Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Barley's Angels Pizza and Beer pairing at Hops & Pie, Denver

Sunday was pizza and beer pairing at Hops & Pie in Denver hosted by Barley's Angels Colorado. There must have been 19 women not including the hostess, Deborah Cameron, all seated in the main dining area. Deborah greeted everyone and took a seat at my table with three other lovely ladies who hadn't been to a Barley's Angels event before. Our host from Hops & Pie was Remi, who is the taproom manager. He describe the pizzas and beers for each course.
Remi, taproom manager of Hops & Pie.

Ladies at my table, Deborah Cameron is on the
very left.

When I arrived there were  two glasses at each table setting. I thought it was rather odd for a pizza pairing, a small snifter of soup with a taster of beer. The soup was a chilled strawberry and goat cheese with a balsamic reduction. The beer was Elevation Brewing's 3rd Base, a Tripel that is 9% ABV. I have to say the soup had that earthy sweet flavor with the combination of the fruit and cheese but it surprised me in that it was quite tasty. The Tripel with it's lemon, pepper, and orange notes went very well with the soup.
3rd Base Tripel and chilled strawberry goat cheese soup.

The first course was my favorite, it was a southern fried chicken, waffles, sweet potato, bacon, and roasted Brussels sprouts pizza with aged white cheddar cheese with a maple bourbon gravy that we asked to have on the side. I decided to pour some of the gravy on my piece of pizza and I'm glad I did because it was so good. A great brunch pizza especially since the weather outside was cloudy and chilly. The beer paired with it was Triple XXX, 9% ABV barrel-aged Old Ale from Eel River Brewing. I enjoyed both pizza and beer, the dark slightly sweet with a boozy finish of the Triple XXX complimented the sweet and savory flavor of the pizza. With luck, I will hope to be able order this pizza and beer combo again.
Southern fried chicken and waffle pizza.

The next course was a pulled pork, smoked ham hock, smoked pork loin on top of a blackberry barbecue sauce pizza. It was paired with a Tequila barrel-aged Oskar Blue's Gubna, a 10% ABV Imperial IPA. I don't really enjoy IPA's but the Gubna cut through the smokiness of the pork.
Tequila barrel-aged Gubna and pork, pork, pork pizza.

The last course I would have thought would have been a dessert pizza but I was disappointed. The last pizza was a vegetarian with jalapenos, cherry tomatoes, and white onion. The beer paired with this pizza was Why Can't IBU, a Belgian IPA from Stillwater Artisanal Ales. This lower alcohol beer at 5.6% ABV was just as bland as the pizza, so they went very well together. I'm not sure if the beer should have been more of a contrast where it would have brought out the flavors of the pizza. Not my favorite course.
Belgian IPA and vegetarian pizza.

But all in all this was a good event where women were enjoying the beer/pizza pairing along with the company of other women. This is why I like gender specific beer events, such camaraderie among women who are friends and women who are making new friends over beer and food.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Facebook Page: the colorado beer scribe

I have a new Facebook page that is devoted to this blog which is all beer related. I am trying this out to see if I can get more people interested. Please check out the Facebook page.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Bruery at Backcountry Pizza in Boulder

Tart of Darkness (sour stout) very sour with a raisin finish. White Oak 2012 (blend of wheat wine aged in bourbon barrels and Mischief (Strong Golden Ale), I like this smooth sweet with a bourbon tones.

Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Craft Brewers Conference in Denver

The 2014 Craft Brewers Conference was held in Denver, CO on April 8-11 at the Colorado Convention Center.  I didn’t attend this conference for many reasons (not really in the business and it cost more than I can afford) but a good friend of mine, Dennis Koss as there as my on the spot reporter. This is his account of the weeks events.

The conference was well attended with over 9000 craft brewers and allied trade members participating with approximately 1100 breweries were represented.   I attended as a brewer who is planning to one day open my own brewery.

Weeks Events:

Tuesday was a day for registration, first time attendees meeting, bus tours to local breweries and a welcome reception held at Sports Authority Field.

The Conference started in earnest on Wednesday with the keynote address.  Speakers included:
Charlie Papazian, President, Brewers Association
John Hickenlooper, Colorado Governor
Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association
Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director of Brewers Association
Gary Fish, Deschutes Brewery
Bart Watson, Staff Economist at Brewers Association
Dick Cantwell, Elysian Brewing
John Mallet, Bell's Brewing

Keynote Speaker Michael Pollan, author of several books including Cooked, where Michael learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer.  His topic was "Are we, as brewers controlling the yeast making our fermented beverages or are the yeast controlling us?"

Wednesday afternoon, Thursday and Friday were filled with seminars with topics regarding all aspects of operating a well-functioning brewery. Topics covered a broad range from start-up funding to the very technical subjects.  Many seminars were dedicated to protecting your brand, from protecting your intellectual property to making quality beer.  

