And Now for Some News on Where You Can Buy Your Beer
My business reporting job and beer-blogging hobby don't intersect too often, but last week I had the opportunity to report on a story in which many beer drinkers may be interested.
If you haven't heard, there are - or, should I say, were - two bills going through the Colorado Legislature that would expand the locations for selling beer in the state. The first would have allowed convenience stores to sell full-strength beer instead of just the 3.2% ABV version of the product they now can sell. The second would allow grocery stores to buy the liquor licenses of local liquor stores and sell whatever they would like.
This is one of those rare posts where I won't offer an opinion, as it's my job to stay neutral in legislative matters (unless, of course, they specifically try to ban double IPAs, in which case I'll lead the march on the Capitol against it). But I thought it was worth keeping people abreast of what's going on in the strange intersection of beer and government.
As I was reflecting on a recent posting about Oskar Blues' upcoming new canned offering, the Gubna imperial IPA, I cracked open the brewery's Toked Porter, a normally tap-only smoked porter that it canned specifically for its Seventh Canniversary party in December. And, like a revelation from above, something occurred to me.
While I won't say Toked Porter should be packaged and released instead of the Gubna - which has been delayed by just a few days, as canning is expected to begin now on March 4 - I will say it should be available to a much wider audience. Specifically, I'd suggest as a beer fan that the officials at the Longmont brewery think about putting both of these creations into vessels for more of the world to share next year.
One of their stated reasons for canning the new 10% ABV imperial IPA, after all, is to put something in a can that hasn't been packaged in that way before. Head brewer Dave Chichura noted Gubna would give some competition to Ska's wonderful Modus Hoperandi IPA - not rip-your-throat-out, run-you-out-of-your-place-in-the-market direct competition but a friendly sparring between two closely tied friends (Ska has Oskar Blues' old canning line) that make the best canned beer available in the country and both make each other better when they come up with these great new ideas.
But there's nothing anything like Toked Porter, a deeply dark concoction with an almost peppery smoke quality that evolves from mildly sweet on the front end to just plain assertive on the back end, on the market right now. And as long as they're giving the beer-drinking public one gift of head-turning beer in a can, why not two?
OK, so I decided to jump into the modern world and make a video, with the help of my friend and videographer Laressa Bachelor. I figured it was a way of trying to sum up why I loved beer and how I came about to writing this blog - in other words, an attempt to answer the question: "What the hell are you doing here, Sealover?"
I'd be curious to hear any thoughts on it or its contents from people who know videos and blogs far better than me. But even if you don't feel like praising or criticizing it (and both are accepted), please enjoy it.
Since its debut in its signature green-and-white cans nearly a year ago, Ska Brewing's Modus Hoperandi India Pale Ale has been the flag-bearer for hoppiness in aluminum packaging.
Well, Oskar Blues Brewing has had enough of that, thank you very much. And this week they officially announced that they're throwing the competition into high gear.
GUBNA Imperial IPA, a 10% ABV imperial red that the Longmont brewery begins shipping on March 1, is a direct response to the tasty product from their Durango-based competitors, Oskar Blues head brewer Dave Chichura said. Selling for $14.49 a four-pack, it will also introduce a new taste to the world of canned beers, which, while rapidly improving, largely includes pleasant sippers like Oskar Blues' Mama's Little Yella Pils but still lacks the beat-your-taste-buds-silly-with-hops genre member.
"We've got a nice little lager that we do, and we like doing that," Chichura told me in an interview in December. "But I've been wanting to do a big, smelly, alcoholic, big-ass IPA."
Since OBB hasn't started shipping the Gubna yet, I can't say if it meets that definition. But if it does, it could be a distinctly different beer that Modus Hoperandi, which is a classically made, wonderfully tasty IPA that leaves a bitter hops flavor on the side of your tongue but doesn't overwhelm you with its flowery scent or feel.
One can only hope that the next stop in this can war is retaliation by Ska. Once you get two breweries competing, after all, we all come out winners.
Ed Sealover is the author of "Mountain Brew: A Guide to Colorado Breweries." The former scribe of the Beer Run column for the Colorado Springs Gazette, the 19-year journalist now writes for the Denver Business Journal, though this blog is personal and done separately from his job. He became interested in microbrews early in life and has spent years reading and writing about them. He also is the host of the upcoming television series "Colorado Brews."