Before I get into a recap of the past week, let me invite you all to an event we are having with Wit’s End Brewing and Marco’s Coal Fired Pizza this Saturday, May 26th. In addition to great craft beer and artisanal pizza, we will have a discussion of the ingredients that make up the savory dynamic duo. For more information visit the Facebook event page we’ve set up. Hope to see everyone there, now on to the show.
Every year around this time I wish I drank beer for a living. American Craft Beer Week (and the local Colorado Craft Beer Week) have so many events that it would be a full time job traveling to all of the events, not to mention an expense account to pay for the cab fare.
So, as I always do, I picked a few select events to attend with the caveat of ‘next year I’ll take the week off and go to more,’ knowing that that will never happen as long as I have a day job. What’s more, this was the week the second batch of Breckenridge/Stranahan’s Well Built ESB was to be released, and after trying in vain to obtain a bottle the first time around, I was determined to buy one this time.
I ended up visiting some familiar places out of both loyalty and circumstance. Wednesday found me with two tickets to Renegade’s Meet the Brewer Event and the Wife hating life due to the antibiotics she had been taking; the list of side effects included the lovely (as she would put it) consequence of becoming deathly ill if alcohol was consumed while taking them. Luckily, my drinking buddy and previous road trip companion was up to accompanying that night.
We started out after work with a visit to Denver Beer Company to hook up with some friends who were in the city and had never been to DBC. As we sat in the biergarten enjoying the conversation and beers, we had the continuing amusement of watching people trying to figure out the gate at the western end. To our eyes, it was a simple act of lifting the retaining bracket and pushing the latch to get in. But not so the dozen or so potential patrons we watched who try as they might, couldn’t figure out the procedure. It could have easily been filmed and labeled America’s Stupidest Beer Drinkers; distribute the tasty 100th Batch Centennial Double IPA I was drinking with it and you’d make a bundle.
So wrapped up in the ‘show,’ brews, and chatting were we, that we ended up leaving later than planned, just barely making it in to Renegade before the event started.
The session was a laid back beer and food pairing with owner/brewer Brian O’Connell answering questions about how he determined recipes, brewed, and ingredients used. When asked, Brian stated that thoughts about a specific ingredient will define a new recipe, rather than contemplating a beer and figuring out what to put in it afterward. To my palate, among the more interesting pairings were a pepper-encrusted goat cheese matched with the Ryeteous IPA, the hoppiness of the beer almost balancing the creaminess of the cheese. A smoky cheddar combined with the Iron Curtain Russian Imperial combined for a more satisfying mixture to my mind. The other attendees made the evening more pleasurable by asking knowledgeable and engaging questions, the group mainly comprised of other craft beer aficionados. All of us, newbie and beer geek alike, learning more about the thoughts of the brewer and brewing process.
We finished up the night with a final pint and some tacos from Chef Driven that I have to admit weren’t all that good that night; we’ve both enjoyed food off that truck in the past, but weren’t impressed that evening.
Saturday marked both the release of the Well Built and Strange Brewing’s second anniversary, and more importantly to the Wife, the day she could imbibe once again without the specter of spewing hanging over her.
Because of a prior engagement the Wife had, we didn’t make it over to Breck until after 2:00, making me sure that I was to be denied a bottle of the ESB once again. Pulling up to the brewery on Kalamath, we ran into Brent from Brews Cruise who didn’t give much hope of there being any remaining as he herded a vanful of beer voyagers on to their next stop. But much to my surprise, they hadn’t sold out by the time we walked in. We stayed to sip an Imperial Stout and Well Built and get a bite to eat before we headed over to Strange for the revelry. In the midst of stuffing ourselves with the delectable Frito Pie, our server brought over a bag filled with tulip glasses that they were giving away with the purchase of the Well Built bottles, which also was a pleasant surprise.
Strange Brewing was hopping by the time we finally made our way over. Happy patrons filled the taproom, roped off ‘patio’ out front, and the newly unveiled biergarten out back, enjoying what I’m sure will become a must attend happening in the years to come; it definitely will be for us since we were there on opening night, as well as the first anniversary party.
Having barely expressed my congratulations to Tim and John, as one, every soul in the room directed their attention to the TVs as the Preakness started. The excitement in the room was a living thing infusing all of us while we watched I’ll Have Another come from behind to win by a nose. If he goes on to win the Triple Crown, it’ll be a day to remember forever, the collective euphoria touching all who watched.
When I eventually got a chance to talk with Tim and John, they elaborated on the rumor of a possible expansion next door. With the previous tenant vacating, Strange could double the size of the taproom while creating easier access to what will quickly become a favorite place to sit out back; they’ll also have extra space to store casks which they hope to do more of in the near future.
Overall it was a relaxing afternoon of savoring Strange’s incredible brews, even the Zora, which I never in a million years thought I would like, but turned out enticing in its crispness. It became an afternoon of conversations and meeting new friends like Ron and LeeAnn with promises of grabbing a beer sometime in Parker. And it was a good way to finish ACBW. Even if we didn’t hit all of the scheduled events, we still relished those that we did attend and look forward to next year’s celebrations.