Beer Man

Beer Calendar: Black Friday Brings Out an Endless Number of Dark and Barrel-Aged Beers

Once upon a time (a few years ago), craft-beer lovers looked forward to Black Friday, not because of the sales and Christmas shopping, but because it was the day that Chicago's Goose Island Beer Company released its Bourbon County Brand Stout — one of the most delicious, most sought-after beers in America. Then, when the brewery began selling this rare beer in Denver for the first time, the frenzy at liquor stores began to equal that rush for TVs and toys at Walmart (well, not quite).

But times have changed. Although Goose Island was purchased by Anheuser Busch Inbev ( the makers of Bud Light Lime) back in 2011, some beer fans have now decided to eschew Bourbon County Brand Stout because of AB InBev's buying spree (it now owns nine formerly craft breweries) and anti-craft-beer practices. And although Goose Island still puts out Bourbon County Stout — and several variants — on Black Friday, many people no longer buy it, because they don't like the association with AB InBev. In addition, some of the beers were infected last year, prompting a recall and refund from the brewery. Falling Rock Tap House even plans to tap its last keg of BCBS from last year as a way to "say goodbye to the beer overlords," like AB InBev — and will donate the proceeds to the Colorado Brewers Guild.

In the meantime, local breweries have seized on Black Friday as a good day to release barrel-aged and special beers of their own. Station 26, which opened in 2013, was one of the first to get on board, with its Dark Star Imperial Stout. But numerous other breweries are putting their best feet forward. You will find no fewer than twenty releases below, and those are only some of what is going on.

Now, here are this week's craft-beer events.

Wednesday, November 23
Fiction Beer Company doesn't want to wait until Friday to release a dark barrel-aged beer, so it is releasing bottles of Barrel Aged Zembla today at 5 p.m. "The folks at Laws Whiskey House provided an amazing oak barrel freshly emptied of Secale, their Rye Whiskey. We immediately filled this barrel with Zembla, our baltic porter," the brewery says. "The result is a balanced blend of spicy rye with a crisp roast character and a slight cherry raisin finish. A beer perfectly staged to drink now or be aged for years to come." Availability is limited to three 500-ml bottles per customer, at $14.99 each.

Strange Craft Beer Company will tap its Sweet Potato Green Chili Ale in honor of Thanksgiving. The seasonal favorite comes in at 5 percent ABV.

Join Copper Kettle Brewing for the 2016 bottle release of Snowed In, a 13 percent ABV oatmeal stout with notes of coffee and chocolate, aged in Breckenridge Bourbon barrels for four months. Snowed In will be available on cask, served cold-brew-coffee style with nitro froth on top to give it an extra-creamy body.

Every fourth Wednesday, from 6 to 9 p.m., Black Shirt Brewing teams up with Shauna of the Long I Pie Shop for a beer-and-pie pairing. Today's pairings are: Sweet Potato Ginger with Colorado Red Ale; Spiced Apple Cranberry with Semitone Saison; Salted Honey Lavender with Pistachio and Lavender Red Rye; and Bourbon Chocolate Pecan with Chai Red Porter. The price is $20 per person; no advance tickets needed.

Comrade Brewing will tap Beech Blonde today at opening. The brewery describes the 5.4 percent ABV beer as "a crisp and refreshing golden ale with a touch of beechwood-smoked malt."

Thursday, November 24
Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 25
"Put down the shopping bags and join us for another bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout journey," says Station 26 Brewing, which releases its Dark Star Imperial Stout and several variants every year on this day. The 2016 version, at 13 percent ABV, was aged in bourbon barrels for tens months. It will also be sold in bottles, along with two variants: German Chocolate BBA Dark Star Imperial Stout and Salted Caramel BBA Dark Star Imperial Stout. These will be on tap, too, along with several other versions, including: 2015 BBA Dark Star, Coffee BBA Dark Star, Mexican Chocolate BBA Dark Star, Chai BBA Dark Star, Root Beer Float BBA Dark Star, S'mores BBA Dark Star (served with a toasted marshmallow), Manhattan BBA Dark Star (served with a Luxardo cherry), and Elvis BBA Dark Star (served with a bacon-rimmed glass).

Falling Rock Tap House will tap its last keg of Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, from 2015, at 2 p.m., and donate the proceeds to the Colorado Brewers Guild. "Help us say Buh-Bye to the Beer Overlords! The overlords built one of their faux-craft outlets down the street, so, in keeping with our normal policy, Hasta la Vista Baby!," Falling Rock says about the fact that Goose Island is now owned by Anheuser Busch InBev. "After we dispose of this, we will have plenty of great stuff on from craft brewers from all over the United States and other great brewing places in the World."

Spangalang Brewing will host its first-ever bottle release today: Nightwalker Con Alma, an Imperial Stout re-fermented with Tempranillo grape juice in red-wine barrels. There are only about seventy 750 ml bottles, though, so get there early.

