Beer Man

Don't Forget to Go Local During GABF Week: Ten Colorado Beers to Seek Out

Out-of-state breweries get a lot of attention during Great American Beer Festival week: after all, many of them don't distribute in Colorado, so the only time locals can try a beer from one of these breweries is at the festival or at one of the events that take place around town. But local breweries pull out all the stops this week, too, both for the beer tourists — from other states or just elsewhere in Colorado — and for locals who are turning the first week of October into a beery staycation.

And they don't want you to forget it. River North Brewery and Funkwerks, in particular, have made a point of this by brewing two "Conspiracy" beers and hosting an event at Lucky Pie in LoDo called the Local Conspiracy, taking place tomorrow (October 5). "For too long have we stood idly by while out-of-town breweries invade our town for GABF," reads the breweries' tongue-in-cheek message.

"We really wanted to bring an event that shows off what some of the local breweries are doing. We feel like that gets lost with all these hundreds of breweries coming to the state," adds River North owner Matthew Hess. Hess and Fort Collins-based Funkwerks co-owner Gordon Schuck have known each other for several years and decided to collaborate since they both specialize in saisons.

"People are more interested in the things they can't have," Schuck says. "With trying to keep the brewery up and running, we haven't really done too much for GABF week. So this seemed like a really good idea."

In addition to the event at Lucky Pie, both breweries will release bottles of their own version of the conspiracy. River North's version is a barrel-aged dark saison. Find details about the event and all the other events during GABF week in our Great American Beer Festival 2016 Calendar of Amazing Events.

Now, here are some other local beers to look for this week.

Monochrome, Moontower, and Merit Badge Bottle Releases
These bottled beers, from Cerebral Brewing, Mockery Brewing and Ursula Brewing, respectively, are just a few of the many brewery-only bottle releases taking place this week. Monochrome is a dry-hopped Grisette; Moontower is a barrel-aged vanilla bourbon imperial porter; Merit Badge is a coconut chocolate imperial porter. Find the release dates for these bottles in our calendar. Check the Facebook pages of your favorite breweries for more releases. Some possible suspects include Call to Arms, Spangalang, Black Sky, Our Mutual Friend, Baere, Black Project and Crooked Stave.

Freshcraft Local Showcase
Freshcraft is bringing the house this GABF season. On Tuesday, the beer-centered restaurant will host a local showcase starting at 7 p.m., with beers from TRVE Brewing, Horse & Dragon Brewing Company, Ratio Beerworks, Comrade Brewing, WeldWerks Brewing, Lost Highway Brewing and Cerebral Brewing — all bringing beers you've been wanting to try badly but haven't gotten to yet. Now's your chance.

Odell Brewing Jolly Russian
This one snuck in under the radar. A Russian imperial stout aged in rum barrels, Jolly Russian debuted in bottles at Odell's Fort Collins taproom, but the 13.3 percent ABV stout is likely to be on tap around this week wherever Odell is making appearances — at Avanti Food & Beverage on Wednesday, for example, or at Lucky Pie on Thursday, or at DIA in the airport's temporary beer garden.

Boulder Beer 35th Anniversary GABF Beer
Brewed by Boulder Beer and GABF founder Charlie Papazian to honor the 35th anniversary of the fest, this India pale lager was made with maris otter and brown malts, among others, along with four kinds of hops: citra, equinox, nelson sauvin and nugget. It will be at GABF, at Boulder Beer, in liquor stores and most likely at other venues around town, too.

Great Divide Velvet Yeti
After years of making believers out of Yeti drinkers, Great Divide picked this week to unveil Velvet Yeti, a new, lower-alcohol version of the well-known, 9.5 percent imperial stout. Served only on nitro and only in Colorado for now, Velvet Yeti is on tap at both of the brewery's Denver taprooms.

Ska Brewing Pils World
Maybe you like pilsners. That's cool. Maybe you also like pilsner and pot? Well, you wouldn't be alone. Ska Brewing, from Durango, is debuting a new 5.4 percent ABV canned pilsner this week called Pils World at Cheba Hut on Tuesday and Wednesday, where it is also giving away Ska logo pipes.

Avery Brewing Double Dry-Hopped Maharaja
Okay, maybe this is on the list because it's one of the beers that I need to try, since I haven't had it before. But if you like Avery's Maharaja, I'm guessing you will like this one double. At 10.5 percent ABV, it was dry-hopped with Simcoe, Chinook and Amarillo hops. Lucky Pie will have it on Wednesday.

Casey Brewing & Blending
Troy Casey makes some of the rarest, most sought-after sour and wild ales in Colorado — and he doesn't bring them to Denver all that often. Although a few appear occasionally in restaurants or liquor stores, they disappear quickly. This week, though, a variety of Casey beers should be in relative abundance around town. Check our GABF beer calendar or the Casey Facebook page for details.

Anything left over from Beers Made By Walking
The Beers Made by Walking program invites brewers to create place-based beers inspired by plants found on nature trails, some in the wilderness, others in more urban settings. This year's festival of the same name takes place at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. It will feature more than thirty place-based beers, most of which were brewed specifically for the event by Colorado breweries. But breweries often put their collaborations on tap around afterward, and they are almost always interesting, unusual and palate-challenging.
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes