Beer doesn’t taste any better than it does on a sunny Colorado day.
Sure, syrupy stouts and peppery porters are good for what ales you after a frosty day of skiing, snowshoeing or a wintery walk to the car from your comfy place on the couch. The cold that warms. But the splash of cold toasty malts and the pinch of friendly hops across your tongue, a river of cool when you need it most, is an icon of summer. And now that craft brews from the Centennial State are in full bore? Never better.
What sets this Colorado summer love fest apart from other places with great beer, is location. When you think back to last summer and you immediately start salivating while thinking about the best beer of the season, you’re probably thinking about where you enjoyed it and with whom.
Left Hand Brewing Co. Sawtooth Nitro All-American Ale on Friday April 03, 2015 at Aurora Sentinel. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Mu Brewery Suebeboo Chocolate Caramel Stout on Thursday April 02, 2015 at Aurora Sentinel. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Odell Brewing Co. Eugene Chocolate Milk Stou on Thursday April 02, 2015 at Aurora Sentinel. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Avery Brewing Co. Joe's Premium American Pilsner on Thursday April 02, 2015 at Aurora Sentinel. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
on Friday April 03, 2015 at Aurora Sentinel. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
on Friday April 03, 2015 at Aurora Sentinel. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Comrade Brewing Co. Honeyman 2 on Friday April 03, 2015 at Aurora Sentinel. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Great Divide Brewing Co. Colette Farmhouse Ale on Friday April 03, 2015 at Aurora Sentinel. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Here’s our best recollections and suggestions for making entirely new memories based on fun, a taste of some fo the best Colorado has to offers, and most importantly, the friends and family you’ll enjoy them with. Here’s a toast to the best summer ever, and the Colorado craft beers that you’ll remember.
Courtney Oakes: Sports editor and diaper changer
Where: Geeks Who Drink Night, Comrade Brewing Company
What: Honeyman 2 IPA
Beer and trivia were made for each other, producing hilarious answers, including an oddly large number that include Kevin Bacon.
Choosing the right answer, the right snark or the right brew is all that’s hard at the Comrade Brewing Company in southeast Denver, very near the Aurora border. The Honeyman 2 Southern-Hemisphere IPA is my favorite fuel for fun and rapid-fire wit during Geeks Who Drink Night.
Here’s a little trivia to start with about the Honeyman 2: It’s named for a hand truck manufacturer, Honeyman Aluminum Products in Portland, Oregon. Less trivial, it’s a beautifully bright golden straw color, intense floral finish and a citrusy aroma spiced with passion fruit, says Comrade tappers.
With all these answers, the biggest question is, why haven’t you had one yet? My answer? Kevin Bacon.
Brew Too: Yah, Comrade. Ve enjoy wa-riety in beer and drink Koffe Kream Stout.
Rachel Sapin: Staff writer, not a fan of sandwiches
Where: Golden Gate State Park, Colorado
What: Odell’s Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout
I am the daughter of a Tazmanian bushman who came to Colorado to memorize every Colorado Rocky Mountain and what’s special about it. It was an annual summer passage for my dad to yell at my brother and me to turn off MTV, jump into his musty Nissan and head for a cookout at our favorite spot in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. It’s a place thick with shimmering aspen leaves and well-placed fire pits. We opted for Hebrew National hot dogs, in respect to our Jewish roots. Burnt wieners and marshmallows mixed with intermittent rambles into the woods, a drink from an old hand pump and then following a trail of smoke and embers back to the fire ring at dusk were the norm. This summer, I can at least double up on the sweets with a Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout from Odell with my brother and his Turkish girlfriend. The stout is a sweet, tender memory in a friendly bottle.
Brew, too: Elevation Brewing Company’s Little Mo Porter. I always like a little mo’.
Brandon Johansson: Writer and cynic
Where: Standing over my grill
What: A can of Avery Joe’s Premium American Pilsner
It took me a while to warm up to pilsners and the other lighter offerings on the craft beer scene. But I credit my new-found fondness for finer lagers, pilsners and blondes to my recent dedication to cooking over fiery coals. Hovering over the heat on a warm summer night makes me zen, but my focus changes to my taste buds when I’m clutching a brew that will leave ample room for whatever sizzling on the grill. And while I generally trust myself to keep a solid grip on my beverage, as any dog owner can attest, dropping a can on the concrete is preferable to dropping glass.
Brew, too: A frosty 16-ounce can of Bud Light at my desk just to bother my beer snob boss.
