September 10, 2014

A Few More 2014 GABF Pour Lists…

Melvin Brewing (Thai Me Up Restaurant)

  • 2×4, Double IPA
  • 4×8, Triple IPA
  • Melvin, IPA
  • Ch,Ch,Ch Cherry Bomb, Fruit Ale
  • Ginger Ale, Imperial Red Ale

 

Almanac Beer Co

  • Golden Gate Gose
  • Cerise Sour Blond
  • Farmer’s Reserve Citrus
  • Heirloom Pumpkin
  • Dogpatch Strawberry

 

Boneyard Beer

  • RPM IPA, American-Style India Pale Ale, 7%
  • Bone-A-Fide Pale Ale, American-Style Pale Ale, 5.5%
  • Notorious Triple IPA, Imperial India Pale Ale, 11.5%
  • Armored Fist Cascadian Dark Ale, American-Style Black Ale, 10%
  • Bone Light ISA, Session Beer, 4%

 

Funky Buddha Brewery

  • No Crusts
  • Last Snow
  • Bourbon Barrel Aged Nickolai Vorlauf Imperial Stout
  • Raspberry Berlinerweiss
  • Floridian Hefeweizen
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March 10, 2014

Lowdown Brewery Hits The Spot

Dark chocolate, chewy black licorice, vanilla, coconut, and a smidge of port. No this isn’t a dessert description, it’s a list of all the layers of flavors swirling around in the glass of Imperial Stout in front of me. This beer, aged for a year in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels and then one more year in a keg, wasn’t what I expected from a brewery in it’s opening week, but it’s exactly what Lowdown, Denver’s newest brewery, had to offer when they opened their doors this February. It’s this kind of forethought and execution that quickly shows anyone paying attention that the new kid on the block is not messing around.

Headed by two ex-Rock Bottom brewers, Lowdown takes their former employer’s same approach of offering a wide range of beer styles and options. And like Rock Bottom, they are a bona fide brewpub with a full kitchen and restaurant menu; bucking the brewery-and-a-food-truck trend. But don’t be fooled into thinking this is a Rock Bottom re-incarnate. Lowdown has taken a more…flavorful, let’s say, take on both their food and their beer. It’s obvious they’re not trying to cater to the tourist strolling in off 16th street looking for a light beer and a burger.

Initially, the food options might sound like standard pub grub; pizza, sandwiches, salads, etc., but a closer look at the menu reveals a bounty of unique ingredients and creativity. Beet and pickled carrot salad? Pancetta, apricot and goat cheese sandwich? Green chile and lime crema pizza? Definitely not your average fare and most importantly everything sampled was delicious. As a bonus, prices were reasonable, with sandwiches ranging from $8 to $12 and 10” pizzas from $9 to $13.

Behind the bar, an impressive 10 taps pour freshly brewed suds and accompany three guest taps currently showcasing local brewers Crooked Stave and Prost.

Hopheads will certainly enjoy their flavor-forward IPA and India Red Ale, but the real hoppy winner was the Selfish Ale. A unique 5% ABV beer with a subdued malt character and hop bitterness, but bursting with tropical fruit flavors from exotic hop varietals like Citra and Amarillo. It has all the hop punch of an IPA, without the alcohol sting, and was created by the brewers as something they could enjoy after work without worrying about feeling groggy the next morning.

Malty options abound as well with the two-year aged Imperial Stout stealing the show. While we can’t expect them to constantly have such time-intensive brews on hand, it showcases the brewhouse’s prowess and is hopefully a harbinger of more to come. Other excellent malt-forward choices included the Lonely Sheep, a Scottish style ale with sweet caramel flavors and a dry finish from a pinch of roasted malts, and the Black Bessie milk stout, a beer that gives Left Hand’s classic a run for its money.

Lowdown’s atmosphere is classic brewpub with its comfortable booths, high-tops and long bar surrounded by stainless steel fermenters. It still manages to retain a fresh decorative twist though with strings of hung lampshades and vibrant African travel photographs dotting the walls.

We look to provide readers with neighborhood specific info. Our coverage extends north to I-70, south to 6th Ave, and to Lincoln and Wadsworth for the respective eastern and western borders. Lowdown Brewery + Kitchen sits in the very southeast corner of this zone at 8th Ave and Lincoln, not far from the new History Colorado Center. Almost out of range, so not something we’d normally cover, but a few visits convinced us otherwise. With so many solid nearby options in our Highlands, it can sometimes be hard to venture too far out of our neighborhood, but Lowdown makes it well worth the trek.

