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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Lowry Beer Garden: 16 craft beers on tap + the biggest pretzel you’ve ever seen

Lowry Beer Garden (7577 E. Academy Boulevard, Denver) officially opens tomorrow, May 23rd, but last night I had the pleasure of attending a “special preview opening,” and it was a great time.

Upon first hearing about this place, my initial thought was, “Where the hell is Lowry?” Living downtown, I tend to frequent establishments that are more in the Central Denver area.  But I had to check out the “first beer garden” in Denver and, once I saw a picture of their giant pretzel, I was sold.

Lowry Beer Garden has 16 craft beers on tap, on a rotating basis.  I was thrilled to see Avery’s Maharaja and Odell’s Myrcenary, both of which are served in a full pint.  At 10.3 and 9.3% ABV, respectively, those are not for the lightweight drinker.  After a couple pints I decided it was probably in my best interest to soak up a little of that alcohol with one of their GIANT pretzels.  Served in a pizza box, this thing serves numerous people.  Four of us split it, and there was some leftover.  I was too busy devouring it to bother taking a picture, until later after we did a significant amount of damage to it.  It’s good stuff, and they have a bunch of tasty sauces to go with it.  It came with a jalapeno cheese sauce, but they also have a condiment stand for your dipping pleasure.  We tried all the mustards: blueberry, honey, and apricot.

In addition to the 16 beers on tap, they offer around 30 different bottled beers, plus a full bar.  Here’s their current tap list:

  • Avery IPA, Karma, Maharaja & White Rascal
  • Breckenridge Avalanche
  • Copper Kettle Bavarian Helles
  • Dales Pale Ale
  • Deschutes Mirror Pond
  • Left Hand Milk Stout
  • Odell Myrceary, 90 Shilling, St. Lupulin & Easy Street
  • Paulaner Hefe
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Spaten

Lowry Beer Garden is extremely spacious, with enough picnic tables to seat over 300 people.  Also, you get the choice of sitting in the sun or under a pavillion, which is very nice (and will be helpful on those rainy days).  I think this place is going to do very well, and I look forward to keeping up with their ever-changing tap list.  If you like drinking beer outside and eating giant pretzels (yes, they do offer other food too), go here.

Did You Get Wood on Friday Night?!

Friday night at Star Bar was their Wood & Barrel Aged Beer Party, yet another great event for American Craft Beer Week.  What am amazing lineup of beers:

  • Great Divide 18th Anniversary Ale
  • Great Divide Belgian Yeti – Aged in Leopold Brothers American Small Batch Whiskey Barrel
  • Oskar Blues G’Knight – Aged in Leopold Brothers New York Apple Whiskey Barrel
  • New Belgium Tart Lychee
  • New Belgium Vrienden
  • Crooked Stave – Petite Sour
  • Odell Shenanigans
  • Odell Saboteur
  • Fort Collins Brewery – Oak Aged Maibock
  • Boulevard – Rye on Rye
  • Firestone Walker – Parabola
  • Dogfish Head – Noble Rot
  • Dogfish Head – Black and Blue

I tried three of the above, and there was one clear standout:  Oskar Blues G’Knight aged in Leopold Bros. New York Apple Whiskey Barrels (pictured below, on right). That was one of the best beers I’ve had in a long time.  And I drink lots of beers.  I need to have year-round access to that one…I’m getting thirsty just thinking about it.

I also had Odell Shenanigans, an Oak Aged Crimson Ale.  It was alright, but nothing special in my opinion.  And Firestone Walker‘s Parabola, a Russian Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout (pictured above, on left)t.  One of my favorite beers is Firestone Walker’s Double Jack IPA. And, like the Double Jack, the Parabola was big on flavor.  I count myself lucky to have tried it, as it seems to have very limited availability.

If you are a lover of wood and barrel aged beers, this was the event for you.  Did you get wood?  I did, and I sure enjoyed it.

