Mockery Brewing Co, Delgany Street, Denver, October 2018

In my “research” so far, I have uncovered some simple facts about Denver. One of them is that you can almost trip over brewery taps and great bars on every corner, on every block. I have been doing that this afternoon, and the final stop on my city stroll (before catching a train back downtown) was Mockery.

Another friendly welcome awaited here, and once again I picked a couple of beers for my final flight of the day, with advice from the bar staff for the other ones. A nice atmosphere inside, but given the sun was about to set over the Rockies I sat outside to enjoy the glorious pinks and reds of a Colorado sunset, and to enjoy some more beers.

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Continuing the musical theme from earlier, I started with Wish You Were Here, where the fruit was very subtle, and it was a nice easy drinking golden ale.

Blue Steel was next, another blonde ale with an interesting flavour, lightly balanced malts.

Something a little more lively next, a gose called Spruce the Goose, packed with super funky forest fruit flavours. Lovely stuff.

Proceedings closed with Farmhouse Ale, another one packed with dark fruit flavours, from 12 different malts, farmhouse yeast and rooibos tea.

And here’s that sunset.

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A lovely quiet space in the city, well worth seeking out.

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Great Divide barrel bar, 35th Street, Denver, October 2018

The past!

If there’s one thing better than a brewery tap with a great selection of beers, it’s a brewery tap with a great selection of beers that’s playing a great selection of 1990s Americana, on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Only a short stroll away from my previous refreshment stop, and I was soon settled in at a table here, and off to the bar for my next tasting flight. I asked one of the friendly bar staff for a few recommendations and picked some of my own, to sit back and enjoy on this wonderfully lazy Sunday afternoon.

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Let’s run through them from left to right.

Colette Farmhouse Ale, a 7.3% saison, had a subtle fruity note and there was a slight wheatiness to it. A nice starter to go with some Counting Crows on the jukebox (well, I think they call it Spotify nowadays).

Strawberry Rhubarb, a fruity sour with mellow fruitfulness and a nice touch of rhubarb, one of my favourite vegetables to feature in a beer.

Fresh Hop (2018) is this season’s freshest beer, brewed with “wet” whole cone hops from the Pacific north west, to give something that’s a little malty with light hoppiness. I think we’d moved on to Hootie & The Blowfish at this point.

Hazy IPA does exactly what it says on the tin, full of hazy hoppiness and a nice bitterness. A decent NEIPA that puts some of the others that I’ve had recently to shame.

It was a lovely drop, but I think it’s fair to say that I saved the best for last, in the form of Barrel Aged Hibernation Ale. Sticking an old ale into whisk(e)y barrels produces wonderful results, a beautiful maltiness in this grand old ale.

A great place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon, relaxed and with a very chilled vibe. If you want to stretch your legs then there are tours every hour from 2-6 at weekends. There’s a food truck parked outside if you get peckish. Oh, and they love yetis.

Crooked Stave Taproom, Source Market Hall, Denver, October 2018

A beautiful sunny Sunday in downtown Denver. I spent the morning exporing the Civic Centre Park, the State Capitol area and the area around Union station. After grabbing a sandwich at the station, I decided to walk up to the “RiNo” district (short for River North) to visit a brewery or two (or three).

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As soon as I knew I was coming to Denver, there was one place that was on the top of my list. Crooked Stave. They appeared on my radar in 2015, as part of the 2015 Rainbow Project. Together with Hawkshead Brewery, they produced Key Lime Tau (2π), a mixed culture fermentation ale aged in oak with lactose, fresh lime peel and fresh lemongrass. It was gorgeous. On a trip to the Hawkshead Beer Hall in 2016, I picked up some more of their beers…

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You can spy a 2015 Progenitor (funky apricot, amazing nose, lots of tart fruit and fizz, with a few hops floating in there somewhere), a 2015 Surette Provision Saison (interesting fizz and funk, lots of barrel aged character), an Origins Burgundy Sour (fruity, acidic sourness) and that wonderful lime bomb that is Key Lime Tau.

Some of those descriptions will give you a bit of an idea as to what’s coming next, although I did choose a few items that you might not expect to find at Crooked Stave, known for their wild, sour and barrel-aged beers.

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So we start with Von Pilsner, an unfiltered Keller Pilsner, which was lovely, super fresh tasting. I didn’t know that they did a lager, and I’m so glad that I chose it.

Next is the imaginitively titled IPA, a lovely hoppy nose with well rounded bitterness. Really good stuff. There was only one way to go after that.

