Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Strange - and Wonderful - New Experience

Strange Brewing Co., Colorado's newest brewery, just entered its second week of operation today. But if it is anything like the first week, owners Tim Myers and John Fletcher may have to spend less time thinking about their day-to-day operations and more about how they plan to expand their place.

The then-three-day-old business had people stacked up three deep around 7:30 p.m. last Friday - the second time in two days it had seen an overflow crowd, Myers said. It ran out of one of its four beer offerings during the rush and saw the peanut stash on the bar dip perilously low too.

This initial fervor is well deserved, as Myers and Fletcher have made an interesting batch of beers with which they are splashing onto the scene. There's no blonde, no red ale, no lager and no wheat - in other words, none of the standard fall-backs that other breweries offer to appeal at first to a mass audience.

Instead, the star of the show was the Strange Pale Ale, a surprisingly robust version of the style that presented itself with a strong, bitter burst of hops and lingered with tastes of grass and grapefruit on the back of the tongue. It had a bigger nose than most pales - arguably an IPA-style nose - with a medium body and full-mouth taste.

If the pale was the best in show (as judged by the members of the Fearless Tasting Crew last week), then the contestant that drew the most second and third glances was the Tainted Black Pale, an offering that looked like New Belgium's 1554 but tasted a lot more like something that would come out of the hop-minded folks at Great Divide. The malt announced itself with such gusto that you knew you weren't drinking something out of the standard pale family, but the citrus hop kick still tinged the sides of your tongue in a methodical way.

Finally, there was the Paint It Black Stout, a nitro-infused alcoholic version of a chocolate mocha, thick and deep and just rugged enough, especially with its slight hop backtaste. It was a filling stout that didn't have a particularly heavy body but was worthy of being swished around in your mouth.

Myers and Fletcher opened the brewery after, like many of us, losing their jobs during the recession in 2009. Here then is a toast to good fortune, as many in last weekend's mob seemed to think this was the career they should have been in all along.


Friday, May 21, 2010

This Week in Colorado Beer

I haven't done this in a while, but seeing how it's American Craft Beer Week and the weather is too nice to stay inside and drink, it sounds like an appropriate time to start again ....

New Brewery
Two of my former Rocky Mountain News colleagues, Tim Myers and John Fletcher, officially opened Strange Brewing Company in Denver on Wednesday afternoon. It will be cranking from 4 to 8 p.m. both today and tomorrow at 1330 Zuni, Unit M.

Beer Festival
Saturday, Noon to 4 p.m.: Pumphouse Brewery and Restaurant in Longmont is bringing in about 20 breweries - from the local to Pacific Coast darlings like Lagunitas - to raise money for the charity Doctors Without Borders. Tickets for the Spring Beer Festival are $30 at the door and get you 10 4-ounce tasters.

Beer Tappings
Today, 5 p.m.: Trinity Brewing of Colorado Springs releases Southern Hospitality, which is brewed with fresh roasted pecans, brown sugar, whole cinnamon sticks and fresh Madagascar vanilla beans.
*Dry Dock Brewing of Aurora releases two Craft Beer Week specials over the next two days: Its Firkin of Wasabi Rice beer today and its Cream Ale tomorrow.

Beer-Food Pairings
Tuesday, 6 p.m.: Great Divide Brewing hosts a beer dinner at Duo Restaurant for $39.
Tuesday, 5-8 p.m.: If that's too rich for your blood, amble down to Great Divide for its monthly beer-cheese pairing, which will run you $18.

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