The Mysterious & Elusive Yeti

You’ve probably heard about the Yeti.  It’s been called one of the greatest mysteries of our time.  Many have tried for years to prove whether it’s real or not.  Well, I’m here to tell you today: the Yeti is real, folks.  I have seen it, smelled it, tasted it.  Just two days ago, in fact, I touched the Yeti.  And to prove it to you all today, I even snapped a photo of the Yeti.  Now, some of you might doubt this photo is real, but I can assure you this is no fake.  And it’s no ordinary Yeti, either.  This is the Limited Reserve Maker’s Mark Yeti.  Only two kegs of it were ever produced in the entire world.  And I was one of the lucky ones who got to experience it.

Great Divide Brewing Co., with the help of West End Tavern in Boulder, concocted this rare and limited beer especially for American Craft Beer Week.  I’ve had the Yeti, Oak Aged Yeti, Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, and Espresso Oak Aged Yeti–all of which are amazing.  But the Maker’s Mark barrel aged yeti tops them all.  Not only am I a big Yeti fan, I’m also a lover of barrel aged beers.  So this beer combined two of my favorite things ever.  And it blew me away.  Unfortunately it’s so rare I was only allowed a 3 ounce sample, but it’s a sample I’ll never forget.  Strong bourbon flavor penetrated every taste bud–just the way I like it.  I’m not sure what else to say about this brew.  It pretty much left me speechless.  So I’ll end here by proving that I, Colorado Beer Girl, had a real, true, undeniable Yeti encounter.  And I’ll never be the same.

Star Bar’s Beer Cocktail Melee

Tuesday night at Star Bar was the Beer Cocktail Melee, an event for American Craft Beer Week.  I had been curious about beer cocktails for a few months, yet I hadn’t had the opportunity to try one.  When I heard about this, there was no way I was going to miss it.  First, all the cocktails were made with Great Divide beers, so that was incentive number one.  If I were going to introduce someone to beer, I’d recommend a sampler, so the fact that I could try a number of different beer cocktails for one flat fee was reason #2 that I was excited for this event.

The first one I tried was called Boca Loca Jungle Bird Shandy, by Matty Durgin.  This was a refreshing, fruity cocktail made with Boca Loca Cachaca (a Brazilian rum), Aperol, pineapple juice, bitters, and Colette Farmhouse Ale.  Normally I’m not a fan of Colette, but I learned that–in a cocktail–I can actually drink a beer I don’t usually like. I was pleased to come to this realization upon the first drink of my first beer cocktail. This was a fairly light, tasty drink that is perfect for those hot summer months.

I stopped next at the table of Joshua Peter-Smith for a Yeti Snapshot.  When I saw the Yeti, I knew it was going to be good.  Joshua started with about 1/4 of an orange which he proceeded to squeeze right into the glass–now that’s some freshly squeezed orange juice.  Also Leopold Bros. Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur (I love Leopold’s!), SNAP Gingersnap Liqueur,  Angostura bitters, and Yeti.  Shake vigorously–and this man can shake, I tell you.  Served over crushed ice, garnished with fresh orange and ginger. This one was creamy and somewhat rich, yet the gingersnap liqueur and fresh ginger offset it and provided a clean, crisp feeling.  This ended up being my favorite drink of the night (pictured below).

While the Yeti Snapshot was my favorite actual drink, the next drink had the most creative name.  Created by Glenn Pollak, the Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen was one of his “mustache series” beer cocktails, in honor of those with fabulous mustaches.  If the name sounds a bit familiar, think Back to the Future III.   The Mad Dog had me a little intimidated, as the first ingredient I heard was “egg.”  Not too sure about that.  But it depends on what else is in it: Leopold Bros. American Small Batch Whiskey and their Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur, Angostura bitters, nutmeg syrup, and Yeti. Interesting.  Very interesting.  I was given only a small taste, as it was leftover from the “photo shoot” that had taken place just before the event (FYI: if you want some great pictures of the beer cocktails, go to Eater Denver.  Those people get paid to take photos and write articles, and they got to snap shots of the drinks in actual glass glasses, complete with beautiful garnish and all, while the rest of us poor saps got stuck with low lighting and plastic cups).  But a small sample ended up being just right for this particular drink.  I can’t stomach too much of a cocktail containing raw egg. There’s just something about the thought of it that kinda creeps me out.