Gabriel Christus: Photographer and newsroom donut purchaser
Where: James’ Edgewater Man Cave Garage
What: Sawtooth Ale Nitro from Left Hand
After more than 15 years of James making beer, and me making sure he gets it right, we have the system down. Not far from the breezy shore of Sloan Lake, James’ suburban man cave will become our ritual site for listening to Wu-Tang Clan and huffing the hops to see which one will shade his summer ale. And I’ll be sipping on some nutty Sawtooth Ale nitro from Left Hand. Just the right-size bitter and bubbles for a hot afternoon that I know is going to go well into the evening. The malt? Toasty nutty. The garage is cool and smells of yeast and the dozens of lawn mowers that have lived there since the middle of the last century. Something old, friendly and so Left Hand, and something new.
Brew, too: Steamworks Kolsch Ale by Steelworks Brewing. I’m that kinda guy.
Dave Perry: Editor and glutton
Where: The Notorious Tunnel One in Clear Creek Canyon
What: Migration Nitro Stout from Coda
About the time the last dinosaur in Colorado died, when I was a teenager, my fellow delinquents and I got our exercise by lugging kegs of Coors up the hill near Tunnel One, west of Golden, along US 6. Warm nights. Cold beer. Good times. This summer, my now older delinquents will make the trek toward Golden Gate Park again, this time, with much more manageable beer. No doubt it’ll be an easy growler of Migration Nitro Stout from Coda Brewing in Aurora. Packed with flavor and silky as cream. It’s sessionable enough for a couple and the trip down. Stout in a minor chord.
Brew, too: Apis IV Quadrupel from Elevation Brewing in Poncha Springs, because I damned well deserve it.
Aaron Cole: Managing editor and crash test dummy
Where: Back patio, facing west toward the Rockies (the right way)
What: Epic Brewery’s Brainless on Peaches
I’ll never quit Colorado’s craft beers. I never have.
When I lived in Utah, I packed cases of Dale’s Ale into my trunk and crossed my fingers that Wyoming’s finest wouldn’t find reasons like a loose interior speaker cover to pull me over and take my beer. I have no regrets about what I ignored in Utah: ex-fiance, fry sauce, redheads, but I do regret leaving good Utah beer behind.
When Utah-based Epic Brewery announced its Denver location, I was unsure. To be frank, I thought Denver had nothing to learn from Utah when it came to alcohol. It is, after all, the state of “full-strength Bud Light.”
Brainless on Peaches is my kind of summer beer for staring straight into the right side of the Rockies. Mellow, aged hops perfectly flower the beer. A hint of peach comes through the nose, and a little into the flavor, but it’s far from being a “fruit beer.” The beer’s Chardonnay-cask aging brightens its profile and gives it a lighter, more-delicate taste.
I’ll always be glad I came home to Colorado. But I can always remember Utah, too.
Brew, too: Oskar Blues Pinner IPA: A sessionable floral fest for anyone who’s a fan of citrusy-crisp brews
Quincy Snowdon: Staff writer, resident reprobate
Where: Castle Valley Overlook, Moab, Utah
What: Colette Farmhouse Ale from Great Divide
After a day spent wandering through sandy slot canyons, ripping digits while inching up millennia-old red rock, or maybe taking a bite of The Whole Enchilada, there’s nary a better place to rest than at the cusp of Castle Valley Overlook in Moab. Watching the fervid desert light relent from gold to umber to amber to violet to that impossibly blue-black amid good company is about as peerless a 30-minute span as you can find on this spinning rock. Add the company of Great Divide’s straw-colored, abruptly brusque farmhouse ale to that scene and you’re fully in it — a belly full of Milt’s being the unquestionable exclamation point.
Brew, too: Hiatus Cold-coffee infused Oatmeal Ale from Renegade Brewing because I can’t afford both coffee and beer, so it just makes good sense to combine the two.
Daniel Sorensen: Page designer and page flipper
Where: Mu Brewery
What: Mu’s Suebeboo Brew
Art and beer happily mix in my life. If that happens in the same place and the lines blur, well, all the better. And so I’ll be hanging out at Mu Brewery — East Colfax’s very first craft brew house — when the next local artist opens a show there. Mu times that with the release of something brewed that’s always new and cool. The first pint will be the nouveau suds. After that, I’ll return to Suebebo Brew and relish the evening sun on the patio. The complexly fun chocolate caramel stout lauds local artist Sue Gibbons. Art in a glass for your mouth.
Brew, too: Fiction Beer Company, also on Colfax, has its Autumn Stars. Inspired by Dean Adams’ “Watership Down.” Like the book, it’s not what you think.