Ales and menu items from Lowdown Brewery

Meatballs and dopplebock. Mmmmm

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September 5, 2013

Diebolt Brewing

Diebolt

Brewing has long been a family tradition the world over. Even in the US, just look at the Coors’ lineage in Golden, or the Yuengling empire out in Pennsylvania. Nowadays, though, the familial succession of many of our breweries is based more upon the younger generation’s business prowess than any sort of inherited brewing knowledge. Call me crazy, but I don’t think you’ll find Pete Coors stirring a mash tun or Dick Yuengling suggesting they up the late hop additions.

However, there was time when the secrets of brewing were passed down from parent to offspring (mother to daughter in many cases). In Belgium, the country that has best maintained traditional brewing practices, many breweries still do this; it’s not unusual to find two generations brewing side by side, the elder passing down knowledge to produce better and more creative beer. Unfortunately, here in the States, the mass popularity of dull, pale lagers has led to monopolistic family businesses that instead focus on creating larger profits and bigger distribution.

But there is still hope…With Denver sitting amidst this new wave of craft breweries, we have yet another unique arrival to add to the list; one that brings with it the hope of an artisan-minded brewing family: Diebolt Brewing Company. Pronounced [DEE-Bolt], this little Sunnyside brewery located just off 38th Ave on Mariposa, is primarily made up of father and son team, Dan and Jack Diebolt.

Opening their doors only a few weeks ago, there are currently only three beers on tap: the Standard Porter (5.7%), Mariposa Pale Ale (6.0%), and the Sunnyside Wheat (4.3%).  More should eventually become available as a saison and an IPA were conditioning in the fermenters during our visit. Diebolt’s focus appears to be balanced, drinkable beers, rather than boundary-pushing brews, but time will tell where their niche will truly end up.

When you visit, you’ll find their taproom industrial, yet intimate. Concrete floors and high, exposed ceilings meet warm woods and elegant metal working to breathe life into the space. The real charm, however, are the Diebolt’s themselves. On a weekend visit with friends, before even stepping foot inside, we were greeted by Mrs. Diebolt who graciously offered to let us park our bikes in the brewery since they hadn’t been able to install a bike rack yet. Once inside, Dan, the senior Diebolt, welcomed us as his son, Jack, described and poured the beer. As the brewery filled up throughout the afternoon, the process repeated with each patron, allowing everyone to feel at home as soon as they walked in.

Back to the beers, the definitive favorite was the Wheat, with an impressively clear yeast profile and a wheaty mouthfeel that was perfectly present, but not overwhelming. The Pale was enjoyably hoppy,  not too bitter, and immensely drinkable. The roastedness of the Porter was almost coffee-like up front and while I like my porters bit chewier in the winter, the low carbonation and fairly dry finish made this dark beer an enjoyable drink on a hot summer day.

After a spontaneous tour of the brewery, in which Dan proudly showed off the setup that he and his son had largely put together themselves, you couldn’t help but feel proud of them. Here’s hoping that their familial approach churns out beer for generations of Sunnyside residents to come. Drop in and get to know them.

 

Diebolt Brewing Company

3855 Mariposa St

Open Thursday through Sunday





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March 7, 2013

De Steeg Brewing

DeSteeg2

North Denver’s newest brewery may also be one of the hardest to find. Its address, 4342 Tennyson Street, would seem to indicate a spot right next to Swing Thai at the intersection of 44th Ave. But go ahead and walk the entire 43rd block, and you won’t find a single shred of evidence of the place. Nope, to find De Steeg Brewing, you’ll have to stroll down the alley behind the action on Tennyson and even then the place is only marked by a small wooden sign with a beer goblet carved in it. Dutch-speakers might already have been clued-in (De Steeg translates to “the alley”), but the rest of us have to rely on word-of-mouth to track it down.

So is De Steeg a beer speakeasy? Not really, just brewer/owner Craig Rothgery’s spin on the best way to utilize a unique piece of real estate. After all, coming across an available space in one of Denver’s hottest commercial areas sometimes demands some improvisation. Once the idea was born he decided to run with it. “At this point, I don’t plan to add another sign.” he said, “People seem to find us.” And he would be right. On each visit to the tap room, the place was nearing occupancy, with hardly a place to sit.

Once inside, any illusion of a beer speakeasy is quickly dispelled. No passwords required. No dim lights or nook booths. You’ll instead find a simple, bright, and airy tap room with yet-to-be-adorned white walls, a bar with plenty of room for multiple customers, and a smattering of high tops. On the other side of the bar, the brewery’s collection of fermenters stand bubbling away; promising more beer to come. Beverages can be supplemented with serve-yourself popcorn, otherwise food can be ordered from the many surrounding restaurants.

