If ever there was a year to drink beer with your turkey and stuffing — and all of those leftovers — this is it. Just like local restaurants, breweries are suffering during the pandemic: They can't seat customers indoors, and the weather is too nasty for most winter patios, so their only option is selling beer to go.
And for beer lovers, it's a bonanza. Many breweries wait for Thanksgiving week to release some of their biggest, boldest and best offerings, especially on the Wednesday before the holiday and on Black Friday. And almost all of them have easily available cans, Crowlers, growlers and other options.
To help, the Brewers Association is once again promoting Small Brewery Sunday, a national beer "holiday" on November 29, with the goal of encouraging "beer lovers to celebrate the big impact of small breweries on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and to support local breweries, brewpubs, and taprooms" through the holidays.
"Amid the global pandemic, craft beer sales are down 22 percent in the third quarter of 2020, and only 78 percent of small breweries are confident that they’ll still be open in twelve months," the BA says, quoting a recent survey. "Approximately two-thirds of at-the-brewery sales during the third quarter of the year occurred outdoors, indicating that winter will be the make-it-or-break-it season."
Let's help them make it.
Keep reading to see this week's beer releases and tappings.
Wednesday, November 25
Comrade Brewing releases three beers at 1 p.m. for takeout only. The first is Quit Stalin, which is usually released on Black Friday. The 9.9 percent ABV Russian imperial stout has aromas of "toffee and chocolate" and is "lightly sweet, full-bodied and smooth on the palate, with a subtle smoky finish and just enough bitterness to balance out the malt sweetness," the brewery says. There's also Sabro IPA, which was brewed with Sabro hops and dry-hopped with Lotus. It has "a complex citrus and fruity flavor." And then there's Rye Pale Ale, a 6.3 percent ABV beer brewed with flaked rye and hopped with Simcoe and Sultana.
River North Brewery will have bottles of Mr. Sandman Barrel Aged Whiskey Imperial Stout available to go from both of its taprooms at 4 p.m.
Cerebral Brewing releases one new beer in cans and has fresh cans of two flagships. The new beer is Canopy Cover, a triple-dry-hopped double IPA. A collaboration with Portland's Great Notion Brewing, the beer was brewed with lactose and Citra, Strata and Galaxy hops. The two other beers are Dark Energie Coffee Oatmeal Stout and Rare Trait IPA.
Strange Craft Beer Company brings back its Sweet Potato Green Chile Pale Ale. The beer, which uses an unusual combination of fall flavors, has become an annual Thanksgiving tradition at the brewery.
Imperial Vanilla Chai Brown Ale drops today at Resolute Brewing's two locations. The beer, which took home a gold medal in the Field Beer category this year at the Best of Craft Beer Awards in Bend, Oregon, is normally released on Black Friday, but "we said to hell with tradition and are dropping it early to raise morale," the brewery says. "We encourage you to stop by and stock up on one of our favorite malt-forward brews featuring luscious Madagascar vanilla beans and a fancy blend of Chai spices."
Copper Kettle Brewing wraps its month of dessert firkins with Banana Cream Pie Snowed In, a version of its barrel-aged imperial oatmeal stout with banana. It's on draft only.
Westfax Brewing has a small batch of its 6.5 percent ABV Cranberry Smoothie Sour infused with sage available in cans to go on Thanksgiving Eve.
Friday, November 27
As it does every year, Station 26 Brewing releases an imperial stout on Black Friday. This time around, the brewery has 100 four-packs (twelve-ounce bottles) of Hell Bear Imperial Stout. Each four-pack contains four variants of the beer: Coffee, Mexican Chocolate, Vanilla Chai, and Whiskey Barrel-Aged Hell Bear.
Online pre-orders will begin at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Cerebral Brewing hosts an online sale starting at 10 a.m. for two of its most anticipated beers of the year: Vanilla Here Be Monsters, a 14.2 percent ABV imperial stout aged 22 months in seven-year Weller Wheated Bourbon barrels; and Barrel Aged Safe Word, a 13.2 percent ABV imperial stout aged for nineteen months in Laws San Luis Valley Straight Rye Whiskey barrels with coconut, cacao, cassia bark and lactose. The sale takes place on eventbrite.com, and there are various rules; both beers will sell out immediately.
Burns Family Artisan Ales releases I Hate Shopping, a 7 percent ABV black IPA brewed with Cascade, Citra, Centennial and Mosaic hops. "Dark without being overly roasty, it has a bright piney-citrus profile," the brewery says, "and while we have made twice as much as we produced last year, it could very easily sell out twice as quickly." It will be available on tap and in 16.9-ounce cans to go.
River North Brewery opens up pre-sales for its annual Decennial Series beers at noon on its online store; the beers, including God Complex and Shadow Time, will be available for pick-up on December 5.
