Tuesday, July 12, 2011
All five represent different styles and separate breweries. Three are ales, two are lagers. Two are from Durango; three are from the Front Range. Two are Belgian-inspired, two are German-inspired and one is Mexican-inspired. Two are strictly summer seasonals, while the other three are light beers brewed year-round.
This isn't a definitive ranking. But it gives you an idea of the quality and breadth of summer beers in Colorado.
1. Great Divide Colette
7.3 percent ABV
It was a pleasant surprise when Great Divide Brewing of Denver started bottling a first-rate saison in six-packs. Before Colette, it was impossible to find a saison locally that wasn't sold in expensive bomber bottles.
The price would be irrelevant if the beer weren't great. Fortunately, Colette, a summer seasonal, is among the best saisons anywhere. This tasty Belgian-inspired farmhouse ale took home a silver medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival.
Saisons are wonderful, yeasty beers that manage to be light and refreshing and extraordinarily flavorful. Colette is as good as it gets. (Full review here).
2. Ska Mexican Logger
4.2 percent ABV, 18 IBUs
It's difficult to make low-alcohol beers like Ska's Mexican Logger carry much flavor, because alcohol acts as a sort of wave on which flavor can ride.
While Mexican Logger is light in alcohol, this little beer punches far above its weight. The deliciousness that is Ska's Mexican Logger defies explanation. Just drink it. (Full review here).
3. Left Hand Polestar Pilsner
5.5 percent ABV, 33 IBUs
The folks in Longmont got something right when they brewed their Polestar Pilsner. This lager has a perfect amount of hopping that doesn't get in the way of the funky yeast flavors. Delicous. Refreshing. Not to be missed.
4. Steamworks Colorado Kolsch
4.8 percent ABV, 17 IBUs
Not long ago, I found myself sharing an affordable $8 pitcher of Colorado Kolsch at Steamworks' bar in Durango. It was a hot day, and this ale was everything I needed at that moment in time. This kolsch is another beer that manages to be very flavorful while relatively low in alcohol.
It's also one of Steamworks' signature beers, and one of the cooler cans (or bottles) around, featuring the Colorado flag.
5. Avery White Rascal
5.6 percent ABV, 10 IBUs
A fantastic Belgian-style witbier from the consistently excellent Avery brewery in Boulder. These sorts of Belgian-style wheats are tough to pair with food, but they're great on their own and with some foods.
There's a nice hint of citrus along with ample Belgian yeastiness. This Rascal is worth confining in your refrigerator, until you can let it runneth over the top of your glass.
Please feel free to argue in the comments below. I tasted all five of these with my wife and a friend. My wife would have ranked White Rascal and Polestar Pilsner up top. My friend would have ranked the pilsener lower. Others would have included local favorites Durango Wheat and Carver's Raspberry Wheat. What do you think?