Thirsty Thursday | Beer Review | The Seer

Ale Aged in Oak Tanks – Holy Mountain Brewing

If you drink craft beer – if you search out the best – you are at some point bound to stumble upon Holy Mountain Brewing out of Seattle. Without having ever visited the brewery you can still tell there’s a certain attitude that surrounds it. The kind of attitude that quite honestly I am attracted to so when the opportunity to get some came across my desk – almost literally I jumped at it and was rewarded with the Seer. The label is sweet, the beer is legit and now I need more of it.

Shouts to the Boss Lady for bringing it back for me. 

Tagline: A Hoppy Saison brewed with wheat and aged in Oak with Brett

Visual: A hazy light gold to almost straw color – pours with medium to small head.

Aroma: The first sniff hits you with light funk followed by hints of wheat and a bit of something floral and citrusy – lemon in nature.

Taste: The beer pops with funky and earthy goodness with a balanced but upfront carbonation. The funk lingers as you get hints of lemon and still finishes light and crisp. It’s crushable and complex – this is the type of saison I love to chase down and enjoy.

ABV: 5.4%

Overall Beer Rating:     9 out of 10 spades

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In Defense of Warm Weather Dark Beers

Officially or unofficially most people think of cold weather when they think of dark beers. We know, by the way, that dark beer is an incredibly vague and inappropriate term but we didn’t want our title to drag on for days. So to clarify and be perhaps more politically correct we will dig into the exact styles we are referring to – stouts and porters barrel-aged or not. 

The weather does not have to dictate the style of beer you drink. It did once upon a time but now we can (technologically) brew whatever style we want whenever we want – take advantage. Sure you might want a light beer to crush under the blazing heat of the sun – we get that but don’t let it limit your perspective. Stouts and porters are wanting you to pop them open the minute the sun goes down. You know the time of year we are talking about – the sun goes down – there’s a slight chill so you put on your hoodie – there’s porter for that. Think about when you light that campfire to take the chill out of the cool mountain evening air – there’s a stout for that.

What we are trying to say is don’t limit yourself. Don’t tuck those big bad ABV boys away as soon as May comes along until October comes back. Just maybe wait until the sun goes down – but not even we wouldn’t judge for cracking one open midday. 

Here is our list of go-to warm weather Stouts and Porters: 

Ursula Brewery – 180 Gram 

Great Divide Brewing Company – All Things Yeti

Dry Dock Brewing Company – Vanilla Porter

Avery Brewing Company – All Things Barrel-Aged

Oskar Blues – Death By Coconut 

Left Hand Brewing Company – Milk Stout

Elevation Beer Company – Oil Man 

River North Brewery – Mr. Sandman

Comrade Brewing – Quit Stalin

Wiley Roots Brewing – Something Came In The Mail (all)

Denver Beer Company – Graham Cracker Porter

Special Shouts to Cerebral Brewing and their Work From Home lineup along with WeldWerks Brewing and their lineup of Achromatics

What’s your favorite warm weather Stout or Porter?

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Thirsty Thursday | Beer Review | CODENAME: SUPER(DUPER)FAN

Double IPA – Odd13 Brewing 

As you know I don’t believe in lying so I am not even going to pretend for a minute that the reason I drove to Odd13 on a Sunday when I spent the Friday before camping out for the Cerebral release was for this beer. If you know me well enough and some of you should by now you know another man was calling my name. That man was my love, Hop Hackin’ Henry, I have a lot of favorite beers but Henry is probably top 5 IPAs in the state for me.

I rolled up – ordered a flight of what they were releasing that day and started working my way thru the beers. The black currant sour was on point, Henry warmed my heart as usual and this beer left me intrigued. When you are intrigued you grab a six-pack so you can spend more time with the beer at a later date. So let’s break it down.

Tagline:CODENAME: SUPERDUPERFAN is a double IPA with huge fruit-like aromatics and flavors derived from irresponsible hopping with Citra, Simcoe and Ekuanot.

Visual: Super hazy as wished for – vibrant but layered yellow gold with a robust head.

Aroma: Pops with citrus, papaya and melon. It’s also slightly dank – feels like the Ekuanot hop is really showcased.

