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.

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!

Notes From Brew Day 2

The pictures may tell the story, but it’s certainly worth noting that round 2 of brewing was far less… frantic… than the first go-round. That’s obviously to be expected, as we learned a lot of lessons from the first brew day to apply to the second. Among them were:

  • Following one set of instructions only, instead of trying to hybridize several different sources.
  • Buying a bottling bucket for mixing the wort(which we’ll obviously clean and re-use on bottling day).
  • The bucket also allowed us to more easily measure the specific gravity.
  • Buying distilled water to add to the mash to make the wort (we’ve since learned that distilled water is unnecessary, but if we wanted distilled water, this was certainly much easier than boiling it ourselves).
  • Having homemade tools (i.e. Vodka handle funnel) ready-made this time.
  • Buying ice to cool the wort ahead of time, so we didn’t potentially kill our yeast by adding it to a still-hot liquid.

Of course, I think one of the cardinal rules of homebrewing dictates that, since we were so much more confident this time,our batch is going to turn out poorly, just to remind us to remain humble before the Beer Gods. We’ll find out at intitial tasting in a couple weeks.