstarter to raise additional funding. But one thing that sets CraftHaus apart from others, is the amount of time and patience that Dave and Wyndee have put into their business plan over the course of almost three years. One of the first things they did after putting together a plan, was scheduled a meeting with Tomme Arthur, Co-Founder and Directer of Brewing Operations for Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey. Tomme gave them feedback about the areas of their plan that was lacking, and made some suggestions on what needed to be changed. They rewrote their business plan and scheduled more meetings, and not just with Tomme, but also with Patrick Rue, CEO and Founder of The Bruery, and Dave Cole, Co-Founder of Epic Brewing Company.
Dave and Wyndee continued to write and rewrite their business plan, ensuring that they didn’t miss anything. They attended the Craft Brewers Conference last year to meet with other brewers and to be familiar with the type of business that they were entering. This isn’t just a couple that wants to open a brewery because they enjoy homebrewing. They understand the amount of work that is needed to run a successful brewery. They were advised by Jamil Zainasheff, co-author of Yeast and founder of Heretic Brewing, to not open a brewery. He reminded them that it requires a lot more non-brewing work than what homebrewers think it does. Hearing his insight on opening Heretic helped the pair to better understand and better prepare for the day to day life of running a brewery. In one of their visits with Patrick Rue, he showed Wyndee the pilot brewing system that he had just purchased. Despite the past five years of success that The Bruery has had with making some of the highest rated beers in the country, he stated how excited he was “to finally start brewing beer again!” Dave and Wyndee reached out to so many other professionals for advice and help because, as they told me, “we know our weaknesses, and we know where we need help and what to reach out to others for.”
All of the work that they have put into the planning of CraftHaus means that they are ready to open their brewery. Their Kickstarter campaign is already off to a great start, but even if their goal isn’t met, it won’t be the end of CraftHaus. The reason that they are using Kickstarter, is because they want the community to get involved with the brewery as well.
“We don’t want you to think of this as our brewery. We want you to think of this as your brewery.”
Through Kickstarter, they can invest in additional equipment which would mean better beer for their customers. A pilot brewing system would allow for additional experimentation, and oak barrels would allow for barrel aged beers. They hope that the tasting room could be used to not just talk about beer, but also as a place for people to talk with each other and to meet others in their community. They plan on having a rotating “community tap handle.” The proceeds of that beer’s sales would go to a different charity focused on Las Vegas, that way they can give back to the city and the community that is giving to them.
If you haven’t already, head over to the Crafthaus Kickstarter page and take a look at their offerings for donors.
While meeting with CraftHaus, I also got to taste a few of their beers. First, was Charlie’s Mantra, named after the father of American homebrewing, Charlie Papazian. In his book, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, he constantly reminds the readers to “relax, don’t worry, and have a homebrew.” CraftHaus chose to name their pale ale after this saying because they want to keep the fun in brewing. The beer is a little bit more malt forward than most pale ales that are being brewed today, but it still maintains a sweet, citrusy aroma from the Citra hops. The beer is very light bodied and refreshing, thanks to it’s 5% alcohol level. The finish is clean and dry, with a lingering piney bitterness from the Chinook hops.
Next was Evocation, CraftHaus’ saison. The beer has a lot of fruity, Belgian esters in both the aroma and flavor. Banana was the standout flavor in the beer. Ginger is also added, giving the beer some spiciness in the aroma. This is also a very refreshing beer, with lingering sweetness that would make this great for Las Vegas summers.
Finally, I tasted Saboteur, a double IPA. This was a very interesting take on the double IPA style. Rather than loading the beer with bittering hops, Dave adds a lot of late addition hops, giving this beer an immense piney, resinous hop aroma and flavor. The beer maintains it’s balance with enough of a malt backbone to give the beer some sweetness to compliment the hop flavor.
This past Friday, I had the opportunity to take part in a Lagunitas beer pairing dinner at Mandalay Bay’s Fleur. The event was organized by Certified Cicerone Sarah Johnson, Mandalay Bay’s director of food and beverage. The event was wonderfully executed, and featured not only great beer, but also very delicious food paired with it. Without further ado, let’s discuss the incredible dinner that took place!
Lagunitas’ pilsner was the first beer that we were given, to help whet our palates and prepare us for what was to come. This beer is extremely dry and crisp. It has the firm bitterness that pilsners should be known for, with a nice, grassy finish.
