Friday, March 20, 2015

Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference 2015

Beer Bloggers Conference

The Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference 2015 is in Asheville North Carolina and Brussels Belgium.  I will be attending this year after a marvelous time I had in San Diego for the 2014 conference. I convince my husband to start a blog, so now he's going too.

The conference is for beer bloggers (writers) and beerf industry people.  It's a fun and educational way of meeting other writers in a beer scene.  Last year in San Diego, I have to admit was incredible.  I drank beer that are exclusive to California so I was a newbie wide-eyed in a wonder.  Another reason for going was to meet other beer bloggers and to attend the seminars.  I learned a lot about stepping up my blogging game.

This year the America BBWC is in Asheville which is a city that has come up as a beer town. With Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues, and New Belguim, North Carolina is a beer travel destination.  Not that it wasn't before these giants built breweries there, it just gives it legitimacy or not.  I haven't drank any beer from NC and I'm excited to that the conference is there.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

New Breweries that Can and Bottle too soon

I have noticed with the influx of new breweries popping up lately, how many want to get a fast return on their investment with bottling and canning their beers right away.

I have talked to many sources and what I've learned is that the saturation point is all ready here but not where you think. It's saturated in the liquor stores with a limited amount of space availability in the cooler doors. Many of these breweries are starting out with state of the art equipment which means finance loans that have to paid.  Sam Scruby, head-brewer at Upslope Brewing commented that the neighborhood breweries was a way around that cooler door limitation.

I asked an acquaintance who is opening a brewery, Jesse Brookstein about what were their plans and he said that Call To Arms Brewing will be a neighborhood place for locals to hangout. He also commented that if they do bottle or can, it was likely that they would sell them on site not distribute.  Jamie Wells, of J Wells brewing hand bottles bombers than self distributes as a way to get customers into his taproom. Which for him was a smart move, since his brewery is in an industrial park not close to a neighborhood in Boulder. Front Range Brewing in Lafayette bottles speciality beers quarterly and sells them on premises. They also self distribute to a some liquor stores as J Wells Brewing does in Boulder, for the same reason to get their name out.

I'm not saying that a brewery can't sell their beers for distribution, I'm saying maybe wait until your beers are the best. What I mean is, craft that beer to be able to compete with what's all ready on the shelves.  I have drank some really okay beers that I wouldn't buy to take home. Some breweries hit it on the mark really fast like Niwot's Bootstrap Brewing with their Insane Rush IPA, the local liquor stores can't keep them on the shelves for long. 

I think that there are some people in the brewing industry that are in it for the future prospect of financial gain but those who are up on top got there with a great product like Adam Avery founder of Avery Brewing.  Like others, he started when the industry was in it's infancy but it took him over 20 years to finally build a state of the art brewing facility.  The industry has grown up since then and the beers out there are fabulously crafted, it's a different industry now with that influx of breweries selling their beers for distribution.

If you're going to distribute, the beer had better be killer because this is becoming a very competitive business.  Craft beer drinkers are getting more knowledgeable everyday that putting mediocre beer on the shelves will give a new brewery a bad name and word of mouth spreads fast.

These are of course one person's opinion, so please take it so.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Kokopelli Beer Brewery in Westminster Colorado

We are always looking for a new brewery to visit and in January we stopped by Kokopelli Beer Brewery on the weekend which happened to be their 1st Anniversary.  Kokopelli is named after the fertility god who presides over childbirth and agriculture so the logo for the brewery represents the owners twin daughters and the two ways of enbridating at the taproom with a bottle or mug. 

Kokopelli Beer Brewery is owned by a sole woman, Christine Wares who has been a homebrewer for many years. She homebrewed with current head brewer Rick Holt and assistant brewer Casey but Christine eaves that job to them now. Christine is busy running the day to day business of the brewpub. Kokopelli Beer Brewery is also a restaurant with a menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and pizza.  Kokopelli Beer Brewery in located in a small strip mall in Westminster which is 30 minutes from Boulder and 25 minutes from Denver.
Brewers, Casey and Rick
Christine Ware, founder of Kokopelli
Brewing Co.

