Beer Man

Creating a beer to represent Colorado at the Craft Brewers Conference was a challenge

For the first time ever, Denver will host the annual Craft Brewers Conference, the industry's biggest trade show. The conference, a four-day-long series of seminars, networking events and parties, will bring 7,000 beer-minded people to town April 8 through April 11.

To show off the Centennial State, the Colorado Brewers Guild is planning to create a beer that will be brewed using only Colorado ingredients and packaged in 19.2-ounce cans made in Golden. And while most of the CBC events aren't open to the public, Centennial Pale Ale should be available at several bars around town during the week.

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The final version of the beer will be brewed at Oskar Blues at the end of this month, but Strange Brewing, with an assist from New Belgium's Peter Bouckaert, worked on several test batches over the last few weeks, says Tim Myers of Strange.

"It was a bit of a challenge because we were brewing a beer to hand out to 7,000 of our cohorts in crime, so to speak. So it couldn't be just a plain-Jane, run-of-the-mill beer that we put out in five minutes," he explains. The CBC host city is always responsible for brewing a beer to celebrate the event, and Denver wanted its beer to stand out.

It was also a logistical puzzle, since dozens and dozens of breweries were asked for their input into what kind of beer it should be. It also had to be around 5 percent ABV, as in 5.280 percent: a number that represents the Mile High City. And the group wanted to use Centennial hops since Colorado (created in 1876) is known as the Centennial State.

In the end, the group decided on a pale ale. "The tricky part was making a showcase beer using only Colorado malts and hops," Myers says, which limited the ingredients. The final recipe used two kinds of malt from Colorado Malting Company in Alamosa, and managed to find enough Centennial hops from five local farms.

Even so, the first batch didn't come out that well. The second was better, and the third was the best -- receiving much better feedback from Strange Brewing customers.

More than 75 brewers from breweries across the state will gather at Oskar Blues on February 24 to help put together the real beer, a fifty-barrel batch. It will then be poured into 19.2-ounce cans and given to all of the conference attendees.

"We feel like canning is something that really represents Colorado as well," says Steve Kurowski, the spokesman for the Colorado Brewers Guild, which organized the brew.

Although the CBC is only open to brewing industry folks, Kurowski says there will be plenty of associated events around town that the public can attend -- and that the beer should be available at some of them.

The CBC, which is put on by the Boulder-based Craft Brewers Association, will be held in conjunction with the World Beer Cup contest.

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