Seared Cajun Albacore, Yuzu Soy Vinaigrette, Garlic Chip paired with Censored Rich Copper Ale
Censored is an amberish red ale. It’s got a very sweet and rich malt character. Hops are at a minimum here, only poking their head out to balance out the sweetness at the very end and give it a little bit of an earthy finish. However, what made the beer really stand out, was the tuna. It was beyond soft and tender; the pieces would just fall apart in the chopsticks when trying to pick it up. The light, delicate flavor of the tuna was complimented by the sweet, soy vinaigrette that matched the sweetness in the beer perfectly. However, my favorite part was the green onions that wait until the end to bitter up the palate and clear out all the sweet flavors, causing you to reach for another sip of beer!
Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, Truffle Vinaigrette, Shaved Parmesan paired with Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
The beer is all fruitiness, but not quite as sweet as Censored was. The beer is made with three different kinds of wheat, creating a soft body and a lot of sweet bread flavors in the beer. A bouquet of hops pour out of the glass. It’s very fruity, with aromas of various citrus and tropical fruits. It smells like Fruity Pebbles. Thin strips of raw beef were wrapped around a bushel of arugula and topped with parmesan, basically encompassing the only ingredients worth putting in a salad. After chewing on the bitter, peppery arugula, the fruitiness of Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ was a refreshing palate cleanser.
Loup de Mer Veracruz Style, Caper Beurre Blanc paired with Lagunitas IPA
That’s a bunch of fancy words that really mean “sea bass.” The crispy skin of the fish covered the very light and flaky meat, which was surrounded by artichokes, peppers, and olives. The mix of spices and vegetables gave the dish an herbaceousness that matched in character to the IPA. Lagunitas IPA is a great middle of the road IPA. It has a moderate malt character that you don’t quite find in IPA’s anymore. The hops have some of the typical grapefruit like bitterness, but it primarily leans towards a piney, floral character. While I do love the super dry, overly citrusy IPA’s, this beer was a reminder of how good a balanced IPA can be.
Lagunitas Braised Shortribs, Celery Root Mousse, Coffee Foam paired with Wilco Tango Foxtrot
This was definitely the best dish of the night. The beef was super tender, and just fell apart upon touching it. The coffee foam was more amusing than anything, but still added an interesting texture and added flavor. Celery root mousse was like eating sweet, creamy mashed potatoes. What made this paring great, was that the beef was braised in Wilco Tango Foxtrot. This beer is awesome. It has a strong, almost chocolatey malt backbone, but is also filled with massive citrus flavors from the hops.
Imperial Stout Bacon Beer Float
Not only was there a strip of bacon sticking out of the glass, the ice cream also had bits of bacon in it too. Not much can really be said about this. It’s one of those desserts that needs to be experienced to understand. It’s sweet, salty, and chocolatey. It was just perfect.
2009, 2010, 2012 Brown Shugga
In closing, we were given a platter of stinky cheeses and candied fruits and nuts to enjoy along with various vintages of Brown Shugga. Brown Shugga is Lagunitas’ winter seasonal beer, and it encompasses all the things that you should want in a winter beer. It has a bit of caramel-like malty sweetness to it, but also enough alcohol to balance it out. Fresh beer is always delicious, but it is also fun to age a beer and see how the character changes and develops. The 2009 vintage was incredibly smoothed out, with very little heat, or sweetness overpowering it. The beer becomes dangerously easy to drink at that point. I personally preferred the 2010 vintage. This had more oxidative characters to it, primarily those associated with higher levels of alcohol. Whereas the 2009 was easy drinking, the 2010 was incredibly complex in flavor, so much so that it demands to be sipped and enjoyed slow.
Once again, this was fantastic event, and was a great example of how beer can play a part in fine dining. Sarah Johnson’s next event will be a Beer Garden that is taking place as a part of Vegas Uncorked. Expect to see lots of delicious beers and awesome food!
While I was visiting Washington last month, I finally got the chance to stop by Sound Brewery and try their beers. They are located just a couple miles down the road from where I grew up, and over the past year, I kept hearing about this brewery. Friends still living in the state would tell me about Sound, I’d see websites announce Sound as one of the best breweries of the Pacific Northwest, and I even started to see their beers for sale on Letspour. Needless to say, I had some high expectations, and was anxiously awaiting my chance to taste their beers. I scheduled an interview with one of Sound’s founders, Mark Hood, so I could learn a bit more about what has made Sound so successful, and to taste a few of their beers, of course.