Taste: The first sip hits you with everything at once – it’s hard to define it. The second sip you get the interplay of the aromas but in taste with the citrus and the earthiness. There is also the slightest hint of bitterness. It has a super smooth mouthfeel I just wish it finished a bit stronger but it’s still a solid beer.

ABV: 8%

Overall Beer Rating:     7.5 out of 10 spades 

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Doing It Right | Themed Beer Releases

There is a certain period in your life when you can expect a theme party – it’s a little time and place we call college. Not only is acceptable to throw theme parties in college, it’s a requirement. I hosted a few epic shindigs in my day – my favorite was probably the Rock Star party – any excuse for fake tattoos, boas and shenanigans.

Until recently I thought the wonder that was a theme party was gone like my wayward youth. Yes, I do realize I am being slightly over dramatic but it doesn’t feel right to send out Facebook invites to my friends (most of whom are married with children) hosting an anything but clothes party. After a certain age, at least I assume, most people don’t want to wear a large trash bag to a party even if the beer provided is legit.

While breweries aren’t going that far – there are a couple recently that have taken a themed approach to their bigger releases. These themes have made the beer releases not only less stressful but have created a badass atmosphere that builds on the delicious beer being introduced to the public.

Cerebral Brewing Company – Work From Home Breakfast

Cerebral only recently turned two years old but it’s not uncommon for the line for new releases to break 150 people before 8am. It’s also not uncommon for people to camp out overnight – I did it. In order to alleviate some of the stress the week before the release, the regular version and first barrel-aged version of their Breakfast Porter, Work From Home, was released.

On Saturday and Sunday people arrived – tickets in hand – rocking pajamas to dine on bacon, waffles and beer. In the background there were old school cartons – truly all Sunday mornings should start that way. It was by far the most relaxed beer release I have ever attended. Those in attendance got a sneak peak of what they could expect if they waited in line the next week.

Great party, even better beer – I can say this will be an event I will look forward to for years to come.

Bonus: Our rankings on the Work From Home Variants: Rum, OG Barrel followed by Laws – the Laws was a bit too hot for us, we will let it rest a bit.

Comrade Brewing and Casey Brewing and Blending 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted Release

Comrade and Casey took a different approach to their release. Approximately 22o bottles of 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted was released and for the most part, it was the usual release. People lined up, most early, most bottles were accounted for before opening but it was a beautiful spring morning so the wait wasn’t terrible. Line culture, line people – like all beer people are the best.

What made it special? The music. As we streamed in – the one song that should have been playing was playing – 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted with Tupac and Snoop Dogg getting the party bumpin’.

What was even better? They didn’t stop there it was an epic playlist of all the best songs, featuring all the best rappers from back in the day. I heard some Snoop Dogg, Biggie, Dr. Dre and everyone else that I hadn’t heard in years. It was one of those moments that just felt right – vibing while drinking a wonderful beer that showcased the best of Comrade’s base in Superpower that was masterfully put together with a funky Casey twist.

Cheers to Comrade and Casey for the right soundtrack to pop bottles.

Bonus: During this picture Gangsta’s Paradise from Coolio was playing – double bonus – I still remembered all the lyrics.

Attention All Breweries – If You Can, Try A Themed Release

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Thirsty Thursday | Beer Review | Sour Rosé

Wild Ale Fermented in Oak with Second-use Raspberries & Blueberries – Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project 

Once upon a time, I was quite the wine drinker – I dabbled in white, red and anything that included bubbles. About four years ago that all ended. Don’t get me wrong I still very much love a good glass of vino. But as much as it pains me to admit it I might have actually ruined my palette with all the sour beers, bourbon-barrel aged beers – well let’s be honest with ALL the beers. This beer seemed like the perfect way to get back into the wine groove – almost like a path back.

Sour – Bubbly – Elegant – Crisp 

Visual: As you pour the beer into a glass the bubbles come leaping out of the can. Once in the glass, you are left with a pinkish/reddish beer almost too pretty to drink. There’s a slight haze since the beer is unfiltered but it doesn’t make the beer any less gorgeous.

Aroma: Blueberries first, raspberries second followed by a delightful funk.

Taste: This beer is perfectly carbonated for this lovely spring evening – it pops but is still smooth. The blueberry and raspberry intermingle as they dance across your tongue. It’s tart but not sour and it has an almost crisp-juicy finish making it irresistible to lick your lips.

