Monday, August 11, 2014

VIP Tour of AC Golden Brewing inside Coors Brewing Tour

I have never been to Coors Brewery before since I'm not a fan of their beers but recently through Barley's Angels I had to opportunity to check it out. First I must say they have a very strick guidelines for the tour, no purses, backpacks, but wallets and cameras were permitted. The VIP tour of AC Golden rules included long pants and closed toed shoes.

Ben Kanutson, the Sour Program Brewmaster.
AC Golden brewery is hidden within the bowels of Coors. They are a much smaller operation in comparison to Coors Brewing. Coors Brewing is a labrynth of hallways and stairs that I would have gotten myself lost if given the chance. The AC Golden tour was given by the sour ale brewer, Ben Kanutson. We were outfitted with a hard hat, safety glasses, and steel toed slip-ons, we looked so cute (sarcasm). Ben then took us on our first stop, the old employee taproom. It used to be where the employees drank their free share of Coors beer. The taproom was lined on one side of old Coors beer bottles and can. The wooden bar was reminisent of an old neighborhood bar from years past with Coors memoribilia hanging on the wall and back shelves. Ben had three sour ales on tap there.

The first pour was of a 2012 Peach Peche, a 5% ABV lager that was aged in French oak wine barrels for 10-13 months.

Then next was a Berliner Weisse that was 4% ABV. This beer is 50% wheat and 50% pale malt and aged in stainless steel barrels. This beer was infected with brettanomycess and pediococus bacteria that gives it that wonderful sour flavor.
2012 Peach Peche, barrel-aged lager.
The last beer was a Burgundy Sour Brown Ale that was 5.5% ABV. This beer was aged in bourbon barrels. There was a nice sweet tart chocolate frontend.
Berliner Weiss and Burgundy Sour Brown ale.
While we were tasting the sour ales, Ben was giving us the history behind the Hidden Barrel Collection at AC Golden. It seems that this is a relatively new addition to the brewery, it's about 3 1/2 years old and started with his predecessor, Troy Casey who wanted to have a sour ale program but the Heads of Coors said NO!  Casey's bosses didn't want those live bacteria infecting their beers, so he hid a barrel in a small utility room or something like that and when that beer turned out well, Troy Casey bought some more barrels. Finally he had to tell the higher ups what was going on and by then they became interested in his barrel-aging beers.
Sour ales are very popular now, just check how fast Avery Brewing's Sour Ale fest tickets sellout. AC Golden is on a 30 barrel system where they brew 3-4 times a week with 12 60-barrel fermenters and 3 90-barrel bright tanks.  Right now AC Golden has around 100 barrels aging with some really good sour ales. I have to admit I was a naysayer at first when hearing about AC Golden but after tasting their sour ales, I'm a believer!

We got to drink straight from the
bright tanks of a cherry ale that was
barrel-aged. It was really tasty!

The next part of the tour was with a tour guide, Derrick.  We were taken through the process of brewing at Coors. It's almost a self-contained system, from bringing in the grains through trains running between the building to the germination of the barley to toasting the barley in a kiln to milling the grain where it's transported to the wort tanks then to the fermenting tanks, to second fermentation for lager to finally the giant bottling line. It's a huge brewing system and the building are in modular blocks that can be moved. I was impressed with the whole concept if not of the beer. We were taken to the VIP room and given two samples of beer, one was AC Golden Herman Joseph IPL and Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat which was the one I liked out of the two.
Free samples of beer.
Germination tanks.
Roasting barley.

AC Golden IPL and Leinenkugel's Sunset
Wheat Ale.

My impression was the AC Golden has a good sour ale product and that the Coors Brewing faciltiy was huge. I think that everyone should take the tour for a difference of perspective.