The resumes were long and detailed, the qualifications extreme, but the ten finalists in the Wynkoop Brewing Company's annual Beerdrinker of the Year contest have been whittled down to three -- and these guys know their beer. The man who eventually claims the title for 2012 will be determined at an event at the Wynkoop on February 25, when the finalists will be grilled by a panel of judges wearing wigs and robes and, um, dignity.
But in the meantime, here are your finalists:
Warren Monteiro, a New York City freelance writer, beer traveler, homebrewer and BeerSensei columnist for Alestreet News. Monteiro has sampled beers in Europe, Central American, India, Sri Lanka and numerous other nations, as well as throughout the United States. In 2011 he visited breweries and beer festivals in England, Belgium, the Netherlands and the U.S. He samples an average of 350 beers each year.
Greg Nowatzki, a Las Vegas accountant, home brewer and beer judge who has tasted over 13,600 beers from 84 different countries and all fifty states. He has visited over 500 breweries in 32 different states and the District of Columbia, and attended over 150 beer festivals in eight states. In 2011 he visited sixteen beer festivals and visited over 100 different breweries in seven states.
J. Wilson, a Prescott, Iowa, writer, homebrewer, beer judge and beer blogger. He has a three-tap, eight-foot home bar supplied by a ten-gallon brewing system in his basement. He has organized numerous beer events in his hometown and conducted a research project in which he fasted for 46 days on water and a dopplebock he brewed with a local brewery. It became a book, Diary of a Part-Time Monk.
Wednesday, February 8
At 4 p.m. today, the Yak and Yeti Restaurant & Brewery will tap its Cinnamon Love Wheat, made with -- wait for it -- Red Hots! This red-colored beer is "a cross between Atomic Fireballs & Dentyne Fire Gum," according to Yak brewmaster Adam Draeger, and it should be on tap through the week and on Valentine's Day.
Grimm Brothers Brewhouse in Loveland will celebrate Valentine's Day in the town that knows it best with the 6 p.m. release of The Bleeding Heart, a cherry chocolate porter, which the Loveland Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center has proclaimed as the official beer of the Sweetheart City's Valentine Celebration. The brewery will also be selling prints designed by the Tenfold Collective, a local group, for $20.
The Bridgewater Grill in Golden will begin a Colorado Beer Tour beer dinner series on today from 7 to 8:30 p.m. For the inaugural dinner, Chef David Davis will feature pair five courses with beers from Golden City Brewery. Space is limited to 50 people, and tickets are $75 per person; call the Bridgewater Grill for reservations, 303-279-2010. The event is being held in conjunction with the Colorado Brewers Guild.
Thursday, February 9
Ska Brewing will be in the house at Star Bar tonight to tap their very last keg of Shebeen IPA Black, a beer they made to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their favorite Ska band, The Toasters. Oh, and the band, which just happens to be playing a show a few blocks away tonight, will be on hand at 6 p.m. to pour pints themselves before heading over the Marquis Theatre.
February is barleywine month at the Falling Rock Taphouse (or Dain Bramage month, as they call it because of the high alcohol content of this style of beer). And while there will be various barleywines on tap all month, Falling Rock will begin tappings its vintage kegs tonight. Some of these aged beauties come from Uinta Brewing, Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada, Alaskan, Oskar Blues and Great Divide.
Friday, February 10
Great Divide will break into a firkin of pale ale that has been dry-hopped with Columbus hops. New World Conquest will be tapped around 3 p.m.
What? You haven't checked out Stout Month yet at Denver's Vine Street Pub and the Mountain and Southern Sun Pub & Breweries in Boulder? Well, lucky for you, the nineteenth annual celebration of stouts continues all through February, offering one of the most amazing array of dark beers made in Colorado. There are dozens of stouts on tap from Mountain Sun, as well as guest taps from other breweries. Some of the Mountain Sun specialties include Chocolate Dip Stout, Korova Cream Stout, Old School Irish Stout, Yonder Mountain Stout, Thunder Head Stout, Cherry Dip Stout, Coconut Cream Stout, Dark Harvest Pumpkin Stout, Bourbon Barrel Aged Stoked Oak Stout, Trickster Stout, Usurper Imperial Stout, Addiction Coffee Imperial Stout, Nihilist Imperial Stout, and new ones, Oatimus Prime Imperial Oatmeal Stout and Megatron Imperial American Stout.
Copper Kettle will release a new beer tonight, a Dunkelweiss, or dark wheat beer. The brewery is also having Valentine's Day sales on its apparel.
Dry Dock Brewing will tap a cask of Zythos Dry-hopped Enterprise IPA today at 3 p.m. and another one around 7 or 8 p.m. as part of its weekly Firkin Friday program.
