Beer Man

Fifteen Badass Colorado Beers Hitting Store Shelves in December

December often sees some of the biggest, baddest-ass beer releases in Colorado. Maybe it's because of the weather and way people get in the mood for heavier beers with a higher alcohol content. Maybe its the chill or even the need for something to smooth over holiday stress.

Whatever the reason, all of the beers on this list are badass — whether because of the label art, the color, the ABV, the name, or the time and dedication that went into making them. Now, drink up and stay warm.

Black Celebration
TRVE Brewing

TRVE released three new beers this month in very limited quantities. One of those is Black Celebration, a dark, mixed-culture ale aged with more than three pounds of Colorado-grown sweet cherries per gallon of beer. "Immense flavors of dark chocolate and cherries combine with a medium acidity and velvety carbonation to create the perfect beer for your winter solstice celebrations," the brewery says, noting that the beer is "crimson, bordering on black with an incredibly metal pink head." The beer will go on sale at the brewery on Tuesday, December 13, and will also hit a limited number of liquor stores in small quantities.

Voodoo Ranger IPA
New Belgium Brewing
Fort Collins

New Belgium Brewing just overhauled part of its lineup, adding some new beers and getting rid of others. One of the new brews is Voodoo Ranger IPA, which replaces Ranger IPA but is still a nod to New Belgium's beer rangers (albeit undead ones?). New Belgium says it doesn't know when the beers will hit shelves because liquor stores will have to sell through their old stock first — but you should start seeing the skeleton-emblazoned labels this month or in January. Voodoo Ranger is described as "bursting with tropical aromas and juicy fruit flavors from Mosaic and Amarillo hops. This golden IPA is perfectly bitter, with a refreshing finish."

Odyssey Beerwerks

Not everyone is feeling good about the Russians these days, but Odyssey wanted to at least honor part of the country's past by naming a new Russian imperial stout after Salyut, the Soviet Union's "revolutionary space program...designed for long-term research in space, which led to the world’s first crewed space station, Salyut 1," the brewery says. Odyssey released three three barrel-aged versions, two of which — one aged in Laws bourbon barrels and the other in Breckenridge Distillery barrels — were bottled in bombers and will be available in limited quantities at a few liquor stores, mostly on the western and northern sides of the metro area. Salyut has aromas of vanilla, tobacco, chocolate and dried dark fruit.

Peach Acide
Elevation Beer Company
Poncha Springs

Last summer, Elevation released a new beer called Acide, a kettle-soured, dry-hopped saison. To shake things up over the winter, the brewery decided to experiment with some other flavors. As a result, it added peaches to the 4.5 percent ABV beer, producing "just a touch of fruity flavor to accent the original brew’s tartness," Elevation says. “We thought that some peach flavors would add a nice layer of complexity.”

Later Dude
Boulder Beer Company

The fourth in Boulder Beer's barrel-aged Dude Series, Later Dude is a 9.8 percent ABV wheat wine aged in whiskey barrels from Breckenridge Distillery. "The large portion of wheat in the mash provides a soft, round mouthfeel complemented by notes of vanilla, raisin and toffee from aging it in first-use whiskey barrels," Boulder Beer says. It is available in 22-ounce bottles.

Wild Christmas Ale With Cranberries
Upslope Brewing

Put this one on both the nice and the naughty list. Upslope debuted Wild Christmas Ale last year, a sexier version of its regular Christmas Ale that was fermented with Brettanomyces. This year, Upslope changed it up slightly, aging it for eleven months in Leopold Bros. Maryland Style Rye Whiskey barrels and then re-fermenting with 500 pounds of cranberries. The 9 percent ABV beer has notes of candied orange, oak and rye whiskey spices, with assertive cranberry tartness and a light chocolate finish, Upslope says. You can find the beer around town for a brief time in 19.2 ounce cans as part of the the brewery's Lee Hill series.

Top Rope Mexican Lager
The Post Brewing

It all started back in 2010, when the Big Red F restaurant group — owners of Centro Latin Kitchen, Lola, West End Tavern, Zolo Grill and Jax Fish House — decided to pour a local Mexican-style lager rather than a mass-produced one. So the company tapped Boulder's Upslope Brewing to make Top Rope as its house beer, and then, in 2012, to can it. But in 2014, Big Red F opened its own brewery — the Post, in Lafayette — and Top Rope became one of that brewery's beers. And now it will be canned again. The 5 percent ABV lager "flips into the ring with a crisp malt flavor and an herbal hop aroma," the brewery says, and "finishes with a clean three count, squashing thirst and leading into the next match-up."

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