Brewery Review: Breckenridge Brewery

I had a couple friends come up to Vail a couple weeks ago, for their spring break. On one of their days here, we took a trip to Breckenridge, for a change of scenery and slopes. This had the wonderful side effect of giving me a chance to visit Breckenridge Brewery and do a bit of a YB&D rundown of the beers they had available at the time.

Before we could visit the brewery, however, I had to survive the slopes, which turned out to be a slightly more difficult ordeal than one would assume, being that I’m on them every day…

After an incident involving a tree, copious amounts of blood loss, a ski patrol-led toboggan ride and a quick jaunt to the E.R. (I’ll save you the gore from the pictures; this is a beer site, not a snuff blog. Needless to say, my nose was picking up iron notes, not from the beer…), we finally arrived at Breck Brewery. I had been to this place twice before, both times, with Tim. The first was our first night in town, on vacation about a year ago, and the second was a few days later, during their ‘Ladies Night’. This fantastic creation involves unlimited drafts of any of their beers at no charge for those of the fairer sex, and a flat $5 cover to get the same, if you possess a Y chromosome: Score.

"I am a monument to all your sins."

When we arrived this time, however, we were in the Apres-ski/Happy Hour deal, featuring all of their brews (except the DIPA) for $2. I almost felt like I was back at Grizzly Peak… To start off I tried once of their rotating beers, the Baldy Brown. After about half of my pint, I realized the lack of blood in my system was having a significant effect on my tolerance, so I wisened up, and went with a full flight of the 8 beers on draft. Had I not, I felt I wouldn’t have been able to try more than one more brew without serious issues, like ‘staying awake’. My notes follow:

Baldy Brown

Hazelnut and Grape notes in the nose, with little hop character. Lighter malt flavor than I was expecting considering the style and color. Vanilla notes and I wasn’t sure if I picked up a few esters in the mouth as well. The mouthfeel was a bit fluffy for a brown. I was expecting something with slightly more weight.

Vanilla Porter

Noticably more hops here, but more in the mouth than nose. Very similar to the brown, just a bit -more- of everything, especially the vanilla. Though heavier than the brown, it seemed, again, lightweight for the style, who knows, maybe I’m just out of touch…

Breck Light

Being that BB is in a tourist town, and gets a lot of non-beer enthusiasts through its doors, they need to cater to more general crowd, and I think this is it. Honey notes in the mouth and nose. Low malt character. A light earthy hop aroma with a slightly hoppy finish.

Trademark Pale

Nice dose of floral hops in the nose. Malt blends well with the hops in the mouth. Maybe a little fructose in there as well. Nothing bad to say about this one.

471 IPA (DIPA)

Strong hit of floral and citrus hops in the nose. Also: Alcohol -both in the nose and mouth, including a little bit of a burn. A little diacetyl as well. Finished very hoppy.

Avalanche Amber

Slightly sour flavor, possibly from lactic acid addition? Earthy hop flavor but not as present in the nose. The malt flavor also was very pronounced. Tasted very dark, much darker than that color. My favorite of the night.

Oatmeal Stout

Pretty high carbonation for a stout, IMHE. Got a lot of nutty malt flavor, particularly almond. Warm cherry notes in the finish. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the only ‘cherry stout’ I’ve tried, but the flavors go well together. I’d like to experiment at some point.

Agave Wheat

Honey in both nose and mouth, agave nectar tastes exactly like honey but sweeter, so: go figure. On my note card I have ‘hops and bitterness – good pairing’ I must assume this means at this point the bloodloss/alcohol was getting to me, and that I meant to say the honey and bitterness paired well together. The rest of the notes I have on this are pretty difficult to read… Maybe next time.

Review: Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale

Samuel Smith Nut Brown AleAfter moving to Colorado, what many call the beer capital of the United States, I discovered something very upsetting: There aren’t true Multitaps in the mountains. The most extensive selection any non-brewery has out here on-tap: Five. Always, 2 of those are New Belgium’s Fat Tire (based in Ft. Collins) and Coors Light (Coors is located in Golden, CO, just outside of Denver). Sadly, in the state of more than 80 microbreweries, no one has any other micro on tap.

Alas, to sate my need for a beer with an actual malt flavor, and having no car here, I purchased a bottle of Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown; not regional, I know, but it was the best I could do.

Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale – 5.0% 31 IBU

This beer pours with a thick 3 finger head, but it fades fairly quickly. This head releases a nice, earthy, deciduous aroma. This lessens as the head fades leaving a light aroma that compliments the flavor while sipping nicely.

Even after the large head falls, the beer is a bit more carbonated than I like for this style. I’m not exactly sure if drinking this beer at 9k feet would affect that, but if I had everything in the world my way, I’d like a little less CO2.

