As Colorado's oldest craft brewery, Boulder Beer Company has had to reinvent itself a few times over the last 34 years, changing its look and its owners, updating its recipes, adding new tanks. Its latest move, however, caused a real stir. Or rather, a Shake.
In October, Boulder Beer unveiled Shake Chocolate Porter, which has been so popular that the brewery can barely make enough to keep up with demand.
"It has really taken off," says Boulder Beer spokesman Dan Weitz. "We have brewed 2,000 barrels of it in just ten weeks. It really surprised us in a great way."
But it probably shouldn't have. Shake has been on tap for the past two years at Old Chicago restaurants as one of the chain's house beers, Black Diamond Chocolate Porter, and it has been one of the best-sellers.
Boulder Beer is owned by the same corporate parent as Old Chicago, CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries, but the little brewery decided this year to take the beer back and make it its own. It's still on at many Old Chicagos, but under the Shake name.
And Shake isn't Boulder Beer's only new brew. In September, it released Dragonhosen, an imperial Octoberfest bottled in 22-ounce bombers, and this week it will unveil The Heckler, an 8 percent ABV Belgian-style tripel in sixteen-ounce cans.
"With all the new nanobreweries and small micros popping up, we have to maintain our relevancy," Weitz says. "We cant just sit back and count on Mojo and Hazed & Infused," which are the brewery's two biggest sellers. Plus, he says, the company has had some turnover recently -- two of its brewers left to form Sanitas Brewing in Boulder earlier this year -- so Boulder Beer asked the new guys to show their stuff with some new recipes.
The Heckler, which will only be sold in Colorado, was made to honor the Cyclocross National Championships, which take place in Boulder in early January; Boulder Beer president Jeff Brown is a competitor and a fan of the sport (a form of bike racing).
"Since it's a beer to take to the race, we put it in a can, and since it will be cold, we wanted it to be big," Weitz says.
But The Heckler won't be the last new brew. Boulder Beer is working on an imperial black IPA that it will make next spring to celebrate its 35th anniversary. The beer doesn't have a name yet, but Boulder Beer is running a Facebook contest online to find one.
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