The beers were amazing, and my interview with Mark was incredibly insightful. He shared about some of the unique challenges that arise when starting as a homebrewer and opening up your own brewery. Below are my tasting notes for the six beers I tried, and the complete interview with Mark Hood.
American Pale Ale: A very smooth, crisp, and refreshing beer. A lot of citrus character up front in the aroma and in the hoppy bitterness, with a grassy finish.
Dubbel Entendre: This beer has all the great qualities of a great dubbel style beer. Sweet raison and plum fruitiness that dries out in the finish. There’s a good amount of lingering heat from the alcohol to make this a perfect beer for a cold winter.
Monk’s Indiscretion: This is the crown jewel. This beer is layered with flavors, and yet remains superbly balanced and refreshing. It is essentially a Belgian tripel married with an American IPA, but in a way that I haven’t tasted before. Huge citrusy hop aroma in the front end and lots of Belgian esters in the finish. This beer is extremely bright and fruity and dangerously drinkable for 10% alcohol.
O’Reagan’s Revenge: Irish red ale with some earthy hop aromas and bready, nutty malts.
Poundage Porter: Very easy drinking and refreshing. Has some coffee like bitterness in the finish; probably why I enjoyed it so much.
Humulo Nimbus: As American as a double IPA gets. Strong bitterness leaning towards pine and grapefruit flavors. Similar to Monk’s Indiscretion, this beer is very easy drinking for 8.5%
Hooked on Hops: How long has Sound Brewery been open for?
Mark Hood: Just over two years.
HOH: You and Brad Ginn were both homebrewers, correct?
MH: Yeah and Alan, another one of our partners, was a home brewer too.
Brad and I were in the West Sound Brewers and we were both brewing a lot! We were brewing almost every week for a couple years. We both had been brewing for like twenty years before that, but the last couple years before we opened the brewery we started brewing a lot.
And one day, after a particularly rough day at work, I was surfing the web and I saw a brewery for sale down in Woodland Hills, California. And I knew of the system, it’s was a Specific Mechanical system, and I knew the price was really, really good. So I called up Alan and, between the two of us, we sort of talked each other into doing it. So I just got on a plane, that day actually, and flew down to Woodland Hills and checked out the system at a BJ’s Restaurant there. They were selling that system and a few tanks. I gave them a check and had them sign something, and picked it up three or four months later. I got a fifty-three foot flatbed and brought it up.
At that point, I didn’t have any partners, just knew that Alan was going to be involved. I didn’t know where we were going to put it, I didn’t even know if I could afford to do it, but we had the equipment at that point so we sort of had to do it! I still worked the day job for the first year and a half and just doing this in the afternoons, getting things going. Then I talked Brad into leaving his job so he could be the head brewer and do all the day to day brewing.
HOH: I was going to ask why you guys decided to open a brewery but it sounds like you just saw a brewhouse for a good price and decided to buy it and find a way to make it work?
MH: Yeah that’s really it! But I think every homebrewer dreams of doing that someday. And honestly, what made me want to do it was that I had brewed Monk’s Indiscretion at home, and I had gotten some pretty good reviews on it, everyone was going crazy over it because it’s so different and unique. And I just thought, “man, Monk’s Indiscretion, we could sell that anywhere in Seattle, because it’s hoppy, balanced, Belgian, and strong.” That was sort of the one that made me decided to do it. Brad had just won the National Homebrewing Competition gold medal with Tripel Entendre. So we knew we were going to do the Tripel, we knew we were going to do Monk’s, and I used to play around with a double IPA recipe that I called ‘Indiscretion.’ So there was Monk’s Indiscretion, and the regular American version was called Indiscretion. That one became Humulo Nimbus, because the names were too confusing. I had been brewing an Irish red for my neighbor John, who is also a partner, for his St Patrick’s day party for like 5 years in a row, so we knew we were going to do that too. O’Reagan is his mother’s maiden name, so that’s why it’s named O’Reagan’s Revenge. And then we added the Dubbel Entendre, and just kept adding them from there. Poundage Porter won the silver medal at the World Beer Cup last year at the Craft Brewer’s Conference in San Diego.
HOH: And you guys have won several other awards too for your beers, right?
MH: Yeah, I think we’ve won 12 different NABA awards. We’ve also won several US Open Beer awards, Monk’s Indiscretion won first place in the “anything goes” category. Humulo Nimbus won first place last year in the double IPA category. That’s nation wide for double IPA! Dubbel Entendre won best Belgian abbey. So, Dubbel and Tripel have both won awards now.
