Stop Three In The Beer-muda Triangle- Gravity Brewing

To review…

Stop One. http://beeredland.com/2014/02/28/the-beer-muda-triangle-first-stop-twelve-degree-brewing/

Stop Two. http://beeredland.com/2014/03/20/stop-two-in-the-beer-muda-triangle-crystal-springs-brewing/

An unsuspecting reader may have detected a whiny note in the Stop Two post concerning my rejected application at Crystal Springs. Upon further reflection, I was actually rejected by all three microbreweries during our first weeks living in Louisville. I contacted Jon at 12 Degree through Facebook, talked with Tom at Crystal Springs, and slipped a resume through the door at Gravity. I guess serving beer is not in my immediate future, however I was quickly picked up by Whole Foods and LOVE working there.

Back to Gravity Brewing. NOTE…the place is a little hard to find even though it is only a 5 minute WALK from 12 Degree. Part of my confusion was due to the sign on Pine Street.

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As you can see from the Google satellite imagebelow, Gravity Brewing is located in the building behind Mountain High Appliance and shares space with the Walter Rhoades American Legion Post 111. You actually have to drive further south to find Gravity.

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The owner of the fronting building was kind enough to allow the Gravity folks to put their name on the sign. Typical of me, the first time I tried to find the place I walked all the way around with my eyes so focused on the front building that I never glanced toward the south. I got back to my car, muttering, checked my map on the phone and set out one more time. Eureka!

It just so happened that on my visit the head brewer, Julius Hummer, was finishing up some tasks before heading out to his birthday celebration. Julius is the son of David Hummer, co-founder of the Boulder Brewery, and has brewed beer all around the world. 2035

Wanting to return to Colorado, a serendipitous connection was made with John Frazee and Ryan Bowers who happened to be looking for a master brewer. After some searching for an available space, Gravity brewing opened in September, 2012.

Walking through the doors, I got the feeling that I was a part of the brewery operation, with fermenters, barrels, bags of malt and hops in plain view. Very inviting atmosphere to have a brew or two, especially with a ping pong table and a pool table. Lots of open space to move around. Fortunate if you happen to be a fairly mediocre ping pong player.

 

 

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The brews were inviting as well. Pictured from left to right are- Tsar Bomba Russian Imperial Stout, Ebb and Flow Double Red Rye, Newtonian ESB, Mendacious Belgian Golden Strong, Louisville Belgian Dubbel.

Mendacious Belgian Golden Strong Ale, 6.5% ABV, 25 IBU’s. This beer screams “nectar of the gods in summertime”. Definite bu not overpowering fruity esters, banana. Low carbonation, cleansing aftertaste leaves you always ready for another sip. Pair with a fruit tart.

Newtonian ESB, 5.7% ABV, 35 IBU’s. ESB, Extra Special Bitter) was really my first favorite kind of beer. Medium body, honey-colored, subtle malt sweetness with just a hint of orange. Nice lacing in the glass and a subtle hops kick on the back end. I could pretty much drink this from dawn to dusk.

Ebb and Flow Double Red Rye, 9.0% ABV, 70 IBU’s. Definite grain on the nose, hint of sweetness, coupled with an earthier taste, strong hops on the back end. Pair with smoked gouda and almost anything on the grill.

Louisville Belgian Abbey Dubbel, 6.5%, 25 IBU’s. Copper-colored, light to medium malt sweetness (another touch of banana, clove?). I had an interesting palate reaction with the fruit overlaying the hop bitterness with the fruit slowly decreasing and the hop increasing, although sensing both throughout.

Tsar Bomba Russian Imperial Stout, 10% ABV, 60 IBU’s. I am biased here. Wait…I’m always biased when it comes to good beer. But I do love stouts!!! Tan head, typical roast smell and something sweeter. Slightly sweet on the palate which balances the roast. Medium body which I found refreshingly surprising. This would be a good introduction for folks that say they don’t like stouts. Simple and straightforward.

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It was a cool Friday in early April, but the Beer Garden out back looks like a lovely time to spend part of an evening.

