Beer Man

Beer Calendar: New Cans, New Breweries and Beers at Bruz, Cerebral and Ratio

Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
Three years ago, Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project dismantled its Cellar Reserve program — one of the first such craft-beer membership programs in Colorado — because of production constraints and other growing pains. The move gave the brewery more freedom, but also alienated a significant number of its original supporters. This week, Crooked Stave announced that it will revive the program at the beginning of 2018 thanks to expansion at its production facility on 46th Avenue, known as the Barrel Cellar.

“As a modern artisan brewery, we have always focused on quality, striving to progressively blend science and art through creativity and following our passion. The reintroduction of the Cellar Reserve lets us get back to our roots of experimentation and small batch blends," Crooked Stave owner Chad Yakobson says in a statement.

The Cellar Reserve program will release a minimum of six brands once a quarter that members will be able to buy online. Some of the bottles are: Nightmare on Brett Sour Cherry Double, barrel-aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels; L'Brett d'Apricot, aged in sauvignon blanc barrels; Persica, aged in calvados barrels; and Private Reserve Mama Bears Sour Cherry Pie, aged in port barrels. Crooked Stave will also add new beers like Member Berries, a golden sour ale aged in oak with wine grapes grown in Colorado.

Memberships are $100 and go on sale December 14. In addition to access to bottles like the ones above (which will cost $24-$38), participants get two select 750-mL cork-and-cage bottles and a custom glass, a 10 percent discount in the Crooked Stave taproom at the Source, and first option to renew membership each year.

Continue reading to see all of this month's craft-beer events in the metro area.

click to enlarge
Black Shirt Brewing
Wednesday, December 6
Join Black Shirt Brewing as it kicks off its new monthly Charcuterie, Cheese & Beer Pairing series with Amy Combs (aka the Cheese Peddler) of Nicola Imports. Combs "has worked in cheese since 2005, and after years of selling and sampling cheese all over Denver, she is currently running a small distribution company, supplying your favorite restaurants with the finest ingredients," Black Shirt says. For $15, you get four styles of cheese, four styles of beer and two kinds of meat. No tickets are necessary; just show up.

Thursday, December 7
Comrade Brewing will tap Lupulin Manifesto IPA at noon. This beer was brewed with Munton's Marris Otter and Imperial malts and hopped with Amarillo, Equinox and Galaxy, then dry-hopped with Ekuanot, Idaho 7, Amarillo and Galaxy. It measures 6.7 percent ABV.

Friday, December 8
Just about every bar and brewery hosts an ugly sweater party this time of  year, but only one named a beer after it. Wit's End Brewing, now located inside Strange Craft Beer Company, will tap its holiday brown, Ugly Sweater, in conjunction with its Ugly Sweater Party and Contest. There will be prizes.

Bruz Beers brings back one of its best offerings at 3 p.m.: Brut La Grande (Champagne beer) "resembles a fine Champagne, although many critics consider Biere Brut to be far more interesting," the brewery says. "Brut La Grande is a pale straw color with a dense moussey white head that leaves layers of Belgian lace” on the glass. Its perfumey aroma yields notes of apricots, allspice, black pepper and a touch of lemon. Its complex flavor profile hints at apples, peaches, vanilla, ginger and exotic spices. Brut La Grande is light and airy, with a silky mouthfeel, creamy pinpoint carbonation and a complex, spicy, bone-dry finish. Every sip is a celebration! Each glass of this 10.6 percent ABV beer will be served today with a Belgian chocolate. It will be available on tap and in bottles (limit of two per person).

