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American Craft Beer Week: Special brews news

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American Craft Beer Week is in full force, and it seems all of Denver is flowing with beer -- which makes sense, seeing that we're right in the middle of the Napa Valley of it.

With all the specialty tappings going on around town, it's difficult to to taste everything, but I've been doing my best. Here are some highlights so far:

Big Shikes Orange Blossom Imperial Pilsner Ska Brewing and Westword's own Jonathan Shikes

A unique style made more unique with the addition of orange blossom honey, this strong pils is nicely balanced and deceptively drinkable. It's refreshing and thick in the mouth, and the touch of honey makes me think it would be a great food beer. I wish I could bring some home and try cooking with it, but it's only available at Old Chicago restaurants in Colorado -- and even then, it's not available to go. It will be around till June, though, which is sweet.

Berliner Weisse Crabtree Brewing

Brewed especially for Euclid Hall, this old school German sour wheat beer is solid on its own, but badass when infused with the simple syrups provided -- a traditional way of serving the light-bodied ale. Euclid offers two types, cherry and woodruff, and both add depth and balance. I prefer the woodruff; its herbal sweetness make the beer taste like a fizzy glass of tart tea. Euclid only has one keg of the Berliner weisse, and it will probably kick soon. If that's not reason enough to head over to Euclid Hall as soon as possible, then the blood sausage should be: You can never go wrong with blood sausage.

Friek Odell Brewing

Fruit beers get a bad rap in the craft-beer scene, and from from my experience working in the industry, it's usually among men. I've always disagreed with my fellow males, though; when fruit beers are done well, they rival any hopped-up concoction out there. This is certainly the case with Odell's Friek, a sour lambic-style ale brewed with fresh cherries and aged in oak barrels with fresh raspberries. It's tart, fruity and complex, and would make a wonderful accompaniment to a meal. Cheeky Monk got its hands on a keg, although that won't last long; the Friek is also available in 750ml bottles as part of the brewery's Single Serve Series, but they probably won't last that long, either.

Legend of the Liquid Brain Bull and Bush

This imperial stout spent over two years in a Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrel, and you can tell. The bourbon notes are strong in the nose and in the flavor, but the hefty, chocolately malt backbone stands up to them nicely. It finishes dry, and the warmth from the alcohol (over 11 percent by volume) is perfect for the weather we've been seeing lately. I've yet to ascertain how much of it the Bull and Bush has, but I'm hoping it will last a few more days. It's a wonderful beer.

For more ACBW events this weekend, check out the Beer Man's Beer Calendar.

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