We arrived early not realizing it was their 1st Anniversary party which they celebrated all weekend. The place wasn’t crowded so we were able to get a seat at the bar. I was overwhelmed with how many of their beers were on tap plus the special tappings for the anniversary party.  Did I mention that they are only a year old? They had 17 beers on tap that includes their house ales and the rotating beers. They also have a totally gluten free beer. For the anniversary party they also had 7 special tappings which is what got as a taster set.

Taster set.

Of the 7 beers, I liked the White IPA at 6.9% ABV, it was had a nice fruity flavor with just a slight bitter finish. And you know, I don't drink IPA's often if not at all. The Oatmeal Stout, was sweet and a solid beer of that style and only 5.8%ABV. The beer that I really enjoyed was the Coffee Moose Kiss, a 5.3% ABV chocolate raspberry stout infused with coffee beans. 

Coffee Moose Kiss.

Larry’s favorite was the double IPA, a whooping 9.0% ABV. He said it has a nice grapefruit head and flavor that he likes. The brewer, Rick Holt, said it was made with 100% Simcoe hops.

We ordered the large warm pretzel with the spicy beer cheese dip and mustard, it was really good.

I really was impressed with this small brew pub’s beer and the service was pretty good too considering it was their 1st anniversary. When we left, the taproom was getting busier.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Elevation Brewing pair up with Alfalfa Market in Boulder

Barley's Angels Colorado had another outstanding event with Elevation Brewing at Alfalfa Market in Boulder. It was a snowy night and more women then I thought who braved the weather for a beer pairing. I assumed the beer pairing was in the market but ended up being in the back offices in a community room.
Community room at Alfalfa Market.

 Megan Braid, Elevation Brewing sales representative was on hand to talk about the beers while Deborah Cameron, founder of the Barley's Angels Colorado chapter served us the food that was being paired with the beers. She brought her own glassware for everyone, little taster snifters. I ended up with the smallest glass, boohoo :(

Deborah Cameron announcing
future Barley Angels events.
Megan Braid.

First course was a Peruvian quinoa salad that had black beans, corn, and bell pepper that was paired with Elevation blue series First Cast IPA ale, 6.5% ABV, with the slight bitterness on the finish surprisingly went well with the salad.  You know me, not an IPA fan but this one was rather palatable.

Took this before the IPA was poured,
then forgot to take another picture.

The next course was for the next two beers, a cheese and meat plate which consisted of a French blue cheese, a goat Gouda cheese, and a spicy salami. The first beer was a 6.2% ABV  Porter, the Little Mo'.  With it's coffee nose and solid porter flavor, it paired well with the salami and with the Gouda.

Apis IV, a 10.7% ABV Belgian Quad also went well with the cheese and meat plate especially the blue cheese which was changed by the sweet flavor of the beer. The Apis IV is brewed with Colorado honey in the boil.

The dessert pairing was with SeƱorita Horchata Imperial Porter which is brewed with Madagascar vanilla and cinnamon. This 8.4% ABV porter cut the sweetness of the coconut and chocolate from the German Chocolate cupcake.  The cupcake was rather dry so the porter helped much.

It was a nice food and beer pairing even with the snowy weather outside.

Handcrafted 1909 fluid & fare in downtown Temecula

I was in Temecula for a sad affair during the weekend but on Sunday decided with it being such a nice day to look for a liquor store I had frequent before to bring beer back with me the following Monday.  I was with my sister, Dana and cousin, Dot who drove us to downtown Temecula.
With my iPhone in hand as to reference the building number, we walked downtown looking for the elusive liquor store, when we can across this grey/black building with only a number for a name, 1909.  The building has a long history including being a tough bar in the 1970's where bullet holes can still be seen in the ceiling.

1909 has 24 taps of local and regional California craft beers. There was a wide range of beer styles for everyone, Belgian style, IPA's, Hefeweizens, Stouts/Porters, and more. The one page food menu has the usual sandwiches, burgers, salads, starters, and larger entrees.  They also have a brunch menu on Saturday and Sunday.