 

 

 

Gravity Brewing has several other fine brews, but I have learned that five tastings is just right for me. Check out the website at http://thegravitybrewing.com/ or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GravityBrewing

In Other News…

BBSometime in mid-July, we will be going on a leisurely 11 mile bike ride. Beginning in downtown Louisville, we will be visiting and socializing at 6 local microbreweries, 3 in Louisville and 3 in neighboring Lafayette. Feel free to join us for a stop or two or the entire circuit. On the map, Stop G is actually the starting point at 12 Degree, but we will actually complete our taste tour there.

 

Stop Two in the Beer-muda Triangle- Crystal Springs Brewing

Heading south from Twelve Degree Brewing, it is a mere 5 minute walk to Gravity Brewing. Common sense would naturally dictate for that to be the next stop, however I haven’t visited them since December, so that will be Stop Number Three.

Therefore, we head out on a 12 minute bike ride or a quick 8 minute drive to Crystal Springs Brewing, located in the Louisville Tech Center, 657 S. Taylor Ave., Unit E, Louisville, CO

WARNING…it is a little tricky to find this place among all of the similar looking buildings. Don’t give up, intrepid craft beer enthusiasts and you will be well-rewarded.

Some back story…

Just after we moved to Louisville last May I read an article about Crystal Springs and its owner, Tom Horst. I had just deserted a partially completed dissertation, retired from Denver Public Schools, and was becoming more involved with food and beer. I stopped by the place and construction had just begun. I liked Tom. He had a doctorate, was a public school teacher, and had been successfully brewing for years. We had a short chat while we walked around the place and he described the plans he had for the place. I had just passed my Level 1 cicerone certification and I thought I could be very happy serving beers there. I was quite disappointed when I didn’t get a call.

Hence, it has taken me quite awhile to get over the emotional letdown and get over there to taste their beers. Also, truthfully speaking, Twelve Degree Brewing is a mile and a half from our home.

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Because the buildings are constructed so they can cater to a wide variety of clientele, they are pretty similar on the outside. Thankfully, there is a blinking “Open” sign in the window. Take care where you park as only a few spots are assigned to the brewery, but there is plenty of on street parking.

 

 

From a nondescript outside, step in and find a warm, relaxed, jovial atmosphere. Simple butcher block bar and tables  with ample room to move around. A huge                               chalkboard details the wide range of available beers.

 

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A Happy Couple

 

 

Belly up to the bar and have a friendly chat.

 

 

This couple enjoys a fine set of tasters.

 

 

 

Aging barrels and fermenters in the back room

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My taster tray, nicely labeled, included the following South Ridge Amber, Solano, Doc’s American Porter, Black Saddle #4, and Road Trip Ginger Chocolate Stout

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My Tasters

South Ridge Amber, 7.3% ABV, 36.4 IBU’s. Long lasting head, excellent lacing, nice balance on the nose. Long, hoppy finish, but not overpowering. Certainly a great warm weather beer and an excellent pairing for burgers and Mexican food.

Solano, 6.0% ABV, 27 IBU’s. I love the IDEA of chile beers, but have most often been disappointing, one note…a bit of a burn and nothing else. Almost like one just added capsaicin extract to the wort. Not here! This one had a nice roast on the nose and palate, similar to what you would experience if you were standing next to a chile roaster. Moderate carbonation and I was feeling it all the way down my throat. Pair this with chocolate.

Doc’s American Porter, 7.5 ABV, 50 IBU’s.  Fascinating history of porter and its derivative stout. Doc’s is a fine example. Deep brown color, nicely carbonated, a hint of coffee and well-balanced.

Black Saddle #4, 12.6% ABV (Wow!), 70.3 IBU’s. A veritable assault on your sensory apparatus…very good, port-like, great dessert beer. Small glasses only and a great pairing with a dark chocolate flour-less torte. Don’t be fooled by the high IBU’s as it only serves to balance.