Cerebral Brewing debuts a brand-new beer, Ancient Ruins, today. This 9 percent ABV imperial chocolate stout was brewed with chocolate malts, cacao husks and Haitian cacao nibs from Cultura Craft Chocolate. The brewery will also tap small amounts of three variants, Blackberry Ancient Ruins, Sea Salt and Orange Zest Ancient Ruins, and Toasted Coconut Ancient Ruins. Cerebral's Nightglow, a robust American porter, also makes a return to the tap list.

Baere Brewing will be releasing two bottles and tapping three different variations of its Table Sour today. The bottles are: Palisade Peach Table Sour, a kettle-soured beer with Baere's house lactobacillus culture and fresh Palisade peaches; and Saison Batch 2, which won a GABF bronze medal. The brewery will tap Palisade Peach Table Sour, Blackberry Table Sour, and Black Currant Table Sour.

Fiction Beer Company is bringing the dark today by tapping five dark beers, including Feely Effects and bourbon-barrel-aged Malice & Darkness. Pavy's food truck will be serving up sandwiches.

Last January, Factotum Brewhouse released the wintry Cranberry Cream Ale, a cream ale infused with unsweetened cranberries, for a slightly tart taste, with guest brewers Chris MacDermaid and Trupti Suthar. But the brewery held some of the beer back and aged it in a Chardonnay barrel for nine months before bottling it. The result will be pouring today.

Comrade Brewing brings back Quit Stalin Russian Imperial Stout today. Brewed with Chinook, Azacca and a generous late addition of Centennial hops, the 10 percent ABV beer "pours pitch black with a dark tan head... aroma of toffee and chocolate dominate, lightly sweet, full-bodied and smooth on the palate with a subtle smoky finish and just enough bitterness to balance out the malt sweetness." Oh, and shhhh, but there might be some flavored variants of Quit Stalin coming next month.

Ursula Brewing will tap its limited-edition Pinot Noir barrel-aged golden sour, Évoluer, available only in the taproom for $15 per bottle. "This bright, dry beer has notes of lactic and stone fruit in the nose with just a hint of Brett funk and a soft touch of tartness," the brewery says. "A sip brings in a peach sweet-tart flavor that we think marries well with the oak tannins and grape-skin character the barrel imparts."

Epic Brewing will tap a special firkin at noon today of its new Big Bad Baptista (Big Bad Baptist, but with Mexican coffee) aged with bacon and smoked sea salt. And for sour-beer lovers, the brewery will tap a small amount of the newest beer in its Sour Brainless series, Sour Pineapple. "The intense and complex sour character of this beer is developed in oak foeders containing select cultures of lactobacillus, pediococcus and wild yeast. The process is slow and delicate, regularly taking a year or more. Once our brewers have decided it’s ready, we blend the soured beer into hand-selected oak barrels with fresh pineapple puree, where it undergoes additional sour fermentation and aging," the brewery says.

Find many, many more Black Friday tappings on page two, after the break.

Beryl's Beer Company will tap Antero, a 4.5 percent ABV English-style bitter, along with Brandy Barrel Aged Antero today. The brewery opens at 1 p.m

Ratio Beerworks will open early, at 10 a.m., for the release of Young Pilgrims Raspberry Belgian Dubbel as well as a limited release of Coffee Domestica. There will also be doughnuts from Fractured Prune.

Copper Kettle Brewing is tapping into its cellar and pulling out some barrel-aged bombers that have been gently aging for years. "Don't be afraid of a little dust on the bottle," the brewery says. For the full list, go to the brewery's Facebook page, but bottles include Snowed In, from 2014, 2015 and 2016; Well Bred, from multiple years; Law's Whiskey Charlie's Golden Strong; and Le Chapeau.

Strange Craft Brewing will tap Gingerbread Man today at noon. The big 6.7 percent ABV American brown seasonal ale was spiced with Grandma’s gingerbread cookie recipe. "Think liquid gingerbread. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves and allspice," the brewery says.

Black Shirt Brewing will release the fourth can in its new lineup of canned brews today at the taproom. Fourtrack Porter is an 8.5 percent ABV beer "with complex milk chocolate, toffee, caramel notes."

Black Sky Brewing will release bomber bottles of its Black Metal Barrel Aged Baltic Porter — a dark, robust, slightly smoky porter." Black metal music will be playing all day, as well.

Westfax Brewing, next to Casa Bonita in Lakewood, is dedicating the day to dark beer. Instead of dealing with mall crowds, try one or all of six small-batch beers at noon, with additional tappings throughout the day. Beer Lineup: Black Lager, Imperial Stout, Coffee Imperial Stout, Black IPA, Mango Chili Stout, Nitro Milk Stout and others. The Yummy to Eat! Brazilian food truck will be there.

