Why Denver Beer Co's GABF award-winning Graham Cracker Porter is a reluctant star
Unlike most breweries, Denver Beer Co doesn't have any year-round staples, and owners Charlie Berger and Patrick Crawford like it that way. In fact, when they opened on August 12, Berger said he wanted the brewery's tap list to be compared with those at the city's chef-driven restaurants, full of seasonal flavors and specialties that come and go.
"There are plenty of restaurants that rely on seasonality and high-quality lineups. You don't know necessarily what is on the menu before you get there, but you know that whatever it is, it will be good," he says. "We want to do the same thing. We want to have a reputation for always having great beers, not for having just one great beer."
But he didn't count on Graham Cracker Porter.
The beer, which was on tap on opening day -- and Denver's Beer Co's fourth-ever batch -- garnered an immediate response and developed a fast following. When it ran out, the customers who loved it clamored for more, a reaction that took Berger by surprise. And while he toyed with the idea of leaving it alone, Berger eventually brewed a second batch of Graham Cracker Porter and then made the mistake of entering a keg saved from the first batch into competition at the Great American Beer Festival.
The latest batch.
Graham Cracker Porter won a bronze medal in the specialty-beer category, and on Tuesday, Berger and Crawford unexpectedly brewed their third batch of Graham Cracker Porter. It will be on tap sometime in the next few weeks (with a party).
"That was batch number 34 for us," Berger says. "The only other beer that we have repeated was the Kaffir Lime Wheat, so we've brewed 31 different recipes in 34 batches. The percentages are still in our favor." And Graham Cracker Porter will stay in Denver Beer Co's rotation, he adds, even if it's only one out of every twenty batches.
"Craft-beer drinkers love to try all sorts of different beers," he continues. "And I am so glad that we are doing it the way we are doing it. I have worked at breweries where you are always making the same beer, and it gets stale. Here, every batch is fun."
Sometimes that can be challenging, especially when it comes to sourcing ingredients: searching fifty pounds of hazelnuts, for instance, or grating the zest of dozens and dozens of tangerines for an upcoming tangerine hefeweizen. But it's a plan that Berger and Crawford plan to stick with -- in spite of their media darling.
And who knows? By their first anniversary next year, it's possible they may be on batch number 170 -- 155 of which won't have been Graham Cracker Porter.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Denver dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.