So, you’re coming to Colorado for GABF and you want an insiders tip on which Colorado beers to try on the tasting floor. There’s a lot of great breweries here, many of which I won’t be mentioning in this post, but the ones I am mentioning I believe are doing some of the most experimental, most exciting, and tastiest things in the state and they have my highest recommendations.
These guys were at GABF last year but not too many people knew about them as they hadn’t even opened their brewery yet. They brew out of Ft. Collins and specialize in Saisons. Honestly, they make the best straight saison I’ve ever had and in my opinion they are the best new brewery of the year. I believe they will win some awards and will soon become talked about all over the country. They are bringing their Saison, White, Belgian Resistance (heavy Belgian yeast and German malts), and Southern Tropic (a hopped up, citrusy, double saison)
Here’s your chance to try some of the best sours and saisons in the country. Many of their beers don’t fit into a style and are being entered into the new American Brett category. They’ve won the gold in the Experimental category before. Missing out on Trinity would be a real mistake. They are unloading some seriously special beers. I think I may hang around this booth all night because, even though we’re in the same town, these beers are incredible: Pappy Legba (Imperial Saison, slightly sour, with oats, rye, spelt, Grains of Paradise, and cherries), Soul (sessionable Scottish Ale), Double Rainbow (huge saison with two colorful ingredients from every color in the rainbow…a collaboration with Black Fox Brewing), The Flavour (American sour, with cherries, coffee, almonds, and aged in oak), Provisional Farmhouse (a Bretta Saison with lavender and coriander), Brain of the Turtle (this is the same as The Flavour but without the oak age, if I remember correctly), Slap Your Mammy (incredible Double IPA that contends with Pliny the Elder in my opinion), Old Growth (probably Trinity’s most sought after sour of all).
Odell is a fantastic brewery. Their St. Lupulin is an extra pale ale I love to drink in the summer, their Woodcut series is high on the list of any beer geek, and their other barrel aged beers (including a Double Black IPA, a sour Brown, and many others) are a ton of fun. Here’s what they’ll have on the tasting floor: 90 Shilling, St. Lupulin, Myrcenary 2IPA, Bourbon Barrel Stout, Mountain Standard, and pouring from bottles of Woodcut #5
One of the most impressive breweries in the entire country, Avery produces so many unique beers that you’d never have to leave their taproom. Most of what you’ll see at GABF are beers that you can get in tall bottles if they distribute to your area, although they will have something quite special. Additionally, they will have ridiculous amounts of small batch, specialty beers at their taproom during GABF and they want to lure you out to Boulder, a short drive from Denver. I think if you flew in to Colorado just for their special tappings it would totally be worth it. Here’s what’s on their lineup for GABF: IPA, The Reverend, Hog Heaven, DuganA (2IPA), and Immitis (Sour aged in Zinfandel Barrels)
These guys aren’t quite a year and a half old but they’ve made a big impression with their small batch beers. They built their business on unusual, limited quantities of beer. I believe their system is a half barrel and their website says that a 7 barrel system is in the works. I met Tim, the brewer, at the brewing of Buddha Nuvo, tried his beers at Saison Fest and really look forward to more. Here’s what Strange is bringing: Le Bruit De Diable Farmhouse Ale, IPAphany IPA, Cherry Kriek, Powerhouse Porter, Paint it Black Stout.
AC Golden / Colorado Native
This brewery might get a bad wrap for being associated with AC Golden, however, I believe they are doing some really interesting things, I’ve never had a beer that was not good, and if you don’t live in Colorado, you can’t get their beer. They will have a few special beers that I haven’t even seen yet including: Dunkel, Schwarzbier, Baltic Porter, and a Belgian Style Saison.
Great Divide Brewing
A classic Colorado Brewery that has pretty good distribution. When I lived in Oregon, though, I only remember seeing their bombers, not their 6 packs. So, they’re going to have a ton of beer that comes in 6 packs and some specials. Additionally, the most exciting part is that they will have a ‘Yeti Section’ where they’ll be pouring all their Yeti beers side by side. Here’s the low down: Old Ruffian, Hoss, Colette, Claymore, 17th Anniversary (Oak Aged Double IPA), Titan, DPA, Hercules, Hibernation, Rumble. This is truly a fantastic lineup! And then the Yeti series: Belgian Yeti, Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, Oak Aged Yeti and, of course, the classic Yeti Imperial Stout.
Pikes Peak Brewing
Pikes Peak opened up a few months back with a big bang in the region. They’re located just north of Colorado Springs and they’re making some really great beer. Now, the beer is not as experimental as many on this list, however, it is simply great, solid tasting beer. Check out one of Colorado’s newest breweries this year: Devils Head Red, Gold Rush (Belgian Golden), Summit House Stout, The Brits are Back English Mild (really tasty mild ale).
I consistently drink Ska’s beers more than any other in Colorado. They make a few hoppy beers, Euphoria and Modus Hoperandi, that hop heads often put at the top of their list. Every single one of their beers is solid and they release some fun experiments as well. Their Mexican Logger seasonal was the beer I drank more of than any other beer all summer long and I’ve saved off some of it so I can have it during autumn. I don’t often do that with beer, I get greedy and I drink it sooner than I would like. At GABF they’ll have: True Blonde, Modus Hoperandi, Steel Toe Stout, Decadent Imperial IPA, Buster Nut Brown and they’ll also have Sethvleteren 8 and an Organic Beglian Dubbel in the Pro-Am Booth.
I really can’t name all the breweries. There are 74 from Colorado and I haven’t even tried them all. Here’s a few more to check out along the way though (in no particular order): Denver Beer Co. (just opened), Renegade Brewing (just opened), Bristol, Colorado Boy, Crazy Mountain, Lefthand Brewing, New Belgium, Mountain Sun Pub, Oskar Blues, Pateros Creek Brewing (just opened), Steamworks, Tommyknocker, Upslope, and Wynkoop.
I know that’s a huge list, but these are all places I enjoy (except I haven’t tasted the new ones yet). I’ll be trying out a lot of beer from Colorado that I’ve never had before as well and reporting back.