Moving on, I tried the Sweet Lady Country Cocktail by Justin Lloyd.  This one was made with Peach Street Colorado Straight Bourbon, Aperol, muddled mint sugar, Colette, and garnished with fresh mint.  Like the Jungle Bird, this one would be an excellent summer cocktail as well.  It was somewhat spicy, and I tasted just a hint of cinnamon (see other not-so-great-picture below, though I did take this one outside for a bit of natural light).  I’m not a big fan of mint drinks, so I didn’t love it, but it was something different at least.

Walking by Ryan Conklin’s table I noticed Great Divide’s Claymore Scottish Ale and had him whip me up a Chai Scotsman.  This drink was made with Benedictine Liqueur, Leopold Bros. Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur (which reminded me of Chartreuse), Dancing Pines Bourbon Whiskey, a nutmeg-cinnamon syrup, Calymore Scottish Ale, garnished with lemon.  This was definitely the strongest drink I had.  The Bourbon was the most noticeable flavor, and I did not need much of it to get its full effect.

And now for something completely different.  Britt Henze, the only female bartender in attendance, had something called the Texas Hops Em.  This was one spicy drink, made with Thai chili, house-made orange/basil/jalapeno tequila, muddled orange, Domaine de Canton (ginger liqueur), Hercules Double IPA, served over cubed ice and garnished with fresh orange.  I love Hercules, but interestingly enough this drink reminded me more of a bloody mary than anything else.  That would be fine if I liked bloody marys, but I do not.  However, this would be a great drink for those who do, and especially for those who like them hot and spicy.

Just when I thought I’d had all I could handle, I noticed some bottles of Titan IPA at Ryan Conklin’s table.  Titan is one of my staple beers, so of course I had to try a cocktail made with it.  While there was nothing “on the menu” that included Titan, I asked Ryan to come up with something for me.  His combination was quite interesting: Campari, Leopold Bros. American Orange Liqueur, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, and Titan, garnished with fresh cucumber.  I’ve never tasted anything like it.  I have very little experience with vermouth as it is, so the flavor of this cocktail was unique and impressive.

I still had drink tickets left to use, but after all of that, I was done.  For one, I had to work in the morning.  And I’d had just about all I could take after 2.5 hours of horrible, repetitive classic rock blaring at a ridiculous volume out of the speakers (and was about to go broke playing my own tunes from the juke box at 50 cents a song so as to not go insane from their Pandora station).  I am so happy I attended the event though, as it was the perfect introduction to a wide variety of beer cocktails.  Now that I’ve experienced several different beer cocktails, I have come to the conclusion that I am not a fan.  While it’s an innovative idea and something fun to play around with, I’ll stick to beer.  And cocktails.  But not beer cocktails.  Now I know.  And knowing’s half the battle.

American Craft Beer Week!

Happy American Craft Beer Week to All!

Honestly, every day is craft beer day for me.  However, it’s great that there are so many fun events happening all across the nation this week.  I actually kicked off the week yesterday by having happy hour on my own balcony with Great Divide’s Titan IPA and Ska’s Modus Hoperandi, two of my favorite Colorado IPA’s.  I paired the beers with a strong, sharp Cheddar cheese, spicy feta, bread, and olives.  What a nice way to relax after a day at work.

Tonight I look forward to heading over to an excellent neighborhood watering hole, Star Bar, for their Beer Cocktail Melee.  $25 for twelve–that’s right–twelve different beer cocktails.  This event sounds perfect for me, someone who’s not so sure about this whole beer cocktail craze.  I will get my first taste of a bunch of Colorado beers mixed with local spirits concocted by 6 Colorado bartenders.  I’m quite excited and look forward to letting you know how it goes. 

