Tivoli Brewing turned Denver's beer history on its head last summer when the reincarnation of one of the Mile High City's first breweries opened inside the original Tivoli brewery building on the Auraria campus. Since then, Tivoli has been making re-imagined versions of some of Denver's original German-style lagers from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
But its latest version of an historic beer focuses on a different era and a decidedly different style of beer. Tivoli tapped Jet Malt Liquor this week, as well as a second new beer – this one not historic – called She's My Cherry Pie.
“Jet was the only malt liquor that Tivoli produced,” says Tivoli co-founder Corey Marshall, adding, with a laugh, that it will be brewed with corn, "just a like a good malt liquor should be brewed.” But Jet will also feature a rotating selection of hops, which is unusual for a malt liquor, typically known for being sweet, nearly hop-less, high-alcohol lagers designed specifically to get you drunk faster.
Tivoli head brewer Dieter Foerstner “has had a big desire to bring malt liquors back into the world of craft beer,” Marshall explains. The first version, a collaboration with Wynkoop Brewing, used Nelson Sauvin hops. The version that went on tap this week was brewed with New Zealand Pacifica hops. “We are using the concept of jet setting, from the name, for the hops," he adds. "Who knows where we will go next?”
The other beer, She's My Cherry Pie, is a lager made with fresh cherries grown by Big B's, a juicer and cider maker near Paonia. The 9 percent ABV beer was also brewed with honey, brown sugar and cinnamon “to give it a real cherry pie flavor,” Marshall says.
Foerstner says he came up with the recipe while he was waiting for Tivoli to get its brewhouse online – something that was just completed about two months ago. Some of it will be aged with cocoa nibs in brandy barrels and some with vanilla beans in wine barrels. Some of the beer will also be soured and fermented with Brettanomyces.
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Both She's My Cherry Pie and Jet Malt Liquor, at 9.5 percent ABV, were featured at the Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival, which took place in January in Vail.
The primary focus at Tivoli right now, though, is continuing to brew the company's flagships, Tivoli and Sigi's Wild Horse Buck Beer, and packaging Tivoli in bottles. Marshall says the brewery recently took delivery of a bottling line that can handle about 1,500 bottles per minute and should begin bottling sometime in early or mid-March. After that – and later in the year — Tivoli plans to begin brewing other versions of historic Denver beers, including Neef's, Zang's and Union.
The new Tivoli was founded in 2012 by Marshall and his wife, Debbie, who bought up several expired old Denver brewery trademarks and researched the city's brewing past. The Marshalls contracted with Prost Brewing, which also specialized in German-style lagers, to actually brew and package the beer. But in 2014, Tivoli announced that it had signed a lease for 8,000 square feet of space inside the Tivoli Student Union, which is where the original Tivoli – and its predecessors — had operated between 1900 and 1969, when the brewery closed.
Tivoli's thirty-barrel brewhouse was installed right beside and below the two original 250-barrel copper-plated brew kettles that the old Tivoli used and which are still in the building. Tivoli is now making all of its own beers on site at the brewery.