Crooked Stave releases Little Duck, a milk stout brewed with cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, vanilla and milk sugar. The 8.3 percent ABV beer is available in cans to go. It was named for the rubber duckies that the brewery used to denote clean tables over the summer and fall in the taproom.
Ursula Brewery in Aurora releases 11 Iron Men Triple IPA. The beer, released annually, weights in at 11 percent ABV and is made with eleven malts and hops along with blood oranges.
Celebrate Black Friday at Westfax Brewing, which will host four beer releases, a food truck and a marketplace with local crafters. The beers are: Beta Wave 2020, a 10.3 percent ABV bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout; I Do Eclair, a 7.7 percent pastry stout with notes of hazelnut, vanilla, chocolate and caramel; Sippin' on a Cloud, an 8 percent juicy/hazy double IPA brewed with Sabro, Mosaic, Ekuanot and Enigma hops; and a mystery fourth beer. The marketplace will run from 2 to 6 p.m.
Copper Kettle Brewing will debut the brewery’s first holiday beer gift box. This locally made gift box includes five variants from Copper Kettle’s Snowed In series. Snowed In is an Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels. The gift box includes cherry, vanilla, coconut, mocha and maple versions, as well as a custom Snowed In glass. This gift box goes on sale this Friday for $99 plus tax. After that it goes up to $110 plus tax.
Big Choice Brewing in Brighton is canning its Chill Out Peppermint Stout this year. The 7 percent ABV chocolate milk stout will be available in cans with two different labels.
Something Brewery in Brighton and Blue Tile Brewing in Denver teamed up to create Strawberry Jacuzzi, a "strawberry shortcake kettle sour" that will be released at both breweries at noon. Made with fresh strawberries and vanilla cake batter, the beer will be available to go in Crowlers.
Over Yonder Brewing in Golden brings back Childhood Memories, a 7.8 percent ABV Winter Warmer with "notes of citrus peel, fresh ginger, spices and locally sourced honey," the brewery says.
Westbound & Down Brewing in Idaho Springs releases two barrel-aged beers at 8 a.m. Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout is a 15.7 percent ABV beer aged in Heaven Hill Rye and Dickel bourbon barrels. "Oak- and bourbon-forward with big caramel and fudge flavors with delicate coffee and vanilla notes from extended aging," the brewery says. "Creamy, silky, high-end hot chocolate with bourbon." The second beer, Opulence, is the same beer but with extended aging on over a half-pound of Madagascar vanilla beans per barrel.
The timing couldn't be better for Loveland's Verboten Brewing, which releases two versions of Grow Old With You Barrel Aged Barleywine Style Ale today. That's because one of them just won a gold medal at the highly respected Festival of Barrel Aged Beers (FOBAB) last week. The releases are Double Oaked Bourbon Grow Old With You, an English-style barleywine aged in bourbon barrels and rye whiskey barrels for a year. "It has flavors of bourbon, American oak, raisins, dark and stone fruits, brown sugar and a hint of rye." The second beer — and the award winner — is Double Oaked Cognac Grow Old With you, which was aged in Heaven Hill Rye barrels and Cognac Staves for a year. "Smooth and sweet notes of dark fruits, brown sugar, great barrel character and cognac sweetness." They are available in two-packs.
Saturday, November 28
Woods Boss Brewing brings back Magical Narwhal, a milk stout brewed with fifteen pounds of peppermint candy canes. "This beer is a cheers to our friends, family and beer lovers everywhere, and feels like a big, warm hug, piled with heaps of candy canes straight from the North Pole," the brewery says.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hibernation Ale, Great Divide Brewing resurrected a barrel-aged version of its winter seasonal. But this time, instead of whiskey barrels, the brewery aged this high-gravity version of Hibernation in tawny and ruby Port barrels for eight months with the addition of blackstrap molasses and Belgian candi syrup. These 750ml bottles are numbered and very limited. They will sell for $15 and be available to go at Great Divide's Barrel Bar location. The first fifty people to pick up a bottle will also receive a limited-edition Hibernation glass. After that, a bottle and the glass will be $20.
New Image Brewing has three new beers available to go in cans. They are: Pay It Forward Double Dry Hopped IPA, a 7.8 percent ABV hazy beer brewed with Simcoe and El Dorado hops; UnMacerated Unfruited Barrel Aged Sour Ale, a 6.5 percent ABV sour ale; and Pure Isolate, an IPA made with Idaho 7 hop terpenes.
Sunday, November 29
The "delectable and delicious" S'amore! is joining Factotum Brewhouse on Small Brewery Sunday "to bring sweet treats to all," the brewery says. "There's no better way to cap off the weekend than one of these creative s'mores sandwiches paired with a dessert craft beer; may we suggest the Nunburn Mudslide Stout."
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