The 1 Up: Great games, fun times, & craft beer!

The 1 Up bar & video game arcade in Denver has been open for a little over a year.  It’s such a fun time, and lots of people know it.  Located a block away from Coors Field, it is packed on game days and has an impressive line of folks waiting to get in on any given Friday or Saturday night.  (In fact, it must be doing quite well as they are set to open a second location, The 2 Up, on Colfax in June.)  It’s located just next door to Falling Rock Tap House, which has the most extensive tap wall in the city.  So if you’re looking for a great beer, hit up Falling Rock and then go down to The 1 Up for some games.  But wait…do you really need to go to Falling Rock first?  Well, if you want to choose from 75+ taps, then yes–you need to go to Falling Rock.  But if 15 taps is enough for you, The 1 Up is the place to go.

About a dozen of the draft beers at The 1 Up are actually Colorado microbrews, which may (or may not) come as a surprise to many.  They also have the standard “regulars” such as Bud Light, etc. , but having 12 craft beers from which to choose isn’t something I would normally expect from an arcade bar.  Though some beers are available on a rotating basis, here is a list of their current offerings:

  • Great Divide’s Colette
  • Bull & Bush’s Man Beer IPA
  • Left Hand’s Nitro Milk Stout
  • Dale’s Pale Ale
  • Ska’s Pinstripe Red
  • Bristol Brewing’s Laughing Lab Scottish Ale
  • Bristol Brewing’s Nitro IPA
  • Bristol Brewing’s Mass Transit Ale
  • Dry Dock Blonde

They also have a full bar, so whatever you’re in the mood for, The 1 Up can make it happen.  Stop in today and check it out!

Austin: 5 days, 20 different craft beers

I just returned from Austin where I spent 5 days packed full of music, friends, family, good food and, of course, great beer.

I made this trip specifically for a 3-day music festival–Austin Psych Fest– featuring over 60 bands, some of which are my favorites.  Plus I have young nieces I intended to visit.  So I had just under 5 days to squeeze in family, 60 potential bands, and a long list of places to go to with friends for Texas craft beer.  I knew it was going to be tough, but I was determined to find time to imbibe in some local libations.  And fortunately I had the perfect crew with which to do so.  Between the 5 of us we were brewers, beer bloggers, beer industry employees, and just regular folks who enjoy quality beer.

First on the list: Uncle Billy’s Brew and Que.  I really love this place; located on Barton Springs Road with plenty of trees around, it’s in such a pretty spot.  I seem to have this ritual of filling up on yummy Tex-Mex nearby at Chuy’s and then stopping at Uncle Billy’s for a freshly-brewed glass of deliciousness.  I’ve had their Hop Zombie IPA, and that’s always a solid choice.  I was about to order one when I noticed something called Hotillya Drop, which turned out to be their 5th Anniversary Double IPA.  10% ABV, 100 IBU’s, and served in a full pint!  Pretty phenomenal brew right there.  But of course I had to sip a little of my friends’ Hop Zombie while I was at it. Just couldn’t resist.

I can’t believe the number of times I’ve been to Austin yet never paid a visit to the Flying Saucer.  They have such an extensive beer menu it actually took me over 15 minutes to build my sampler.   I ultimately decided on the 512 IPA and 512 Pecan Porter (two of my staples when in Texas).  Also Independence Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout–a good basic stout with a slight roasty/smoky taste, Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout, which was my least favorite as it appeared and tasted like a brown. And finally Ranger Creek Strawberry Milk Stout.  Now that was a tasty stout with just the right amount of fruit flavor:  not overpowering but definitely noticeable.  That sampler was probably the best one I’ve ever built.  I’m a big fan of patios, so my friends and I decided to drink outdoors.  Now, there is one major difference between drinking beer on a patio in Austin as opposed to Denver:  it’s hot out there!  And there are flies. Lots and lots of flies.  So it can be a challenge to finish a pint before it gets way too warm (or before larvae appear in it).  Denverites are familiar with the patio heat factor too, but we deal with it for basically about 3 months whereas Austin’s summers obviously last much longer.  Love Austin, don’t love sweating on the patio in April (and neither do my beers). 

