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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No Buy January | Cellar Resolutions

People love a fresh start and who can blame them? There is no better time each year to get yourself re-aligned with the universe than the first day of January. This got us thinking – what could we do to get on track? I won’t bore you with the personal details but we did think of one great beer-themed resolution. 

While most people do Dry January – an entire month without booze to give their bodies and more importantly their livers a break after the holiday excess we can’t do that. It’s not that we couldn’t give up beer for a month – it wouldn’t be great but certainly very achievable. We simply have to drink beer (it’s a rough life but someone has to do it) to keep this blog up to date and for our other beer writing jobs.

Dry January was a no go – instead, we are going to go with No Buy January. The rules are simple we can go to breweries and have a beer or two there but we cannot bring home any beer from anywhere if it cost us. Trades are allowed if they were already set in motion and if a friend wants to give us a beer, well it would be just rude to say no.

What’s the point? 

It’s time to break into the cellar. I have been buying and buying with just a bit of drinking mixed in and it’s getting out of hand. My beer cellar (which I just expanded) is starting to overflow with delicious beer goodness. This is a fun challenge to crack open the beers I have been hoarding – so you will see a theme to the beers we are reviewing and some of the articles we are putting out this month. I am not making a statement against cellaring beers – that’s never going to end – but I am trying for this month and for the rest of this year to drink more beer in the moment.

Today is January 6th and I haven’t purchased any beers yet this month. I know there is going to be extreme amounts of Temptation – so I will just drink that beer. I will check in throughout the month and let you know how it all went down on February 1st.

Anyone want to join me?

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Imperial Frambozen | Beer Review

Raspberry Ale with Cocoa and Vanilla – New Belgium Brewing Company

Limited Release

New Belgium has been doing a lot of great things lately – it feels like they have in a way gotten bigger while going back to their roots. As the sour program expands there too has been special attention paid to styles that made them a special stalwart in the Colorado Craft beer scene. There is no better example of this then the “new” release of the Imperial Frambozen – a re-release of an old favorite with a special cocoa addition.

This particular bottle (actually two of them because I am spoiled) was gifted to me for Christmas. Gifted by someone who isn’t a beer person – making it that much more impressive… or it means my obsession with seeking out this holiday beer was a bit too much. Either way, this delightful beer is a holiday win – get it now. It will pair well with family, candy and cold evenings under the Christmas tree.

Visual: Incredibly dark copper with medium head.

Aroma: It begins with a hint of malt followed by a semi-sweet cocoa flavor and ends with lush raspberry.

Taste: It’s no exaggeration to say the taste of this beer feels like biting into a decadent (but not over the top) piece of chocolate that oozes raspberry filling. It is also carbonated enough to pop on the palate. This beer satisfies the beer nerd and could lure the non-beer drinker to our side.

ABV: 8.5%

Overall Beer Rating:     8 spades out of 10

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Brew Adventures | Phoenix Arizona

The City – Phoenix

The Vibe: There is something going on in Arizona when it comes to the craft scene. In Phoenix it is emerging – there is a sense of what is coming. Everyone I spoke to before hitting the road had a couple of suggestions – a lot overlapped but they all mentioned it had been a little while since their last visit. None of them even mentioned the Beermuda Triangle – which I pointed out on my return, after all, a girl needs to plan for something like that. It’s a craft beer (and mead) scene that is gaining momentum – it’s finding itself. 

The Mead: I have had mead. I can now say I have had amazing mead. You read about it, you hear it spoken about in reverent tones but nothing can really prepare you for your first Superstition Mead. It’s better than the reputation and in Phoenix, you can find their regular line everywhere. I mean damn near everywhere – even Whole Foods – which by the way has it’s own taproom, finally a reason for me to hang out at Whole Foods. I was lucky enough to secure a trade to get my hands on the PBJ version – which brings me to my next topic.

Side Note: Mead is Dangerous (the good kind) – Sip with caution. 

The People: The craft beer community in Phoenix is legit – I met many people on accident, chatted them up in line or at the store and each one of them was too happy to share their favorite spots and favorite brews. I discovered the Wandering Tortoise (liquor store and taproom of happiness) while I was completing the trade for my PBJ – I hope he enjoys the Black Project. The beer people in Arizona welcome you into their desert beer family with open arms.

The Breweries: I wasn’t able to visit as many places as I wanted – my itinerary on this work trip might have been a bit too ambitious. Huss Brewing allowed me one of my favorite indulgences – a Patio Beer in December. Bonus you can mix the coffee Kolsch with the Coconut Sweet Stout and find a sip of happiness. I also had a quick stop and Wren House – too quick – and fell in love with its atmosphere. The brewery is inside a house from the 1920s with blacked out windows. It felt like I wandered into a Beer Speakeasy – an item clearly missing on my beer bucket list. Next time, Wren House, next time I promise to belly up to the bar.

Bonus #2: Postcards From Hell a special collab between La Cumbre and Modern Times was released and I scored the last four pack. 

The Favorites: Usually I am quick to answer this question – there is always something that immediately jumps to mind. In this case, it wasn’t a beer but where I got to drink it. Each night I would walk down to the outdoor patio and sit around an open fire pit – mostly with the commercial airline pilots in town on training but sometimes others. It was nice to chat with strangers – to just listen and share. There is something relaxing about it – the way the flames dance and knowing these are just friends for the night. It’s freeing – add that to a tasty local brew and it’s damn near heaven.

Cheers until next time Phoenix 

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