That was Trellis Buster DIPA (Double India Pale Ale). Double dry-hopped with Azacca, Citra, Motueka, and Simcoe to give delightfully rounded pine notes, and it was scarily easy to drink for 8%. A really great DIPA.

You can’t come here without trying some sours, so Vieille Artisanal Saison was next up. Lovely tartness and subtle oaky tones. Super sourness from this rustic ale aged in oak barrels.

To finish (because there are more places to visit this afternoon) a Sour Rosé, a wild ale fermented in oak with Washington raspberries and blueberries. A really beautiful raspberry tartness with pleasant blueberry hints. Absolutely lovely.

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What a lovely place, really nice people and a super chilled vibe on this lovely Sunday afternoon. I left with a few goodies to take home. If you find yourself in Denver, find your way here. If you prefer not to walk, the train from Union Station to 38th and Blake gets you pretty close.

MOFAD approved, of course!

Yard House, 16th Street, Denver, October 2018

The day job has brought me to Denver for a week. My first international solo trip which is hopefully going to be very rewarding. My research has told me that Denver is a city of beer, so I will be putting that to the test over the next few days, before getting down to some long American conference days (first session 7:30am, last session a networking event lasting until 10pm). There will be city exploration before then. And not so much humble bragging…

It’s a very convenient city from my first impressions. A train from the airport costs $9, and takes you to the heart of “downtown”. Although tonight, there was a replacement bus service for the last leg of the journey, on an absolutely roasting hot bus. It felt like a very British welcome, what could be more British than those three words “replacement bus service”?

After that, there’s a free bus that runs up and down 16th Street “The Mall” all day. When your hotel is on 15th Street, that’s very convenient. So, arrive at hotel, check in, find that the bill that was supposed to be pre-paid hasn’t been, sort that out (or so you think), and then go out for something to eat.

After strolling down 16th Street for a little while, my dining companion and I chose Yard House. This may have had something to do with its tagline “World’s largest selection of draft beer”. A bold claim indeed. I counted 108. That’s pretty good going.

It’s almost the same as the number of TV screens in here. It’s a Saturday night, and it’s wall to wall sports. NFL, NBA, College Football and the World Series of Rounders (lazy English derision of Baseball). Turn your head a few degrees and you can watch a different game every time, although only one audio stream is available (World Series tonight).

On to that beer then. How do you choose from 108? For me it was a choice of familiar favourite styles, and a dry hopped pale ale from Boulder Beer Company called Hazed & Infused won the day. Delightfully hoppy, easy drinking and fresh flavour. Enough to liven up the taste buds after 19 hours awake.

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Next up, some dinner. I’ve already eaten four meals and some snacks in this elongated day, but you have to adjust your body to a new timezone, so having another dinner is a nice way of doing that. Fried chicken is a popular dish on this continent, and I do love it when it’s done right, so I was drawn to it on the menu.

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A tasty, juicy piece of chicken, nice and crisp on the outside and served with creamed corn (not something I think I’ve had before), bbq beans (meh), spinach mashed potatoes and bourbon gravy.

The photos are a bit rubbish because this was one of those occasions where explaining the whole concept of The MOFAD was not on the agenda, so a quick snap was all that there was time for. Sadly there wasn’t time for more beer, because it was time for bed. There’s always tomorrow.

There’s definitely tomorrow.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……

PS – the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Boston Red Sox 3 – 2, in what turned out to be their only victory in the series.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – dark beer selection box #11 – October 2018

The nights are drawing in and the beers are getting darker. That’s not to say that there’s no place for a super hoppy IPA in these shorter months, but a few more winter warmers find their way into the shelf of delights.

Here’s the latest selection, two for now, four for later…

Amundsen – White Crow – 10.5%

A White Imperial Stout packed full of cocoa beans, vanilla beans, tonka beans as well as coffee beans. This beer has all the characteristics of a full bodied imperial stout, whilst at the same time being white.

Brew York – Viking DNA – 5.0%

A smooth well balanced porter with subtly smoky character formed from a rich blend of 6 different malts.

Cloudwater – Parkin Cake – 10%

To celebrate their 500th gyle, Cloudwater brewed an homage to Parkin, the oatmeal and ginger cake much favoured in Yorkshire. In the Imperial Brown Ale base is a rich blend of malts, oats and treacle for sweetness, and added ginger and spices for that distinctive aroma.

