The Great American Beer Festival, which hits town next week, is an interesting time for any brewery that participates, and it usually results in some great stories. For Telluride Brewing, one of those stories begins in May 2012, just five months after Chris Fish and Tommy Thatcher opened the brewery. Still getting themselves up to speed, the two sent one of their first beers, Face Down Brown, to the World Beer Cup in cans that were labeled for their pale ale; they didn't have Face Down Brown-printed cans at the time, so they did what they could.
But the label didn't matter. Face Down Brown took gold in the American-style brown ale category. The beer went on to earn gold medals at GABF in 2012 and 2014, and a bronze in 2016.
Because of the beer's success, Fish and Thatcher decided to create a barrel-aged version as well; the newest batch will hit taps at a few spots across Colorado this month. Face Down Bourbon Brown was aged for four months in Breckenridge and Knob Creek bourbon barrels, then blended with freshly brewed Face Down Brown, smoothing out the flavor and bringing the ABV down to 8.4 percent. “With Brown being lower in ABV than most beers we age in barrels, I think the shorter aging time is key. Less oxidation and more bourbon, woody goodness," Fish says. The beer, which is only brewed twice a year, will be available on a few taps around Denver during the Great American Beer Festival and will disappear quickly.
Keep reading for the best local craft-beer events and tappings through October 1. For more than 120 tappings and events during Great American Beer Festival week, October 2-8, go to our GABF calendar.
Wednesday, September 27
From 6 to 8 p.m., Strange Craft Beer will pair the five beers it's planning to take to the Great American Beer Festival with five unusual, domestic cheeses from Truffle Cheese Shop. Tickets, $25, are at eventbrite.
Join Black Shirt Brewing as it kicks off five days of special beer tappings, live music and parties in honor of its fifth anniversary. The brewery will tap a TBA vintage brew tonight.
Platt Park Brewing will tap Madagascar Dream Cream Ale with pineapple and cardamom on nitro as part of its 11th Tap project. "We took our velvety cream ale and brewed it with organic pineapple and cardamom to give a citrusy, spicy and herbal palate," the brewery says.
Thursday, September 28
Comrade Brewing taps Saphir Smash Pale Ale at noon. This single-hop and single-malt American pale ale was brewed with Colorado-grown Genie Pale malt from Loveland. "We've hopped it with German Saphir for floral and spicy herbal noble hop aromatics and dry-hopped for good measure," the brewery says.
Join Dustin Hall of the Brewtography Project, along with Call to Arms Brewing, at Hotel Teatro, where Hall will host an opening reception for his photography, which will be on display there through December 1. A Denver-based home brewer and photographer, Hall was able to combine his passions in the past few years, capturing thousands of behind-the-scenes images at more than 100 Colorado breweries; the best of these works have just been published in a huge coffee-table book called Discovering Colorado Breweries. To celebrate, Hall, Call to Arms and Rocky Mountain Barrel Company collaborated on a beer called Beautiful Impression, which will be tapped at 7 p.m.; it's a farmhouse ale that was aged in oak barrels with Brettanomyces yeast and has "notes of guava, pineapple and orange zest, with a balance of soft vanilla from the oak," the brewery says. The beer will continue to be on tap at the hotel and at the Nickel, the restaurant inside the hotel. This is Hall's first solo exhibition and was timed to coincide with the Great American Beer Festival, which takes place October 5 to 7 at the Colorado Convention Center. Hall will sign and sell books there. Backed on Kickstarter by more than 300 people and businesses, the book’s printing is the result of a lot of community support.
Join Black Shirt Brewing, which continues its five-day fifth-anniversary party by tapping Pistachio & Lavender Rye Pale Ale (200 Crowlers will be available to go).
Friday, September 29
Local brewery photographer Dustin Hall and Call to Arms Brewing will return to Hotel Teatro to celebrate the installation of the Brewtography Project artwork on the hotel's concourse level (see Thursday). The exhibition will include Hall’s behind-the-scene photos; for $5, guests can get a pint and a print from the collection.
