Pale Ale 5 Gallon Homebrew | Update

Pale Ale Homebrew

The Breakdown

For those of you who aren’t following us on Instagram (it’s Hard12Brews – so if you’re not going ahead and make that change), we want to let you know that the latest brew happened this past Sunday. This is the first major attempt at brewing a 5-gallon beer in the warm weather and to match the weather we went ahead with a Pale Ale. This will probably be the last kit we use – next time will be on a recipe but we will be sticking with extract brewing.

The Success

Lesson learned – in the summer it’s far better to get up way earlier than you want to (have a breakfast beer) and brew when it’s cooler. Fortunately, with our trusty umbrella and diligent watch, we were able to keep all of the temperatures in line. Also due to soaking the LME (liquid malt extract) in hot water we were able to more of it out of the container. All the way around the boil went well. The OG (original gravity) was also on point.

The Concern

The last time we brewed when the heat was on we ended up with some very unhappy yeast and that was just a one gallon batch. There was some concern that the brew heated up a bit much after we pitched but 24 hours later through now the yeast is going strong. It’s even better than our last batch. I just hope the extreme heat we are experiencing doesn’t sneak in and mess it up. I have the room it’s in all setup but there’s no guarantee.

What Happens Next

While many don’t I am still (for now) a fan of re-racking the better once the initial fermentation slows down which will be in the next couple of days. Thankfully the temperatures should lower a bit for the rest of the process leading up to my favorite (said with sarcasm) part – the bottling.

 

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Maui Express | Beer Review

Denver Beer Company – Maui Express IPA

Denver Beer Company’s newest offing is the Maui Express IPA. With hints of coconut, this is the perfect summer IPA to transport you from the mountains to the beach.

Visual: Clear, amber, with a small head

Aroma: Hoppy, hint of something tropical

Taste: Lightly hoppy, hint of coconut in the finish. You can taste the coconut without it being too overwhelming. It’s nice – easy drinking, perfect for an afternoon by the pool or at the Cherry Creek Reservoir. It’s hard to remember it’s only 6.6% when drinking because it’s smooth enough be a good sessionable beer.

ABV: 6.6%

Overall Beer Rating:     8 out of 10 spades

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VisionQuest Brewery | Brewery Review


Location: Boulder, Colorado

The Scene: This was just different and I mean it in the most perfect way. This is at the same time a Boulder brewery and a place you would not at all expect in Boulder. There was an obvious space theme throughout but the music on my visit was older Cantina/Mexican style, the kind you might hear in a Doris Day movie mixed with old school Hawaiian – I wish I had asked for their station. The people were friendly and just so Boulder and I mean that in the most positive way (those are my people) – the beertender was passionate, knowledgeable and possessed a sharp wit. With the garage door open you could enjoy a view of the flatirons from anywhere inside. It’s hard to explain but it’s almost like you have stumbled into a sort of mysterious members only beer club.


The Beer List: There was something for everyone with great names to match. The IPA – Trisket District to the Sunbath Lager and Choco Rye Brown each stood out and were unique takes on their styles. Feeling daring? Have a taster of the Mexican Java Coffee Cake – just watch out for the pepper. The list changes constantly and if you ask nicely you will get to see what’s newly added and may not be on the board.


The Best: The beer that spoke to me the most was Space Jam – the blackberry dark sour. It was luscious, tart and layered in its flavor. I also got to try the raspberry, equally good but for different reasons, it’s probably gone by now – sorry to tease you.

What am I going back for? The view – from outside this time – I hung out at the bar for my first visit. I am also going back for the ever-rotating beer menu. I can’t wait to see what unusual brews will be available next time.


Overall Brewery Rating:     8.5 spades out of 10

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June – The Braggot | Beer Style Exploration

What is The Braggot?

The braggot, while not often seen until recently, can actually trace its heritage to the late 1300s. At its most basic level, the braggot combines herbs, spices, mead (boozy drink of fermented honey and water) and beer. This tends to be a stronger drink that brings together flavors that you wouldn’t otherwise expect to work. Originally the blending of everything happened at the bar – fortunately or unfortunately that is no longer the case.

What does that mean to you?

It’s almost like an old school party punch that brings everything together in perfect harmony. The beer is definitely old in style but being refined in this newest incarnation. Not to mention the exciting things being done with barrels. The two beers photographed here are aged in brandy barrels and the one from Mockery has pear juice along with Huell melon hops for additional sweetness.

