Fort Collins Brewery's newest beer is, uh, black and strapping -- and a part of a growing trend

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

The Fort Collins and Wynkoop brewing companies are the the latest Colorado beer-makers to introduce new black ales, and while the Fort Collins bottle label made me raise a P.C. eyebrow, black ales are definitely becoming more popular.

The Incredible Hop Imperial Black IPA is part of Fort Collins Brewery's Incredible Hop series of one-off beers. "Strapping, black and highly hopped. Just like Carl Weathers as Dillon in Predator," reads a message on the label from brewer John Swanson.

Wynkoop, meanwhile, will release Skull and Crossbones Skull Black Ale today at the brewery and several of its other establishments in honor of Real Pirates, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science exhibit opening today. The dark-but-hoppy beer uses a new kind of whole-leaf hop, appropriately named El Dorado.

Black ales and IPAs have been around for a while. But the "style," which is also known as Cascadian Black Ale, India Black Ale or American-Style Black Ale, has been growing in popularity over the past two years, and several Colorado brewers make good ones.

Which is difficult, because Black IPAs typically combine two elements that can include a lot of bitterness: roasted malts and hops. In fact, some of the most well-regarded Black IPAs out there are some of most bitter - and the most difficult to drink.

Sublimely Self-Righteous, from San Diego County's Stone Brewing Company, Hop in the Dark, from Oregon's Deschutes Brewing, and Victory Brewing's Yakima Glory, will give you bitter-beer-face faster than any fizzy yellow beer.

The three best Black IPAs I've tried manage to moderate the bitterness from the malts and bring the hops forward. All three also happen to come from Colorado. They are Ska's One-Eyed Monster, which is only available in Durango; Tommyknocker's dry-hopped Hop Strike! Black Rye IPA, which is fantastic; and Odell's Mountain Standard, a "double black IPA" that had 100-plus beer bloggers buzzing in Boulder last fall. Some other Colorado Black IPAs include Boulder Beer's Flashback, Twisted Pine's Hoppy Knight and New Belgium's 1554.

The Fort Collins beer, originally just called Carl Weathers, was made especially for a single tap-club event, but a lot of people talked about it and asked the brewery to bring it back, says owner Tom Peters. "Our brew team is always looking at what is new."

As for the wording on the label, he says the quirky Carl Weathers moniker tagged along when the brewery decided to bottle the beer. "It's meant to grab your attention, but it's also a limited release so it won't go too far. If we were Budweiser, I'm sure there would be attorneys and psychologists and people like that involved."

Look for bomber bottles of the beer on liquor stores soon in Colorado.

Follow Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.