Saturday, July 24, 2010

Colorado Beerventure Part 1

I have had the opportunity to do some beer tasting and beer sight seeing on a trip to Colorado.  My travels started in Steamboat Springs, then we went to Boulder and spent a day in Ft. Collins and some time in Denver.  Colorado definitely does not disappoint when it comes to great craft beer.  Because of the extent of this trip and the many great places we went to I am breaking this up into a two part series. 

Our first visit was Steamboat Springs, which is a resort town, know for skiing during the winter and hiking and mt. biking in the summer.  On our second night there we went to Mohagany Ridge Brewery and Grill in Steamboat.   I was with my girlfriends family and taking pictures at the dinner table would have been a bit of a scene, but I was able to get two beers with dinner.   

The first beer was their Porter.  I wasn't able to take notes, but I can remember it was really good.  Good roasted malt flavor, medium carbonation, good mouthfeel.  I would consider this to be a traditional Porter and it was very drinkable and I would definitely order another if I had a chance.

The second beer was their IPA, and I was very disappointed in this beer.  It had a weak hop aroma and the bittering hops were way to pronounced, not enough balance with the malt.  It had no hoppy finish at all, it was slight bang of hops and then the flavor was muddled.  I guess I am a little spoiled with all the great IPA's in California.  I expected a lot more out of this beer and was happy I had the chance to at least have a decent porter with dinner.

Our next stop was Ft.Collins home of New Belgium, Odell's and Ft. Collins Brewing.

Odell's was our first stop. Picture above is of the basic taster, as you can see I couldn't wait to try one.  The basic came with a Easy Street Wheat, Levity Amber, 5 Barrel Pale, 90 Schilling Amber, IPA and Cutthroat Porter.  The basic tasting was just that, basic, but not in a bad way.  All styles were created beautifully and were extremely drinkable.  I especially like the porter and the 5 barrel had a great hoppy finish which I loved.  But the star of this show was the Co-Pilot tasting.
The Co-pilot tasting (left)  is a selection of their specialty beers and I was very surprised at the flavors and styles that were in this flight.

Starting from Left to Right:

Double Pilsner, coming in at 8.1% abv this Pilsner starts out like your ordinary classic Czech Pils, then the 8.1 hits the back of your throat and you ask yourself for a second what the hell was that.  I have to admit that a Pilsner isn't that exciting of a beer, they are drinkable and tasty, but usually nothing else.  This beer is the exception, what a great surprise and what an amazing beer.

Next St.Lupulin is their summer seasonal.  Coming in at 6.5% and 46 IBU's you may think this beer may not cut it as an Extra Pale.  I was first greeted by an amazing hop aroma, thanks to the dry hop additions.  The taste was a great balance of malt sweetness and a nice hop bite with a melding of hops and alcohol finish.  This a very well balance beer and was excited to get my hop fix for the day.

The Rauchbier come up next.  Honestly not a fan of Rauchbier after my experience with the classic German style.  To me it usually tastes like smoke and I like a little more complexity to my beer.  But this was different.  A good amount of sweetness, balanced of the smokey finish.  Not a favorite of mine, but a more drinkable version of a Classic German Rauchbier.  I would recommend it to those that have never tried one.

Amber Recluse was our next tasting.  This is an Imperial Amber.  I have to admit I wasn't too fond of this beer, not sure why exactly.  I took a couple sips and passed it on to my girlfriend.  It could have been palate fatigue, but wasn't too impressed.  Aroma of sweet malts, caramel and toffee.  Tasted sweet with a hot finish.  Again, not my fave.

Next up the India Barley Wine, yep that's right.  I forgot to get the IBU's but this bad boy comes in at 9.7% ABV.  What a great Barleywine, great floral hop nose.  It starts of with a huge hop bite and balances well with the high alcohol.  Because of the hops, it didn't have a hot finish.  I am used to drinking Bigfoot from Sierra Nevada and have to say I found a new favorite in the Barleywine catagory.

Finally Saboteur.  A Brown Ale fermented with Brett and aged in American Oak Barrels.  I have some mixed emotions about this one.  I love wild ales, and being accustomed to RR beers, I have learned a lot about barrel aged wild ales.  Now with this being said, I am not sure that using American Oak on this beer was the right choice.  I say that because sour beers have a very fragile flavor and using  the barrels they used masked that tartness that makes a sour so good.  I felt like I was drinking a barrel aged stout instead of a sour.  I will say it was the last tasting of 12 and because of this I decided to buy a bottle. I will try it again in a few months after a little aging and see how a rested palate feels about this beer.

In a couple days I will follow up with Part 2 of by Colorado Beerventure, which will include New Belgium Brewing, Avery Brewing and Cheeky Monk in Denver.

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