Grandma is old. But Grandma's House is only three, and the brewery and time capsule will celebrate all weekend long. Some of the activities include birthday beer releases, a thrift-store fashion show, a balloon-animal artist, Tarot card readings and, of course, mid-day naps.
Platt Park Brewing taps Galaxy on the Horizon IPA. Using Galaxy hops from Australia and Horizon hops from Oregon, the brewery created a beer with a "distinctive mixture of citrus, passion fruit, peach, mellowed pineapple and tropical aromas," Platt Park says.
Black Shirt Brewing is in the midst of a five-day fifth-anniversary party. Today it taps its Fifth Anniversary Beer, a 5 percent ABV hazy IPA that was hopped five times with more than five pounds of BSB's favorite hop varieties per barrel; there will also be a free concert from the Hashtones and Kid Reverie.
Verboten Brewing in Loveland will release Little Nonsense, a fantastic bourbon-barrel-aged imperial oatmeal stout (and one of my favorites from the Big Beers Festival in January). This 11 percent ABV monster won a bronze medal last year at GABF. It will be available on draft and in twelve-ounce bottles.
Odell Brewing is bringing back a whiskey-barrel-aged version of Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout, which it will release today in Fort Collins. Lugene, which was tragically discontinued last year, is named for the farmer who has been hauling Odell's spent grain to his dairy cows for years. For this beer, the brewery poured a batch of it into Woody Creek Rye Whiskey barrels and aged it for six months. "The result is a beer that is dynamic and complex, with aromas of roasted malt, dark chocolate and toffee, and a smooth but full-bodied mouthfeel with subtle flavors of rye spice and vanilla," Odell says. There is a two-bottle limit on the day of the release.
Saturday, September 30
River North Brewery, known for its Belgian beers during the first few years of its existence, continues to expand into other realms. This year, the brewery has made its first Oktoberfest-style Marzen lager and will celebrate with an Oktoberfest party. The beer, which is "unlike anything we've brewed before," the brewery says, spent a full two months in production, "for a proper malty meal-in-a-glass" feel. River North will have custom steins for the occasion, brats and other fare by Matt's Snack Shack, and traditional German tunes on the speakers. Snag two half-liter pours and keep the glass for $18.
Fiction Beer Company has brewed more than ninety different styles of beers and 200 batches of beer over the three years it's been open. To celebrate its third anniversary, the brewery will host a party that includes special glassware, a literary-character photo booth, prizes, live music from 5 to 8 p.m., a dunk-the-brewer event, and several guest taps pouring beers from Caution Brewing, Cerebral, Chain Reaction, Odd13, Ursula and Strange Craft. Fiction will also sell bottles of some special anniversary beers, including Barrel Aged Feely Effects, Green Tea Milk Chocolate Imperial Stout; Mexican Chocolate Feely Effects; Orange Blossom Feely Effects; Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrel Aged Awaken the Intellect, and Bourbon Barrel Aged Cold Brewed Coffee Bean Cream Ale (collaboration with Molly's Spirits).
Strawberry Milkshake IPA. That's what is coming at you from Station 26 Brewing, which will sell 150 Crowlers of this experimental beer today and another 150 tomorrow (limit three per person). The brewery describes it as "brewed with malt from our friends at Root Shoot Malting plus wheat, oats and lactose. Fermented with our house English yeast, then conditioned atop 420 pounds of strawberry purée and 150 vanilla beans, and finally dry-hopped with a blend of Citra and El Dorado." The beer will also be on tap.
Wynkoop Brewing will tap Oishii Sake Lager, which is being called a hybrid between sake and beer but is really just beer made with sake yeast. There is also Klamath Lake blue-green algae involved in the process. If you are up early, you can RSVP at Eventbrite for a free debut event that includes the beer and some paired bites, along with conversation with Wynkoop head brewer John Sims.
Join Ursula Brewery for the release of three new bottles. There will be two sours — go to the brewery's Facebook page for details, prices and bottle counts — along with Scary Stories, a s'mores porter with marshmallows, cacao, vanilla beans, honey, graham crackers and lactose. There will be a reading of short scary stories and roasting of marshmallows from 5 to 8:30 p.m. See the bar for a sign-up sheet to tell or read your favorite short scary story.
