Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Throwing Caution to the Wind

A blog reader recently suggested that since I have no immediate plans to update "Mountain Brew," I should use this space to do more on breweries that opened since the book went to press in May 2011. And I thought that might be the best suggestion I'd heard in a long time.

So, while I've scrawled on a few of the state's newer breweries (see the last paragraph of this post), I wanted to start this series of posts by catching up with the first brewery to open after the deadline cutoff for the book - Caution Brewing in northeast Denver.

Since its June 2011 debut, Caution has evolved from the brewery making beer for co-owner Danny Wang's parents' restaurant (Lao Wang Noodle House) to one opening a second location in Lakewood this fall. And the appeal of his beers and the ensuing need to expand can be traced to one trait - Danny's unwillingness to make anything just to style.

Take his Lao Wang Lager, which has the classic light lager body - but then gets jazzed up with Asian spices from his parent's restaurant, making it the most interesting beer of its style in the state. Oh, and it might also be the best beer to pair with spicy or otherwise exotic tastes, its ginger and anise overtones settling in to any dish in front of you.

Or there's one of his newer creations, the Card Your Mom Saison, infused with cardamom to give a big nose of spice backed with a Belgian-candy-sugar body that makes this both inviting and appealing.

The more you drink of Caution's beers - such as the very new Frothy Sheet Wheat, a nitro-infused wheat that creates a Hefeweizen mouthfeel with the pillowy body of a Guinness - the more you find your expectations raised. So, if after a tasting you find that the Wild Blonde (brewed with rice) or the Honey Matrimony (brown ale brewed with Colorado wildflower honey) seem a bit dull, it may just be the comparison other beers have created.

Caution doesn't throw out the highly hopped beers like most other state breweries; even its Hippity Hops IPA with whole flower chrysanthemum and Chinese rock brown sugar uses sweetness to cut hop acidity. But it creates such interesting varieties that even a hop head may not mind.

Still brewing on the former Odell Brewing five-barrel system that notably produced 5 Barrel Pale Ale (pictured above), Caution will have 12 full taps to tinker with even more experiments at its second location. And Danny and co-owner Betty Fey (pictured way above) can hopefully find an even wider audience for beers that should be saluted for their uniqueness.

(To see write-ups on other breweries that have opened over the past two years, click here for Pikes Peak Brewing, Denver Beer Co., Hogshead Brewery, River North Brewery, Cannonball Creek Brewing and Colorado Plus Brew Pub. And I promise these will come a lot more frequently in the coming months.)

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