At least once a year, I make my way to Denver and environs to catch a Rockies game and taste some of the area's fantastic beers. Denver has become one of the best beer cities in the nation, with nearby Boulder and Fort Collins contributing some inspired brewing. I drove up there last weekend.
A necessary stop, always, is Avery Brewing in Boulder. They simply make great beer. They also keep an up-to-date tap list online, so you can plan your attack before descending on the brewery, tucked away, with only small signs to guide you, in an office-parky area of Boulder.
My first priority was trying a version of Avery India Pale Ale that had been dry-hopped with Centennials. Avery IPA is pretty much unimprovable. The dry-hopping just gave the IPA a somewhat harder hop kick than is standard. I liked it fine but feel the IPA is perfect in regular form.
Next, I went for a pint of Avery Fifteen. Fifteen is part of a series of annual releases to mark Avery's anniversary. Avery just released Seventeen, so Fifteen is two years old. Time has done the beer well. It was effervescent, reminding me of Champagne. The flavors are fuller, bossier than ever before. The Brettanomyces yeast has had its way.
When I gave my friends a sip, they recoiled a bit. Fifteen is a very different type of beer, and you should know what you're getting into before you try it. I loved it.
Finally, I happened to be there during a release party for Joe's American Pilsner. I have been enjoying pilsners this summer, as the style makes for a refreshing but flavorful summer beer. Joe's is a well-executed version of the style.
Amusingly, while my friends and I were hanging out on Avery's patio, Adam Avery rolled up on a road bike, his Avery cycling gear sweaty from an apparently tough ride. He sat down on the patio and drank a pilsner. Quality control, you see.
(An aside: The Avery guys are big into bicycling and joined Ska Brewing for a cross-state tour last summer to herald the release of Wheelsucker Wheat Ale. It's on again later this summer, Wheelsucker included, as I understand it).
We also stopped at one of several Breckenridge Brewery outlets in Denver. I have in the past been somewhat critical of certain Breck brews, but they continue to put out better and better beers. A draft-only saison called Vesper that was on tap during my visit was as good as any saison I've had.
There are many, many more breweries in the area, but that's all I had time for on this trip. I did stop by Falling Rock Taphouse, one of the best beer bars in the country, and conveniently situated only about a block from Coors Field.
Falling Rock pulled me an Houblon Chouffe, some sort of Belgian creation that was delicious. Then a cask pull of Left Hand Sawtooth, a hop-forward red ale from the Longmont company.
Durango certainly carries its own craft-beer cred, but it was cool to try some different things. Keep on brewing, Denver.