Hops & Pie and Sours, Oh, My!

As part of the run up to GABF, several bars around town were hosting tap takeovers. I was going to the GABF Thursday night session, so I wasn’t able to go to the “What the Funk” Party hosted by Beer Advocate, but I made up for it at the Crooked Stave Tap Takeover at Hops & Pie.

Hops & Pie came highly recommended, and lucky me I was planning to go even before I heard about the takeover, which included beers from Jester King in Austin, Texas. Jester King is truly one of my most favorite breweries. They brew avant garde, wild fermentation beers, and their quaint set up in the Texas hill country is one of the most lovely tasting rooms I’ve ever visited.
jester king

Jester King makes amazing beer, and their “bottle shop” list of beers from around the world, brings tears of joy to my eyes. I think it’s safe to say, I love this brewery and jump at every chance I can to drink their amazing beer.

When I got to the bar were already out of the Aureline Lure from Jester, it’s a barrel aged sour with Northern California apricots. I was bummed, but drowned my sorrows with the Provenance Orange/Grapefruit (Wild Saison with Citrus fruit) instead.

In my first flight I tried Dark Pumpkin Sour from Almanac, San Francisco, CA (Dark Sour Pumpkin Ale with heirloom pumpkins, spices an aged in red wine barrels); Apollo and Dionysus from Breakside, Portland, Ore. (Gin barrel aged sour saison with flowers); the Cherry Funk from Prairie in Tulsa, Ok. (Sour Ale aged on Cherries); the Of Love and Regret from Stillwater, Baltimore, MD (Ale brewed with Heather, Cammomile, Lavender and Dandelion, and the Provenance Tangerine/Clementine from Jester King.

Tasting all these weird sources in one sitting is kind of a disaster mess on your palate. The Dark Pumpkin Sour was really great, I was glad to have tried it first, when I revisited it after the complete first flight, the subtle pumpkin spice was gone and all I got was some serious sour power. I got the Apollo and Dionysus just to be weird, I’m not really sure why, as it was aged in Gin barrels, and I won’t touch Gin with a 10 ft. pole. After the pumpkin sour it tasted very astringent and medicinal. It was not a standout for me. But the Cherry Funk from Prairie redeemed my taste buds. An awesome big sour with lots of sweet full cherry flavor, my tasting companion agreed that it was just a tasty “not-too-weird” sour.

I think I got the Of Love and Regret, because with a name like that I just couldn’t pass it up. It also had lavender in it, and after brewing a honey lavender Kolsch myself this summer, I’m always game to try anything with that herb in it. The final taste of Flight #1 was the Jester King Provenance Tangerine/Clementine. I liked this one a great deal better than the Grapefruit Orange, but making distinctions between the two after pumpkin-spice-gin-barrel-cherry-lavender … yeah, you get the idea.

In flight #2 I got the Passion Fruit Sour from Breakside. I was excited about this because I had recently spent a late summer afternoon with a local Berliner Weiss in Albuquerque and really dug it. This Berliner Weiss conditioned on passionfruit did not taste good. It tasted like cheap white wine, according to my notes. My friend smelled it and said no way. As I write this I seem to vaguely recall that I have never been a particular fan of passionfruit, so yeah, not so much on this one. Next up was Nightmare on Brett from Crooked Stave, in Denver. This bourbon barrel aged sour brown kicked ASS. It was tasty and packed a huge bourbon punch. A reasonable person, would probably have done well to have had the Nightmare on Brett and the Pumpkin Saison as tasting combo and call it a day. I still had to taste 3 more beers.

Next I had the Gozu from Westbrook in Mount Pleasant, SC. This was a play on Gose beer flavored with Yuzu, described as (malt beverage brewed with sea salt, coriander and yuzu). I must have liked it because I have the sole tasting note “sublime.” Next up was Vine, from Cascade in Portland, Ore a barrel aged blend of soured triple, blonde quad and golden ales. While the description doesn’t say as such, I’m assuming this was aged in some type of wine barrel. It was very grapey, like grape magic marker, purple grapey. Not exactly my favorite flavor. I give away all my grape skittles.

Last and certainly not least was the Strawberry, also from Cascade. It was delicious. I loved it. “It tastes exactly like how Strawberry Shortcake’s hair smells.” And while my notes are sketchy on this, I’m pretty sure I also tasted the Crooked Stave Batch #100 Wild Ale and the Debutante from Societe, San Diego Calif, a tasty Belgian red ale.

Somehow, in this mess of lip smacking sours, I also managed to consume an amazing appetizer of IPA Mac & Cheese. It was delicious. I really enjoyed this laid back tasting, and hope to get back to Hops & Pie in future for more yummy beer.


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.