Upslope Brewing opened in Boulder only a year ago, swaggering like a talented rookie into the Front Range's already impressive lineup of breweries.
With stalwarts like New Belgium, O'Dell, Avery and Great Divide already nearby, why did Northern Colorado beer drinkers need more?
Well, because they can.
I have no idea when the microbrew market will reach saturation, but it doesn't seem anywhere close - as again proved by Upslope.
The newcomer proved it can swing with the big boys, winning two bronze medals at last month's Great American Beer Festival. To extend the metaphor, it was a Rookie of the Year-caliber performance from brewer Dany Pages.
So how's the beer? Based on a very limited sample, I pronounce it damn good. I found a six-pack of cans (yes, cans. BeerAdvocate photo here.) at a Denver store. I picked the pale ale; their IPA was also available.
Pale ale is a sure barometer of a brewery's quality. Breweries with indifferent pales are not worth one's attention, but a brewer of a well-done or unique pale ale deserves recognition.
Upslope's, I can happily report, falls into the latter category. The pale ale (5.8 percent ABV) pours a much lighter color than most pales, which despite the name, often show an amber color. Upslope's could at a glance be mistaken for a wheat.
Yet the hop taste is there. This is no weak pale ale, despite appearances. It's grassy, a touch of citrus, some nicely balanced malt flavor. An impressive session ale and a promising sign of things to come from Boulder's rookie.
Perhaps, with a little time, Upslope can grow enough to distribute around Durango. Welcome to the big leagues, kid.