Cerebral Brewing will release two different canned beers and one in bottles. Destruct Sequence is a 6.4 percent ABV IPA brewed with wheat and oats, then "hopped aggressively" with a blend of Vic Secret, Idaho 7 and Cashmere; it will be available in cans for $16 per four-pack. Rare Trait, also in cans at 6.4 percent, is Cerebral's house IPA, "featuring powerful notes of tangerine, mango, and candied peach, with restrained bitterness." Safe Word, at 10.5 percent, is an "imperial pastry stout conditioned on Belizean cacao nibs from Cultura Craft Chocolate along with cassia bark and coconut." It runs $14 per bottle. Doors open at noon, and there will be a line. All three beers will also be on tap, and the Adobo Food Truck will be out front slinging food at 4 p.m.

click to enlarge
Ratio Beerworks
Saturday, December 9
Ratio Beerworks hosts "an intimate beer release experience" from 5 to 8 p.m., celebrating the return of its Bourbon Barrel-Aged Genius Wizard Russian Imperial Stout. "This unique ticketed event will transport attendees to a mystical new dimension, as Ratio's back brewhouse will be transformed into an ethereal, illuminating experience designed by Denver artists Knomad.Colab," the brewery says. Tickets, $40, are very limited and available at They include three four-ounce vintages of Genius Wizard; three four-ounce variants of Genius Wizard (variants still to be announced); one full pour of 2017 Genius Wizard or any non-barrel-aged Ratio beer; one bottle of 2017 Bourbon Barrel-Aged Genius Wizard; a commemorative tasting glass and a chance to win a 1.5-liter magnum bottle of Genius Wizard. In addition, guests can sample food from the vendors who will be part of the soon-to-open Zeppelin Station in River North.

River North Brewery has aged its Mr. Sandman Imperial Stout for a year in a combination of whiskey barrels to give you Barrel Aged Mr. Sandman, the first cask-aged version of Sandman outside of the brewery's Single Cask Series. Both the standard and barrel-aged versions will be on tap and in bottles to go.

Our Mutual Friend Brewing will celebrate its fifth anniversary with a party highlighting several special beers. They include Year Five Golden Sour (Cuvée of one- to five-year barrels); 2017 Laws Rye Barrel Aged Fixed Blade Barleywine; Saison Trystero Batch 2; and Those Who Believe in Telekinesis, Raise My Hand Winter Solstice Mixed-Culture Golden Sour (a collaboration with Baere Brewing). The first 150 people in the door get a free fifth-anniversary glass with purchase of a pour.

Station 26 Brewing marks its fourth birthday with a party and live music from Chris Dismuke Music and special tappings, including its Fourth Birthday Beer, a Port Barrel Aged Belgian Quad with Plums.

The opening of a new brewery in Denver is always cause for celebrating, and Alternation Brewing, 1539 South Broadway, will be doing just that when it opens its doors for the first time at noon. "In a world filled with conglomerates, marketing campaigns and industry-shifting behemoths, the humble, quaint and well-crafted shall rise above," the owners say. "We welcome everyone to enjoy the taproom on this day, as six of our twelve taps will be filled with a wintery variety of artisan ales. Tap list to be announced as we draw closer to opening." Going forward, the taproom will be open on a limited schedule (Thursday and Friday from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday from noon to 10 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.). Alternation will ramp up production in the coming months.

On the second Saturday of each month, Bierstadt Lagerhaus fills its Fässer with one of the brewery's Keller lagers directly from the lager tank. The unfiltered lager changes each time depending on what brewers Bill and Ashleigh think is tasting particularly good. This time around, it's their unfiltered Helles.

Lone Tree Brewing marks its sixth anniversary with a variety of beer releases starting at 11 a.m. They include Russian Imperial Stout, Wee Heavy, Dill Rye IPA and two surprises at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. In addition, there will be a Wee Heavy vertical tasting from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Mama Said Eat truck will be on hand all day, and from 6 to 9 p.m., there will be music, cake and a photo booth.

Ursula Brewery in Aurora will begin canning its beers at Sleeping Giant, a contract brewery in Denver. To celebrate, the brewery will host a can release party, with three kinds of beer on sale. Via Chicago, Ursula's flagship pale ale, will be available in six-packs of sixteen-ounce cans for $12. Lazy Brewer, a much-loved New England-style IPA, will be sold in four-packs of sixteen-ounce cans for $14. And Ultimate Clarity, another New England-style IPA but with a lower ABV, is $12 per four-pack. "We are still a very small brewery, so these cans will be very limited," Ursula says. "Whatever doesn't sell out of the taproom will hit distribution...isolated to a few shops that move a lot of our beer."

