Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Avery Brewing: Last Day on the Alley

Avery Brewing has been located on the alley for over 22 years and on February 9, 2015 was their last day on the alley.

They celebrated with special tappings all day and with two bands playing in the evening. We met up with a few of our friends who have been regulars since the taproom opened many years ago.  It was a sad moment for a few of us who remember drinking on the dock from a kegerator to an eight tap system with Avery beer bottle caps as tokens for free tasters to a full taproom with 20 taps. It was a long process.  I say, "Adieu"!

Patio was full when we arrived.

Barrel cellar with the band setting up
in the back.
Adam Avery pouring beers in crowded taproom.

Crowded taproom.

Avery Brewing: Soft Opening of the New Facility in Gunbarrel

We’ve have been going to the Avery Brewing since there wasn’t a taproom just a kegerator from the loading dock. I remember thinking that it must be the wrong place as we looked for the brewery in an alley.  That day we meet Peter Archer, who is no longer an employee there and Matt “Truck” Thrall who is now head brewer/production manager at Avery.  Fast forward some years and the taproom on the alley was born. But now we bid farewell to that and welcome a new era in the new Avery Brewing facility.

Valentine’s Day was the first of the soft openings of the new building with taproom and restaurant. There were four sessions (afternoon and evening) during that weekend, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. We met up on Valentine’s Day with some friends who also got a invitation to the soft opening.  

Before the designated time for dinner, we were able to have a look around the brand new brew house. One of the designs of the brewery is for self-guided tours on a catwalk above the brewhouse. They aren’t brewing there due to licensing that haven’t been approved yet and nor is the production lines, canning/bottling/kegging there, all are being done at the old facility, working hard to produce the beers we love to drink. The brewhouse felt like a brand new car, you know that smell? That’s how this brewhouse seemed to me, absent were the brewing smells, and noise of the constant influx of people and machinery.

There's a large gift shop on the second floor outside the restaurant entrance. And you can pick up six-pack in the cooler.

This Valentine’s Day session was from 6-10pm and there weren’t reservation for a certain time.  They were seating people either in the restaurant upstairs or the tap room which is on ground level.  One thing we noticed was that the influx of patrons at one time, made it difficult for the kitchen staff to bring food out in a more timely manner. Some of the entrees were cold but this is the reason for soft openings.
Bar at the back of
the restaurant.

For starters we were given a small taster of a sour ale,  Karma Sutra, a Belgian Pale Ale with hibiscus and rose. It was a great aperitif to get our appetites going.

The menu was arranged with the assumption that the parties would be multiples of 2X, the appetizers and dessert were for sharing but the entree was a single serving. Beers were flowing throughout the night. Avery Brewing has a total of 90 taps; 30 taps in the main level tap room, 30 taps at the growler station, and 30 taps in the upstairs restaurant.  The growler station wasn’t finished on Valentine’s Day.  That night, there were an impressive line up of beers to choose from a low alcohol, IPA to a over the top beer, Tweak . We sat with 7 of our friends, the hostess was very accommodating putting tables together for us. We outlasted most the people who were seated in the restaurant at the same time as us.

For an appetizer, we ordered the charcuterie plate with cheese.  We were able to taste the other selections that our friends ordered.  All was very good, thumbs up on that course.

With this being a soft opening and with no cost to us, we all seemed on the same page and picked higher end entrees.  A few had the 12 ounce New York strip, some had the 14 ounce Smoked Prime Rib, and the vegetarian in the group ordered the Cherie, a roasted vegetable plate.  As I mentioned before, there were some problems due to the amount of people ordering at one time so some of our entrees weren’t as hot as was liked or our orders weren’t served at the same time.  But all in all, another thumbs up.
Smoked Prime Rib.
N Y Strip Steak.

Dessert was an all around thumbs up with only slight complaints. The Dark Cherry Cobbler needed more cobbler (pastry) which was made with Salvation Belgian Style Golden Ale and the Rumpkin Bread Pudding needed a nice Rumpkin sauce to be poured over the pudding, this as indicated was made with the rum barrel-aged pumpkin ale. The Chocolate Fudge Brownie was a hit with no complaints.
Rumpkin Bread Pudding.

Valentine’s Day was a wonderful time with friends, good food, and great beer. 


Adam Avery even stopped by to thank us for coming.  Many of the staff at Avery Brewing were there with their families and friends.

I will wait a few weeks before heading there again, the volume of people visiting the new place should be toned down by them, I hope.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Diebolt Brewing and Savory Spice Shop Education: What spices means to beer.

Barley's Angels has done it again with a new interesting idea to introduce women to beer. January 28, a Wednesday night was at Diebolt Brewing in Denver with Stephanie Bullen from Savory Spice Shop.
Diebolt Brewing Taproom.

Dan Diebolt, founder of Diebolt Brewing was on hand to introduce the beers with a little synapses of the character profiles.
Dan Diebolt

Deborah Cameron,was there representing Barley's Angels in Colorado.  She gave an overview of what's in store for Barley's Angels in 2015 then handed the floor to Stephanie Bullen.

Stephanie Bullen was there to educate us about spices. She works for a local business, Savory Spice Shop. Stephanie brought some of her favorite spices and on each table was a sample plate for she encourage us to smell and taste each spice.  We also got a free sample to take home of the spices she was presenting, I got the baker's brew coffee spice. As she explained the spices I tasted some of them which is a good way to learn about spices.
Stephanie Bullen

This wasn't a beer pairing dinner, more a beer and spice education but we each had a large soft pretzel that we munched on during the beer courses.

First beer was the Saison Viola, a 6.1% ABV traditonal style Saison which I believe brewed with champagne yeast. I liked the flavor of this beer and the fizzy carbonation of a champagne.

