Thursday, February 19, 2015

Welcome to the Neighborhood

At a time when breweries are proliferating in hard-to-fathom numbers, the ones that seem to fill the greatest unmet niche are those going into neighborhoods that have somehow remained without their corner beer maker. Denver's Regis and Berkeley neighborhoods are two of those rare locations still - but on Saturday that will change.

Goldspot Brewing opens at 4970 Lowell Boulevard this weekend, bringing a long-awaited upgrade to a building that formerly housed a barber shop and sign-making business and sits just a block from Regis University, one of the area colleges that has invested in its own brewing program. It will offer a half-dozen beers that revel in some ways in understatement but also bring a unique brand of creativity to the Denver brewing scene.

Co-owners Matt Hughes - a one-time Wynkoop brewer who continues to work for an insurance brokerage providing coverage to some 25 breweries in three states - and Alex Sward open with a lineup of offerings that are largely familiar styles, with twists.

Take, for examples, Julia's Blessing, a kolsch-style ale that is crisp and drinkable but makes an unremarkable first impression - until you can pick up on the honey that also is mixed into the brew. It provides an underlying sweetness to an also late-breaking hop finish and adds just a touch of complexity to a style not known for being described with that word.

That some honey - Hughes eventually hopes to use product from his beekeeper father in Texas - is in Uh Huh Honey, a big, bitter IPA that Goldspot brewed in collaboration with the yet-to-open Cerebral Brewing. It's made with significant quantities of El Dorado, Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin hops, so the honey here just seems to add to the back-of-your tongue wallop that is especially intriguing after the beer introduces itself with a unique, almost grape-must aroma from the New Zealand-based hops.

While people may talk about the honey ales, however, the one they're likely to remember the most is the  Coffee Cocoa Porter, a medium-bodied dark beer that expertly blends the sweetness of the chocolate with the bitterness of the coffee into an easily quaffable treat. The taste is more subtle than the nose, but it's very pleasant and well made.

Two other offerings, the Belgian Pale Ale and Cutter IPA, also take on the characteristic of understatement. Cutter is an English-American hybrid style where the malt plays more of a role than the hops, while the Belgian pale really sticks to pale-ale style guidelines and lacks a big hop bite. Both are subtly tasty beers but not as flashy as the porter or Uh Huh Honey.

Hughes and Sward say they have no immediate plans to package their beer or to distribute much outside their neighborhood location. That's good. At a time when a number of breweries are opening with plans to take over Denver's tap and shelf space immediately, the city needs more corner establishments catering to people wanting to walk or drive to a place where they can meet the owners and enjoy good beer that doesn't overwhelm the senses. Goldspot fits that bill.

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