Colorado’s most famous beer might be Coors, but it is hard to ignore the more than 200 other different breweries in the state that makes Colorado America’s truest craft brewing spot. While Denver holds the lion’s share of the state’s craft beers, visitors to any part of Colorado are pretty much no more than a few kilometres from a brewery that is thinking up something good for their next big beer.
Crooked Stave Artisan Brewing Project – Surrette Sour
Surrette Sour is the flagship beer of the Crooked Stave Artisan Brewing Project on the outskirts of Denver. The brewing team at the Crooked Stave age their beer in massive oak barrels that are crammed into a derelict-looking building in an industrial park. From the outside, it looks more like a storage warehouse than a brewery, but inside some serious magic is going on. Founder Chad Yakobson grew this brewery out of his graduate-level work studying Brettanomyces (wild beer yeast) fermentation in Edinburgh, Scotland. He uses his scientific knowledge to craft each batch of Crooked Stave beer to pure perfection. While some are put off by wild yeast beers, their Surrette Sour is easily their most approachable. It is aged 18 months and host a stronger alcohol content, but has a rustic and earthy flavour with just a little bit of tartness due to the addition of lactobacillus and Brett, popular souring agents, but the result is a clean tasting and easy drinking beer.
River North – Unified Theory Imperial Wit
The brews produced at River North are for the true connoisseur. They host delicate flavours and a high alcohol content that makes them poor (or amazing) choices to for the common masses to drink in bulk, especially considering they are often too delicious to put down. Their Unified Theory Imperial Wit brew is the worst offender. This oak aged brew hosts an 8.5% ABV and is packed with a number of fruit and spice flavours layered over a malt base. This beautiful golden coloured beer is given an extra layer of rich depth in the fermenting process by the addition of toasted oak spirals that gives the beer an excellent mellow vanilla flavour. Visitors can sample this great beer and many like it in River North’s tasting room and adjoining brewery in Denver.
Odell Brewing Company – India Pale Ale
While not every brewery offers them all year round, IPA’s are a big hit among not only drinkers but craft brewers in Colorado. With English-style IPAs, double IPAs, and Belgian IPAs everywhere, it is clear that Colorado brewers are always looking for the best new way to show off the hoppy flavour that has made this type of brew so popular. Odell Brewing Company out of Fort Collins offers an India Pale Ale that is arguably one of the best IPAs available. It showcases all the typical notes of the American interpretation of an IPA with a big piney hop flavour, hints of citrus in taste and aroma as well as a big malt backbone that is prominent without being overwhelming. All of these flavours melded together give the beer a big assertive flavour that makes it stand out above all other brews.
Ska Brewing – Buster Nut Brown Ale
A large part of the fun of visiting the Ska Brewing House in Durango is not just drinking their creative brews, but looking at the labels that pair along with them. They usually say a lot about the beer one is about to drink. While the suited tough guy chomping his cigar and stomping his foot suggests a robust brew, the typical notion of Nut Brown Ales suggest otherwise. These ales are generally mellow and easy to drink made with old world traditions, but Ska’s Buster Nut Brown Ale is different, like the label suggests. This light brown beer hosts a creamy head and nose hints of toasted malts, caramel nuttiness and chocolates. It is a rich beer with a strong malt backbone, but doesn’t sacrifice the drinkability that makes the Nut Brown Ale so beloved. Overall, it represents everything that drinkers should love about American brewing of Nut Brown Ales – a use of old world traditions with a willingness to get creative and have fun with the flavour.
Wynkoop Brewing Company – Colorojo
You know a state really likes their craft beers when the elect John Hickenlooper, founder of Denver’s first brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing Company, into the Governor’s seat. While brewpub beer in Denver can be hit or miss, the brews at Wynkoop are definitely a hit, as visitors will be able to see when they walk in and are greeted with packed tables. While they host a fine list of brews, ever growing as they continue to buy out other craft beer makers, their Colorojo is one of their best. It is a monstrously hoppy imperial red ale with the alcohol flavour well concealed by citrus flavours, pine and a vague maltiness. Unlike most breweries, it is served in sturdy cans and it is the kind of aggressive beer that sprays foam all over your fingers when it is cracked open.
Have you ever visited Colorado and sampled its craft beers?
Let us know your favourite
Comment below or tweet us!
Related content on Canadian Traveller