In the pursuit of perfect homebrew, failure still makes beer.

My trip to the beeriest state in the US

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel for work this week. But this was no conference in the capital of commonplace cordials. This was a half week in the most craft-beer-productive state the United States has to offer, Colorado: where the sun and wind aren’t as strong as the imperial styles they serve.

Apart from hitting up some extremizlely productivizive days I’ve spent data harvesting from the fields of biotechonlogicazicativeness, I’ve also gone to the greatest extents to make the most of my stay here in Boulder. Each night, after a long day locked away from the natural 68 degree-sunlight that graces us this week, I’ve pushed out to downtown Boulder for some beerventuring.

Last night we hit the Walnut Brewery, on Walnut street in downtown Boulder. Apart from the largest-scale brewing system I’ve seen ever – 12 barrels per batch, plus 5 cask-conditioned beers tapped at a time – their list was impressive. I mostly feasted on Big Horn Bitter, which apart from it’s lack of real English bitter style adherence, was a quite pleasant 5.8% beverage. It was a little light in flavor and heavy in alcohol for a true English bitter that it claimed to be… But it went down easy and allowed me to have a great night regardless.

I’ve been here once before, in Oct 2010, and sampled the Buffulo Gold and Devil’s Thumb Stout, both delicious and satisfying. I’m sorry I don’t have more detailed notes on these beers, but I’m not about to pull out a notes ledger in front of my superiors and expect to be employed the next day.

Tonight was real treat. On a reccommendation from a local microbrew-shop owner in West Boulder, we hit Mountain Sun on Pearl St. in downtown Boulder. This, my friends, is the most successful brewpub I’ve ever seen or been to. With at least 15 brewpub beers on tap, with 5 on nitro tap, plus 3 guest handles from local CO breweries (including Avery, where I’ll adventure tomorrow), the reel of pint choices is as endless as the view of the Rockies.

We were met by Mike, a manager there, while we were waiting a bit at the tiny bar for our table. After commending our first choice in beer (Illusion IPA- gold medal GABF 2009) he decided we were worthy of more attention. Promptly downing 3 free 8oz sample glasses of their hoppiest offerings, we grabbed some imperial high-alpha-hopped IPAs and sat down to delicious burgers. Dessert came in the form of awesome dry Irish Stout. My Scottish-born superior announced that his Scottish Ale was the closest American creation to authentic Scottish ale he’s tasted.

After the beers were downed, Mike returned offering a tour of the 7-barrel brewhouse. I tried to relate as much as possible to what I do at smaller, homebrew scale – and to my delight, I’m doing most things right. Force carbonation happened at 20 psi for three days. Adjuncts, including fruit, chocolate, and coffee, were added at the end of the boil. It’s really nice to see that scale-up doesn’t have to be translated too far from the homebrew practices that I’ve been exposed to. They’ve got an amazing system setup there as well, shown in the pics below.

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For all the hard work I’ve done for my real job since I’ve been here, I also took away a small glimmer of hope that one day, I’ll own a brewpub with my own recipes on tap. It’s far in the future, but I have great hopes that my real work retirement won’t stick, and I’ll succumb to brewpub ownership and operation.

P.S. Did I mention that I almost walked right by the AHA headquarters!? The actual building my homebrew idol, Charlie Papazian, works in? I might go in tomorrow and ask him to sign my breasts.

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2 responses

  1. how would you like to do a beer or drink recipe for my blog??

    March 28, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    • I would love to do that! In fact, why don’t we get together this week and cook a meal with beer? Using beer as an ingredient is an adventure in itself, and there’s plenty of great recipes out there. Call me! I’ll email you my number again in case you don’t have it.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:41 am

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