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.


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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Thirsty Thursday | Beer Review | Yurt Life

India Pale Ale – Outer Range Brewing Company 

There are a lot of different reasons behind my selections for the beer for the Thirsty Thursday beer reviews – and I wish I could share a very deep story behind this one but alas I cannot. I decided to review Yurt Life from Outer Range Brewing Company because I have just acquired it via trade, the name is beyond phenomenal and every beer I have had from Outer Range has been nothing short of delicious. Quite honestly, tonight’s beer review is all about me. 

Tagline: “Leave The Life Below” 

Visual:  Golden almost yellow – less hazy than you might expect with a robust head.

Aroma: It’s what you expect from a less aggressive IPA but it still hits you with multiple aromas. There are the hops, the citrus, hints of lemon and a tinge of something distinctly Frisco.

Taste: The beer hits softly on the tongue and is followed by the pop of the hops. It’s slightly dank, alludes to lemon and finishes with a mildly bitter taste. It’s lighter than the usual IPAs from Outer Range – it’s damn near crushable which can be trouble but only in the best way possible

ABV: 7.3%

Overall Beer Rating:     8.5 spades out of 10 

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Back To Brewing | Homebrew Update

I will say it now and I am sure I will say it again but honesty is the best policy as we go through the best journey together. Therefore, in the interest of honesty and just in case you didn’t follow along closest enough to the last brew (which I doubt many of you did) it was unsuccessful. During fermentation, there were some issues and we didn’t get it bottled fast enough. In the midst of everything – well – it just sort of went up in a ball of beer flames.

The last brew was a failure because I personally failed to plan and execute. We set up this brew on 1/27/18 because we thought it would be a slow time of the beer year. Well, that assumption was very wrong but at least this time a true plan was in place. The beer we selected for this latest batch was a Tangerine Pale Ale. In theory, the beer will be drinking just right in time for March – which means Spring and this beer felt right for the time of year.

Given the temperature outside (right around 40 degrees) we did our first brew using the propane tank in the garage. I don’t know if it was the garage or the experience from the last few brews but the mash, the boil and the cooldown could not have gone any better. The timing was nearly flawless and for the first time, I felt like we had the temperatures totally controlled.

After most of the “heavy lifting” was done we made sure to make the most of our brew day by enjoying a First Class Bottle Share – details about the S’mores to come later this week. Favorite beer of the group – much to my surprise was actually from Speciation and I can now confirm the hype for Superstition’s PBJ is well deserved.

The beer is fermenting away nicely – the yeast is having a party – the next update will be after we re-rack and then get it bottled. Bottling – is always the biggest adventure of the process.

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Station 26 Brewing Company | Brewery Review

Location: Denver, Colorado (in between The Stanley Marketplace and Stapleton areas)

The Scene: While I was looking through the lists of all the breweries I had reviewed over the last year and a half I was totally shocked to see that I hadn’t put my appreciation for Station 26 in writing. This brewery is everything you love about the brewery scene in Denver and Colorado. The brewery is housed in an old fire station, it’s laid back, offers a variety of legit beers and has the type of patio that most places only dream of having. Not to mention the new/heated cover for the patio making it beer drinker and dog-friendly year round. Station 26 is the right mixture of the neighborhood vibe underscored by beers looking to stand out in a crowded beer scene.

The Beer List: What I love most about Station 26 is that you can expect to have certain things on the tap list every time and they are versatile. The Colorado cream and the Tangerine cream are absolute musts – even in the cold weather these beers crush. The other thing you can expect? IPAs that demand respect – when people ask me about the best IPAs in the state – I can’t help but reply with Juicy Banger. On this visit, they also had the anniversary Quad, a Porter and a barrel-aged Stout on tap – something for everyone.

The Best: I am by no means a Porter fan. As a beer blogger and someone who is passionate about beer, I believe that you should understand and appreciate every style. This year though, this year seems to be the year I learn to love the porter. My favorite beer this night was the Cherrywood Smoked Porter. It was dark but not heavy – had hints of dark chocolate and the smoke enhanced instead of distracted – perfect for a cold evening.

What am I going back for? The same thing that brings me back time after time. The patio and the Juicy Banger. Any and everything else I get to try on my next visit is just extra.

Overall Brewery Rating:     9 out of 10 spades

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Thirsty Thursday | Beer Review | Coffee Coconut Stout

Coffee Coconut Stout – Weldwerks Brewing Company 

It took me a bit longer than it should have to select my first beer of “cellar month” for the Thirsty Thursday beer review. As we all know, or I bet you assume, the majority of my precious cellar beers are boozy bottles of happiness. I wasn’t ready to jump into something that robust tonight – and the last thing I want to do is force a special beer – waste for everything involved. With that in mind I hopped over to the beer fridge and the blue can popped. This is a beer I can drink on a Thursday night in the midst of a crazy week – I can enjoy it and maybe, just maybe get a few things done.

Also, I know for me personally, some of the more accessible beers tend to get overlooked. Great beer even if it’s easy to get should get the same love as its Whale Brothers. 

Visual: Incredibly dark – still brown but borderlines on something darker. A thick and creamy head that unlike many other lasts for sip after sip.

Aroma: As the beer pours into the glass the scent of coffee comes with it. Once you bring the beer closer in you get the toasty roasty feel. It’s only on the third sniff that you notice the light coconut flavor that you now know has been there all along.

Taste: The beer is a light feeling stout – which seems counter-intuitive – it’s not. The mouthfeel is super creamy and you hit the coffee flavor first. As the flavor runs over your tongue you get the sweetness of the coconut. The sip then finishes with a bit of a roasty bite and aftertaste – it’s not bitter but warming. This beer is versatile – it can start your day or end.

ABV: 8%

Overall Beer Rating:     8 spades out of 10 

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