Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Boulder... TGIF!

Reminds me of my first day working at a brewery...
All day on the bottling line!
 Boulder seemed to be doing its best at avoiding me all trip.  I had made plans to go there my first full day in Colorado. When that fell through I though about doing in Monday... again, no dice.  Finally I dropped a day on the slopes in order to make the trip on a Friday.  Friday is a good time to be in Boulder... at least at the breweries!  I went classic to start the day with a stop at Boulder Beer Co. Colorado's first craft brewery, founded in 1979. (My favorite year) I had some of their beers back east but as always you get to try more than just the flagship, IPA or seasonal beer when you get to the tasting room.  Boulder should clock in around 40K barrels this year so not the biggest brewery but not a small one either. I rushed in and was about 2 minutes late for the tour... which basically means I missed grabbing a beer for the tour which
Barrel aging.. Mmmmm

Old fork truck. Classic brewery humor!
is 45 minutes of torture as you walk around the brewery watching everyone else enjoy theirs but I survived. It isn't like I am suffering from a shortage of beer this trip! On the tour they take you all over the place including the production floor, the lab and cooler, or beer heaven as I used to call it when I gave tours. Overall a very good tour. Being able to take a beer on the tour is definitely a plus! At the end they have half a dozen beers to sample and whatever you don't get on the tour they will let you try at the bar.  It was a friendly staff including Ethan, who being from New England originally, was able to chat Northeast beers as well as Colorado. My picks were their Ovivoid (6.8% Oak Aged Stout, the mystery beer in their variety packs now!), Killer Peguin Barleywine (10% malty Barleywine), Bad Moon Double Black IPA (12%, hoppy, roasty) and Mojo IPA on cask! (Balanced, hoppy, smooth) They also make some good mustard with their Mojo IPA!

Avery: BIG tour group for Friday Happy Hour!

Samples galore!!
In the theme of the day I was having a little too much fun and ran out the door with just a few minutes to get down the street to Avery Brewing Co. for their 4 o'clock tour.  Arriving at 4:05 I saw a large assembly of folks at the tasting room.  I flagged a burly brewery staffer that said grab a beer quick and jump on the tour!  I squeezed into a packed tasting room and up to the bar to be overwhelmed by a couple of dozen draft selections, many of which were not available outside the taproom.  A quick exchange with the bartender found me with a pint of their Lilikopi Kepolo Wheat (Passion fruit wheat, light, refreshing, a touch fruity and tart) It would be one of my favorite beers in Colorado.  I walked outside just in time to grab the tail of the tour walking down to the brewhouse.  I need to start leaving 10 minutes earlier! Now fate was on my side again... as I stood there listening to the guide give the normal tour I caught a glimpse of someone familiar.  Matt the brewer from Golden City that I met earlier in the week went walking by.  I flagged him down and ended up getting a behind the scenes tour with him and Jason who happened to be the burly brewer that I met briefly on the way in!  Life was sorting itself out nicely! Avery, about the same size as Boulder but younger, having started in 1993, is growing fast and when we found Riley manning their 40 BBL brewhouse it was filled to the brim. They are going to outgrow that thing pretty soon.  They also have a pretty new canning line and centrifuge to help filter beer faster. Nice shiny new stuff! After an informative lap around the brewery I ended up in the tasting room and Matt and I went through a ton of samples to TRY and taste most of what they had to offer.  It took a while but it was great as were the staff. My favorites were the Ellie's Brown (5.5%, good balance, session beer), Out of Bounds Stout Cask (6.3%, smooth, creamy, roasty), Ermita III (9.5%, Brettanomyces, slightly tart), Trogdor Dopplebock (Smoky, smooth, 7%)... ok honestly I could go on and on, they were all pretty good! This was my second Friday afternoon in a brewery in Colorado and I have to say a brewery tasting room is the place to be for happy hour!
Over 20 different beers to try! Yikes!!

15 Stouts on tap!
Going on recommendations I was really trying to go to Mountain Sun Brewery while in Boulder but between all the samples I needed a break before hitting the road again. Safety first! So I grabbed some awful Chinese food down the street and chilled for an hour before driving back to Denver.  Mountain Sun has two newer locations, Southern Sun also in Boulder and Vine Street in Denver.  Luckily Vine Street was pretty close to where I was staying so I popped in that evening to to see what they had on tap. Now I always say my favorite beer is the "one in my hand" (I'm not the first to say this) but I do tend toward the darker side of things in the winter. As if things couldn't get any better... it was Stout Month at their brew pubs!!!  I ended up meeting Tim one of the four owners. They have a new 12 barrel brewhouse at Vine St that is going online in the next month as soon as they sort out some red tape. The silver lining is they get to have a few guest taps from other local breweries in the mean time. As far as the beers go the stouts were fun and interesting, with lots of flavors, a few imperial stouts and many hoppy stouts.  These guys really love their hoppy beers.  My favorites were the Trixster (6.7% hoppy stout with great aroma), Colorado Kind Pale (Not a stout, their original flagship, all cascade hops, well balanced, 6%) These guys treated me really well.  In retrospect, all three breweries were top notch in the hospitality arena this day. Actually, almost everyone on the trip so far has been great. Craft beer is the best industry in the world to be in and  I am lucky and thankful to be a part of it!
Theme of the day... lots to sample!

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