ABV: 4.5%

Overall Beer Rating:     9 out of 10 spades 

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Black Project Launches New Location

We want to start this piece by thanking the wonderful team at Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales for giving us the chance to talk beer and visit the new secondary facility. As a beer nerd who frequents the brewery, it was also an amazing personal experience. We don’t like to get too sentimental but it’s such an important moment for the evolution of Black Project that we can’t help but express more emotions than usual.

Photo courtesy of Black Project

Okay, we are done being sappy – now it’s time to dig into what we saw, what we learned and of course what we got to drink.

Elsewhere

We got to visit the new facility fittingly named Elsewhere with members of the Black Project team – founder, blender, brewer James Howat, and marketing manager Scott Davidson. I think we mentioned it in our opening statement but we are so stoked about it – it’s worth mentioning again. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you might look at it we did not have our eyes covered and get tossed into the back of a blacked out truck – it would have made for a better story though. We are sworn to secrecy and it’s a secret we will gladly keep since it means more Black Project beer.

Photo courtesy of Black Project

The most important fact about Elsewhere is that no beer is going to be brewed there – it’s strictly a storage-based facility. This is where all beers moving forward will be bottled – the bottling system is gravity fed. What does that mean? It means that Howat uses a forklift (named Clementine) which came from WeldWerks (there is always a local connection in these stories) to lift the beer up into the air to fill the system and ultimately the beers.

Photo courtesy of Black Project

The beers will also be housed at Elsewhere as they condition in the bottles – OXCART and CYGNUS, for example, need four months of conditioning based on Methode Traditionnelle. SPECIAL NOTE: these beers are highly carbonated per Black Project’s instructions you need to chill them for a minimum of 24 hours. If you don’t chill them you are going to lose beer – a loss for everyone. In addition, Elsewhere houses all the extra bottles, labels, boxes – and anything else the brewery needs for this part of the process.

Photo courtesy of Black Project

Elsewhere is about creating space at the original location on Broadway. Until Elsewhere joined the Black Project family in late 2017 all of these functions were happening on site – often times in between the barrels with the boxes of bottles nearly finding themselves on the taproom floor. There was too much beer being brewed and moved – a great problem to have but one that demanded a solution.

Elsewhere is strictly and specifically not open to the public – in due time, however, the public will be able to enjoy its contribution to the process.

All The Beers

For fans of Black Project – we can guess the question you are asking in your mind. What does this new location mean for the production and number of releases from Black Project? They are going to ramp up – there will be more releases than before – at least one per month. But and we can’t emphasize this enough – the full impact of the expansion is not going to happen immediately. More room at the original location means more barrels but a large portion of the Black Project beers are made using a three-year blend so the brewery will be limited since it takes time for new three year barrels to come online. Like all things in life – especially beer – the wait will be worth it.

Photo courtesy of Black Project

Now let’s talk releases – we want to prepare you because if you are anything like us you are going to need to enhance your beer budget for this upcoming year. SUPERCRUSIE and MACH LIMIT are going to return (MACH LIMIT might be my all-time favorite Black Project Beer). In addition to CYGNUS: Cherry (Blend A and Blend B) there is another CYGNUS fruited version expected.

Also – there are going to be four variations of OXCART which are meant to be released throughout the year. You will notice the special details for these two beers (OXCART and CYGNUS) since they are the most traditional of the beers being released. These tend to be in smaller format bottles – 375ML and 500ML and will be in green bottles along with natural corks which will have the year imprinted on the side (a special touch for those who plan to cellar these beers for years to come).

Photo courtesy of Black Project

One of the most hyped beer releases of 2017 will make its return in July and that’s ROSWELL. The Lambic-inspired beer will be back but any other details regarding the release of all things Black Project are being kept in-house. Don’t trust anything you might hear – disinformation is another one of the brewery’s tenets. In addition to ROSWELL – Black Project is dropping its first two pack – the fruits will reflect each other in each beer. The beers are named ALTAS and THOR – sour reds that utilize plums and black currant which during our visit were compared to ROSWELL – let the anticipation begin.

While we were talking expansion and beers we also got to sample some beers straight from the barrel. If you haven’t read any of the Black Project labels or aren’t as familiar with the brewery than you might not know that James Howat is the blender for Black Project. The beers – all of the beers are a reflection of James’ palate – would you like to guess how he keeps tracks of everything to make these decisions? We found out. He keeps a simple notepad – that’s it. And no, he would not let us take a quick look or even the blurriest of pictures and we can’t say that we blame him.