Black Shirt Brewing continues its five-day fifth-anniversary party by tapping some cellar beers; there will also be live music from Montropo, Secret Creatures, Animal Electricity and High St. Collective.
Every year on the Saturday before the Great American Beer Festival, Our Mutual Friend Brewing takes the opportunity to celebrate its fans (and its anniversary) with Gratitude, an event honoring friendship. "We wouldn't be where we are today without the support of our customers, friends, family and countless people in the craft-beer industry," the brewery says. For the party, there will be a photo booth, beer specials, food trucks, music, merchandise giveaways and the release of Gratitude 4, a pink guava saison, in bottles. There will also be more than twenty beers on tap, including: Broken Time Blackberry Golden (a collaboration with Spangalang that is in bottles); Gruppetto Tiramisu Imperial Stout (in Crowlers); Gratitude 4; Proletariat Session Ale; Camisado Cream Ale; Sur Framboise Belgian Sour Wit on Raspberries; Wicket Belgian Wit; Cherry Gose; Wierding Way; Inner Light Pale Wheat; Zero Sum IPA; Brown Ale; Novo Coffee Stout; Belgian Porter on Nitro; Brave Little Grisette.
Banded Oak Brewing will host a bottle-release party at 6 p.m. for Hirakata Farms Crenshaw Melon IPA, which it made using Crenshaw melons from Hirakata Farms in the Rocky Ford region of the state. Crenshaw are similar to cantaloupes, but slightly sweeter. Michael Hirakata, whose family has owned the farm for five generations, will be on hand to talk about the melons and the beer, along with brewery co-owner Will Curtin. The collaboration between the two resulted in a very limited batch — the brewery will sell a limited number of specially labeled 750-ml bottles — of a beautifully balanced India Pale Ale that leans toward a West Coast-style IPA while staying true to Colorado with the addition of the Crenshaws. It was brewed with copious amounts of CTZ and Chinook hops and features a fruity bouquet reminiscent of grapefruit with underlying notes of evergreen and pinesap. Simply stated: It's really, really good and easy to drink. "Beer drinkers are celebrating the full-flavored taste of this IPA with just a hint of sweet melon flavor," says Curtin. "When we put this beer up on our taproom menu board, people immediately recognized the Hirakata Farms name and were excited to try it!" Adds Hirakata: "Customers tell us that they're always looking for Rocky Ford Melons, and this is a way to get your fall fix. It's a new and exciting way for people to enjoy the Rocky Ford melons that we love to grow." The El Gallo Blanco food truck will also be on hand for the release party.
Declaration Brewing has renovated its already stellar beer garden to include "a legal dog patio," so that "your best buddy can join you for a cold one," the brewery says. (Breweries were told last year by the City of Denver that they have to follow certain guidelines in order for patios to welcome dogs.) The dog patio is wrapped with donated bicycle parts that make up an artistic custom fence and includes a pet cleanup area. To celebrate the new patio, Declaration has teamed up with the Denver Dumb Friends League to throw a party that includes dog adoptions booths, the Gyros King food truck and a dog-treat cart by Smart Cookie Barkery. Live music begins at 2 p.m. with Zack Maruniak, and Kindred Soulz go on at 4 p.m. Several beers will be designated as fundraisers for the Dumb Friends League, and $1 of each designated pint sold will go to the nonprofit.
Lone Tree Brewing brings back its popular seasonal, Hop Zombie Imperial Red IPA, which will be sold on draft and in bomber bottles. The brewery says the beer is its most anticipated release of the year and typically sells out within a day. "It’s a complex, bold IPA that’s deep red in color, with rich malt character balanced by huge hop flavor and aroma created by eight different hops," Lone Tree says. "Hop Zombie is a beer brewed to bring you back from the grave, weighing in at 8.9 percent ABV and 90 IBUs."