I couldn't resist and ordered a Belching Beaver Peanut Butter stout at 5.3% ABV, which was a nice starter. It was as good as I remembered from the Beer Bloggers Conference last August. My next selection was a beer I've never had before from a brewery I never knew about, Hangar 24 chocolate Porter, 8.0% ABV and it was pretty good.

We also ordered some small plates to share, the Bavarian style pretzel with mustard was good but the shrimp and chorizo sausage in a white sauce was too spicy. Oh well, I will not order that if I ever go back to 1909 again.

It's always a surprise when you stumble upon a quality craft beer tap house.  I wasn't expecting it to be up to the standards that is in Colorado.  I know, kind of snobbish of me but you get spoiled.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Taste of Barleywine Month at the Falling Rock Tap House in Denver

February I got a taste of the legendary Barleywine Month at the Falling Rock Tap House with the help of Barley's Angels Colorado.  This event was pairing barleywines with cheese. Chris Black, co-owner of the Falling Rock Tap House was on hand through out the evening pouring the barleywines and giving us his knowledge on beer. Michael Wray of Metro State University of Denver was there also to talk about the beverage program.
Chris Black outside for a Pliny the
Younger event.

Chris gave us a treat with a vertical tasting of each barleywine. I learned that the first barleywine produced by Anchor Steam brewery in 1976, Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale (Wikipedia) was subject to TTB approval for labeling as all breweries who sell bottles/can beer.  In England, it's spelt as two words but it confused the agency, "is it a beer or a wine?".  So that's how "barleywine" came to be.

The evening started off with Michael Wray talking to us about the beverage programs at Metro State University in Denver.  The program has been around for 14 years. The beer courses included brewing in their state of the art lab and cicerone certificate program.  The course were originally geared with wine making but with the beer popularity the college now includes the latter.  It's not very expensive so it intrigued me to think about taking some classes.

Michael Wray, Professor at
Metro State University Denver.
Hogshead, Window Licker

Chris Black, co-owner of
the Falling Rock Tap House.
Chris Black poured our beers while telling us about each. The first course was a vertical of a local Denver brewery, Hogshead Brewing which is located in the Highlands district. This Window Licker Barleywine, at 9.6% ABV is aged for 6 months before it's release.  Chris picked this brewery because their beers are in the English style, more malts less hop forward beers.   Barleywines can be 8 to 12% ABV, so a little goes a long way when there's a vertical.

This round was with a vertical of three years, 2014, 2013, and 2012. My favorite was the 2013, which was very smooth and not as boozy as the 2014. The 2012 was just a little too bitter for me. This was paired with 3 year old Manchego cheese topped with fig jam.  Manchego cheeses in Spain are usually paired with Sherry so it stands to reason that it paired well with the barleywine.

Second course was the Alaskan Brewing Barleywine, 10.7% ABV. This was a two year vertical that spanned two years, 2014 and 2012.  The Alaskan Barleywine is more hoppy then the Hogshead, it's brewed with muliple hops in the boil then dry hopped in fermentation which leaves a contrasting flavor with the malts. I liked the 2012 more because of it being less bitter and more sweeter than the 2014. This was paired with Humboldt Fog, a goat cheese with an edible white ash layer. This pairing was also very good.

Last course was a two year vertical from Great Divide Brewing Old Ruffian, 10.2% ABV.  Chris poured a 2014 and 2013.  I liked the 2013 for it's smoothness and sweet taste with a mild hop aroma. This pairing had the most hoppiness of all the barleywines.  The cheese paired for this course was the Huntsman, a combination of two classic English cheeses; Double Glouchester cheese which is firm and tangy and sandwiched in between is Stilton Blue Cheese which has a heavy strong flavor.  I usually don't like blue cheese but this pairing went well.

Before the night was over, Chris Black sat down with us women and answered questions we directed at him. Now, I have known Chris as an acquaintance, with frequenting the Rock and seeing him at beer events for over 10 years so I learned more that night then any other time.

I apologize for not having pictures with the cheeses, we where seating in a room in the basement of the Falling Rock that is for leisure seating with just a coffee table. It was a juggling act when tasting the verticals at one time.

Deborah Cameron talking to us about
up coming events in the basement

Thank you Chris Black, Michael Wray, and Deborah Cameron for creating such a wonderful beer event.