Beer Man

Crazy Mountain Is the First Colorado Brewery to Can a Barleywine

In the same month that Ska Brewing released one of the lowest-alcohol beers to be canned in Colorado -- the 4.5 ABV Rudie Session IPA -- Crazy Mountain Brewing in Edwards released one of the most potent: the 10 percent ABV Lawyers, Guns & Money.

Labeled as a barleywine, the beer tastes more like a double IPA and it rivals only Ten Fidy from Oskar Blues when it comes to alcohol content in a canned beer. It is also the only barleywine that has been canned in Colorado.

See also: Crazy Mountain Neomexicanus Is One of Only Two Beers Made With Hops Native to the U.S.

"We were a little timid about canning it because we weren't sure how a barleywine in a can would be received," says Crazy Mountain founder Kevin Selvy. "But once we decided to do it, we were all in. And it's moving a lot quicker than we thought."

Barleywines are one of the most commonly aged styles of beer, since their high alcohol content allows them to last longer and their complex malt profiles give the flavors a chance to evolve. And while most people wouldn't consider aging something that was packaged in aluminum, Selvy says Lawyers should hold up along with beers aged in glass: "We wanted to experiment with aging a beer in a can. Its something you don't see much of. But I hope it's something that we will see more and more of."

But the story behind Lawyers -- which debuted in four-packs of twelve-ounce cans in July -- is even stranger than the thought of a barleywine in a can.

The beer -- or rather, its name -- was born a couple of years before Crazy Mountain was founded in 2010. "Most of our names, we come up with before our recipes," Selvy says. "We kept this one in our back pocket, but it took a while to come up with the right beer."

And when it happened, it happened by accident. During the brewery's first year, Selvy and his staff were trying to brew a batch of their pale ale, but nothing was going right. "It was a nightmare of a day," he remembers. "Things were blowing up in our faces and the brew went horribly wrong. And by the time this twenty-hour brew day was over, we ended up not with our pale ale, but with a 10 percent ABV beer that actually tasted pretty good."

Selvy had always wanted to make a barleywine, so he decided to use the hops from his pale ale -- Citra -- which had tasted so good in a 10 percent beer, and combine them with the English malts that are typically used to brew a barleywine.

"We didn't want a molasses-heavy, sickly sweet barleywine. So this is one is a hop bomb, and a lot of people think it drinks more like an IPA," he adds.

Lawyers, Guns & Money will be a year-round offering from Crazy Mountain, and it will be on tap this Saturday, August 16, when the brewery hosts its fourth annual Ed Fest at the Freedom Park soccer fields in Edwards. There will be more than forty craft breweries on hand along with food and live music.

Follow Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan

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

Latest Stories