Two Penguins Tap & Grill in Centennial is hosting an Oktoberfest party that it says is overflowing with authentic German-style Oktoberfest beer from Bierstadt Lagerhaus. Each admission includes access to the event, a commemorative stein, two beer tickets and one snack ticket. Anyone showing proof of transportation via Uber or Lyft upon arrival will get one extra ticket of his or her choice. There will also be contests, including a stein-hoisting competition and a costume contest.
Outer Range Brewing in Frisco will hold the next in its popular series of limited can releases at noon. This time, the brewery will release Forestry IPA and Blocks of Light IPA; there are about 100 cases of each, and four-packs are $16. Whole Foods Market will be grilling on the patio from noon to 3 p.m., and there will be live music.
Sunday, October 1
Black Shirt Brewing wraps up its five-day fifth-anniversary party today with a pig roast and bluegrass music from the High Desert Band; a variety of beers will on tap, including the brewery's fifth-anniversary beer, a 5 percent ABV hazy IPA that was hopped five times with more than five pounds of BSB's favorite hop varieties per barrel. For tickets, $23, go to the brewery's Facebook page.
De Steeg Brewing and Lady Justice Brewing have teamed up to create a collaboration beer that supports STEM programs for girls in Colorado. Tipping its hat to STEM, Avogadro's Fractal Tripel offers the following: "Science! Avogadro's number, 6.022x10^23, inspired our Original Gravity prior to the agave (1.06022) and our hop addition (23oz); Technology! Brewed using custom software on a touchscreen; Engineering! Brewed by an engineer on a custom-engineered brew rig; Math! The addition of agave and pineapple are representatives of naturally occurring fractals," according to Lady Justice. The beer will be tapped at De Steeg at 2 p.m.
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Bruz Beers will release a new beer, Belgian BlonDMC, in honor of the local band Denver Meatpacking Company, whose members hang out at the brewery a lot. The event will also serve as a listening/release party for the band's new album. And there will be cake.
4 Noses Brewing in Broomfield and New Image Brewing in Arvada present the first Party Bus, which will take drinkers between the two breweries, where they will be able to try an unusual collaborative effort. Instead of making different versions of the same beer, the two breweries have made completely different beers that fans can mix together. 4 Noses has brewed a Pale Ale with Motueka and Galaxy hops, and New Image brewed a Sour Ale with orange juice and orange zest. More info and bus tickets are available at nightout.com.
With GABF rapidly approaching, Backcountry Pizza & Taphouse in Boulder is once again pulling out all the stops for its annual Sour Sunday starting at 10 a.m. "You can expect to see the largest selection of some of the rarest sours to come to this great state on tap," Backcountry says. Some of the expected breweries are Almanac, Alvinne, American Solera, Arizona, Avery, Beachwood, Birrificio Del Ducato, BFM, Cascade, Casey, Crooked Stave, Firestone Walker, Funkwerks, Hansen's, OEC, Jester King, Jolly Pumpkin, La Cumbre, LoverBeer, New Belgium, Paradox, Pure Project, Russian River, Scratch, Trinity, TRVE and Two Roads.
Head to Lafayette for the Lupulin Fiasco from 1 to 9 p.m. at Romero's K9 Club & Taphouse, which has quickly become a Boulder County destination for beer geeks. To honor GABF, Romero's is offering a "bangin' lineup of some of the stickiest hop-centric treats from around the country...everything from pale ales and IPAs to dry-hopped saisons and sours." In addition, there will be hip-hop on the speakers, "Co2-extracted hop terpenes will be on showcase for sensory immersion, and there's more to be announced," the taphouse says. Featured breweries include Alesong Brewing, Beachwood BBQ, Boneyard Beer, Breakside Brewery, Cerebral Brewing, Fort George Brewery, Half Acre Beer Company, Jack's Abby Craft Lagers, Jackie O's Brewpub & Public House, Jester King Brewery, Lawson's Finest Liquids, MadTree Brewing, Melvin Brewing, Odd13 Brewing, Outer Range Brewing, Rhinegeist and Societe Brewing.