As a beer writer and importer of craft beer, my job is pretty sweet. There are many days that my wife looks at me incredulously and says, “are you actually working or just having fun?” Sure there are times when I want to pull my hair out — every job has its challenges — but those days are few and far between and always end with a pint to help bring everything into perspective.
A couple of weeks back I attended my first Craft Brewers’ Conference put on by the Brewer’s Association. The conference rotates to different “beer” cities around the US and this year it was held a mile above sea-level in Denver, Colorado. It’s the who’s who of US craft beer with a healthy number of Canadian breweries making the trek, and a handful of folks from overseas. Sitting in a room of 9,000 people listening to a State of the Union speech on how craft beer grew in the US last year was very inspiring, and to hear that they are on target to meet their goal of being 20% of the beer market by 2020 brings a tear to this beer lover’s eye.
Predictably, there was beer around every corner at the convention and expo. Every time you turned around there was someone reaching their hand out to pass you a beer. I didn’t like all of the beers I tried — heck, I probably barely liked half the beers I tried and I like to think I’m pretty open minded; but I wouldn’t give back one sip of beer. There were a couple of real stand-out beers that I would (and did) ask for more.
Here’s a little list of beers to seek out when you are Stateside:
Yeti (Great Divide Brewing Company)
Great Divide is one of Denver’s best breweries and is a must-see if you head there. Yeti is an imperial stout that continually gets top honours on beer lists around the US. At over 9% ABV it packs a punch but goes down very smooth. They also make an Oak-Aged, Espresso Oak-Aged and Chocolate Oak-Aged Yeti which are all amazing. Their Rye Lager, Hoss, was also on my fav. list from the trip.
Fat Tire(New Belgium Brewing)
Since I biked around Denver on a cruiser I have to include Fat Tire. One of Colorado’s best known breweries and one of the largest in the US, their amber ale is the type of beer that you can build an empire on. Accessible, easy drinking and with enough character that you won’t get bored of it.
Supplication (Russian River Brewing Company)
Not a brewery from Colorado but probably one of my favourite beers from the trip. It’s not going to be for everyone since it’s a sour brown ale that has been aged for 12 months in Pinot Noir barrels with sour cherries but if you are looking to expand your horizons, sour beers are going to do that and Supplication is a great place to start.
One of the best ways to get a feel of a city and its culture is through their breweries and Denver was no exception. Next time you head anywhere, find the brewery first and then plan the rest of your day.
Fire me off a tweet for more beer recommendations!