December 10, 2013

North Denver Breweries Win Big at Great American Beer Festival

Anybody who’s been paying attention lately knows that the North Denver brewing scene has grown into a force to be reckoned with. From beer geek darling Crooked Stave to the German beer masters at Prost, the collective has steadily gained a strong following with neighborhood locals across the board. However, after an impressive showing at this year’s Great American Beer Festival, they now have the hardware to back it up. Four of our local breweries earned a combined total of six medals, but it was the SandLot Brewery, located within the friendly confines of Coors Field that stole the spotlight by winning the Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year honors.

This award may initially cause many to pause. After all, the relatively tiny SandLot Brewery didn’t even eclipse the 3,000 barrel mark last year, which actually puts them on the lower end of the Small Brewing Company of the Year award (1,000-14,999 barrels). However, the Brewer’s Association, the organization in charge of administering the competition, counts not only a brewery’s output, but also the output of any of its “parentage” breweries. In case you didn’t know, SandLot is part of the Blue Moon Brewing Company, which is under the Tenth and Blake Beer Company umbrella, which in turn represents the craft brewing collective arm of behemoth MillerCoors. And considering MillerCoors broke the 60 million barrel mark in 2012, it’s safe to say SandLot’s parentage surpassed the 6 million barrel minimum just a wee bit, placing them into the Large Brewery category. (Interestingly enough, it was actually the SandLot that helped create the parentage rule after it won Small Brewery of the Year award back in 1995. Many cried foul that they had an unfair advantage due to their backing.)

In addition to their overall brewery honors, the SandLot continued their winning streak by bagging three more medals to bring their lifetime GABF medal count to a mind-boggling 43. Gold medals went to their Move Back Dortmunder and Second Hand Rauchbier, as well as a bronze for their Goat Rancher Bock. Happily, the Sandlot has announced that they will remain open the public this baseball off season, Tuesday through Saturday from 2-8 pm. Stop in and see what all the precious metal fuss is about.

Crooked Stave also continued their winning tradition, snapping up a bronze for Hop Savant. Available at liquor stores as well as their new RiNo taproom, this light ale is fermented with their characteristically funky, fruity brettanomyces yeast and then intensely hopped. The twist is that the hops are added at the end of the brew, thereby contributing flavor and aroma, instead of bitterness. Between the fruity yeast esters and these late-addition hops, Hop Savant is a tropical bonanza of grapefruit, pineapple, apricots, and white wine grapes.

Onto Prost, who in only their second year of existence won their first medal and a gold no less. This stellar LoHi brewery specializes in authentic German-style beer so it’s no surprise that their win was for the Keller Pils, a mildly hoppy, unfiltered German lager. Enjoy it for a limited time in their taproom.

Finally, we come to Great Divide who ended their two-year medal drought by taking gold for their Chocolate Oak-Aged Yeti Imperial Stout. Available each spring beginning in April, this bruiser of a stout has both cacao nibs and a dash of cayenne pepper added to it before being aged on oak chips for a sweet, vanilla finish. A great winter treat if you can hold onto it for that long.

Considered to be the most prestigious beer competition in the world, GABF medals are an incredible honor to win. This year alone, 745 breweries entered some 4,809 different beers to compete in 84 beer style categories. Those numbers add up to some stiff competition and our neighborhood should be happy to earn just one, let alone six.  Just for perspective, the entire state of Washington, well known for its beer scene, only won four medals combined. Be sure to get out and enjoy this wonderful beer mecca we live in. It’s truly something special.

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October 4, 2013

Crooked Stave Grand Opening at the Source

Crooked Stave’s had their grand opening at the Source Marketplace today. Well attended, but chill crowd. The space is beautiful, there is a koelchip in full view, and the beers were just as good as you’ve come to expect. Really, what more can you ask for?

Tap List:

  • Hop Savant
  • Vieille
  • St Bretta Fall
  • Nightmare on Brett
  • Origins Batch #2
  • Surrette


Various industry folks were there including Troy Casey of AC Golden and Gabriel Gordon of Beachwood Brewing, who just finished installing the super sweet tap system. Who knew a man could make killer BBQ, run an brewery and make artistic tap systems on the side? Not this guy, as Gabriel can attest. A couple of photos:

Crooked Stave Taproom

Crooked Stave Taproom

The tap system designed and installed by Gabriel Gordon of Beachwood Brewing & BBQ

crooked stave sour beer

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September 22, 2013

And A Few More GABF Pour Lists

A couple more pour lists trickled in when I was finishing my article. I’ll continue to post more as I get them, but this is all she wrote for the newspaper piece.

