Ten hard-to-find beers you should try from Colorado

Colorado makes some of the best beers in the world. Am I biased? Maybe, but I'm also right. Luckily for the rest of the nation, many of these brews are available on liquor store shelves in other parts of the country. But not all of them.

Some only come from local taps; others are simply too hard to find outside of this square state. So here's a list of ten beers that out-of-towners should sample while they're in this town -- they're all on tap at local watering holes or available at Mile High liquor stores.

The wording for most of the reviews below comes straight from the breweries themselves. Why? Because they make the beers sound so damn delicious -- and they are.

B3K Schwarzbier Wynkoop Brewing Company, Denver This German-style black lager has a deep color and gently roasted flavors balanced by an understated hoppiness. A thirst-quenching version of dark beer. A 2008 Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal Winner in the German Schwarzbier category.

St. Vrain Tripel Left Hand Brewing Company, Longmont The spicy aroma that streams upward with hints of wild flower honey and orange blossom is your first clue of the depth of St. Vrain Tripel. The sweetness from the malt makes itself known immediately, progressing to bittersweet honey and dried fruit flavors, and finishing out with the lingering earthiness from the Stisselspalt hops.

471 IPA Breckenridge Brewery, Denver Hoppy? Brother, 471 IPA redefines hoppy. 471 is a small batch, limited-edition ale that was created by our brewmaster to separate the weak from the strong. 471 is a double IPA that combines numerous malts and hops. It has a big sweet mouthfeel, followed by more hoppiness than you've ever had at one time.

The Maharaja Imperial India Pale Ale (if you can find it) Avery Brewing, Boulder The Maharaja flaunts his authority over a deranged amount of hops: tangy, vibrant and pungent along with an insane amount of malted barley -- fashioning a dark amber hue and exquisite malt essence.

Gordon Oskar Blues, Lyons/Longmont A hybrid version of strong ale, somewhere between an Imperial Red and a Double IPA. We make it with six different malts and three types of hops, then dry-hop it with a mutha lode of Amarillo hops.

Oak Aged Yeti (or any of its brothers) Great Divide Brewing, Denver Yeti Imperial Stout's sophisticated sibling. They may be from the same clan, but they have entirely different personalities. Oak aging gives a subtle vanilla character, rounding out Yeti's intense roastiness and huge hoppy nature. Who says you can't tame a Yeti?

Plaid Bastard Scotch Ale Grand Lake Brewing, Grand Lake Our Strong Scotch Ale is full bodied with notes of dark fruit. Serve this premium brew in a snifter to accentuate the brandy-like nose for your maximum enjoyment.

Colorado Kind Ale Mountain Sun, Boulder and Denver What's in a name? The brewer's mantra, "more hops," is taken as far as possible in this beer. A deep amber body balances the bitterness and makes that long day at work seem a distant memory. Just ask for a pint of "the dank!!" This beer is also dry hopped with whole flower and cascade hops.

Man Beer Bull and Bush, Denver An English-style IPA and two-time GABF medal winner, Man Beer deserves your attention for the name alone. A smooth, amber-colored brew, this one is more gentle than the big American IPAs and has hints of citrus or pine.

Modus Hoperandi Ska Brewing, Durango A mix of citrus and pine that will remind you of the time you went on a vision quest with your Native American cousin and woke up in a pine grove full of grapefruit trees. Bitter and hoppy with a surprisingly smooth finish.

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