Big Choice Brewing in Broomfield will tap its seasonal favorite, Peppermint Stout, today at noon. The peppermint-flavored oatmeal stout will be served in a pint glass with crushed peppermint on the rim and a peppermint patty. The brewery will also tap a Caribbean-inspired Parse rum-barrel aged Russian imperial stout, and the Starry Night Cascadian Sky Black IPA.

The brand-new New Terrain Brewing in Golden will release Black Planet today in honor of Black Friday. The seasonal Imperial Belgian Porter was brewed with vanilla beans and tangerine peel, then aged on oak. "Yes, that's what we said, an Imperial Oaked Belgian Vanilla Tangerine Porter," the brewery says.

Green Mountain Beer Company in Lakewood will celebrate its grand opening starting today and running through the weekend, 2 to 10 p.m. each day. There will be food trucks each day.

Up in Greeley, Weldwerks Brewing will host a dual crowler and bottle release. The first beer is the brewery's latest batch of Mexican Achromatic, a 10.5 percent ABV imperial stout brewed with cacao nibs, Madagascar vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks. Mexican Achromatic will be available on draft and in crowlers to go. In addition, Weldwerks held back several cases of Barrel Aged Mexican Achromatic, originally released during GABF week, and the remaining bottles will be available for purchase along with crowlers of Mexican Achromatic (no draft). There will be a limit of two crowlers of Mexican Achromatic ($21 each) per person and two bottles of Barrel Aged Mexican Achromatic ($14 each) per person.

Saturday, November 26
Black Shirt Brewing, in collaboration with Toast! Wine and Spirits, is releasing Imperial Red Rye Stout to the public today. Aged for thirteen months in a Laws Whiskey House bourbon barrel, this beer is described by the brewery as "rich and complex with espresso, deep dried fruit, and nutty whiskey notes...leaves you with a warming bittersweet finish, begging you to take another sip." The beer is on tap and in bottles.

River North Brewery brings back two of its most revered beers on the same day: Barrel Aged Avarice and Hoppenberg. Both will be on tap and in bottles to go. Oh, and the brewery will tap a single keg of  2015 Barrel Aged Avarice. There will be food by What Would Cheesus Do.

Resolute Brewing in Centennial will tap Vanilla Chai Brown today at 11 a.m. "This robust dark malty body beer with rich caramel, dark chocolate, milk and hazelnut hints finished with a touch of raw Chai spice and fresh Madagascar vanilla beans is a must-try," the brewery says.

Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora will host its annual Ugly Sweater Holiday Party from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at its original South Dock tasting room. It will also tap three culinary-themed beers: Chocolate Covered Cherry Porter; Eggnog Cream Ale on Nitro with Nutmeg Sprinkles; and Cranberry Tart. The ugliest sweater will be announced at 2:30 p.m. and the winner will receive a Dry Dock gift card.

Recover from Thanksgiving at Falling Rock Taphouse, where you will find a wide selection of funky, bretty, lightly tart and totally puckering beers for a sour Saturday. Breweries including Cantillon, Bear Republic Tartare, Green Flash Blanc Tart Barrique, Fonta Flora, Scratch Brewing, Trinity, and beers from the Russian River 'Tions series.

Sunday, November 27
Odd 13 Brewing in Lafayette has once again teamed up with Cerebral Brewing, Fiction Beer Company and WeldWerks Brewing for another New England-style double IPA collaboration. This one, called Robot Libertarian, is the sequel to Robot Librarian. "This time we kept the same yeast (London Ale III) and grain bill but altered the hops...using Azacca, Denali, Idaho 7 and Meridian hops," Odd 13 says. "This batch was brewed on our ten-barrel system resulting in a taproom-only release." There will also be beers on tap from the other three breweries.

Wednesday, November 30
November is Candy Cask Month at Copper Kettle Brewing, and each cask beer this month comes with a sweet side of candy. "This week's Coconut Chocolate Porter is a dark, malty beer with chocolate and coconut characters," the brewery says.

Saturday, December 3
"Ditch your neighbor’s ugly sweater party and check your holiday cheer at the door," says Bierstadt Lagerhaus, which is hosting the inaugural HO HO HO Slapdown today from noon to 4 p.m. in the attached Rackhouse Pub. Five Denver breweries — Bierstadt, Hogshead, Comrade, Little Machine and Barrels & Bottles — will go "toe-to-toe with exclusive seasonal beers that would smack even Santa right in the mouth," and you get to vote for the winner. Tickets, available at the door or in advance at, are $20, which gets you a five-ounce sample of each beer and the authority to cast your vote.

Join Strange Craft Beer Company for an abundance of craft beverages and savory eats today at 7 p.m. for its annual holiday party. All Strange Craft beers will be on tap, including holiday brews, Gingerbread Man and Pumpkin Porter. To keep up with the tradition, there will be several home brews from friends and the pig roast will be back. Please bring one a favorite holiday dish and/or dessert to share.