Jack’s Abby

  • Jabby Brau, Session Lager, 4.5% ABV
  • Hoponius Union, India Pale Lager, 6.7% ABV
  • Mass Rising, Double India Pale Lager, 8.0% ABV
  • Fire in the Ham, Rauchbier, 5.4% ABV
  • Copper Legend, Oktoberfest, 5.9% ABV



  • Seizoen, Saison, 7.5% ABV
  • Seizoen Bretta, Saison, 8.0% ABV
  • Oak Aged Bretta, Saison, 8.0% ABV (Farm to Table Only)
  • Far West Vlaming, Flander’s Red, 6.5% ABV (Farm to Table Only)
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September 5, 2013

Diebolt Brewing


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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May 1, 2013

Brewery Rickoli

Copy (2) of DSC_5979

Rickoli 2

Last fall, Wheat Ridge got their first brewery, finally checking that box to become a legit modern metro Denver neighborhood. Brewery Rickoli, located on busy Wadsworth Avenue, was the suburb’s only brewery though they’ll now have to share the title with the newly-opened Colorado Liquid Arts on 38th Ave. Located in a small stripmall, the place is easy to miss sandwiched between Buy Back Games and Black & Read III (can someone please explain this name to me?). Unassuming and ultralow key, Rickoli’s is quintessential Wheatridge. Not uberhip like Our Mutual Friend, a “bro” joint like Denver Beer Co, or a euro throwback like Prost, no Rickoli’s feels like a neighborhood bar that just happens to brew their own beer.

The space bears head brewer, Rick Abitbol’s, nickname, which is a combination of his first name and Spicoli (a la Sean Penn’s greatest character). Rick + Spicoli = Rickoli. Spicoli would probably approve of the place too; there is a bucket of free cheeze balls on hand and all of the shirts for sale are tyedye. The walls are relatively unadorned save a few random beer signs, posters about community events, and a collection of TV’s playing ESPN. Classic rock rules the PA and families gather over takeout from nearby Mexican Restaurant, El Jalisciense.

They have a throng of beers and there are usually 12 or so on the tap, with a whole spectrum of styles on offer. Light or dark, hoppy or sweet, strong or sessionable; they’re all available in some form. In addition, Rickoli’s shares the distinction of being a “low gluten” brewery. Meaning, the beers aren’t gluten free, but rather post-processed to remove much of the gluten from the finished beer; something many celiac suffers will surely welcome.

While not dominant in all their beers, hops are clearly dear to the brewer’s heart with their list carrying a bevy of hop-heavy ales. My far and away favorite (hoppy or otherwise) is the Session IPA, which weighs in at a modest 5% ABV, but still packs a hop wallop. Bursting with citrusy, floral American hops, it proves that an IPA doesn’t have to be high in alcohol to be enjoyable. On the other end of the spectrum they have the Black Pline, a black double IPA. Weighing in at 9.7% ABV, its intense bitterness and dark, smoky malts, will certainly be a change of pace for anyone bored with their everyday beer.

For the malt-centric beer drinker, look for their M.E.H., a sweet, yet quaffable 4.7% cream ale. Or on the stronger side of things, the 8% Social Lubricant Scotch Ale is intensely malty with rich, gooey kettle-caramelized aspects that can only come from a lengthy boil.

Beer prices are on par with Denver’s somewhat pricey brewery scene with pints varying between $4.50 and $6. Food offerings are limited to a small cheese plate ($5), Baker Street pretzels ($3), and Cookie Brewer cookies ($2). The latter being cookies baked with Rickoli’s beer. Nearby food options abound though and the purveyors are more than happy to have you bring your own food in.

On a recent visit, a guy saddled up at the bar next to me, looking for a pint to watch the game with. Thinking at first it was just another bar, he looked bewildered at the beer list in front of him. “They make their own beer here?” he asked, concerned. However, worry quickly turned to surprise after taking a sip. “Wow, I thought that was going to be one of those weird fancy beers, but this is good!” That’s what’s great about a place like Rickoli’s. It’s down-to-earth feel and approach enables it to truly be a neighborhood place; where both the beer geeks and their next door neighbor can bump into each other.  I think Spicoli could get behind that.

4335 Wadsworth Blvd

(303) 344-8988

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