Beer! Denver! Day 1

Fall has always been a time of inspiration for me. This year I got my autumn started right with a visit to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival. I was in town on a business trip all week, so I was fortunate to explore some local establishments before the big night. As soon as I got in, I headed straight to Great Divide . I was torn about what I would find there. On the one hand, I was feeling autumnal and could have gone for some Oak Aged Yeti, or another of their famous winter flavors, but when I saw my old friend Colette Farmhouse Ale, the choice was clear, I had a delicious pint straight from the source.


The pub crawl I had envisioned was cut short by a delayed flight, so there was only time to hit one more brewery before calling it a night. Usually I’m full of research and plans, but this time I just picked a spot based on geography, and it turned out really well. The second stop of the night was at Copper Kettle brewery . I’d never heard of them before, and with time for only one pint at closing time, I went for their flagship Mexican Chocolate Stout. It was sublime, tasty bittersweet chocolate and delicious notes of hot peppers. This GABF gold medal beer had a great balance of heat, chocolate and stout, none of which overwhelmed the other. It was a pleasant surprise, and the bartender’s fantasy football enthusiasm allowed me to stay a bit past closing time an savor this big, tasty beer.

mexican chocolate stout

I took a few nights off, and by “off” I only had the occasional beer, the Tommyknocker’s pumpkin harvest ale, a solid pumpkin beer with lunch, and a Funkwerks Saison with dinner. Neither disappointed, although I did have the thought that I’d rather Collette than the Saison, then I shook my head and realized if this was the big dilemma of the day, things were definitely alright.


Telluride Blues and BREWS

There were two parts to my weekend in Telluride…
one was the lovely flaming lips show on saturday night, and the second component was the grand (beer) tasting on Saturday. Saturday’s weather turned out to be a bit less than desirable for doing anything except drinking scotch by the fire, but with wristband firmly on wrist, and 90 microbrews waiting, I pressed onward through the fog.
Its always hard to capture snow on camera, but it rained and sleeted for a better part of the tasting. It was so wet and cold I couldnt take any tasting notes and could barely remove my fingers from my jacket to take pictures. Here’s is one to give you an idea:

Here is an annotated list of the beers I believe I may have sampled:
Pretty much my methodolgy was to drink the dankest, stoutest, most warming ale at the closest tent possible.
Marble Brewery- Double White (yeah dude, I am predictable)
Steamworks – Backside Stout (warming)
Ska Brewing – Some Heffe/ Banana-y that Erin really liked
Great Divide- IPA (guessing)
Bonfire Brewing –These guys ruled, Chris, Elisa and I made friend with them to stand under the large patio umbrella they were wielding. When the umbrella master suggested we try some of their “secret” beer, it was a vanilla porter, poured from a growler. It was a delicious beer, spot on for the day. These people win!!!
Aspen Brewing- I have a sticker, I must have had some beer?
Upslope- I really like their logo and was hoping to score some gear, but once again, too damn cold for commerce, the had a nice brown lager. It was snowing heavily and I cursed their lack of oatmeal stout. Pretty much at this point, I was just walking around randomly, jumping in puddles of mud, asking for stouts and porters.
Pug Ryans- Skillfully directed here by Chris, they had a really good IPA that had been aged in oak (chardonnay) barrels. Sounds odd, tasted great. I’d like to be able to savor these flavors with a clean palate and no hyperthermia.
Deschutes- Sigh, we all know I’m like a moth to a flame for Mirror Pond IPA, I got a sticker, that might work well on my bike.
Honestly, beer wise, thats about all I can recall. My tasting notes arent ever very thorough, but this day was even worse. I returned to town, frozen, covered in mud and soaking wet. Erin kindly gave me her left over lunch and took me home to change and compose myself. Later in the afternoon we headed over to Ghostriders for some hot tubbin’ hot tub beers consumed included Modus Hoperandii IPA and a growler marked “Red” from Steamworks.
The following morning, driving back we stopped at the Orvis Hotsprings to further defrost and Erin shared a special vintage with me, a sweet hot tub wine, specially bottled (in plastic, natch) obtained from a naked east-coast caving event.
Despite the snow and rain and mud, it was a great weekend. I’d certainly go back next year, especially since the locals claim, “it never snows 2 years in a row.”