Thursday, September 13, 2012


English with an American Twist

English beer, at its drollest, can have a stale, dated taste: Somewhere between a wet rope and a peat field that lacks smoke. So, it was with a slight bit of trepidation that the Fearless Drinking Crew made its first trip to Hogshead Brewery this weekend, three months after the English-style brewery opened in a former garage on 29th Street.

What was found was a Denver brewery that stuck to its English roots but honored them in a way that smoothed out some of the hiccups that can be found in the most traditional British beers. The result was not an Americanized version of English beer so much as it was a full-mouthed malty experience with just enough U.S. hopping to make either a Brit or Yank feel at home.

This subtle blending was most apparent in the Boys Bitter, a malt-forward, mild-bodied ESB that had a subtle but surprising sweet hop finish that brought it to life. Hopheads won't mistake it for an IPA, but they also won't be turned away by the mellow but flavorful profile it brings to the mouth.

Lake Lightning, Hogshead's summer session ale, was everything the term implies (light-bodied, hop-deficient), but it too lacked the harshness that can come in British summer beers. A cask ale of the Lightning hopped with Delta hops actually lightened the body even more. But while this was underwhelming, it wasn't unpleasant.

The star of Hogshead's lineup, however, is the Gilpin Black Gold, a London porter with a heavily coffee-chocolate aroma and flavor but a moderate body befitting its English roots. Just a slight hint of plummy sweetness on the backtaste makes it even more intriguing.

With so many breweries coming on in the Denver area, it's hard for any to cut a stand-out niche. But Hogshead is effective in being the only one with an English-style menu of beers that will endear themselves to Brits and Americans willing to leave behind heavy hops for an afternoon of subtle but satisfactory sipping.


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