The Parade of Darks, a beer-focused holiday season fundraiser for Denver’s Metro Caring — is returning after a brief hiatus. Originally hosted by Wynkoop Brewing, the Parade of Darks is now organized by local beer guru Marty Jones and Metro Caring, a hunger-prevention organization. It will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Turnhalle Room in the Tivoli Student Union building on the Auraria campus. The fest features more than fifty "holiday minded and winter seasonal beers in the amber-to-opaque color categories," Jones says. The event will also feature  gourmet chocolates and a silent auction. Tickets are $45 in advance and come with a commemorative one-ounce tasting glass.

Thursday, December 8
Lone Tree Brewing will celebrate its fifth anniversary with a three-day party beginning today. There will be LTBC-themed trivia starting at 6 p.m., and the brewery will tap Imperial Peach IPA.

Jake's Brew Bar in Littleton hosts an epic tap takeover with Seattle's Fremont Brewing today at 4 p.m. They'll be tapping Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star; Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star - Coffee Edition; Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star - Spice Wars; and Coffee Cinnamon B-Bomb. And for hops fans, they will have Cowiche Canyon; Brother DIPA; Session Pale; and Interurban IPA. There will also be some Fremont schwag and goodies.

Friday, December 9
Lone Tree Brewing continues its five-year anniversary celebration today by conducting a special tour from 5 to 7 p.m., during which brewery staff will discuss LTBC's beginnings, how the company has grown in the last five years, and what’s on the horizon. Lone Tree will tap its Patagonia Pale Winter Ale.

Saturday, December 10
River North Brewery will debut a new series of huge beers today that are designed to be aged up to ten years. Appropriately named the Decennial series, it is the brewery's most ambitious project to date. Sold only out of the taproom, the beers are all above 15 percent ABV. They are God Complex Quadrupel, Shadowman Imperial Stout, and Father Time Old Ale. All three will be on tap and in limited bottles to go; $12 each, limit six per beer per person. ("Reserve a bottle and taster of each by purchasing an advance ticket. Please note you do not need a ticket to attend the event and enjoy beers," the brewery says.)

Our Mutual Friend will celebrate its fourth anniversary today with a party and the release of several bottles: Year Four Golden Brett Ale Aged on Damson Plums; Sahti Collaboration with the Populist; 2016 American Wild Ale; Thanatoid BA Russian Imperial Stout; and 24FPS Golden Sour. A portion of sales will be donated to LYRIC : Learn Your Rights in Colorado.

Station 26 Brewing will celebrate its third anniversary today with live music, food and special tappings. There will be special firkins at 1, 2 and 3 p.m., along with Bourbon Barrel Aged BarleyWayne tapping at 4 p.m., and Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star Imperial Stout tapping at 5 p.m. The brewery will also release bottles of its Third Birthday Beer, a triple IPA brewed with Belgian candi sugar and hopped with Zeus, Cascade, Amarillo, Simcoe, and Citra. Live music from Boogie Mammoth at 7:30; wood-fired pizzas from Basic Kneads Pizza all day.

Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales will release  two special beers today. The first is Oxcart."Three years in the making, Oxcart is our first 100 percent spontaneous/coolshipped blend of 1, 2, and 3 year old barrel aged beer," the brewery says. "Similar in method and in the style of the great, traditional Gueuze of Belgium. Notes of hay and stonefruit, with complex layers of funk. Some sweetness carries through each sip along with pleasant yet assertive acidity, ending with a dryness on the back of the palate. This beer is expected to age for many years, but is ready to drink now. Complexity will only continue to develop with time in the bottle." Bottles are $30, with a limit of three. The second beer is Peach Rye Whiskey Dreamland, which was recently named one of the best beers in American by Draft magazine. "This time, using 100 percent whole fruit from Palisade — fifty pounds per barrel of perfectly ripe Cresthaven peaches from our family-owned orchard were added directly to the beer, allowing a secondary fermentation inside of a wet Laws Whiskey House Secale Rye Barrel. Intense peach on the nose with a soft, round mouthfeel and beautiful acidity." Bottles are $26, with a limit of one per person. Adelitas Cocina y Cantina will be on site serving breakfast tacos, and there will be Corvus Coffee to keep you warm.

Odd 13 Brewing in Lafayette will release cans of Codename: Holidayfan Triple IPA today in the taproom only.

Lone Tree Brewing's fifth-anniversary celebration culminates with the Fifth Anniversary Soiree at 4 p.m. Jessie’s Smokin’ Nola will be on-site serving lunch, dinner and passed appetizers. The official anniversary brew, Toasted Coconut Brown Ale, will tap at 4 p.m., along with a Tequila Barrel-Aged Hop Tree IIPA, Coffee IPA, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter.
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes