Colorado is known for its alleged 300 days a year of sunshine, and for its powdery snow. But what many non-residents don't know is that we can often get both extremes within the same week, day or even hour. False summer, fake spring, flip-flop-and-snow-boots weather: Call it what you will, but it's best to keep both shorts and long underwear handy, not to mention a windshield scraper inside your convertible.
These days, climate change has made the state's wacky weather even more pronounced, so local breweries find it difficult to create the right beer for the season, since the "season" in February, March, April and May can mean refreshing lagers on the patio one day and thick, high-ABV stouts by the fireplace the next.
So here are eight brand-new barometer-busting Colorado beers to get you through these mercurial times. And just like the weather, they're presented here in no particular order.
It's hard to beat a name like "Grill Sauce" when it comes to warm-weather beer, especially when it features an actual charcoal grill on the label. This week, Resolute Brewing begins distribution of six packs of this canned 4.8 percent ABV American-style lager, along with two other beers, for the first time in the brewery's history. The other two beers are Standing Room Only IPA, a citrus-forward American IPA featuring Ekuanot and Amarillo hops, and All the Fuss Lemondrop Sour, a moderately tart, lemon-forward session sour made with Lemondrop hops.
Car Camper Hazy Pale Ale
Great Divide Brewing
Speaking of amazing labels that evoke warm weather, Great Divide's brand-new year-round offering, Car Camper Hazy Pale Ale, features one of the coolest labels around: Peep that old-school tent, VW-like camper van and...are those the Maroon Bells? The beer has a malt and hops profile similar to that of Great Divide's Hazy IPA, but with a lower ABV (5 percent) and more tropical notes from Sabro hops. It's the first pale ale that Great Divide has released to all of its markets in quite some time.
Eddyline Brewing, which has quietly grown into one of the larger breweries in Colorado, debuts a new limited-release series called Cranked. Based on its flagship Crank Yanker IPA, the series begins with Juicy IPA, which has all the same hops as Crank Yanker, but used in a different way. The beers hit distribution to Front Range liquor stores in early March, and they'll get you ready for biking or river weather — or snow.
Blue Moon LightSky
Blue Moon Brewing/Molson Coors
Blue Moon isn't craft beer by most standards, but don't tell its employees, who work just as hard making beer as anyone else. As part of the recent trend toward low-calorie, low-carbohydrate beers, the Molson Coors conglomerate developed Blue Moon LightSky, a 95-calorie, 4 percent ABV version of its classic Blue Moon wheat, but with tangerine peel and dry-hopped with Azacca hops and only 3.6 grams of carbs. Brewed and tested first at Blue Moon's RiNo brewery (at 3750 Chestnut Place), the beer is now available in 12-ounce "slim" cans. C'mon, it's beach body time. Or is it?
Galactic Cowboy Nitro Imperial Stout
Left Hand Brewing
Nine years after Left Hand Brewing first developed its nitro-infused beers, the brewery is still the leader in this unusual category, and it unveils new flavors and styles each year. The latest, and most traditional, is Galactic Cowboy, a straight-up 9 percent ABV imperial stout with notes of bittersweet chocolate and black coffee that are balanced out by Cascade, Galaxy and Comet hops. Light in mouthfeel and incredibly smooth, this is probably the best nitro beer Left Hand has made since its original Nitro Milk Stout — and perfect for freezing nights that follow 60-degree days. It's available in liquor stores now in four-packs of 13.65-ounce cans.
Witkist Grapefruit White Ale
Like numerous breweries these days, Odell has been throwing different New England-style IPAs against the wall to see what sticks — so this new year-round beer, which was released in cans in late February, marks a bit of a departure, as it harks back to an earlier time. A Belgian-style wit beer (like Coors's Blue Moon or Avery's White Rascal), Witkist Grapefruit White Ale was brewed with dried orange peel and coriander. But to spice things up a bit, Odell added puréed grapefruit to the mix — and a very cool can design. It's perfect for the patio.
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Avery's beer lineup is almost unrecognizable from a few years ago, and things continue to change. The latest addition is Night Warden, a whiskey barrel-aged stout that will be available year-round in six-packs of twelve-ounce cans. At 8.2 percent, the beer has "a reasonable ABV," the brewery says, in comparison to its line of highly regarded small-batch, gold-foil beers. Take it camping in the snow or enjoy in front of a ski lodge fireplace.
Hey, Fishy Fishy
Good River Beer
Good River Beer Company, which opened its taproom at 918 West First Avenue just four months ago, names all of its beers after rivers and river-related ideas. Which makes sense because the brewery also donates 2 percent of its profits to charities that help support the state's waterways. On March 19, Good River will release its newest beer, Hey, Fishy Fishy Hazy IPA, on draft and in cans. It will be perfect for that spring thaw.