Category Archives: Craft Beer

My Top Beers of 2015

As I was looking through my Facebook feed today, I noticed this list of the top beers enjoyed in 2015. Of the 50 beers on the list I had the pleasure of trying some of them. As much of the beer I consumed in 2015 came from small breweries along the Front Range, there were a lot that I enjoyed that never would have made the list. So that got me to thinking, “What were the best beers I enjoyed in 2015?” So I jumped over to UnTappd and looked it up. Without further ado, here were my top 10 beers in 2015 as determined by my ratings on UnTappd. I rated all of these beers as 4.5 or higher with the top three all earning ratings of 5 from me.

  1. HopSavant Sour IPA by Crooked Stave Brewing in Denver
  2. Swingin Udders Milk Stout by Copper Kettle Brewing in Denver
  3. Racer 5 IPA by Bear Republic Brewing
  4. Bourbon County Brand Stout, Goose Island Brewing, Chicago
  5. Runoff Red IPA by Odell Brewing in Fort Collins
  6. Holiday Cheer Winter Ale, Caution Brewing, Lakewood, CO
  7. Samuel Adams Adams Octoberfest, Boston Beer Company
  8. Odell IPA, Odell Brewing Fort Collins, CO
  9. High Noon Chili Pepper Ale, Freedom’s Edge Brewing in Cheyenne
  10. St. Lupulin Pale Ale, Odell Brewing in Fort Collins
  11. Brainless on Cherries, Epic Brewing in Denver
  12. Brainless on Raspberries, Epic Brewing, Denver
  13. False Alarm Jalapeno Cream Ale, Firehouse Brewing, Rapid City, SD
  14. Speed Goat Blonde Ale, Ten Sleep Brewing, Ten Sleep, WY
  15. Scuba Steve IPA, Black Bottle Brewing, Fort Collins, CO
  16. Belligerent Ass Nut Brown, Portneuf Brewing, Pocatello, ID
  17. Dale’s Pale Ale Blood Orange, Oskar Blues Longmont, CO
  18. Saranac Octoberfest, FX Matt Brewing in Utica
  19. Blueberry Wheat, High Hops Brewing, Windsor, CO
  20. Big LeBEERski Imperial Stout, Barrels and Bottles Brewing, Golden, CO
  21. Amidon Blonde Ale, Henneberg Brewing, Cazenovia, NY

That’s quite a list, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of the number of beers I enjoyed this year. It’s kind of neat to look at how it breaks down, 5 IPA’s 2 Blonde Ales, 2 Marzens, 3 Full disclaimer, many of these were enjoyed in taster flights and then a follow up pint as my favorite in the selection. What were your favorite beers of 2015? Share them with us in the comments, and as always, reach out to me on Untappd.

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Old Chicago Sets Beer Dinner

It’s no secret that I feel the number of beer dinners planned in and around Cheyenne is woefully low. This town has a growing craft beer palate and I think restaurants and or pop up concepts are selling themselves short by not offering more of these events. Leave it to a national chain to step up their game and put together a paired beer dinner. Old Chicago is teaming up with New Belgium to kick off the new year right.  The four course dinner on January 4th at 6pm,  will go for $35 with portion of the proceeds given to Habitat for Humanity.

What is most interesting to me about this dinner is that it beers WAY off the traditional Old Chicago Menu choices.

Course One:
Sweet and Spicy Blackberry Siracha Wings paired with Black Berry Barley Wine

Course Two:
Creamy Spinach and Pea Risotto paired with Blue Paddle Pilsner

Course Three:
Harissa Spiced Lamb Chops paired with Fat Tire Amber Ale

Course Four:
Milk Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding paired with 1554 Black Lager.

Hopefully Old Chicago gets a good turnout for this menu. I give them a lot of credit for trying it and I’d like nothing more to see them have success with it, spurring more opportunities for these kind of dinners.

Cheyenne Brewing Company Closes its Doors

Rumors of its demise have been rampant for months now, and officially the Cheyenne Brewing Company is no more. We were quite excited when they opened their doors early in 2015, but in hindsight, they were in the weeds from the start.

I continue to believe that the location on the east end of the Depot is prime real estate for a brewery, but it needs to strike the right balance between restaurant and brewery. Cheyenne Brewing Company never figured out the service end of things. Customers give you one or two shots to make it work and then they go someplace else. Cheyenne continues to be a chain and coupon town, so it makes it difficult to build loyalty. When ticket times run into the 45-60 minute range, people will take their money elsewhere, especially the non-craft beer drinkers.

It also never helped CBC that the brewing equipment had been so neglected and disgusting from the previous owners. You can’t brew beer on a broken system.

There is no word on a potential replacement for CBC as of yet, so we will just have to wait for Dainelmarks to open up in the near future to go back to a two brewery town.

Beer Review: Copper Kettle Brewing’s Swinging Udders Milk Stout

(Update: Yes, I know how to spell udder. I went off the Untappd spelling of this beer and it was spelled utters. You just never know what play on words a brewery is trying to go for when it names a beer!)

I find it interesting how a palate changes over time. I remember when I used to drink primarily wine, I transitioned from big dry reds to the crisp dry whites. I still enjoy both, but beer has taken the top shelf in refrigerator, and my palate for that is continually evolving. There was a time where Molson Canadian was the best beer ever which was slowly replaced by craft amber lagers and ales. Eventually I became super hop crazy and tried to murder my taste buds with the hoppiest and biggest beers I could find. Stouts? Porters? Nope. I drink my coffee in the morning and not with my beer. That’s starting to change again.

Last week I had some time to kill before picking up Loriana at the airport in Denver, so I stopped by Copper Kettle Brewing off of South Valentia Street. Copper Kettle is in a little strip mall type building and has a small tasting room along with an outdoor patio .A food truck was saddled up on the sidewalk and it being a Friday afternoon, the tasting room was bustling.

nitro milk stoutI grabbed a two top and ordered up a Basil Cherry Blonde and took in the atmosphere. As the first beer drew down I decided I needed to try their milk stout. I’ve been taking a liking more and more to stouts, and when I saw they had theirs on nitro it convinced me even more that I needed to try it.

I don’t rate many beers as a five on Untappd, but this one made the list. First off, nitro beers are the best. The creamy mouth feel and smoothness makes for a fantastic mouth experience. Milk Stouts are usually already fairly smooth thanks to the brewing process with the lactose, add nitro to it and you’ve got smooth beyond your wildest imagination. Pair that smoothness with deep dark chocolate flavors and it is one of the best things you can put in a glass. Now I couldn’t drink four or five of these, but as a punctuation on a visit to a great tasting room, it was perfect.

The great thing about an expanding palate is the change in attitude while looking at a beer list. My stop in to Copper Kettle a year ago would have meant trying the IPA and Pale Ale. This time I went fruit and then stout. I’m glad I did.