Friday, April 22, 2011

Opening Day

It is not often that you can say that you were there from the beginning, but I truly was.  I stopped by Denver's newest brewery, The Copper Kettle today.  It was their grand opening.  

They have a small 3 barrel system, and 4 or 5 beers on tap.  I only had time for a copper colored American Pale Ale, that had a medium dose of citrusy Cascade hops and a light body....very nice, very drinkable, but nothing that knocks your socks off....

This is no criticism.....anyone (I think) can make a beer too big for style to "knock your socks off" in one way or was more balanced, and more nuanced.  Perhaps clean, perhaps non-descript..... definitely easy drinking.  The Copper Kettle looks like it will specialize in Continental beers (German beers....Helles, Dunkel, Alt (ale) with a smattering of others, (Saison, blonde, Copper APA))....we shall see.  It is located in a commercial building nestled between the Cities of Aurora and Denver in unincorporated Arapahoe may be Unincorporated Arapahoe County's first brewery.

I used to live a mile or less from there.....15 years ago.  Now it will have to be a stop from time to time on the way home from work.  Check it out for yourself.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Have Been Lazy

I have been kind of lazy about writing lately, and I apologize.  A lot has been going on, but I haven't been able to bring myself to talk about it mostly because I have gainful employment and have been busy with other things.

For example.  I was silent about InBev purchasing Goose Island out of Chicago.  After time to reflect, if a big craft brewer wants to go ballistic with their output, this is the only way.  There are not a lot of venture capitalists out there for slow profit growth in the form of old school manufacturing....not a lot of banks handing out cash.  The capital and expertise of a large brewer may be the only way to go.  I have never had Goose Island's beer...but if InBev wants to buy my brewery, it is for sale.

Ultimately, either Goose Island is a sell out, craft beer is legitimate, or yes.  If you are worried, give it some time, if you like their beer, buy it, if not, there are plenty of local breweries vying for your business.

The State of Colorado legislature killed the full strength beer in grocery stores bill....again....this is the position supported by the Brewers Association and I believe the Colorado Brewer's Guild.  I think that it is a short sighted or mis-guided position.  There are two different kinds of liquor stores here in Colorado.  One's that sell primarily craft beer (call them boutique) and those that sell primarily mass market beer (I call them ghetto).  The liquor store closest to my house is ghetto.  They sell cheap malt liquor in quarts, single (airplane sized) serve booze bottles, and their wide selection includes Natural Light and Corona as a Premium product.  Ghetto stores have a problem with loitering and patrons often discard their empties on the way home.  The other liquor store in my neighborhood sells a wide selection of craft and imported Belgian beers and fine wines, closes early, and has no problems with customers or trash.  Which of the two would be hurt by full strength beer being sold at King Soopers?  Precisely the one I will not shop at, and wish would rather not be there.  Argonaut Liquors and Grape Expectations are not going to go out of business from the competition of grocery stores and Seven-Elevens.  Sure if you need a cheap six pack of store....if you want knowledge and know where to go.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fun Stuff

For those of you who saw or enjoyed the Brew Master's television show on Discovery Channel....this comes from the guys at Ska Brewing in Durango, Colorado.

Brew Minions, A Parody from David Thibodeau on Vimeo.

For those of you who recognize the name David Thibodeau....he has commented on my beer and my blog.  I also love these guys' take on life and know how I love Brown Ales.....I talk about SKA's and their wonderful beer rep.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The National Homebrew Competition

Have you ever had it in the Can?
It is 10:30am on a Sunday, and I am sipping beer, and to think, when I woke up this morning, I was thinking I would dry out.  I spent the last two days sipping (tasting) beer in very small quantities, and doing a lot of standing.  This weekend was the first round of the National Homebrew Competition held in the Intermountain (name may be wrong) Region.  At the very last minute, I volunteered to be a steward.  Actually, I volunteered a month ago, the person didn't respond via e-mail until last week, but on Friday evening I found myself amongst some 50 odd serious beer nerds (to put it kindly).