Saturday, February 11
Avery Brewing continues to push the limits today by releasing the latest in its series of highly-experimental, high-priced beers. This time, there will be two beers available for sale at Avery's Boulder taproom, both of which incorporate grapes and wild fermentation into barrel-aged brewing. The first is Muscat d'Amour, in which 150 gallons of Muscat Blanc grape must provided 25 percent of the beer's fermentables. The 10.78 percent ABV beer has been aged for fourteen months in Chardonnay barrels and with brettanomyces yeast. The second beer is Récolte Sauvage, which used 150 gallons of actual Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Colorado's Bookcliff Vineyards fermented with naturally occurring wild yeasts from the harvested grape skins. This one was aged fourteen months in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels and stands at 11.03 percent. Sales of the $8, twelve-ounce bottles begin at 5 p.m. today. Fans are limited to six bottles each.
Welcome to "Stout 101: Understanding the Great Stout," a class being offered today at the Vine Street Pub as part of its annual Stout Month celebration. For $35 (buy your tickets in advance because it will sell out!), learn the history of stouts, the folklore of Stout Months past and enjoy a brewer-led tasting that includes Oatimus Prime Imperial Oatmeal, Trickster, Girl Scout, Norwegian Wheat, Addiction, Old School, Dark Harvest Pumpkin, and 2012 Home Brew Winner Chai Stout. Snacks will be served. Tickets are on sale at all three Mountain Sun Pubs.
BackCountry Pizza in Boulder will celebrate the life of Danny Williams tonight with a silent auction and fundraiser from 6 to 10 p.m. Williams, who died this month, was the cellar master for the Boulder-based Brewers Association for many years, sorting and organizing the thousands of beers that roll in each year for the Great American Beer Festival. But he was also known for his personal cellar, built into an old gold mine on property behind his house. There will be many special beers on tap as well as awesome beer-related auction items, along with a pizza buffet, a raffle and games. All proceeds will benefit the Danny Williams Fund and help his family keep the beer mine. For more information, go to the fundraiser website.
Odell Brewing will celebrate the release of its latest Single Serve beer, Footprint RegionAle, a collaborative project that pays tribute to all ten states in the brewery's distribution "footprint." A party takes place today at the taproom in Fort Collins from 4 to 6 p.m., featuring samples, food and music. Odell used an ingredient from each state, along with a guest brewer, to make ten smaller batches of beer, which were then blended into one larger brew. The guest brewers included employees, retailers and distributors. The ingredients included: hops and barley from Colorado and Idaho; wheat from Kansas and Wyoming; Arizona prickly pear; Minnesota wild rice; Nebraska corn; New Mexico green chiles; South Dakota honey; and oak barrels from Missouri. The beer will be for sale shortly in liquor stores in 750mL cork-and-cage topped bottles.
Sunday, February 12
Falling Rock Taphouse will crack the first of its Pliny the Younger kegs today at 1 p.m. The beer Mecca opens at 11 a.m., and employees will issue tickets to people who pay in advance. Last year, it cost $8 for a ten-ounce pour; it sold out within minutes. The triple IPA is one of the nation's most famous, most highly-rated and most sought-after craft beers. It will likely be served at a few other locations around town in the coming weeks, as it was last year.
They will tap more Younger on Saturday, February 18 at 1 p.m., and a third batch on Saturday, February 25, at 5 p.m.
Hops & Pie, which is getting ready to greatly expand its size, will host not one, but two Littlest Big Beer Fests this month. The first begins today at 2 p.m. with flights and single pours of several Boulevard beers, including Saison-Brett, Tank 7, Harvest Dance Wheat Wine and the elusive Chocolate Ale. The second Littlest Big Beer Fest will be on February 19.
Tuesday, February 14
Lone Tree Brewing will tap a beer, My Cherie Amour Chocolate Cherry Stout, that should get your blood pumping today from 4 to 7 p.m. The beer was made with dark, bittersweet chocolate from local chocolate maker, Maroon Bells, which will also have someone on hand to pair the beer with some sweet treats. A $5 donation to the American Heart Association at the brewery will get a free six-ounce pour.
Euclid Hall breaks out its Beer Bites program, a weekly series running through January, today from 3 p.m. to close. Beer Bites includes three two-ounce pours of selected beers paired with three bite-sized snacks for $12.50 in the bar; today's lineup involves chocolatey, fruity and infused beers.
The Cheeky Monk on Colfax will tap Dogfish Head's rare Bitches Brew and Stone's Arrogant Bastard with live music from El Rancho Vegas. And if bitches and bastards aren't the perfect combo on Valentine's Day, then add in flights of sour beers, which the Cheeky Monk will be pouring through February 19 to honor National Flirting Week.
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And Wit's End Brewing plans to bring in all the single lads and ladies in the house for a beer and chocolate party today from 4 to 8 p.m. The goal," says brewery owner Scott Witsoe: "to try meeting someone the old fashioned way -- in real life over beers!" Sounds like a grand plan. You can try each of the Wit's End beers along with a selected chocolate that has been paired with it.