Beer Man

The Cheeky Monk gets crafty during the Great American Beer Festival

In May, the Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Café opened a new location in Westminster that included an old world bar to focus on overseas beers and a new world bar focusing on Belgian-style craft beers, rare brews, Colorado beers and collaborations.

The Cheeky Monk also added six craft beer taps to its orginal location on Colfax.

In changing their beer selections, owners James and Tina Pachorek jumped fryar-head first into the expanding craft brew world, a scene they hadn't really been part of since opening the Colfax spot in 2007, despite their beer-driven focus.

Now, Cheeky Monk has taken that a step further by collaborating with Boulder's Avery Brewing on a limited edition release that will make its debut later this month (September 14 at 8 p.m.) just before the Great American Beer Festival comes to town.

The beer, called Three Cheeks to the Wind, is a dark Belgian tripel brewed in honor of the Cheeky Monk's third anniversary. "We didn't want to get too crazy. We wanted to stay within a certain style, but we definitely put a spin on it," says James Pachorek, who helped select the grains, hops and yeast, along with a couple of his employees.

When Cheeky Monk first opened, the notion of having seventeen Belgian beers on tap was "groundbreaking" for Denver, Pachorek says. "We wanted to do something that we knew was kind of out there and original, and we stuck to the Belgian theme."

At the time, craft breweries were concentrating on heavily hopped IPAs and double IPAs, rather than Belgian beer styles, he says. "It's not that we didn't want to have craft beers, but at that time, most of the breweries were focusing on their pale ales."

But a festival hosted by Avery Brewing last February called the Boulder Sour Fest -- and dedicated entirely to sour ales, wild ales and brett beers -- changed Pachorek's mind. "That did it for me. I knew the breweries had hit the nail on the head at the point."

In fact, Pachorek was amazed at how quickly craft brewers had been able to make beers that were as good at or better than what the Belgians have been doing for generations.

Now, Cheeky Monks features some of these beers on tap, as well as other rare and unusual craft beers that rarely leave the tap rooms of places like Stone, Avery, Dogfish Head, the Bruery and Great Divide. "It usually takes a couple of beers before I can loosen the brewers up and they say, 'Okay, just this once.'"

During the Great American Beer Festival, the Cheeky Monk will host several events aside from the Three Cheeks event, including special tappings on September 15-16 with Great Divide, Boulevard Brewing and Ska. In addition, there will be a special event featuring Saisan du Buff and the brewers of Dogfish Head, Stone and Victory.

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