Friday, April 15, 2011

Colorado Brews

I recently returned from a week trip to Colorado to visit my sister and her family. My sister has been a stay-at-home mom for a couple of years now. This was my first chance to meet my new 11-week-old niece. She is a beautiful baby. Of course, what else would a loving uncle say? I have previously had a couple of opportunities to visit my nephew who turned two years old back in December, but it was good to see him again. As expected, he is growing like a weed.

My sister's family live in a small town outside of Boulder. I flew into Denver International Airport. I spent most of my time just hanging out with my sister and the kids. We went to Denver Zoo and a local children's museum. I played trucks and trains with my nephew. I flew him around like an airplane, and my back is still hurting. We went for walks around the neighborhood and spent lots of time at the two playgrounds in the area. We also just spent one morning out shopping for groceries.

Colorado is one of the great states for beer. In addition to being home to Coors, one of beer's Goliaths, Colorado just might be the best craft brew state. According to this page, breweries from the state have won the most medals awarded by the Brewers Association per capita. Not surprising, Oregon was a strong second. The post is from 2009, so the rankings could have changed.

While grocery shopping, my sister picked up a 12-bottle sample pack from Breckenridge Brewery which contained three bottles each of four different brews. I tried each of the styles. The first one that I drank was the Vanilla Porter. I thought it was a solid porter, but I did not taste any vanilla flavor. Perhaps, the vanilla flavor was very subtle and just helped with the overall taste. The second bottle that I tried was the Agave Wheat. Including agave nectar in a beer is an interesting touch. The beer was a very good wheat beer, but like the vanilla in the porter, the wheat did not taste like agave. Of course, I really do not know the true taste of agave. I am just familiar with the taste of various tequilas and that does not seem to be the taste of the Agave Wheat brew.

Next, I tried the Avalanche Ale which is an amber ale. I generally like amber ales, and the Avalanche was no different. Conversely, I am generally not a fan of IPAs, and the final beer that I tried in the pack was an IPA. I know that as I continue to try IPAs and double IPAs, I have learned to enjoy those styles. I found Breckenridge Brewery's Lucky U IPA to be very drinkable.

During my stay in Colorado, I did get one opportunity to visit Boulder. I met up with one of my former managers and his fiancée for dinner and a few beers. We started out with burgers at Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery which is right on Pearl Street in downtown Boulder. I tried the Lil' Willy which is a Scottish-style ale and the Blackberry Wheat. I thought the Lil' Willy was very good and the Blackberry Wheat was...well, interesting. The burger was good as well. We finished with a drink at BJ's Pizza, Grill & Brewery which is also on Pearl Street. I tried the Harvest Hefeweizen which was a good example of the style. I was tempted by their Nutty Brewnette or at least the logo. I think they should expand the pin-up girl theme for their Brewhouse Blonde (which is a Kölsch-style ale), Jeremiah Red (an Irish-style ale), Oasis Amber, and either the porter or stout (think Bettie Page).

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