Road Trip Ginger Chocolate Stout, 7.2% ABV, 41.1 IBU’s. Very dark, ginger on the nose. Ginger and unsweetened chocolate on the palate, mouth-coating. Not my style, but admirably constructed.

There were several other beers on the menu, but I think my palate gets a bit overloaded after five. They do brew their own root beer and offer a meat and cheese plate as well. Food trucks make a consistent and welcome appearance as it is a bit out of town. Definitely worth a visit. You will taste some fine brews.

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Tom Horst

Cheers,

Scott

A Note Of Holiday Cheer….And A Beer!

There is a heavy black Converse All Star shoe box on my table sent from Dan Harder and I owe it to Facebook and beer…

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(Note-There will be a description of the tasty Robert the Bruce from Three Floyd’s Brewing further down, I promise. But first, I must digress as there are stories to be told.)

First Digression

I know people like to rail against Facebook or proudly state that they don’t have a page. FB does have more than its fair share of cat pictures (not guilty), food (guilty), and liberal knowledge nuggets (way guilty) but I have  connected, reconnected, or stayed connected with folks (many of them from high school back in Munster, IN…this is an important clue). I’ve shared meals with a few FB buddies passing through town, had a few stay overnight, discovered that a few are fellow Coloradoans, and even provided shelter for the offspring of an FB friend and her traveling band (fine young folks, Radiation City. Check them out at

radiationcity14https://www.facebook.com/radiationcity).

Second Digression

This all started a few years ago when I finally joined Facebook at the urging of some of my former 5th graders (now in college and way beyond). I was reacquainted with so many former high school classmates that I had to attend the next reunion.  I was graciously invited to stay with Linda and Brian at the lake house and, knowing that I would be the first to arrive, was instructed to” open up” the house. After completing my chores, I noticed a refrigerator in the garage and discovered beer. I popped the cap and tasted. Wow…pretty darn good and it was a company I had never heard of. Three Floyd’s? Where is that, pray tell. Munster, Indiana!!!!?  I thought the only businesses of note were the McDonald’s (where every Etling worked), Schoop’s, and Ogren Insurance. But a micro-brewery? And, as I later found out, an award-winning one at that.

Throughout the various celebrations that weekend, I had a chance to enjoy a few more.

Third Digression

So a couple of years ago I was escorting my mom back to New Buffalo, MI to attend the graduation party of my almost favorite niece, Natalie (and this would be the youngest daughter of my younger sister, Julie). To be fair, she only just recently became my almost favorite when her older brother started a craft brewery in Michigan City, INBurnem (Burn’em Brewing- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Burn-Em-Brewing-LLC/421848697897829?ref=br_tf )

I dearly wanted to connect with Deb C and her lovely mate, Patrick as a consequence of our enlightening FB conversations. Mom and I flew into Midway, picked up our rental care and zipped to Munster, stopping by to grab a bottle of wine as we were planning on having lunch. Joann W was going to meet us there as well and had agreed to deliver a 6 pack of Robert the Bruce. This was important as I was planning a birthday party for my stepson’s significant other who is not only Scottish, but also who has the same last name and is, in fact,  distantly related to the Scottish rebel. For her birthday celebration I was trying to assemble a wide variety of Scottish ales, but this one would be the pièce de résistance!

 

It turned out to be one of those blisteringly hot days, over 100°F. The BBQ lunch was postponed due to  the extreme heat. Fortunately, Joann had brought cake, we had brought wine, so we had a delightful if unconventional repast that sent us happily on our way. I look forward to a return trip.

…which brings me to the box on the table, already opened as you can plainly see.

Given the 1022 mile difference between our houses (Google Maps is sooo cool!), I thank Facebook for making this connection possible as well as connecting to virtually all the other people mentioned in this piece (and, of course, many more). So raise your glass and toast our connections! Happy Holidays!!

 

Oh wait…the beer.