It tastes like a typical Nut Brown does: a very woody and sweet malt flavor. The dark roasted malts you find in such beers are very prevalent and if you’re ever trying to teach someone what individual malts and roasts contribute to flavor, this would be a great way to isolate darker varieties.

Suprising me, this beer finished much cleaner than you average nut brown would. I find they tend to linger a bit longer than most beers, but this cleaned up quite quickly. The carbonation may have had something to do with that, but the effect was creating a very drinkable beer. and by the end of my imperial pint, I found myself wanting more.

This is a great example of an English Brown ale, more so, I think, than Newcastle BA. I enjoyed it and would love to try a draft of it.

Review: New Planet’s Tread Lightly Gluten-Free Ale

New Planet Tread Lightly Ale

Gluten free and everything

While craft beer can be enjoyed by anyone, demographically, it’s generally puchased by the middle to upper class. Breweries are a business, and the guys (or gals) running them do market research. A not-insignificant chunk of these people (particularly those of the 12-Tribes-of-Israel persuasion) suffer from Celiac’s Disease, preventing them from being able to eat (or, more impotantly, drink) glutens.

This has spawned a new niche market for gluten-free beer. Buckwheat, sorghum, corn, soy, and many other non-standard grains are used to provide the fermentables in these beers.

I decided to give one of these beers a try. The one I found was New Planet’s Tread Lightly Ale. New Planet is a brewery just opened this year based in Boulder, CO. They are committed to enviromentally conscious beer production. While they currently sell just the Tread Lightly, they aresoon to release two other beers. A portion of each beer style’s profits gets donated to a certain non-profit enviromental organization, Tread Lightly’s being the Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, a group that does trail maintenance in the Rockies. Hippy, but a cool ideal.

New Planet’s Tread Lightly Ale – 5.0%

This beer pours quite light, with a very modest head  (read: non-existant). The aroma is sweet, almost apple-y. This may come from the large portions of the fermentables coming from corn, or possibly the sorghum (having never brewed with it, I honestly couldn’t tell you what it tastes or smells like, feel free to let us know in the comments). There was little to no hop presence in the aroma, which is fairly true to style.

The texture was a suprise to me, being as lightly colored as it was I was expecting something close to an American-style lager, but I was impressed to find it had some weight to it. The hop flavor here is light, its presence is about equal to the orange zest also present. The beer is sugary-sweet, with traces of honey, though, not to the point of being ‘sickly-sweet’ (a condition I have an issue with, even dry ciders turn my stomach a bit).

While not my favorite style of beer, Tread Lightly certainly raised a few questions for me, particularly about the native African grain sorghum. I’d like to expirement with it as the base for a beer, and possibly various roasted versions of it. Please, if you have any interesting insights into its use, please let us know.

Weisen: First Taste

A week after bottling day, it was time to test out the weizen. Pouring into the glass, it made a decently large head, which retained pretty well. It had a citrus-y smell, and the color was golden, if a little cloudy. The taste was similar to Blue Moon, if a little more citrus-y (without adding fruit to it). The first sip seemed to be pretty well carbonated, but after that, there wasn’t much bubbliness to it. This was also the case with the Pale, though I presume it will get a little more carbonated as secondary fermentation continues.

We tried two separate bottles of the stuff, one of which was just slightly cooler than room temperature, and the other of which had refrigerated overnight. The first one tasted a little more flat than the cold, and it was harder to taste the alcohol content, which was surprisingly high (appx. 5.5%, if I recall correctly) for a wheat beer.

This is a good summer beer, and for the second brew in a row, I’m pleasantly surprised at how the batch seems to be taking shape. Tomorrow will likely be bottling day for the Peanut Butter Porter. Yum!

Batch 1: First Taste

Our first tast of our first beer

Our first tast of our first beer

A week after bottling, it was time to test a beer from the first brewing endeavour. We opened one bottle (there are still about 40 remaining, one of which we’ll test for another status update in a week, and one of which we’ll probably never open), and poured it into a pint glass, which the three of us shared.

First things first: it was beer! Not rancid wheat-water, but actual pale ale. The physical appearance was about what you’d expect from a pale, but perhaps a little cloudier. There was a satisfying rush of gas when the top was popped. The head of the beer started pretty high, then went down about as you’d expect, with little lattice pattern.

The taste was good. It was still a little bitter, but since we were testing it long before secondary fermentation was complete, it will likely mellow out over the next couple weeks. There was a distinct hop flavor and aroma, though the bitter hop taste was rather biting on first sip, though it did leave a pleasant aftertaste.

Given our depressed expectiations after the slight fiasco that went down during the brewing fiasco, we exceeded our goal. Given a few a weeks it should be a very solid first effort. We can’t wait for it to mature.