By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
Happy new beer: Foodwise, at least, Thornton doesn't have much going for it--chains already choke 120th Avenue, and more are planned. But Thornton residents can at least drown their sorrows at their first microbrewery, the six-month-old Colorado Brewing Company, at 12160 Pennsylvania Street. This is undoubtedly the strangest location for a microbrewery I've ever seen: It's in an office building. Owner/spouses Steven and Susan Klover--he brews, she does the books--say they chose the space because it's close to their home and has fifteen-foot-high rooms in back with a loading area big enough to move brewing equipment in and out. Otherwise, they basically took an office and filled it with tall pub tables and stools, a counter where beer is poured and merchandise peddled, and two bathrooms. Beyond the bathrooms are more offices, which gave me the odd sense that we were disturbing the people who were working there. But, hey, that's their problem. Myself, I wouldn't mind having a few microbrews on tap eight feet from my desk.
Colorado Brewing produces English-style ales using imported English malted barley, East Kent hops and London ale yeast so they're as authentic as possible. English ales are Steven's favorite brew; he's been making them for eight years in the privacy of his own home, and he describes this microbrewery as "a home-brewing hobby that got out of control." He must know what he's doing: Both of the beers we tried were expertly crafted versions of real ale. The Bison Bitter, modeled from a turn-of-the-century extra-special-bitter recipe, was underscored by soft fruit and spice flavors; the Stillwater Stout, while sweeter and thicker-bodied than, say, Guinness, had a great chocolate finish. On weekends the brewery boils brats in the stout; otherwise, food offerings are limited to a ploughman's lunch on Wednesday nights. Thursday nights are dart nights.
Microbreweries closer to Denver have been winning awards from farther away: Congratulations to Oasis Brewery for its two gold medals at the recent World Beer Cup in Vail, one for the Capstone amber ale and the other for Zoser stout. At the same competition, Palmer Lake Brewing Co. won a gold for its Sundance wheat beer and Great Divide Brewing got the gold for my favorite porter, St. Brigid's. And Great Divide's Whitewater Wheat Ale brought home a silver from the World Beer Championship in Chicago.
In other beer news, Tabernash Brewing Company has begun bottling its excellent stuff, which means I don't have to drive the 45 minutes from my house to Denver to get a jug anymore; we can all just go to local liquor stores. Aurora resident Paul Cristini, however, will travel a bit farther for his beer of choice. Cristini was chosen by Bass ale as one of ten lucky people who'll get to visit the underwater site of the Titanic wreck to search for the Bass ale bottles believed to have been on the ship when it sank in 1912. Hey, whatever floats your boat...Former Colorado Springs resident Cassandra Peterson, better known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, gets all hot and bothered at the idea of her own brew. In 1987 she became the first female celebrity to endorse a beer product--Coors's holiday beer, a relatively Halloweenie affair--and she now has a year-round beer all her own: Elvira's Night Brew. The "full-bodied" dark lager, made in Minnesota and rolled out across the country, features a pic of Elvira on the label; it might have a better shot if Elvira stripped as you sipped, like those lame Nude beer labels.
Meanwhile, more dark forces are at work in the beer world. Microbrew maven John Hickenlooper emerged from a breakfast meeting at the Oxford Hotel last week to find that his dog, Holiday, had disappeared. Hours later, discerning Wynkoop Brewing Co. employees recognized Holiday being dragged toward the Platte River by some homeless teens and gave chase. By the time they caught up with them, Holiday's loving, if short-term, masters had already given her a new name: Satan. At last word, dog and original owner were doing fine.