HOH: What is it like getting all these awards but only being open for two years?
MH: Well it’s fun! We were used to doing that before in the home brewing circles. Three different years I’ve placed in the top three in the National Organic Home Brewing Challenge in San Francisco, and Brad had been winning in the National Homebrewing Conference. We kinda knew that we had different takes on beers, and Brad is sort of meticulous and does a great job making sure that they are perfect every time.
We are slowing down though on the number of entries we’re putting in now, because it takes a lot of time and energy to enter them all. And it get’s expensive shipping bottles all across the country. Plus, in beer competitions you could get wiped out right in the first round because they go “oh that’s not a tripel.” But what I always say is that, if you do win an award, there’s a really good chance that it’s a really good beer. But there’s also a lot of really good beers that don’t get awards, because they get knocked out in the first few rounds, and they shouldn’t get knocked out.
HOH: How big is the brewhouse that you bought from BJ’s?
MH: Technically it’s a ten hectoliter system, which is about eight and a half barrels. But we use it as a seven barrel system. When we say seven barrels in America, that usually means you knock out 7 barrels into the tank. Then by the time you are done, you’re gonna end up with about six from losses. We actually end up with seven barrels of finished product, even with the strong beers.
HOH: Would you consider yourself a nano brewery?
MH: No. Nano is typically less than three barrels. We’re a micro. The definition I’ve always heard is that nano’s are three barrels and under.
HOH: Relatively speaking, you guys are still a pretty small brewery though.
MH: Oh yeah, really small!
HOH: What are some of the difficulties of being such a small brewery?
MH: The biggest difficulty is that you kind of have to self distribute at our size. So it’s a lot of driving around and you don’t get the efficiencies of scale, because everybody wants to get one keg and they are twenty miles away, and then there’s one case to a grocery store. So distribution is very difficult.
Now, if you go through a distributor at our size, they wouldn’t do anything for us. We are already selling all the beer we can make right now. They wouldn’t increase our sales, unless we increase our capacity by getting a new system. So all they would do is take thirty percent away from us and we’d still sell the same amount of beer we’re selling now, but get thirty percent less.
HOH: Washington lets you self distribute?
MH: Yes, it’s awesome. Washington is awesome with licenses. We have one license, and it allows us to have a tasting room, it allows us to sell retail packages out of here, and we can sell wholesale, all with one license. Most states, that’s three or four licenses, and you’d have to pay for each one of them. Washington is really progressive in that sense.
HOH: What are some great things about being a small brewery?
MH: It’s a beer culture here in Washington. Craft breweries have about 10% of the market here, which is higher than the national average. People are a little bit more progressive about beer styles here than the other northwest states, but even still, it’s an IPA state, mostly I think because we grow hops here. IPA’s and double IPA’s, you don’t even have to sell. Doesn’t even matter how much you make; you won’t make enough, they will sell themselves.
All the other beers that we do, like the Belgians, you actually have to sell those. Some people here don’t really understand Belgians yet. The nice thing here too, well it’s good and bad, but there are so many festivals here in Washington! You could be doing a festival every single weekend; but it’s good publicity.
HOH: Do you distribute out of state?
MH: Yeah, right now we send 48 kegs a month to Tokyo, and it goes to Yokohama and Osaka also. It started out as just a pub. A guy wanted to import them over there. I started connecting with him over email and it turns out now he’s a good friend and he started a distributor over there. So he actually sends us disposable pub kegs, that he pays for, we fill them up with beer, and I take them over to Kent, Washington. Then it goes on a boat and he sees them about three weeks later. It’s called Devil Craft, it’s a great place! He’s also Evergreen Imports.
Also, we use a distributor in eastern Washington and they do Idaho as well. April we will be in the four western provinces of Canada with bottles.
HOH: How did you guys get involved with Letspour?
MH: They got a hold of us, and they are awesome! If you look at our Rate Beer and Beer Advocate ratings, usually eight out of ten of the reviews will not be from Washington, they are from all over the country, or all over the world even. There’s reviews from people in Denmark on there! Letspour is getting beer all over the place! I don’t know how they do it on the price though, their prices are really good, considering they ship beer all around the world.
Letspour actually called into the brewery one day, then came in and tasted some beers. Now I send them anywhere from 5-10 cases a week. They do a good job, and they package really well too!