Photo courtesy of Black Project

Tasting the beers from the barrel was enlightening, challenging and is something every beer lover (sour or not) should try to find a way to do. Like everything – your admiration for the final product will only grow the more you learn about the process.

We got to sample barrels – 1044, 1036 and 1040.

Get That Lottery Ticket

Black Project announced its expansion to signify the opening of the lottery for its latest release CYGNUS: Cherry (Blend A). This article is going live as a reminder that you only have until 10 p.m. MST today March 1, 2018, to sign up for the lottery – you can actually go straight to the lottery from this site by clicking here.

Not only did we get to taste barrels but we also got to pop the top on Blend A and compare it directly to Blend B. Both are layered and flavorful beers but they are definitively two different beers. Blend B was more cherry centered with the flavor of the beer lingering in the background. Blend A was the opposite, the cherry was present but only as a means of propping up the flavor of the beer itself. After trying both, our preference leans to Blend A – the way the light notes of cherry popped off my tongue makes me want to pop another right now – hopefully, the lottery finds its way to me.

Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales is a brewery rooted in tradition, focused on experimentation and deeply believes in who and what they are as a brewery. The growth is a reflection of the hard work, great beers, unique style and we at Hard 12 Brews would like to personally congratulate them.

Howat spoke of the five-year plan – Denver for now at 650 barrels but 1500-2000 barrels somewhere along the Front Range in a future. It’s a future that’s sure to push boundaries, enhance craft and we couldn’t be any more excited.

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On The Hunt For The Elusive Two Pack | Variety over Quantity

We have been drinking beers together for almost a year and a half and in that span of time, I feel like we have gotten to know each other pretty well. I will be honest, you’ve gotten to know me a bit better but that’s only because I haven’t run into everyone at a brewery or festival – yet. It’s for that reason – our craft beer bond – that I feel I can share this wish I have and not fear any sort of persecution or judgment. In fact, I will go out on a limb and think you might all jump on board with this idea.

I need breweries to embrace the two-pack. Yes, that’s right I want this wonderful beer wonderland to embrace two-packs of 16 oz cans. This isn’t because I can’t or don’t want to drink a four-pack of their beer – it’s because there are so many wonderful releases that I find myself running out of room in my refrigerator every two to three weeks.

I want to drink everything so what I am asking for is for someone (preferably all of them) to make it easier for me. I can’t be the only one. I see you all out there – snagging every pastry stout and hazy IPA you can find. Wouldn’t it just be easier if we could acquire them two at a time? I promise each one of you breweries this – you will still sell out everything.

I should also clarify I am not asking for the entire release to be two-packs – just set aside an allotment for us certain people. The people that don’t have a spouse who wants or likes to drink delicious craft beer (it happens) – it’s for those of us who want to catch them all.

If not a two-pack will breweries please start considering selling mixed four-packs? If you have a release of more than two beers, particularly if it’s more than four different beers – mix it up.

I know this probably isn’t possible – I am sure there is a legitimate logistical reason my dream might get crushed but I have always been told you never know if you don’t ask. Here’s my final plea – my last resort. Dearest beer friends – if the breweries won’t do it – can we all set it up? Who here would be interested in setting up a beer release partner program to facilitate everyone getting two of everything? I am definitely down – now I’ve just got to find some willing partners. 

If this is you – shoot me a message – it’s time to try them all. 

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Thirsty Thursday | Beer Review | Colony Collapse

Hazy Double IPA – Wren House Brewing Company and Superstition Meadery 

I want to start this out by saying – damn Arizona Beer People are great. I would also like to say, yes this blog is dedicated to Colorado beers and breweries, but every once and a while we like to get outside of our box. As you know I spent some time in Phoenix back in December and it was great – tried Wren House for the first time, visited The Wandering Tortoise and snagged the all-important PB&J mead from Superstition. Thanks to my that trip and my activity in their groups I was lucky enough to have someone reach out to me. He asked about the best breweries in Denver for the day – which I provided (probably provided far too many) and we set up a trade. I was able to land Colony Collapse the collab brew between Wren House and Superstition that ironically doesn’t contain that magical ingredient of honey. The beer community is full of great, friendly people – people who allow me to taste beers like this and to make exceptions to my own rules.