And a bit of geekiness…

The categories for Scottish ales can be a bit confusing. According to the Beer Judging Certification Program (BJCP), there are 3 categories for Scottish Ales- Light, Heavy, and Export ranging in ABV from 2.5 to 5.0% and IBU’s from 10 to 30. Additionally, the BJCP lists a fourth category of Strong Scotch Ale which has an ABV range of 6.5 to 10% and an IBU range from 17 to 35.  At 7.0% ABV and 30 IBU’s, Robert the Bruce is clearly in this latter category even though the label says “Scottish Style Ale”.

As I recall, the original six pack which I carefully shepherded home to Denver, was consumed the evening of my stepson’s significant other’s…..oh, heck, let’s just call her my daughter-in-law…my daughter-in-law’s birthday dinner.

So not having had this beer in a few years, it is with exquisite pleasure that I pop the cap and enjoy.Rob

A quickly dissipating head reveals a lovely reddish caramel color. I’m already salivating and I still have to wait a bit more for it to warm up to proper drinking temperature (50-55°F).  A very subtle sweet malt aroma arises, less powerful than I was expecting, but very nice. After drinking a lot of Belgian-style Quads and Russian Imperial Stouts of late, this is quite refreshing. No real hop taste that I can fathom, but my mouth is eagerly awaiting the next sip. A medium body and slightly less than average carbonation complete the profile. I can suddenly envision sitting in a pub watching a soccer match and downing a few of these with me mates, although, at 7% ABV, I think it would be best if we planned on walking home. “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/Gang aft a-gley “.

Cheers!

 

http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/three-floyds-robert-the-bruce-scottish-ale/5596/

http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/26/1159

Odell Brewing Woodcut No. 7 – Savor And Reflect

 

I wholeheartedly admit that Odell’s is one of my favorite breweries. odellsTo illustrate, a couple of days ago I was just getting into my car after grocery shopping when the big Odell’s truck pulled into the lot to restock the nearby liquor store. With my cat-like reflexes I spun around to call out to the driver, “Love your beer!”. Crazy, I know, but I believe that the Odell’s employee gathered that I appeared to be a reasonably sane beer lover and not one who was going to stalk him during the remainder of his route (Note to self…stalk him the next time and cajole him until he relinquishes a six pack, preferably 90 Shilling, but I’m not that particular). He returned a friendly wave.

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Only serving to intensify my adoration is this season’s limited offering, Woodcut No. 7, a Russian Imperial Stout, with a hefty 12.5% ABV.

 

 

 

 

It pours dark, really dark…I mean Serenity (a Firefly class space ship) going into the “vasty nothingness of space” dark.firefly

 

 

 

 

 

As the very full head recedes, the beer leaves an artistic lacing in the glass. Aromas of chocolate, roast, and oak greet your nose and tantalize your taste buds, now agog with anticipation. I believe every single taste bud in my mouth was reveling.  Similar to the aromas, my palate was treated to sensations of chocolate, oak, a hint of vanilla, and maybe just a touch of coffee. Another beer to drink sitting down in a quiet space- fireplace and overstuffed chair optional.

Great beers are an avenue toward self-reflection. Atone for my sins, I thought. Strive to be a better human. Eat less meat (except for bacon). Write more. Etc.

After only a few sips you too will make plans to be a better person…help old ladies across the street, pick up stray pieces of litter, fight crime like this guy (http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/SF-Morphs-Into-Gotham-City-for-Batkid-Battling-Leukemia-232054521.html,) Five-year-old leukemia survivor Miles, dressed as "Batkid", arrives with Batman to rescue a "woman in distress" in San Francisco

 

 

 

 

 

and even not fudge on your taxes (er…maybe no beer is THAT good).

This is a very filling beer. I had not yet finished my first glass when I was feeling a little full, unusual for me and happy that I would be savoring this beer for awhile. This makes me think it would be suitable for a liquid diet (broken jaw, colonoscopy prep…please remember I am not a doctor and haven’t played one on TV). Nevertheless, it would be an excellent choice for sharing with friend or foe (who will soon be a friend once you have shared a bottle).

Cheers!

PS. The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) categorizes 5 different stouts. Historically, it was brewed for export to the Baltic States and Russia and was reportedly a favorite of ruling Imperial court, hence the name. It is darker and has a higher ABV than the other types of stouts. As I have said earlier, if the czars had shared their beer, there might not have been a revolution.

