Beer Man

Crystal Springs Brewing mines Boulder's brewing roots for its Wuerzburger lager

"The question 'what is Wuerzburger' has been answered. It is the freshest, foamiest, liveliest, pleasantest beer seen in Boulder," read an August 12, 1905, article in the Boulder Daily Camera. "Wuerzbuger (pronounce the z as if it were a t) would be called 'hot stuff' were it not that it is always served cold. Wuerzburger is amber colored joy, dimpled loveliness, sweetly delicious nectar from the pure barley of Boulder County."

And that was just for starters. The article went on to describe the beer, made by the original Crystal Springs Brewing and Ice Company (the successor to Boulder City Brewing_, in detailed fashion, down to the body, aroma and color.

It was specific enough, in fact, that Tom Horst, owner of the modern version of Crystal Springs Brewing (the original burned down during Prohibition, he says) has done his best to recreate the historic lager at his new two-barrel brewery in Louisville.

See also: Southeastern Boulder County had one brewery until this week; by fall, it will have eight

"I'd been wanting to do it since we started, but I hadn't felt comfortable enough without a recipe," he says. "Then my good friend Rick Sinner, who calls himself a 'Boulder County historian through artifacts,' found this article that was so descriptive."

Horst decided the beer had to be a Helles-style bock and went about trying to determine what kind of ingredients a turn-of-the-century brewer might have used. He ended up choosing Crystal hops, grown at Niwot Hop Farm, and two kinds of German specialty malts, which he had custom-roasted by Alamosa's Colorado Malting Company.

"It came out really nice, and it's selling well," says Horst, who plans to brew as many versions of early-1900s Crystal Springs recipes as he can. "I like to think of it as an educational challenge. Even if we don't do it right, it will still be fun."

Horst, a former music teacher who is now in his sixties, has been having all kinds of fun since last October, when he opened his new brewery at 657 South Taylor Avenue in Louisville. The two-story location includes a 1,800-square-foot taproom and patio.

Before that, Horst had been operating Crystal Springs out of his garage in the Sunshine Canyon area of Boulder, brewing tiny batches of beers like Doc's American and Black Saddle Stout, which he would can and bottle for retail sales. Although he'd been open for business since May 2010, the location was too small for a public taproom.

And it was his friend, Sinner, who first suggested the idea of using the name Crystal Springs. "The first brewery located in Boulder was a brewery called Boulder City Brewing (later Boulder City Brewing and Ice Company). Frank Weisenhorn and Charles Voegtle founded it in 1875 -- the same year that Boulder Prep -- now Boulder High School -- was founded," Horst says on his web site. "In 1898, Samual Pell purchased the brewery and the name was changed to Crystal Springs Brewing and Ice Company."

Over the past few years, Horst and Sinner have been collecting any information, bottles or memorabilia about the original Crystal Springs; they now know of nine different styles of beer that the brewery made, including an ale, which would have been unusual then.

Horst plans to brew the Wuerzburger at least six times over the next few months and keep it on tap all summer. He will also bottle it in 22-ounce bomber bottles for retail sales.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes

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