"Gimme your best seasonal on tap," I request as I belly up to the handcrafted bar at Twisted Pine Ale House (3201 Walnut Street, Boulder).
Bartender Jody Valenta slides a sample of her favorite seasonal, Hoppy Man, across the planks and I can see why she digs it. (Check back with Cafe Society for a full review.)
Twisted Pine Brewing Company distributes a fine series of hand-crafted ales, but locals know the tap room is the place to check out their small batch experiments -- the creative, bizarre, divine and sometimes just plain freaky creations that the dedicated brewers come up with.
"We brew what we like," says brewery manager Eric Mosiman, "If it sells well, we recreate it. If it doesn't sell, it goes in the Shift-y cooler and we have to drink it."
The taps are ever changing at the Ale House. The standards are always available, but a wide variety of blink-and-you'll-miss-them seasonals keep it interesting.
The Poison Fish Ale is named after The Simpsons episode where Homer eats the poisonous blow fish ("'Try something new, Homer, it won't hurt you.' Hmpf, I never heard of a poison pork chop!"). Full of wacky flavors like horseradish, wasabi, and mustard, it kind of tastes like liquid sushi, which is really fun and really weird at the same time. Despite the potential for a brew like this to just be a hot-flavored novelty, it's actually really well balanced.
The Razzy Express is a mash up of the Espresso Stout and the Raspberry Wheat. It's not as rich as you would expect, with both the coffee and raspberry being fairly mellow, and very smooth. Twisted Pine has one nitro tap, and they rotate which kegs are pulled through it. I bet this one or the Cream Stout would be unreal with some nitro love.
Maria on Columbus is the classic Blond Ale served through a Randall pull (also known as organoleptic hop transducer module, if you want to be a dick about it). Developed by a fellow at Dogfish Head, the Randall forces the beer through fresh hops in between the keg and your glass. I tried both, but actually preferred the straight Blond to the Randall-ized version, which was a little too grassy. They also rotate which beers are on the Randall, and another selection might be tastier.
The Jester is coming April 1- no foolin'. They gave me the scoop on the bizarre ingredients, but threatened to waterboard me with chili beer if I revealed the secret in advance. All I can say is go there after 3 p.m. on April 1 and you will experience a truly unique beer that may not look, taste or smell like anything you've tried before.
Brewers dry hopped the new Imperial Red Ale just two days ago. It will be the only one of their lineup brewed with Magnum hops.
A big Cinco de Mayo party will coincide with release of a new hot chili beer (made with ghost peppers, the hottest in the world). The new brew is a hotter version of Billy's Chilies, which uses 100 pounds of fresh cut chilies per batch. Despite extensive research, I couldn't deduce the exact date of this "Cinco de Mayo."
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A Saison is also in the works, slated to be released in early summer. The recipe is still being formulated. "We want to make it incredible," Mosiman said.
On July 17th they will celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the founding of Twisted Pine by Gordon Knight with twenty different beer experiments they've been storing up in back. The official 15th Anniversary brew is likely to be a black IPA.
With the days getting longer and warmer, the patio at Twisted Pine is a sweet spot to try any of these one-of-a-kind batches (Happy Hour is M-F from 3 to 5 p.m. with live music on Fridays and Happy Hour pitchers on all day Sunday). Go get twisted.