Odell Brewing Company  http://odellbrewing.com/

Photo Credits

Odell Bottles http://odellbrewing.com/beers/classics/

Firefly Ship http://forums.epicgames.com/threads/729649-Serenity-Firefly-Project-Talented-Artists-Needed

Batkid  Robert Galbraith/REUTERS

Oskar Blues 12 Pack- All Kinds of Heaven

 

I love to have company over for meals, especially on those warm days when we can relax on the deck and look out over the open space behind our house. This part of Colorado is known for wide weather variations. As I write this in mid-November, the temperatures are in the mid-sixties, yet we have already had two snowstorms.Snow

But back to entertaining…

One of the joyous consequences of having people over is buying a 12 pack of fine beer that would satisfy different tastes as well as my own. The 12 pack from Oskar Blues admirably fills the bill. This little treasure contains four each of Mama’s Little Yella Pils, Old Chubb Scotch Ale, and the flagship beer of the brewery, Dale’s Pale Ale. Each beer is worth some reflective drinking and, taken as a whole, would satisfy an exceptionally wide range of invited palates.Oskar

Pils

Let me state unequivocally that, in the past, I had not been of fan of pilsners which was probably collateral damage wrought by mass marketed stinko slop by large American beer companies (using the word “beer” here in its most forgiving context). Hence, Mama’s Little Yella Pils was always the last one to be consumed, but my tastes have widened as I have studied more about beer. This is just a wonderfully clean, mild beer. Quite refreshing on a hot summer day. If we were doing a beer intervention for my friend Lupe (who will only drink Miller Lite), I would choose this. I imagine even my mom could have benefited from the occasional  Little Yella Pils as she was raising 5 kids (although my sister Julie and I were practically perfect in every single way).

This pairs nicely with almost any standard picnic and/or BBQ fare. ABV 5.3%, 35 IBU’s

DaleI have several beers in the refrigerator that need to be consumed and reviewed, but when I just want to drink a good beer without worrying about the research, Dale’s Pale Ale is just the ticket. I have never been a “hop head” always on the lookout for triple digit  IBU’s (International Bittering Units). I can appreciate them, but sometimes I think high IBU’s obliterate any subtlety that might be there or, worse, mask flawed beer. I might as well just grab a handful of hops and shovel it into my mouth.  But Dale’s hoppy character is just right for my palate. It is plainly evident but not so overwhelming as to mask the grain notes of the malt. As with Mama’s, Dale’s pairs nicely with almost any standard picnic and/or BBQ fare. ABV 6.5%, 65 IBU’s

Because of the area’s low humidity and high elevation, temperatures drop chubbsignificantly once the sun sets behind those gorgeous Rocky Mountains. This makes Old Chub Scotch Ale a fine year-round choice. It pours a lovely reddish brown with malty sweetness on the nose. A casual taste will reveal the sweet malt, a hint of roast, and just a touch of coffee. This is a Scotch Ale as distinguished from a Scottish Ale. The 3 types of Scottish Ales (Light, Heavy, Export) contain increasing amounts of alcoholic strength ranging from 2.5% to 5.0%. By contrast, the ABV (alcohol by volume) Scotch ales ranges from 6.5% to 10%. Old Chub weighs in at 8%. Perfect for grilled meats or even after a meal.

All in all, quite the range in ABV’s and IBU’s which undoubtedly makes this a 12 pack for all seasons.

 

lost-abbey-angels-share-full-1For those of you following the tale of the Lost Abbey’s Angel Share (http://beeredland.com/2013/08/17/the-beer-i-cant-bring-myself-to-ing-drink/), I solemnly declare that this will be consumed on Thursday, November 14th around 5 pm. I do have to wait for Pat to get home as I am affording her a thimbleful.

Top Photo- Mine

All other photos from the Oskar Blues website http://brew.oskarblues.com/

except for the Angel Share which is from http://lostabbey.com/beer/the-angels-share/