What to look for in a good Braggot

Visually: This beer will vary in color depending on its variation. It will have a minimal to a decent head and the colors can range from a lighter gold-like color to a darker brown color. It’s all about the additions when it comes to what to expect visually.

Aromatically: This scent should be all about spices/herbs and honey. There should always be a hint of both and depending on alcohol content the hint of whatever barrel and increased sweetness. Common spices/herbs are ginger, cinnamon, chamomile, and lavender.

Taste: Like the aroma, the taste will be about the honey and herbs/spices. They should assert themselves but not overpower – they should balance. Depending on the alcohol that will linger and the sweetness will become more prevalent.

ABV: This beer can range from 6% to 12% depending on barrel aging – it will always be above sessionable no matter the style type.

Style Variations

Sour

Fruit Variations

Barrel Variations

Colorado Breweries for Braggot Recommendations:

TRVE Brewing Company

Mockery Brewing Company

Trinity Brewing Company

 

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Distinctly Colorado | Manitou Incline Beers

The Manitou Incline


For those of you who don’t know, and until the last couple of years I could count myself among you, there is an insane hiking trail in Manitou Springs. While technically it’s called an extreme trail – I believe that insane is a better description. The hike itself is not that long, just about a mile, this hike is all about the elevation climb. During that mile, you will easily gain 2,000 feet. It starts out kind enough but by the end, AKA the top, you will be huffing – puffing and bear crawling your way to the top. At least that was my experience and while I am not in the greatest shape – I certainly wasn’t the only alone in this approach.

This is one of those things that every native or adoptive native should try – the type of thing that needs to be knocked off your Colorado bucket list. It’s like seeing a show at Red Rocks but way more heart pumping.

Of course, I couldn’t resist bringing along a purely Colorado celebratory beverage. Below are our two favorite beers to celebrate with once you hit the top (it’s best to save the celebration until after you finish the two-mile hike down).

Champagne Saison with Nelson Sauvin – Upslope Brewing Co.


Visual: Vibrant straw gold, minimal head. Predominantly clear with a hint of haze.

Aroma: Fruit, hops and a hint of something else – perhaps something with a bit of spice. There is something about it that just pops out at you.

Taste: You are hit with a multitude of flavors that explode as you take your first sip. It’s similar to a traditional saison but there’s more of a bubble or effervescence and a bit more spice or bitterness. It still finishes dry but with an even smoother aftertaste.

ABV: 7%

Why It Works For The Incline: No better way to celebrate completing this awesome task than with champagne in any form. This canned incarnation is great to pack in and pack out.

Overall Beer Rating:     8.25 spades out of 10

Imperial Incline IPA – Pikes Peak Brewing Co.


Visual: Clear and a deep almost dark gold – it pours with a nice head.

Aroma: Hello Hops. Hops from every direction – dank, piney and appealing. One sniff and there is no mistaking what you are about to drink. It’s not overwhelming though, in the background lingers something just a touch sweet and soft.

Taste: Hop bomb. This beer is bitter, caramelly and hints at its double-digit ABV. For the IBUs it’s quite drinkable but is not for those afraid of hops. It’s creamier than you might expect and the bitter aftertaste is almost non-existent. Overall it is a well balanced IPA that plays on the hops without being unapproachable.

ABV: 10.5%

Why It Works For The Incline: The name says it all. This beer was made with the incline in mind with over 3lbs of hops per barrel. “As the trail, it is not for the faint of heart and carries a sense of accomplishment when finished.”

Overall Beer Rating:     8 spades out of 10

Bonus Beer

Paradox Beer Company is just a 30-minute drive west from Manitou Springs. If you make the journey why not take the extra 30-minute drive to check out perhaps one of the most spectacular patio views (Pikes Peak) while enjoying some awesome Sour and Wild Ales. Besides you just burned off enough calories to enjoy a couple – actually you deserve to enjoy a couple.

 

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Tart Noire | Beer Review

Farmhouse Ale – Paradox Beer Company 

I am getting ready to head back down to destination Divide this weekend and realized I need more room in my beer cellar. Naturally – I decided to crack open one of my favorites from my last visit down that way, the Tart Noire.