Josh Lampe, Marc Sorini, Kim Jordan, and Sam Calagione.
By far, the most well attended seminar was Friday with the topic of “Entitle Using Belgian Yeast: Three Belgian’s Perspectives”, hosted by Vinnie Cilurzio of Russian River Brewing, Vinnie introduced the panel of Yvan De Bates of Brasserie de la Senne, Hedwig Neven of Duvel Moortgat and Steven Pauwels of Boulevard Brewing.  Yvan De Yates spoke about fermenter design and its influence on fermentation. Hedwig Neven spoke about yeast flocculation while Steven Pauwels spoke about mixed fermentation with yeast fermentation and the influence of brettanomyces and lactobacillus on sour beers.
Along with the Craft Brewers conference was Brew-Expo America, a trade show for the brewing industry that included nearly 500 exhibitors from equipment and ingredient suppliers to service providers.  100 plus breweries provided beer donations for attendees from Alaskan Brewing to Wynkoop. Hospitality suites and sponsored demonstrations were provided by many vendors.

Many events were held outside of the conference as well.  On Thursday Lagunitas Brewing and Left Hand Brewing presented The Funktion at the Filmore while Oskar Blues sponsored a bluegrass show at the Ogden Theater. Several beer focused bars in the area also had several special events in conjunction with the conference.  I was able to get to the Falling Rock Tap House on the evening where they had 20 barrel aged beers on tap.  Another event held in conjunction with the conference was the 2014 World Beer Cup.  Beers were judged early in the week with the awards ceremony on Friday evening.  Several Colorado brewers won awards.

The Craft Brewers Conference was extremely well organized and a great deal of valuable information was shared. Next years conference will be held in Portland, OR April 14-17.

Friday, April 18, 2014

City Star Brewing in Berthoud CO

Ending our brewery tour at City Star Brewing. They have grown since last time here. Very good, they have a solid brown ale, a raspberry version that I liked, and they have a chili pale ale that doesn't burn going down.

Tap n' Handle Tap House in Ft Collins

We took the day off and headed to Ft Collins. Tap n Handle is a tap house with over 72 taps plus a shit load of bottles. Today I have a pineapple apple hard cider from Rocky Mountain Wild, it's 6% ABV with a nice sweet flavor of apple and a backend of pineapple.

Choice City Butcher and Deli, beer and lunch in Ft. Collins

Epic Blackberry Saison and a Rueben Buffalo
Burger, so decadent!
Beer and lunch at Choice City Butcher and Deli. Russ Robinson owner and beer geek has over 35 beers on tap from local breweries like New Belgium to overseas ones from Belgium breweries. Choice City is also a deli and butcher shop that has some special  beer brats and crazy sausages. We bought sausages that are made with exotic meats; rattlesnake, rabbit with habanero peppers, and chardonnay wine, wild! 
 Epic epication, a blackberry saison and Het Anker, 2012 Gouden Carolus Blue, a quad 11% ABV. The sandwich is a buffalo Reuben burger, heart attack lunch!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Firestone Walker tap takeover at Backcountry Pizza in Boulder

Wednesday of the Craft Beer Conference was a tap takeover of Firestone Walker Brewing Co rare beers at Backcountry Pizza and Tap House in Boulder. The tapping of beers was at 6pm sharp with everyone behind the hustling to make sure all the taps were working correctly, all went well and we were able to preorder while seating at the bar. 
The line up for Wednesday:
2012, 2013, 2014 Parabola
2012, 2013 Double DBA
2013 Velvet Merkin
2013, 2014 Sucaba
2013 Stickee Monkey
16th Anniversary
17th Anniversary
Lil' Mikkel
Pivo Pilsner
Union Jack and Easy Jack

I had the 2102 Parabola, a 13% ABV bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout that even at 2 years old, it was still very boozy to me. Boozy on the nose and front-end but fell out at the finish.
Jordan, bartender hustles to pour Firestone
Walker rare beers.
I really liked the 2013 Merkin, a 8.5% ABV bourbon barrel-aged oatmeal stout. It had a subtle bourbon nose but was creamy smooth in the mouth with sweet chocolate notes and a slight bourbon burn in the throat. 

I had the pleasure of meeting David Walker, co-founder of the brewery. I was surprised that he is British, I don't know why but I assume all American brewers are from here. But he is a pleasant man who was readily open to conversation. Some brewers/owners of breweries can be put off because of the onslaught of  beer fans approaching them.  I asked him why he doesn't brew in the English Style and he said that he did with their first beer, DBA.   DBA is a double barrel ale that is an English Special Bitter.
David Walker, co-founder of Firestone Walker and me.
I went searching for information about the DBA and came across some about the process of brewing this beer. It is brewed in the Burton Union system that was developed in England in 1840. Firestone Walker patented this system of that "incorporates 60-gallon heavy or medium toast American oak barrels into a brewing process that yields beers of extraordinary character and complexity."(Firestone Walker website) The wort is aged in these barrels for 6 days then transferred to stainless steel for secondary fermentation. 20% of the oaked fermented beer is then blended with beer fermented in stainless steel. Pretty impressive!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Big Choice Poblano Stout

I have had this beer at the Big Choice tap room and loved the subtle chili flavor but when I saw it in the liquor store I had to buy one. '42 Poblano Stout is only 5.7% ABV but rich in flavor. There's a pepper on the nose then a sweet malt front-end with that slight pepper burn on the throat as an afterthought. This is available locally in 4 pack cans.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Old Mine Cidery's Grand Opening

The Old Mine Cidery and Tap House has been open for a few months but March 29 marked their grand opening. Mike Yeager, owner/brewer and John Jacquet, cidery partner have a really nice place that is located in downtown Erie, Colorado.
Grand Opening Day!