I have a couple staple bars I need to go to each time I visit, one of which is Lovejoy’s.  They brew their own beer but also have several other good local beers on tap.  I tried their very own Dr. Shock IPA for the first time.  Meh, not really impressed.  So I had to go with a Stash IPA from Independence Brewing, as I already knew I love that one.  In fact, I decided to do a little taste test with it at The Ginger Man, my other must-go place in Austin.  Ginger Man (picture below: me with Ginger Men) has an awesome number of beers from which to choose. And when I say awesome, I mean that literally.  I open the beer menu and sit there looking stunned for several minutes until I’m finally able to pick something.  This time I was curious: who brews the best IPA in Texas?  Well of course they don’t have every Texas IPA available, but I chose 3 (that I already knew I liked) to compare side by side: 512 IPA, Independence Stash, and Live Oak’s Liberation IPA.  Talk about tough choices.  All wonderful; not a bad one in the bunch.  But I’m pretty sure I’ve got to go with the Stash.

After all those hops I wanted something different.  I had hoped to try 512’s Barrel Aged Double Pecan Porter, which I found out about right before my trip.  But when I got there I was told it had sold out everywhere, almost immediately.  Then I noticed it was listed as “coming soon” on Ginger Man’s menu, so I figured it wouldn’t get tapped before I had to leave town.  I decided to ask…just in case.  Success!  I’m already a big fan of their normal Pecan Porter, so I knew this would be something special.  The bourbon taste was very strong–just the way I like my barrel aged beers.  It was thick and packed with flavor.  Very, very excellent beer.  I am lucky I got to try it.

The Draught House is yet another place to go for a wide selection of beer.  Like Lovejoy’s, they brew their own but also carry plenty of others.  I had the Deep Ellum IPA, my first experience with that particular brewery.  It wasn’t bad…pretty good but not great.  But since most Texas beers are only $2.75 on Sundays, I couldn’t complain.

Yet another fun place to drink with a plethora of brews from which to choose is Easy Tiger.  It’s a bake shop & beer garden and, while I can’t speak about the bake shop, the beer garden is a wonderful place to hang out.  They have around 30 beers on tap plus quite a few in bottles and cans.  Either they didn’t have any Texas IPAs on tap that day or I didn’t see it on the menu, so I decided to try Real Ale’s Full Moon Pale Rye Ale.  I love Real Ale’s Lost Gold IPA, but it wasn’t available on tap anywhere I went this time, though I was able to order it in bottles at various places.  The Full Moon didn’t really do anything for me.  It’s not a bad beer, but just not my style as I need an extremely hoppy or malty brew, and this was neither.  But I imagine lots of people would enjoy it.

When I went to places that didn’t have tons of microbrews available, I still stuck with Texas beers and ended up trying a couple of things I didn’t love but that are worth mentioning.  And one I really did like: Austin Beerworks Fire Eagle IPA; it reminded me a lot of ODell’s IPA.  Beerworks is pretty new to the brewing scene, so this was the first beer I’ve had by them.  Real Ale has a blonde called Firemans #4; I don’t care for blondes but it was a quality beer at least.  And then good ole 512 Brewing…this might well be my overall favorite Texas brewery.  I had their Rio Blanco Pale Ale; pretty good for a pale. As you might know from some of my other blog posts, I like my beers extreme: the hoppiest or maltiest around.  So I can be somewhat hard to please when it comes to my personal tastes, but I like to mention if other styles are at least quality brews that others might enjoy.

What a fantastic trip.  I got to experience many great bands, hang out with some of my favorite people, eat some amazing food (one of which was my first ever “waffle taco”), and drink A LOT of phenomenal beer.  I couldn’t have asked for more.  And then, day 5 at the airport: a bottle of Lone Star.  Enough said.

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