Monday, July 11, 2011

Crazy ... Like a Hophead

An Episcopalian priest, a biker and a Bernese Mountain Dog walk into a bar. And then they all have a beer - all except the dog, that is. It may sound like a bad joke, but this was exactly the scene at Crazy Mountain Brewery on Sunday afternoon.

As eclectic as it may have seemed, the diverse group of beer lovers paired like a fine cheese with the selection of eight unique beers pouring from in the brewery whose tap room opened less than a year ago. And for anyone making a first visit to the location in Edwards, about 1o miles west of Vail, it was a mellow, welcoming place to explore new twists on familiar beer styles.

Brewer Kevin Selvy's story is a familiar one: He worked his way up through the brewing ranks, starting in Anchor Steam's winery, before starting out on his own. And, while longing for experimental beers, he brewed a wheat and an amber out of the shoot to introduce Crazy Mountain to the world.

But that wheat - Lava Lake Wit Beer - is a Belgian wit made with chamomile, coriander and Curacao orange peel. It's a strong, fruity, multilayered wheat that thrusts a hint of spice into your mouth in a strangely calming way.

And that amber, Crazy Mountain Amber Ale, is one of the most highly hopped of its variety, with West Coast hops. It mirrors the trend toward over-hopping red ales, but with the smoother and less malty body, it leaves a slightly less substantial but terribly enjoyable amber you could drink all night long.

Crazy Mountain's other joys include its Cara De Luna Ale, a black German pale ale that's more dunkel than double IPA but uses the hops to balance the dark malt nicely. There's the Est Rousse Belgian Amber, which presents a sweet, slightly burnt caramel taste in the same delicate way that a pale ale presents its flowers. And, for a limited time, there's the Apres Cuvee, a barrel-aged blend of barleywine, winter ale and pale ale that's like a big, sweet, oak-encrusted bomb of a hearty pale body.

You have to work to find Crazy Mountain's taproom - it's in the back of shopping center situated beside two roundabouts at the entrance to Edwards - but doing so is worth it. It's a place where you bring your own food, listen to music and kick back at pine-beetle-killed wooden picnic tables and see just who or what walks in to join your afternoon.


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