Oskar Blues Brewing in Longmont hosts a one-day-only release of Rum Barrel Death by Coconut starting at 9:30 a.m. (though the line will form much earlier). That's when Oskar Blues will starting handing out numbered wristbands, which will allow you to walk around and not worry about losing your place in line, the brewery says. "To ease the pain of the wee hours, we’ll have Oskar Blues Fooderies slingin’ breakfast foods and Hotbox Roasters on scene to satisfy your addiction long before the sales begin at 10 a.m." The beer itself, sold in 19.2-ounce cans, is Oskar Blues's Death by Coconut aged for nine months in rum barrels "until it has the right amount of rum-soaked oak, molasses, vanilla, coconut, and chocolate goodness derived from the wood. Then, it is racked and swirled together with desiccated coconut, coconut cream, and pure liquid cacao from Cholaca, to create a beer so layered and complex that you’ll feel brainwashed." Find more details on OB's Facebook page.

Beyond the Mountain Brewery, a brand-new beer maker in Boulder, opens for the first time at noon at 6035 Longbow Drive. "Stop by anytime Saturday to experience our first offerings of 'improvisational ales,'" the brewery says. Timber will be playing from 4 to 7 p.m. The Burger Bus will be parked outside.

click to enlarge
Dry Dock Brewing
Thursday, December 14
Comrade Brewing will tap two big beers for its holiday party, which starts at 5 p.m. The first is the 8.3 percent ABV Coconut Quit Stalin, which is the brewery's Quit Stalin Russian Imperial Stout with fresh toasted coconut added. The second is the 7.5 percent ABV Grapefruit Superpower IPA, with grapefruit purée added.

Join Dry Dock Brewing at its original South Dock location for the release of 2017 Bligh's Barleywine, and enjoy a very special vertical tasting of its 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 Bligh’s. "Malty and complex, this big beer has a strong caramel backbone supporting oak and whiskey flavors with hints of dark fruits," the brewery says. "The nose wafts of coconut, toffee, and a smooth hint of alcohol. The flavor and aroma meld,
becoming one after just a single sip."

4 Noses Brewing in Broomfield continues its series of experimental double IPAs with Experimental Version 4.0 at 3 p.m. This version is hopped with more than four pounds per barrel of Simcoe and Citra.

Saturday, December 16
Hops & Pie hosts a little Christmas and Cold Weather Beer Fest starting at noon. Beers on tap include: The Bruery 10 Lords a Leaping; Copper Kettle Snowed In Mocha; 4 Noses Cinnamon Stout Crunch and Bourbon Barrel Aged Reciprocal; Firestone Walker XXI Anniversary; Little Machine That's My Yam; Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper; Prairie Christmas BOMB; AleSmith Noel; Ommegang Winter Is Here, Rogue Santa's Private Reserve; Oakshire Ill Tempered Gnome; Two Roads Holiday Ale; Brouwerij Huyghe Delirium Noel; and the Dogfish Head/BeerAdvocate collab Puddin' Wine.

Spangalang Brewing is excited to announce two new beers made in collaboration with Rivers and Roads Coffee. Both collaborations were brewed with a different coffee roasted by Rivers and Roads co-founder Michael Keen. "Riverwalker is an American Stout blended with a single bean Ethiopian coffee, and our most recent version of Espresso Nightwalker features the Rivers and Roads single bean Kenyan coffee from Embu County," Spangalang says. Keen will be on hand in the evening to talk about Rivers and Roads. The brewery will be selling a limited number of Espresso Nightwalker bottles.