Kasteel – Bruin – 11.0%

A strong Belgian brown ale. After extensive tasting, trying to fulfil increasingly strict requirements, the brewmaster found themselves with a creamy, dark Belgian brown ale: Kasteelbier. The quality of the past is still unmatched and the beloved taste is very much of the present. Kasteelbier is a dark, artisanal beer, soft and mild, full and creamy. It can age for many, many years, as indicated on the bottle.

Left Handed Giant – Choc Orange Milk Stout – 5.1%

Deeper Water is a seasonal milk stout, brewed with lactose, vanilla and cacao nibs – this time it’s been given the chocolate orange treatment! Gemma would hate this, I might just love it.

Stillwater – Critical Thinking – 11%

Stillwater brew some incredible beers across the spectrum. This does not disappoint. An opaque black colour with a lovely tan head. Roasted malt flavour with notes of bitter chocolate and liquorice. Big sticky mouthfeel and warming alcohol notes.

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North Sea Bridges project 2018

The beer world is an exciting place to be. More breweries, more styles and more choice than ever before. The global explosion of beer festivals has helped forge brewing links around the world, and as friendships grow opportunities arise. There are many reasons to collaborate with other brewers: marketing in new areas, learning new brewing techniques or even just as an excuse to hang out with pals and visit new places. New ideas can be taken home to be twisted, contorted and reframed.

The Rainbow Project is probably the most well known example of this, a long running collab-fest that has brought us some great beers. 2018 was supposed to be the end of it, but the buck has passed from Siren on to new breweries. North Sea Bridges is the “Rainbow of the north”, an annual collaboration project building on the ancient trading links between Scotland and Scandinavia. Six of Scotland’s finest brewers (Black Isle, Fallen, Fierce, Fyne, Pilot & Six Degrees North) paired with six of Scandinavia’s best (Amundsen, Beerbliotek, Dry & Bitter, Dugges, Rocket & To Øl).

No plans, no gimmicks, no hooks, just six great beers brewed every year, this year in Scotland, next year in Scandinavia. North Sea Bridges will showcase Scottish brewers in Scandinavia, England & Wales and hopefully further enhance the reputations of our Scandinavian friends in the UK.

The 2018 North Sea Bridges beers were brewed across Scotland over the summer and are now out in the wild.

The beers and collaborating brewers are:-

– Fyne / Rocket – Cowberry Heart (5.3%) – Lingonberry Rye IPA.
– Fierce / TO OL – Blood of Nidhoggr (7.0%) – Black Sour
– Six Degrees North / Amundsen – Amundsix (6.7%) – Dry-hopped Sour
– Black Isle / Dry & Bitter – Flame Out (8.0%) – DIPA
– Pilot / Dugges – Tropisk (7.4%) – DryPA
– Fallen / Beerbliotek – Tap Saff (8.5%) – Saffron & Spruce DIPA

Extra bonus point for the “tap saff” joke. Looking forward to trying these interesting collaborations.

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Brewdog fanzine issue 12, September 2018

As I mentioned last time, my subscription is hanging in the balance. After essentially 3 rebrews, this one could have been my last. Maybe the tone deaf Brewdog do occasionally listen to what people say, because there are new brews here, although the east and west styles aren’t the most innovative.

Opaque Jake – NEIPA – 7.2%

Take the coastal road out East with this classic unfiltered IPA. Dry-hopped with Mosaic and Citra, it delivers juicy tropical and citrus fruit character. Zesty lime sits alongside pithy orange, while pungent myrcene is balanced with ripe blackcurrant. Oats and wheat lay down a velvet texture beneath the juicy sweetness and subtle bitterness.

Scarlet Fever – Red Rye Saison – 5.4%

Citrus melds to the light noble hop aromas, with orange peel adding a twist of zest to the nose. Layers of dry spicy rye fuse with toasty caramel malt notes, giving subtle and complex grain flavours to this Red Rye Saison. Spice builds with the Saison yeast, a peppery undercurrent lies alongside clove, with hints of nutmeg and thyme.

Having tried this one, there’s a tiny slice of rye spiciness, but at least it’s far better than endless rebrews of NEIPAs…

Mind Game – West Coast IPA – 6.9%

An all-American line-up for this West Coast IPA – classic floral, citrus and resinous C-hop aromas bring mango, blood orange, pine dust, lemongrass, bergamot, and lemon oil in numbers. All sitting on a resinous, bold and bitter baseline with hints of toast and cinder toffee sneaking through the perimeter.

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Edit : once again BD find themselves making headlines with PR that didn’t go to plan. A tie up with controversial US brewer Scofflaw somehow went sour over a “free beer for Trump supporters” promotion that appeared seemingly out of the blue. Who knows how much is truth and how much is fake news?