Sunday, March 02, 2008
I suppose I should start by apologizing to all of my blog readers - yes, both of you - for how long I've been absent here. I was going to tell you how busy I've been or how tired . . . but seriously, four months since my last post? There's no excuse for that. I started this to talk about beer and to hear other people talk about beer, and since November I've been drinking beer without talking about it, and that is never acceptable. So, starting today, I pledge to be more regular on this site and to try to generate more conversation about microbrews - especially Colorado microbrews - so that we can all enjoy our favorite beverage a little more.
The event that inspired me to return to my blog occurred Saturday morning at the CB and Potts Restaurant and Brewery in Highlands Ranch: The 6th annual brewing of the Imperial Sign Warning Eisbock. I'll be doing a full column on this in The Gazette closer to the time this beer is released at the Aug. 9 Manitou Springs Craft Lager Festival, but what might get lost in translation of the describing the creation of the beer is the feelings in place during its brewing.
At 10 a.m., the brewery was stacked with me, the guys from the Beer Drinker's Guide to Colorado (an upcoming post) and - most importantly - about 15 brewers from around the state. They came from as far as Durango (Ska) and Salida (Amicas) and they were there with Jason Yester, the former Bristol brewmaster who, along with current Oskar Blues' brewmaster Mike Hall, founded this collaborative project in 2003. The idea was to have everybody pitch in their special knowledge and to come up with a big beer - it's run around 14 percent in recent years - that is still wildly drinkable and suitable for a lager festival. The brewing site rotates every year, and this year it was brought to the brewery of Bill Eye, whom Yester referred to as the lager expert of the Front Range.
Yes, it was great for all the reasons you can think of: It was 10 a.m., I was drinking beer and I was talking about the art with guys who will understand more about the brewing process than I'll ever forget. But there was also this great air of community that I suspect you don't find in other industries. Brewers were pouring new concoctions from jugs, just seeking opinions and trading ideas. Do you think microchip manufacturers bring their latest inventions to gatherings, toss them around the room for their competitors to look at and share recipes? That's what makes the craft of brewing so special.
Each of the brewers took a 5-gallon keg of Warning Sign home from the event, so if you want to start sucking up to them, you might get a taste before the lager festival. (For those of you in Colorado Springs, that butt-kissing should be directed at Bristol, Phantom, Arctic and Rock Bottom.) But it just seems more natural to show up to an outdoor festival and enjoy the team effort, knowing that the best beers are made not always from careful study but from a bunch of friends standing around, drinking and taking turns stirring the mash.
And I promise to write again before that festival happens. Thanks for reading.