And there’s also Marina Market that also sells our beer all over the world too.
HOH: It seems that most of your beers are Belgian influenced, to some degree.
MH: Yeah about 50%, by revenue anyway. About 5 of our bottled beers use Belgian yeast.
HOH: What is it about Belgian yeast that you guys like?
MH: When we started, we decided that we didn’t want to hit the middle of the bell shaped curve, but instead to hit the edges of the curve, and show Washington that there’s a lot of killer beer styles out there besides IPAs. This state really is IPA crazy! But it’s not just Belgians, our summer seasonal is a kristallweizen, which a lot of people don’t know about. It’s a real Bavarian-style hefeweizen, but crystal clear. We do a weizenbock in the fall, another German style. We do O’Reagan’s Revenge, which is Irish. Poundage Porter also uses an Irish yeast, but it’s a London style porter. It’s not American at all, like Black Butte, which is a robust porter. This is a London porter, or as the BJCP calls it, a brown porter. We all like Belgian styles here, but we also like German styles, and we are thinking about doing some more English styles pretty soon.
Tradition Liberated: We like doing traditional styles, but with our own spin.
HOH: What are some next steps for Sound Brewery?
MH: Bigger brewery! We’ve got to get a bigger brewery. Right now we’re are production limited.
I would also love to go through a distributor. I would like to be able to sit back and actually cut deals with people to get big quantities, instead of driving around everyday, dropping off kegs and cases everywhere. It’s getting to the point where I’m doing that three days a week, and it’s hard to run the business when you’re driving around all the time. So we need to get a bigger brewery, and I’m actually looking at some new systems right now and pricing something out.
We also want to open another tasting room. In Washington state, not only are you allowed to have a tasting room with the same license, you are also allowed two other what they call: tied houses. A tied house is a brewery ran bar. Only two though, so you can’t have a whole chain of Sound Brewery bars. So we are going to open two more tasting rooms soon, probably one on this side of the water and one on the Seattle side.
After the trip to Washington state, I headed down to Colorado for a few days. I primarily spent my trip in Denver and got to visit a wide range of breweries and bars. If you make your way into the state, I highly recommend checking these places out!
Located in downtown, this restaurant not only focuses on flavorful foods, with fresh ingredients, but they also have an awesome beer menu. Get the pretzels with cheese, mostly just for the cheese, it’s super creamy and delicious! Amongst our group, we drank a few beers from Dry Dock, including Hop Abomination and the award winning Apricot Ale, Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro (one of the best milk stouts out there), Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti (one of the best imperial stouts out there, aged with oak to make it even better!), and a few others that I don’t really remember.
While I was able to get a pint of Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale, you should come here for the pizza, more so than for the beer. It’s located in Golden, near the Coors brewery. It was about $10 for all you can eat pizza, and the pizza was diverse and delicious.
New Belgium Brewery
The third day I was there, I took a trip up to Fort Collins to visit the New Belgium Brewery. A full write up on my visit can be found here.
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
Located in Denver and featuring some of the most unique beers in the state. Every beer is fermented solely with brettanomyces, and several are barrel aged and soured. These beers require a bit of an open mind and an adventurous spirit. Only 3 beers were available the day I visited, however all three were very different from each other and equally flavorful. Vieille is their take on a saison, and was the most “clean” tasting of the beers. It’s more of a tropical variation of a typical saison. There was also an apple whiskey barrel aged version that featured a bit more tartness in the taste, and a funkier nose. Lastly, they featured a beer from their “Wild Wild Brett” series: Violet, with passion fruit added. This was delicious and resembled a sparkling cider. A less sugary, higher quality, delicious sparkling cider!
Another interesting fact about this brewery: Beers are fermented, aged, blended, and bottled in the back area of the warehouse. The only aspect of a brewery missing here, is the actual brew house. The brewing takes place offsite, then the unfermented wort is transferred here for the rest of the process.
Great Divide Brewery
This should be a mandatory visit whenever visiting Denver. If you like beer, it’s impossible to not be happy here. Great Divide makes a wide range of styles and they are all available on tap. There often is a food truck so you can get some food while you’re there. Notable beers we had:
Oak Aged Yeti on cask: High viscosity, and black as hell. This beer is immensely flavorful and is one of my favorite imperial stouts. Yes, I drank this earlier in the week at Freshcraft, but I had to try this on cask!