Mike Yeager, owner/brewer.

March 29 was the officially grand opening of the Cidery/Tap House. On this special occasion there was four ciders on tap, Handlebar (batch 2) which is a typical hard apple cider, Funky Apple is a sweet tart unfiltered hard cider that during fermentation went wild, Fresh-hopped Handlebar cider that was dry hopped with Citra hops for a crisp and citrusy finish, Chocolate Caramel Apple, this was my favorite cider that was made with cocoa nibs and Monin caramel syrup, and the Black Lung, an imperial cider with blackberries, it was another favorite of mine with an apple front end then a blackberry finish.
Black Lung and Funky Apple hard ciders.
Chocolate Caramel Apple hard cider.

There were also plenty of beer on tap with special releases. The Bruery's Bottleworks XII (slightly sour beer that was fermented with raspberries in wine barrels for a month), and White Chocolate (White Oak based that is aged in bourbon barrels for a year then cocoa niibs and vanilla beans are added to make this beer), then Dry Dock Brewing, Bligh's Barleywine (A barleywine that was aged in bourbon barrels). Each beer was release at a specific time as to be available for everyone.
White Chocolate from The Bruery.

Food is made in-house through  Jurassic Pork, dry rubbed pork that is injected with Handlebar Hard Cider the slow cooked then made for pulled pork sandwiches and Old Mine Pizza which is a 14" pie that is thin crust and made to order.
The ciders are made on the premises from Colorado or Washington apple juice. Mike has been a homebrewer for 4 years and making hard cider for 3 years. He is trying to think outside the box with fermenting apple juice right into whiskey barrels. It will be fun seeing how this process will develope.
Mike stocks a good cellar of bottle beers  from all over the country. The bottles are comparable to other tap houses in the county.
We meet so many people at the grand opening who live in Erie and were excited about having Old Mine so close that many walked there that day.
My only negative comment was that some of the beers were expensive for the amount poured. I know that the cost of kegs of rare beers is not cheap but it can add up on your bill. But I had a great time nether the less.

Barley's Angels at Upslope Brewing Co

I have been to many women's beer events at breweries over the years and most are good but some can be lacking in ingenuity. Tuesday was one of the best woman's beer events, it was organized by Barley's Angels and hosted at Upslope Brewing in their Flatiron Rd tap room.
For those who may not know about this organization, Barley's Angels started as a vehicle for women in the business; breweries, brewpubs, tap houses, etc. I'll quote the "about us" blog section, "to  advance the female consumer craft beer enthusiast, resulting in increased patronage and revenue from women, while encouraging education and interest in beer among this often under-recognized demographic group". Barley's Angels are individual chapters that is world wide and up until a few months ago there wasn't a chapter in Colorado.
Deborah Cameron

Deborah Cameron started the Barley's Angels chapter for Denver and Boulder. She is learning every day about beer and is very enthusiastic. She organized a dessert/beer pairing at Upslope Brewing in Boulder with the help of Bethany Lovato, who is the event coordinator at Upslope. The desserts were made by Samantha Rolen and Griffen Wall pastry chefs from Boulder.
Samantha Rolen and Griffen Wall

There were four courses pairing a dessert with Upslope beers.
The first course was Belgian Style Pale Ale barrel-aged for one month with blackberries, the beer is 7.5% ABV. It was paired with a Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with blackberry reduction. I like this pairing where the blackberries in the beer added a tartness that cut the sweetness of the cheesecake. The cheesecake was made with a shortbread crust which I thought was a wonderful twist to the ordinary graham cracker crust.

Second course was with the Thai IPA that is 6.6% ABV and it was paired with a Lemon Meringue tartlet. I'm not a IPA drinker and not fond of lemongrass that is in this IPA but this Thai version complimented the lemon in the dessert quite well. The sweetness was cut by the IPA's hoppiness.

The third pairing was with the Brown Ale, at 6.7% ABV with a Gingerbread with lemon glaze. I didn't think this was a good pairing and not sure why. The gingerbread was too gingery for me and was a contrast to the Brown Ale which is most cases I would have like it but for some reason this didn't go.

The final course was with the Foreign Style Stout, it is 6.9% ABV paired with Upslope Nitro Milk stout Chocolate Cake with Bourbon Ganache. Chocolate on top of chocolate on top of beer, yippee! This was my favorite pairing, the Foreign Style Stout is a well balanced beer that complimented the chocolate cake.