There are a handful of unusual, newly-released and very rare, Colorado craft brews on liquor store shelves right now -- if you can find them.
Syzygy Barrel-Aged Black IPA Crabtree Brewing, Greeley
This one is just landing in stores today after a release party last week. It's an 8 percent ABV, bottle-conditioned version of Crabtree's regular Syzygy that was aged for a full year in Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon barrels and then dry-hopped -- although the term "dry-hopped" may be an understatement, says brewery owner Jeff Crabtree.
"We only made 100 gallons," he explains. "Then we dry-hopped it for two weeks using ten pounds of hops. To give you a comparison, we use ten pounds of hops for 320 gallons of our pale ale." Packaged in 750 ml bottles, Syzygy will cost $18 a pop. "I know I'm biased since I own the brewery," Crabtree says. "But it's $18, and it's well worth it."
Named for a astronomical phenomenon in which the earth, the sun and the moon all line up perfectly in a row to form the perfect eclipse, Syzygy (pronounced Sizza-gee) pours as black as night. Only 47 cases are available.
Buddha Nuvo Rockyard, Trinity and twelve others
Buddha Nuvo is a Belgian-style saison that was envisioned by the brewers at Rockyard in Castle Rock and Trinity in Colorado Springs, and then collaboratively created with the assistance of twelve other breweries.
The wild lineup of ingredients includes the brightly-colored and exotically-shaped Buddha's Hand fruit, along with grains of paradise, 175 pounds of pumpkin and five strains of yeast. Once it was brewed, the beer was moved to French oak chardonnay barrels and aged with the souring yeast, brettanomyces. Finally, it was primed with Colorado honey and allowed to carbonate in the bottles. It's being sold in very limited quantities in 750 ml bottles that have been signed by Rockyard's Jim Stinson and Trinity's Jason Yester and then dipped in wax made from melted crayons.
At $35 to $40 per bottle, it's not cheap. But if you can find it, it will be one of the most interesting and unusual beers you'll drink this year.
Pure Guava Petite Sour and Wild Wild Brett Rouge Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
The final two beers, Pure Guava Petite Sour and Wild Wild Brett Rouge, are from Crooked Stave in Fort Collins. Released earlier this month, both are sold in 750 ml bottles for $12.99 each -- a relatively modest price compared to similar sour beers from bigger breweries.
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But Crooked Stave only made 147 cases of the Petite Sour and 139 of the Wild Wild Brett, and much of that was sold at a release party. A couple dozen cases of these beers have made their way to Front Range liquor stores, however. (I got mine at Mr. B's Wine and Spirits, 2101 Market Street, near Coors Field).
Pure Guava Petite Sour is a 4.5 percent ABV wheat beer, brewed with oats, coriander and sumac, then fermented with brettanomyces, which lends some tropical fruit aroma and flavors to the beer. Wild Wild Brett Rouge, at 5.2 percent ABV, was made with Hawthorn berries, rose hips, fifteen pounds of hibiscus and 100 percent brett yeast.