Wit's End Brewing loves Star Wars, so the brewery — now located inside Strange Craft Beer Company — will tap three Star Wars-themed beers to coincide with the release of the latest movie. Here are the beers, along with descriptions from Wit's End:
1) The Last Jed-IPA. "Breathe. Just breathe. Now, reach out. What do you see? As always, we see beer! We took a clean American-style IPA malt base, and blasted it with hops from around the galaxy, like Nugget, Chinook, Centennial, Mosaic, Citra, and Denali. Will there be another Jedi IPA pun-themed beer in the future? Who knows, we have to wait for the next title to come out. What we do know is that this beer possesses just the right amount of bitterness, and some amazingly complex spicy notes, with a cornucopia of citrus and tropical fruit flavors that would satisfy even the most critical fanboy or fangirl."

2) Stay On Target Southern English Brown Ale. "If Gold 5 tells you this, you might get shot down by Darth Vader, but when we say it, rest assured, we’re just talking about one of our latest beers that celebrates the space opera that has guided our lives. A nod both to the tradition southern England style brown ale (a certain movie studio is also in southern England), as well as the Target hop. Malty sweetness gives way to a slight peppery spicy character with just a touch of citrus. So whether you are descending on the Death Star, or sitting on your catch watching A New Hope for the 1000th time, grab a pint of Stay on Target, and, stay, er, never mind, we won’t say it."

3) Kyber Kristallweizen Pale Kristall Weizenbock. "Well, since we could not make a lightsaber after discovering kyber crystals were not real, we did the next best thing, named a beer after it! Much like the heart of a star where this mythic crystal comes from, we harnessed the power malted wheat and created an elegant bright pale weizenbock for a more civilized age. Clean cotton candy like sweetness from the malt, and lots of fruity and spicy character from the yeast. These beers are filtered or fined in order to clean up flavors, and in the bock version, it has a welcomed warming alcohol quality that balances it out. Sure Samuel L. Jackson got a purple blade, but ours is gold and won’t block lasers…at least we don’t think so?"

Mockery Brewing is excited to announce the return of its very first bottle release, Schizophrenic Narcoleptic, which it describes as "a bigger, badder version of our Export Coffee Stout aged twice as long in artisanal vanilla extract barrels that resulted in a harmonic melding of roasted grains, smooth cold brewed coffee and a semi-sweet dessert-like finish." The beer goes on sale at 2 p.m.

Bruz Beers, which specializes in Belgian-style beers, will tap its Gingerbread Dubbel at 3 p.m. The seasonal release is brewed with Belgian yeasts, and it won't last long.

New Image Brewing will release Double Dry Hopped East Coast Transplant on tap and in cans. The beer is a hopped up version of the brewery's flagship New England-style IPA. The beer was brewed with 6.5 pounds of Simcoe, El Dorado and Citra hops per barrel and then dry-hopped. There are no limits, but quantity is limited.

4 Noses Brewing in Broomfield hosts a tapping and bottle release for Cinnamon Stout Crunch, starting at 11 a.m. The brewery added forty pounds of the cereal after fermentation. It will be sold in 500-mL bottles.

Tuesday, December 19
Briar Common Brewery + Eatery taps a new beer at 4 p.m. Sour Seoul is a kettle sour beer with a spicy kick. "We like to call it a 'kimchi ale,'" the brewery says. "Tasting notes of bright Asian pear with just enough heat to create an addiction, we are super-excited about this one! A 32-ounce Crowler and a limited-edition Sour Seoul baseball tee will be available together for $30 this night only."

Thursday, December 21
Do you like Black Shirt Brewing's Frontman IPA? Then you'll love Frontmaniac Double Dry Hopped IPA, an amped-up version of the brewery's flagship hoppy beer. Not only that, but Black Shirt is releasing it in four-packs (limit of one case per person). "Frontmaniac is brewed with oats, wheat and a blend of yeasts for a fuller and softer texture on the palate," the brewery says. "Bursting with tropical fruit notes, bright citrus characters and dark field grass, the palate is rich with these same hop characters and a rounded but firm bitterness."

Ursula Brewing in Aurora releases the Sacred Fire Wee Heavy (both regular and rye barrel aged) in honor of the Winter Solstice. Ursula describes it as "silky, and smooth, with a huge toasted marshmallow quality." The beer will be available all day, but the festivities — and food and fire — will start at 5:30.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes