Crooked Stave, Wit's End, Our Mutual Friend tune in to Colorado Craft Beer Week

Colorado Craft Beer Week, which runs through March 24, is in full swing (and you can find some highlights in our calendar on the next page), but there's plenty of other beer news pouring out. On Monday, in advance of next weekend's annual Craft Brewers Conference, the Boulder-based Brewers Association announced Monday that craft breweries made 13.2 million barrels of beer in 2012 and now account for 6.5 percent of the total volume of beer made in America, up from 5.7 percent in 2011. In addition, $1 of every $10 spent on beer in this country is spent on craft beer -- meaning that craft-beer sales stood at $10.2 billion in 2012, up from $8.7 billion in 2011. Cheers. Wednesday, March 20

Star Bar will host a Meet-the-Brewer night at 6 p.m. as part of Colorado Craft Beer Week, when Crooked Stave's Chad Yakobson drops in to talk beer and serve six of his wild or sour ales: Surette Provision Saison, Vieille Artisanal Saison, Origins Burgundy Sour, Leopold's Apple Whiskey barrel-aged Vieille Artisanal Saison andLeopold's Small Batch American Whiskey barrel-aged Sentience Sour Quad.

The Lobby American Grille is hosting a couple of events for Colorado Craft Beer Week, including a Dry Dock Beer Dinner tonight featuring dishes from executive chef Nate Gravina paired with Dry Dock's Dark Saison, HMS Bounty Old Ale and Vanilla Porter. One course will also be served with a beer cocktail that includes Apricot Blonde and Disaronno. Tickets are $45 per person (before tax and gratuity). Reservations are required.

Copper Kettle Brewing will tap a firkin of Great Scot today; the beer is a Scottish brown ale that has been "dry-hogged!" with fresh, local bacon. Taproom hours are 3 to 9 p.m.

In celebration of Colorado Craft Beer Week, Renegade Brewing will tap Cherub Rock, its popular Pumpkin Porter aged for several months in a bourbon barrel, at 6 p.m.; a similar version of the beer was tapped last weekend at Hops & Pie.

Thursday, March 21

Wit's End Brewing will hold a special horizontal tasting of its One series, for which owner Scott Witsoe made three versions of the same beer, but with a different variety of hops each time. The brewery saved kegs of its Columbus and Tettnang versions, which it will tap today alongside the newest version, Cascade. You can sample all three.

Ernie's Pizza will cede 24 of its 30 taps today to Renegade Brewing, Great Divide, Crooked Stave, Crazy Mountain, Dry Dock and Strange Brewing as part of Colorado Craft Beer Week. The tap takeover runs from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and gives guests the chance to meet and greet brewers and brewery reps; some of the beers should be rare ones that are only available in the breweries' tap rooms.

Breckenridge Colorado Craft, at 2220 Blake Street, will break out the firkins tonight at 6 p.m. for its Firkin Awesome, a party featuring cask beer from Breckenridge Brewery, New Belgium, Great Divide, Oskar Blues, Boulder Beer, Odell and Left Hand.

Friday, March 22

Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew will release 100 bottles of its Winter Warmer today at 2 p.m. in the taproom only. The bottles are hand-dipped in wax and numbered. It is the first time OMF has bottled a beer; the release is being held to celebrate and conclude the winter season and to make way for a new spring seasonal. There is a limit of two bottles per person. RSVP at http://www.facebook.com/events/354624267983726/

Wit's End Brewing will roll out a keg of its golden strong Dim Mak, which it had saved for Colorado Craft Beer Week. It will tap the beer at 2 p.m.

The Rackhouse Pub will tap AC Golden Brewing's much sought-after Hidden Barrel Apricot Sour today at 4 p.m. The brewery only bottled 100 cases of the beer, and this is the first time it has been put on draft anywhere. Representatives from AC Golden will be on hand from 4 to 7 p.m. to talk, pour beer and give away glasses.

Legends & Rarities, which takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. at Star Bar, celebrates the old guard of the Colorado craft-brewing world: the behemoths, the forerunners, the legends. It is the first of a two-part celebration hosted by Imbibe and Denver Off the Wagon; the second part takes place tomorrow at the Lobby and highlights the youngest beer-makers in the state. Ten breweries will each pour two beers: one legend (something that brought the brewery from infancy to today) and a rarity (something that makes the brewery desired by even the most devout beer geeks). Brewery reps from Avery, Boulder Beer, Breckenridge, Great Divide, Left Hand, New Belgium, Odell, Oskar Blues, Ska and Wynkoop will be on hand. And to keep the theme of oldies but goodies going, Mid Life Crisis will perform rock-and-roll classics starting at 9:30. Tickets are $30.

Great Divide will tap a very small amount of an unexpected treat that made itself available this week for Colorado Craft Week. It's a version of the brewery's Hades Belgian-Style Strong Golden Ale that was aged with brettanomyces yeast. "Four years ago, we took a little bit of Hades that had already been fermented (with its normal strain of Belgian yeast) and we added some brettanomyces for a secondary fermentation," says head brewer Taylor Rees. "We tasted the beer a few times over the four years, but just recently we really started to see the brett take hold of the beer. We were pleasantly surprised by the result -- this Hades has an elegant brett character with some light sourness and tartness. The nose is crisp and fruity, and the beer finishes very dry and makes you want another sip. We wish we had made more." There is less than a keg's worth of the beer, so Great Divide will only pour sample sizes to make it last longer.

As part of Colorado Craft Beer Week, Twisted Pine Brewing in Boulder is making things hot by challenging anyone to eat a ten-inch cheese pizza smothered with Ghost peppers and drink the the brewery's pepper-infused Ghost Face Killah beer inside of five minutes. It costs $15, but anyone who is successful gets a special GFK T-shirt and their face immortalized on the Twisted Pain Wall of Fame.

Saturday, March 23

River North Brewery will release its eighth barrel-aged beer today at 1 p.m. The beer, Barrel Reserve 2013, is a blend of several whiskey-aged beers and is the most complex beer that River North has produced. It will be on tap and sold in bottles to go; only 120 cases were produced. Some should hit liquor stores later this month.

So, you've done the beer and chocolate thing, the beer and cheese pairing, and maybe even beer and bacon. But you probably haven't done beer and pickles -- at least not yet. As part of Colorado Craft Beer Week, Denver Beer Co and the Real Dill will host Beers & Spears in the brewery's new Barrel Room space. A ticket will get you three beers and three pickles, including one made just for the event. There will also be a spicy pickle-eating contest: winner gets a growler of beer and a jar of pickles.

Check out the very newest of the new breweries in the metro area tonight at The New Kids on the Block Party, hosted by the Lobby New American Grille; it is the second part of a two-part party hosted by Imbibe and Denver Off the Wagon. The fun starts at 9 p.m. with beers from breweries that have been open less than two years. Wear your best '80s outfits or concert T-shirts to get into the NKOTB (the band, if you remember them) feel of things. Tickets cost, yes, $19.86.

Great Divide will tap a small-batch, Belgian-style strong ale brewed with 200 pounds of fresh Colorado Palisade peaches today at 2 p.m. "Peachy in a really good way, this beer is a deceptively easy drink for its massive 12.3 percent ABV," the brewery says.

Fire on the Mountain will be tapping a keg of Left Hand's Barrel Aged Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout. "This 10.2 percent ABV monster of a stout has hints of raisins, coffee, licorice and dark chocolate," the wings joint says.



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

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