Visual: Hello Haze. Pours with a nice head – it’s a more vibrant orange, gold and yellow mix. It’s a tropical color – you would expect to see it as the sun sets into the ocean.

Aroma: At first you get tropical hops on the nose but as you dig in the orange reveals itself with hints of mango and something else.

Taste: This is straight juice. It’s luscious and carbed – you get blasted with an enjoyable citrus but it’s a soft citrus. There is an absurdly low amount of bitterness – but it still has that Hazy IPA backbone. Truly a unique offering in a world of craft beers looking to stand out in the world of IPAs.

ABV: 8%

Overall Beer Rating:     9.5 out of 10 spades

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Thirsty Thursday | Beer Review | Japance Off

Saison – Denver Beer Company 

Lately, if you haven’t noticed, I have been on a Stout and Sour kick. If not those two beer styles than I am definitely getting into some Hazy IPAs – it’s a rut but in a way the best kind of rut. I wanted to do something different though for this Thursday and that’s when I decided to roll with Japance Off from Denver Beer Company – it was just released but I acquired it as an add-in for a recent trade I completed. It’s a super unique Saison brewed with Sake yeast and French Hops – this is the kind of beer that would be perfect for breaking my recent routine.

Tagline: “Dance off with Japance off”

Visual: Light to pale yellow with the hint of a golden hue – robust head and very clear.

Aroma: Typical, dry saison first scent. It’s slightly fruity and perhaps even a bit funky – minimal to no hop aroma.

Taste: The beer is incredibly light and bubbly – more so than you would expect from a Saison. It is almost delicate and finishes a bit dry with tinges of something off but not in a bad way which can probably be traced to the sake yeast. This beer would be extremely satisfying on a hot summer day. It makes you wonder just where the Saison style will continue to go especially with this combination of ingredients. 

ABV: 5.7%

Overall Beer Rating:     7 out of 10 spades 

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Stout Month | Focus On The S’mores

Stout Month – Let’s Talk S’Mores

Cerebral Brewing Company

WeldWerks Brewing Company

Off Color Brewing Company

Depending on who you ask some might suggest that Stout month is every month. It certainly can be if that’s your preference but for the rest of us – Stout month is February. Why February? It’s usually still cold, it’s the tail-end of winter when winter has lost its luster and it’s the month before Spring seemingly starts. In other words, February isn’t that great so what not spice it up with delicious dark beers?

Now we do appreciate Stouts at Hard 12 Brews but we aren’t going to try to drink a different Stout every day this month. Style fatigue isn’t a high priority around here – but we are going to explore the style in some different ways. It won’t always be on the blog so make sure to check out our Instagram at Hard12Brews.

The first Stout related feature of the month was an S’mores tasting and comparison. We (myself and two other friends) did a side by side comparison of the three S’mores offerings from WeldWerks, Cerebral and Off Color Brewing – below you will find our notes and scores – the different palates certainly shine through. Since the beers are very similar in style we aren’t doing a traditional review but a few basic notes followed by our individual scores out of 10.

Under The Stars – Cerebral Brewing Company

Tasting Notes: This beer by far had the most graham cracker-like aroma. There was a sense of the sweet marshmallow throughout the beer – a backend with caramelized sugar. It was creamy with more of a charred finish.

Scores: Alysia-8, Meg-8 and Cortney-7

Dino Smores – Off Color Brewing Company

Tasting Notes: This beer immediately hit you with the roasty and toasty aroma. There was a hint of chocolate with an upfront taste of the sweet marshmallow – the least sweet of the group. This beer more than the other two felt like you were hanging around the campfire.

Scores: Alysia-7.5, Meg-8 and Cortney-8.5

S’mores Achromatic – WeldWerks Brewing Company 

Tasting Notes: The nose was strong with toasted marshmallow sweetness. The beer was sweet, viscous and grahamy. There was minimal toast or roast flavors – just enough to enhance the traditional s’more flavor and cut through some of the overall sweetness.

Scores: Alysia-9, Meg-9 and Cortney-8

Final Verdict: Like everything that is so great about the craft beer world – there is an S’mores Stout for every palate – we’re trying our best to hold onto at least one to enjoy around the campfire this summer.

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