While around eight tap handles sit at the bar, high demand has so far limited De Steeg to only three or four in use at any given time. The most recent choices have been an English Mild, a French Saison, and a Pomegranate Acai Wheat. Served on nitrogen rather than CO2 (think Guinness), the English Mild especially stands out. The nitrogenation allows subtle notes of coffee and chocolate to truly shine and hold their own with the malty nuttiness. Using nitrogen yields something more like “real ale”; the beer’s bubbles aren’t so harsh, allowing some of the more delicate flavors to come through. Nitrogen taps are relatively rare and De Steeg’s commitment to installing one so early on could be a good sign of things to come.

In regards to Rothgery’s other beers, the Pomegranate Acai Wheat was solid, even if the fruit notes were a bit mild. Those looking for a super fruity beer may wish it was a bit more intense, but restraint can sometimes be a good thing.  The French Saison had a strong yeastiness with wafting notes of bread dough, black pepper and pears atop a honey-like malt body. It was pleasant, but had a bit of a young taste, hinting that it may have arrived at the tap a little early; not too surprising for a brewery scrambling to keep up with an already large demand.

De Steeg looks to implement a “one and done” brewing philosophy of continuously creating new concoctions, rather than producing the same beers; and approach that does have it perks.  Never knowing what will be on tap can be fun, though there is certainly something to be said of perfecting a recipe. However, Rothgery’s beer has been enjoyable enough as to not worry this beer drinker much. Head over and check them out; they’re worth the hunt.

 

De Steeg Brewing

4342 Tennyson St

(303) 484-9698

Only Open Fridays and Saturdays

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February 7, 2013

Wit’s End Brewing Company

WitsEnd

By now, just about everyone in America has heard the term “microbrewery”. In the craft brewing revival of the 90’s people needed a term to differentiate these new independent breweries that were popping up. After all, the next step up was the gigantic lager factories of Miller, Anheuser-Busch and Coors, and these little upstarts were “micro” in comparison.

Fast forward to 2013 and it’s not so easy to see where the lines fall anymore. Breweries like New Belgium, Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada which started out as microbreweries, certainly are no longer micro (the debate rages on as to what they should be called). And on top of that, there’s a brand new breed of breweries so small that even calling them micro seems a stretch; earning them the moniker, “nanobrewery”.

So, are nanobreweries really a 1,000 times smaller than a microbrewery? Well, it depends on your definition of microbrewery, but they’re defined as having a brewing capacity of four barrels or less. Which, when compared to New Belgium’s brewing capacity of 840,000 barrels, is downright tiny.

And right here in our neighborhood is a great example of one: Wit’s End Brewing, located in the industrial area south of the football stadium (FYI, don’t use Google Maps, instead check the website for directions). Their brew setup is only a single barrel, certainly qualifying them as a nano, and they call their focus “New American Brewing”.  Think something akin to the creative twists gastro pubs take with traditional dishes like braised duck tacos or lobster mac ‘n’ cheese.

A prime example is their Kitchen Sink Porter. Brewmaster Scott Witsoe took a traditional porter-style beer, like say Odell’s Cutthroat Porter, as a base and then went to work adding in smoked malts and rye. This adds an enjoyable complexity to the standard chocolate nuttiness of a porter by adding layers of smoke and peppery spice.

Another case in point is their Wilford IPA. Not content with the caramel malt body and citrusy hops you find in your average American IPA, Witsoe threw in some oatmeal and fermented it with a Belgian yeast strain. The result is a brew that offers up a flurry of tastes and aromas; citrusy hops, creamy oatmeal and a fruity spiciness of the yeast. On top of that, it’s super drinkable, only calling for your attention if you want to give it.

Due to their small capacity, their beer doesn’t make it regularly around town, so the best place to try it is the Wit’s End taproom.  Entering through their garage door, you’ll find a spacious room full of high-top tables, a long bar and church pews. The high, exposed ceilings are covered with a canopy of empty malt sacks giving it a cozy, almost beer tent-like feel.

The beers mentioned earlier are only part of their five standards offerings. In addition, there are usually one or two specialty brews to consider when you’re ordering. Beers come in either 10-oz ($3.50) or 16-oz ($5) sizes and taster flights are also available. Food is limited to Baker St Pretzels ($3.50) and bags of chips for 50 cents, though food trucks make occasional appearances.

So, while the list of neighborhood breweries keeps growing, the quality hasn’t diminished a smidge. And why should it? We are some savvy beer folks and demand the best. With another great option like Wit’s End to add to our resume, I think North Denver is making a case as one of the best beer neighborhoods not just Colorado, but the country. Be sure to get out there and enjoy a pint or two.

 

Wit’s End Brewing Company

2505 W 2nd Ave. Unit 13

303-459-4379

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