Old Ruffian Barley Wine: Solid barley wine, not quite as heavy and syrupy as most barley wines, making this extremely drinkable. Bready, fruity, and super smooth!
Claymore Scotch Ale: Peaty aroma, and honey-like sweetness. This was also dangerously drinkable. Despite not being barrel aged, the peat malt and alcohol content give a bit of a whisky like character.
Bull & Bush Brewpub
Bull & Bush is a brewpub that’s been in the state for over 40 years. It’s modeled after the pubs in England, and it definitely has that vibe down. Their most well known beer is aptly called, Man Beer. Being a tourist to brewpub, it seemed only necessary to order this beer. It’s an English IPA, and is both immensely malty, and abrasively bitter.
Food here is awesome too. Whatever you order, get the mashed potatoes along with it. The burger I had (The Prince Charles) was delicious, but all I remember is how great the mashed potatoes were!
This is obviously not an extensive list of places to visit in Colorado, but should give you a good start. I’m looking forward to the next batch of breweries and bars I visit the next time I’m in the state!
I went to high school in a small town named Poulsbo. Over the past 9 years since I’ve left the state, there seems to have been a dozen small breweries that have opened up. I was able to visit a few of them and taste some of their unique beers.
I stopped by Sound Brewery in the early afternoon to interview one of the founders. There will be a more in depth article on the brewery posted soon. This brewery has grown like crazy over the past 2 years, thanks in part to the awesome beers that they make. One that stood out to me was Monk’s Indiscretion. It’s essentially a Belgian tripel that’s been dry hopped with American hops. The beer has a big citrusy nose and as you drink it, the grapefruit flavors fade into fruity Belgian esters.
Slippery Pig Brewery
If you are wondering about the name, it’s because there’s pigs at the brewery. If you’re wondering why there’s pigs at the brewery, it’s because the brewery is on a farm.
The “tasting room” is outdoors with picnic tables. As you can see from the menu, they make some interesting beers.
I tried both the Rhubarb IPA and White Chocolate Stout. Neither was too sweet, or too flavored. Both beers balanced the style with the special ingredient in a way that made the beer still very drinkable. The Rhubarb IPA was surprisingly smooth, considering how high the IBU’s were. The rhubarb was a great addition.
Poulsbo is very Scandinavian themed, so it’s only fitting that there would be a Scandinavian brewery. Giant wooden doors, large wrought iron hinges and door handles greet you into the tasting room. When we got there, they were brewing a batch of beer, and the tasting room was filled with the hop aroma. I had the British Black. The dark beer was poured with nitrogen gas and had a very soft, and smooth body. The flavor leaned towards a robust porter, dark and roasty, but none of the burnt character present in most stouts. They also make a great root beer, with a strong spearmint aroma. Mixing this with the British Black was a delicious experiment!
It’s amusing to me how we often times covet the beers that we don’t get in our state. Case in point, I am currently on vacation in my home state of Washington, we walked into an Albertson’s and see cans of 21st Amendment and Oskar Blues sitting on the shelf. Typically, we jump at the opportunity to drink these beers, since they are not available in Vegas. But here, in the little town of Silverdale, they sit in the beer fridge along with countless great Pacific Northwest beers. Being an advocate for our local breweries in Las Vegas, it seemed only right to buy some local Washington beers, as opposed to the familiar names. I’ll likely be posting several other posts this week about non-Nevada beers and breweries. While Nevada local beers are a huge focus for us, many of our readers are from other states and have different beers distributed than what we get in Nevada. So whether you make it up to Washington, or are within the distribution of the breweries, here are some tasting notes of a few beers we had our first night in Washington.
Elysian The Immortal IPA
I’ve not had very many Elysian beers, so this was a new one to me. Solid IPA. Floral aroma, piney, resinous buttering hops, with a sweet, juicy malt finish. Like biting into a piney orange. The bottle conditioning gave the beer a soft carbonation and a refreshing finish.
Iron Horse Quilter’s Irish Death
Everytime I make it back to Washington, I make it a point to have Irish Death. This is one of the best stout/porter/American Strong Ale/whatever hybrid style beer this is. Dark as a stout, sweet as a porter, and boasting nearly 8% alcohol, this is the perfect balance of flavors. So incredibly drinkable, with a dry finish.
Silver City Ridgetop Red
A great example of a red ale that isn’t too sweet, with a good mix of earthy, piney hops to balance out the maltiness. A very drinkable session ale.