Morning before we started....bottling/kegging (right)
I have been curious (more about curiousness later) about getting into beer tasting and judging, so this was a chance to rub elbows and talk beer with some serious folks to see if I wanted to join.  First of all, I wanted to say, I fit right in.  My job as a steward was to ferry beers to and from the judging table, keep track of the scoring, order of judging, and attend to any needs of the judges (beer, water, bread, stapler, whatever).  I am well suited to this sort of work to anticipate the needs of someone doing a job.  I think I did a great job, and am trying to decide if stewarding or judging would be more fun in the future.  Judging takes a lot of work....try it some time with your favorite beer.  You can download a copy of the beer scoring sheet and the style guideline for any style from the Beer Judging Certification Program ( website....and then try to describe what you are tasting and score the meantime make suggestions how to make the beer better.  After you do this, you will realize how difficult it can be.  Now, try it with 30 different samples of the same style of beer....that is judging in a nutshell.  You try to stay sober, and coherent, but this is challenging.
these are leftovers from the comp....a lot of beer, some quite good

As a steward, you get to remove the tested beers from the table.  If they are not in contention for the best of show round, (not highly scored) you can sample.  It is nice, because you can review comments from the judges and taste the exact beer with the exact conditions that they were.  I have identified Chloropheonols (plasticy band aid taste/aroma) for the first time....not to say that they haven't been present in my beer....I just can't tell what the problems are.  Every once in a while the judges ask your opinion...usually it is no benefit to them, just you.

I stewarded the Stout catagory on Friday, and the Porters on Saturday morning.  These were two of the categories with some of the largest numbers of entries.....and it took a long time.  On Saturday afternoon, most of the tables were taken by the time I got to it (one, my morning session went long, so I there wasn't a lot of lunch left, and then while I ate, I launched into clearing tables, cleaning up, and restocking the tables for the afternoon session).  Most stewards stood around with their heads up their butts waiting for direction....or perhaps they were casing out the categories that they wanted to steward.....either way, I ended up stewarding the dark lager table.  This is not a strong suit of mine, and in fact, except for the occasional dunkel at some random brewery, I haven't tasted much since my Michelob Dark days (brightness in the dark days of beer, for sure) in the late 80's or early 90's...when dark was the only alternative to regular.  This was the most fortunate part of my experience.

National Homebrew Competition in action
I was stewarding for a judge that I was working with on Stouts on Friday....A really, really knowledgable guy from Erie, Colorado, his partner (I didn't get much of his backstory, but super nice), and two younger guys (late twenties or early thirties).  The experienced one was a teacher (of sorts, I think) and also works at a local brew shop (he actually gave me some hose I was looking for a few months back), and his partner was a steward turned judge (learning like me).  He had stewarded on Friday, and was conscripted into judging Saturday, and has been heavily brewing for only about 1.5 years.  As I said, this is hard work, and I don't know if I felt he was lucky or not.....but I thought (from reading his comments) that he did an exceptional job.
me wondering around the brewery alone

I also met a person on Friday who only brewed a batch or two (unsuccessfully, I might add) who was there to steward and showed up Saturday afternoon and was conscripted to judge....I didn't steward for him, but from talking to him, felt that they made a poor conscription choice....I didn't see his comments or hear what his experienced judge said, but felt a little sad that I didn't get the chance, as I know I would have done better than him.

I didn't touch anything
My experience with the dark lager category was helpful, as I got to listen to the inexperienced judge ask a lot of questions as I reviewed everything and tasted my way through the competition...I wished I could have sat and judged alongside him with the experienced guy).  I joked that I was "judging curious" and got a great laugh from the table of judges, that this became our theme....we were "dark lager curious", or you had to be "beer curious" and a number of other inter conversational themes on being "something-curious".  As I said, good guys all around, there to be serious judges, but also have fun.

no really
The judging was held in Brekenridge Breweries production facility on Kalamath.  Our host provided us with dinner both nights (of BBQ) and a limited choice of free beer (Avalanche Amber, Sumerbright (Summer seasonal), Lucky U IPA, and a limited number of bottles of something else....I didn't drink many as you have enough beers of all kinds.  It was nice to be able to "drink" a beer rather than taste it, however.  I give a lot of credit to the guys at Brek to host us so well for this event.....I have nothing but good to say about the Brekenridge Brewery.  As for the comptetion, I thought the organizer did a great job, but it looked like he needed some help.  A co-organizer taking care of organizing the stewards (teaching and overseeing them) might have been better.  More than a few stewards just milled around (assume for free beer).  Perhaps, I took it too seriously (who me, no, never....).
this is where all the magic brewery at home?

In the future, I think I will try to take the test and judge.  But in the meantime, I will see what the next opportunity to steward is.  It is fun, but NHC is perhaps too big an event.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pump House

Here are some pictures of our pump mounted in a tool box.  I can easily add another pump to the other side....I just need the money for a pump.