Anton Francois French Ale was the second taster. Light with fruity aroma, this was another one I liked.

The third taster was the Figgy Blackfoot, Ex:Pat Algerian biere de garde, is a 7.0% ABV reddish ale with fig concentrate and Algerian allpice and curry. I really liked the flavors of this beer.

Brown Ale was the last taster and it is brewed in the American style. It was my least favorite of the four.

Dan Diebolt fielded questions from the audience and then gave us a brewery tour. Diebolt brews on a 15-barrel system with a few oaked barrels aging with their fine beers.

I was very impressed with their beers and will be going there again.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Gypsy brewing: Interview with Marie Fox of Gunbarrel Brewing Co

I recently found out about, gypsy brewing that is becoming a trend among young brewers who don't have a place to showcase their wares.  I sat down with Marie Fox, who is co-founder of Gunbarrel Brewing Co at Ozo's coffee shop in Boulder. You can find Gunbarrel Brewing on social media but there isn't a physical building yet. They gypsy brew in Grandma's House in Denver, a "collective brewery" where other aspiring brewers are on tap. Despite the noise of the coffee shop, Marie gave an in depth interview about their (her and Jamie, husband) life history with beer.

What is your background and how does that transition into brewing your own beer?

Well I would say that beer has kind of been there for both of us. We've been a couple for many years and through most of Jamie's home brewing experience. Jamie has been brewing for 15 years now and it has always been part of our world. Jamie just finished his post doctrine at CU Boulder and was looking to see the next steps for him. Over a conversation and a beer, we came up with this idea.

So what was his post doc in?
 [I kinda of chuckled at that!, to me that's different from brewing].

Marie: He has a PhD in experimental psychology and then went on to do his post doc in Neuroscience. So while they are different, they are quite actually the same. There is quite a science in brewing as well. so all of those things he learned through out the years, like setting up experiments and running them correctly, the science world speaks to the brewing world. We were quite surprised how many brewers have a science background.

[I was amazed by that myself.]

So what made you decide to actually start a brewery instead of getting a job as a brewer somewhere?

Well I have a very entrepreneur spirit and have owned several companies myself. And I come from a marketing, hospitality background. We saw some new breweries opening in the area and we thought to ourselves, "hey we can do this". We been sharing our home brew with family and friends for years and years with many of them saying that we should open a brewery or we should sell this (home brew) or how can they get more. And we always said that we have our jobs and our lives but then this small window opened up which gave us an opportunity and we said "we're going to take it!"

So you're "gypsy brewing right now?
Yes we are. We are currently brewing at Grandma's House in Denver. It's a really neat brewery that I'd love it if you would come to our opening.  So we'll have are first tapping ever this Saturday (Jan 24) and then we have subsequent tappings coming up in February.  We have three weekends in February lined up right now so our beer will very much  available to the public.

What kind of beers are you going to brew?
We like to show our versatility so each of the tappings are going to be 2 beers. The first beer is a Gosa, which is a German tart salt beer, we really enjoy this style ourselves and the other is a rosemary pale ale which is one of our signature pale ale recipe that we have brewed for many years and dry hopped with rosemary.

To get back to Gypsy Brewing, how did you get in contact with Grandma's House?
I had heard about them just through the media when they first opened in October 2014, there was a buzz about them at the time. I knew they would be opening as a collective brewery, and were looking for brewers like ourselves who might be interesting coming and brewing on their system and selling the beers on their tap line in their taproom. It gave us an opportunity without a taproom of our own to get our beers out to the public. I just gave them a call.

So your brewery is called Gunbarrel Brewing, have you found a place in Gunbarrel to set up your brewery?
We have not but we actually live in Gunbarrel. The name was a really good fit for us, Jamie is a hunter and it spoke to the literal meaning of the name and also the location. We don't know where we will be because we are really specific about what we're looking for in the space.  We would like ti to be in Boulder County.

So that's in the near future and you'll just be brewing at Grandma's House?
Or another brewery but for now we don't a specific time line. We have been looking for a space since last March (2014), but we want to take our time to find the right space. There isn't a ton of real estate in Boulder County right now so we're not in a hurry.

There are a few breweries in Gunbarrel?
Yes, Finkel and Garf, Asher Brewing, and Avery Brewing will be there soon.

How long have you lived here in the Boulder area?
We've been here for 5 years and we come from Vermont. A lot of our beer style chooses and preferences come from that Vermont influence which lately has been talked about having it's own "terroir" of beer that you can't find in the rest of the country.  Some big names in Vermont brewing are the Alchemist, makes Heady Topper that colossus IPA and Hill Farmstead Brewery. They have there own palate so is a little different. We tend to brew, especially the pale ale or IPA, in the Vermont direction.

So is that part of your niche, having the Vermont background?
No, we just take that with us in our thinking and in the way we present ourselves as a company. And in the way we choose our styles to brew.

We talked about the collective brewing at Grandma's House that at any one time there will be a beer on tap from the other companies. They feel triumphnat about getting their beers out to the public, Marie and Jamie have been working actively on their brewery for a year now.
I mentioned if Gunbarrel brewing would be interested having an event with Barley's Angels and she said they were working on an event with Denver's Girls Pints Out in March.
I ask all my interviews, if Colorado has reach a brewery saturation point
with specifics to the Boulder/Denver area. She didn't feel there was a saturation with the new neighborhood breweries opening up that is serving their local area.  It's like saying there's too many restaurants, everyone has a different palate. They are thinking about definitely canning or bottling in the future. Marie mentioned that at first they will probably self distribute their beers.
I enjoyed talking to Marie and hope to be able to taste Gunbarrel Brewing's beer at Grandma's House soon.