Tagline: Every grape is a reflection of its lineage, its soil and the season that gave it life.

Visual: Dark auburn – minimal head.

Aroma: This hits the nose with funk and sour – followed by grapes – dark, deep grapes.

Taste: The flavors have mellowed but have also become deeper and more layered over time. It’s still tart with a nice fizz followed by the dark (pinot noir) grape flavor. It finishes cleanly – smoothly and would pair well with any summer night.

ABV: 7%

Overall Beer Rating:     9 spades out of 10

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Beertography | Best Shots in May

Here Are Our Favorite Shots From The Month of May

Colorado Craft Beer, Colorado Beer

Colorado Beer, Denver Beer

 

Photo Tip of the Month:

Lighting. You can never spend too much time focusing on the lighting surrounding the beer you are taking. Whenever possible – use naturally light, it’s the best and is the easiest when it comes to reflections. If it’s an indoor shoot or dark remember that you are shooting glass and there will always be a reflection – angles can help.

 Breweries Featured In This Post:

Oskar Blues Brewery

4 Noses Brewing Company

Powder Keg Brewing Company

Monkish Brewing Company

Avery Brewing Company

Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project

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Fugli | Beer Review

Fruit IPA – Oskar Blues Brewery

Oskar Blues has always had a solid lineup. Dale’s Pale Ale, Mama’s Little Yella Pils and Old Chub are OG craft beers that take many of us back to our college days. Anytime a new beer is rolled out, it becomes a must try – Fugli is no exception, particularly with its Japanese inspiration. Yuzu and Ugli fruit infusions? Sign me up.

Tagline: Yu Zu Ugli

Visual: A legitimately beautiful beer. It isn’t gold, it isn’t straw, it’s almost a burnt honey color with a nice fluffy head which fades rather quickly.

Aroma: Hop forward with hints of citrus and a bit spicy but in a juicy sort of way. There is also something else that can’t quite be placed but can be assumed to be the Yuzu and Ugli fruit. The aroma is quite complex, each time you sniff another scent reveals itself.

Taste: The first sips bubbles a bit more than expected for an IPA as it glides over your tongue. It’s followed by a hop bite that is immediately tamed by the malt and balanced by fruit. Its finish is surprisingly smooth like you might expect from a hazy IPA which this is not. This fruit IPA is a flavor adventure in a can.

ABV: 5.8%

Overall Beer Rating:     9 spades out of 10 

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Beer Books | May Edition

The Oxford Companion To Beer

Edited by Garrett Oliver

As we move into May and dig into the beers of summer I thought it was a good idea to introduce more of a handbook to beer. This is the ultimate “go to” guide when it comes to beer and I can say that I have seen it lurking behind at least two different brewery bars.

If you just want to geek out or if you are looking for a specific style breakdown this book has it covered and more. Keep it handy when brewing, when reviewing or even when you are looking at checking out a new place and want to understand their core values better.

Any beer book that has sections on bacteria, hop regions, mashing and organizations just to name a few will be useful no matter what beer situation you might find yourself in on a Friday night.

You may not make it through every page but you won’t regret adding it to the collection. 

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This Weekend | Make It A Beer Weekend

Beer Events Around Denver | May 19-21

This weekend is going to be busy in and around Denver with a lot of great beer events. Check out the list below and happy drinking!

Anniversaries:

Odyssey Beerwerks turns 4 – Celebrating on 5/20 with special tappings and cellar bombers releases.

Elevation Beer Company turns 5 – Celebrating on 5/20/17 with special beer releases and other fun events.

Bottle Releases:

Funk & Sour Series No. 5 – Dry Dock Brewing Company – 5/19/17

It’s Dark & Hell is Hot and  The Shadow – Call To Arms Brewing Company – 5/20/17

Twilight Rendezvous – Powder Keg Brewing Company – 5/20/17

Whiskey Quandary and Barrel Reserve – River North – 5/20/17

Brewery Openings:

The Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project – 5/20/17

Peak to Peak Tap & Brew – official launch of their brewery – 5/20/17

Upcoming Festivals: 

4th Annual Upslope Get Down – 5/20/17

Small Batch Festival – Odell Brewing Company – 5/27/17

Burning Can Fest – Oskar Blues – 6/3/17

Sun Drenched Music Fest 2017 – Denver Beer Company – 6/3/17

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