If you read this blog on a regular basis, you’ll know that I’ve expounded on the stupendous duo of beer and pizza in the past. On how both can range from bottom dwelling mass marketed swill to the divine apex of hand crafted deliciousness. It was the latter that was evident on Saturday, May 26th when Brew Trek and Marco’s Coal Fired Pizza were impeccably hosted by Scott Witsoe, owner and brewer of Wit’s End Brewing.
When Marco’s acquired a mobile wood-fired brick pizza oven in late April, it seemed to me like the perfect match for the numerous brewery taprooms around town; many of whom already had the ever-growing food truck fleets serving up grub for the hungry craft beer loving masses. I mentioned as much on Marco’s Facebook page, and in a tweet when the oven finally made its way from Florida where it was purchased. Andrea, the marketing guru at Marco’s, agreed and approached us about setting up an event to turn the world of hand crafted beer on to the world of hand crafted, artisanal pizza. And, as luck would have it, Scott from Wit’s End was looking to feed his increasingly crowded taproom when I contacted him about the possibility of an event.
The day broke hot and windy, the gusts temporarily alleviating temps in the 80s, while trying its damnedest to blow away the awnings erected in the parking lot fronting the brewery. The smell of wild fires in New Mexico and the Western Slope mixed with the hickory smoke from Marco’s brick oven, set up and ready to go. Even though they had baked a few test runs prior to the day, this was the first time the oven and staff would be serving to the public, working out any kinks before they took their show on the road again, most notably the Big Eat on the following day.
Scott also was premiering something new in the outdoor seating shaded by one of the awnings which tried its best not to be picked up by the wind, anchored by as many empty kegs we could fasten to it.
Even though the brewery doesn’t open until 2:00pm, craft beer lovers began showing up shortly after we arrived around 1:30, ready for the first pizzas and Wit’s End’s exemplary brews. In preparation to the day, Scott had brewed up a batch of his much touted Wilford, a yeasty/hoppy elixir, which went over as well as it always does when tapped. It is so loved by his patrons, that this was my first time of enjoying it, the last few times I had been in it had been drained dry. It paired well with the three options Marco’s offered that day: the traditional Margarita with basil and fresh mozzarella, and the regular or spicy versions of a Salumi for us meat lovers. While they didn’t use the coal they are known for in their two locations, the hickory wood imparted a smoky goodness that made it hard to limit ourselves to the three or four pizzas we had over the course of the day with family and friends.
In addition to long time friends who came out to enjoy the day, many new friends were made as the taproom ebbed and flowed with the craft beer and pizza faithful. Brewers came out as well to share in the revelry. Eric and Margaret Rode came in with some of the Tommyknocker crew, joined later by representatives of Renegade, while Danny Wang and Betty Fey from Caution Brewing stopped by as things wound down later in the evening and we savored the last beers of the night.
Overall the day was successful in educating beer lovers about Marco’s artisanal goodness, and on the flip side, pizza lovers about Wit’s End’s hand crafted brews. A big part of the success has to go the better halves; Heather Witsoe was pulling pints and calmly serving the crowd, Kristy Dym and the Wife were gracious hosts, tirelessly promoting Marco’s and Brew Trek to everyone. The highlight of the day being when I introduced Mark and Scott to the crowd, leading all in a toast to the dedication and thoughtfulness each put into their creations. Everyone came away with a better understanding of the culinary and brewing crafts after each gave a short talk on their specialties.
Marco’s sold more pies than anticipated, and while it wasn’t their busiest day, Wit’s End had one of their best days for the taproom. And I loved every minute of it. Talking to friends, family, brewers, and new friends like the couple from the East Coast who were on their own 13 day Colorado brew trek reminded me, as always, of the community of craft beer. One of the main purposes of this blog is to get the word out about the incredible breweries we have in the state. I get the most satisfaction from people relating their own trips to the embarrassment of riches we have in craft breweries large and small. And while the larger breweries get most of the press and visits, the true gems of Colorado craft beer are the small and sometimes tiny establishments run by driven brewers like Scott.
We’ve put out feelers to other local breweries who may be interested in hosting a similar event, Danny from Caution was amenable to doing something similar at their newly opened taproom, we are still on the lookout for an opportunity to spread the alchemy of beer and pizza to a taproom near you.
For my faithful readers, it may have seemed an eternity since the last post, but there’s been a good reason. Our 10 day Western Slope Brew Tour has kept us busy driving and visiting the incredible breweries there. Keep an eye out for a multi-post series on all of the great craft beer and the people who brew and serve them in Western Colorado coming soon.