weekend wanderlust june 27 & last weekend wrap-upPosted on: June 27, 2014
Last week I started a tradition of posting our exploits for that weekend in case there is anyone out there (like me) who can be rather indecisive about what to do with those coveted days off and/or anyone who would like to join us in our shenanigans. I also realized that maaayyybbbeee I should do a post-weekend follow-up of everything we did to give some idea of the awesomeness/lamesauce of the weekend. I will try to get this post out by Tuesday each week (yeah, right, like you believe that), but this week it’s all wrapped up into one. Partially because this week has made a valiant attempt at stealing my soul, and partially because the majority of what we did last weekend can be repeated this weekend!
The awesomeness of last weekend
Shakesbeer in Glub!
Friday night the Bearded Brewer, myself, and two of our more beer-loving and adventurous friends attended a performance of Dead Drunk by Shakesbeer at Diebolt Brewing Company. It billed itself as a mash-up of Shakespeare plays and a drinking game. What’s not to love!?
The announcement encouraged us to make reservations, which I most certainly did. To my absolute delight, this is what we found when we arrived:
It was a wonderful table right up front that we bellied up to around 7pm in time to get the drinking game instructions. The instructions ranged from the simple: “when the barmaid cheerseseseses (that’s right, right?) you, you drink, dammit!” to the more geeky: “when you hear a quote from Shakespeare, you drink, dammit!” Now, my compatriots were not necessarily up on their Bard, so they were relying on me to indicate when to drink on those ones. I may or may not have faked them out one (dozen) times.
The play itself was tremendously well written, the prose weaving seamlessly with some of Shakespeare’s more well- and lesser-known quotes. The story was entertaining and just the right amount of time. Even the costumes were entertaining, with one actor (Kevin Fulton) playing multiple characters against the lead’s John Falstaff (Tessa Nelson). Fulton’s Shakespeare was particularly amusing, and Nelson’s Falstaff was in turns hilarious and tragic. They made very good usage of the brewing deck as a stage, and some basic (and old school) “tricks” to change location and character. It was very interactive, as well, almost to the point of melodrama. There was even a point where we all got to peg a character with tennis balls!
My one critique was that when my beer was stolen (yes, my beer was stolen), it was replaced by a (rather warm) wheat. Now, there are very few beers that I am simply not a fan of, and American wheat and hefeweizens fall into that category. Especially when they are warm. However, the wonderful barkeep (whose name escapes me. Please put it in the comments if you know and I will add it!) came up to me after the show and asked how I liked the beer. I told her that maybe she should trade it out for a Mariposa or a bit more robust beer who will stand up to being on the warmer side for 30-some minutes. I have to admit, I liked that. (Oh – and one of my buddies – the Jockey – stole my beer back after a few minutes, so I didn’t have to suffer for long).
I rank it as one of my top five favorite Friday nights of all time (although I do suggest not getting a double IPA for the drinking game, that is just dumb). The show goes on again tonight and Saturday with pregaming at 7pm and the show at 7:30pm. The suggested donation is $5 and it is well worth it!
Dillon Lake Beer Fest and Breckenridge
On Saturday we dragged our butts out of bed to go up to Dillon for the Lake Dillon Beer Fest. It was $30 entrance fee and included unlimited tasters from over 20 different breweries. Our friends had obtained a hotel room about a mile from the absolutely stunning in Marina Park, so we decided to ride our bikes. When I say that I am out of shape, what I mean is that if you roll me down a hill, down a hill is where I stay. In the mile between the hotel and the park, I got off my mountain bike at least five times to walk it up very gentle slopes. Granted, we were a good 2000 feet above our house, and 3500 feet above where we usually roam, but that’s really no excuse. By the time we got to the fest my lungs were ready to quit me for good and go live a life of laughter and joy with my liver. Luckily, I was able to retain all three vital organs and even felt better after the first round of beers. At first we were worried that the wind was going to whip all of the brewery tents into the lake, but the weather passed quickly, and it was soon perfect festival weather: warm, overcast, and slightly breezy. With the beer and the view and the weather, it was just about perfect.
The best part of the fest were the breweries that normally don’t make it down to Front Range festivals that were represented. Kannah Creek out of Grand Junction was there, as were the new breweries Broken Compass from Breckenridge (more on them later) and Butcherknife from Steamboat. One disappointment was the Gravity Brewing didn’t make it up. As I’ve said before, I’m a huge fan of their ESB and was looking forward to having some of their brews. This is the second beer fest where I have seen them listed, but they haven’t shown. It was a disappointment, to be sure.
Luckily, there were plenty of other breweries at which I could drink my sorrows (technically, alcohol is a solution). Broken Compass’ Pepper Pale Ale was very good, as were both the Blonde and the IPA from Butcherknife (I was particularly surprised that I enjoyed this IPA as it is made with a hop I generally don’t enjoy. However, it made me think that I just don’t enjoy the particular combinations I have had in the past. Learn something new everyday!) As always we enjoyed River Runners Pale Ale from Eddyline, the selection from Station 26 (who continue to come into their own, which is delightful), and tried the very strange Orange Cream Stout from Ska, which was the favorite of one of our friends. The beers were poured in proper tulip glasses, which was a departure from the normal plastic tasters we get at fests (and made it somewhat more interesting to get home).
After the fest we rode over to Pug Ryan’s for some grub and more grog. Pug Ryan’s Dead Eye Dunkel is one of my favorites of the style, so I don’t often deviate from that choice when we are there. My ribs were good (although I should have, in all honesty, gotten the steak salad which looked way better), but our friend’s prime rib seriously took the table. He ordered the 16-ounce King’s Cut, but there was no way that steak was only 16 ounces. It had to have been closer to 20. It was massive and very, very tasty. Yes, I stole most of his fat off of it. Flavor!
The ride back to the hotel was MUCH more enjoyable because (A) it was mostly downhill and (B) I was feeling very little pain by that point. The Bearded Brewer was not feeling tops when we got back to the hotel, so our two friends and I wandered down to the Dillon Dam Brewery for some drinks, as it was only 9pm. I have been to Dillon Dam many times before and I have just never been overly impressed by their beers. Their Sweet George’s Brown is decent, but beyond that, they just don’t have anything overly enticing. However, I went out on a limb and ordered their chili beer. It came with a pepperoncini in it (cute), but had absolutely no chili flavor. They also offered an “extra spicy” chili beer for $6 a 1/2 pint. There was absolutely no way I was spending six bucks for a half pint of beer that was likely not even as spicy as Billy’s Chilis from Twisted Pine (and I have been known to spend a LOT on beer). The friend who had consumed the prime rib only a couple of hours earlier proceeded to purchase short ribs with French onion ale soup, because he’s insane. The soup was tremendously good, but the ribs were tough, also, he was full.
On our wander back to the hotel room, we decided to roll down a grassy
knoll hill a few times and generally make a bunch of noise and fools of ourselves. It felt great! The Bearded Brewer was still feeling crummy, but slightly sassier, when we returned, so we got to be bitched at for making so much noise until we fell asleep.
When I was growing up, we owned a share in a mountain house in Silverthorne, at the foot of Buffalo Mountain. Some of the absolutely best times of my life were spent up in Summit County. Waking up that morning, with the smell of the mountains and the crisp, clean air (that sometimes alludes us even in Evergreen), brought me right back to that happy place. We loaded up the bikes and headed over to Breckenridge for some breakfast (a very good place called the Columbine Cafe), our friend bought an obnoxious pair of green sunglasses, then we headed over to Broken Compass.
Broken Compass Brewing (#244) is located on the north end of town, a stone’s throw from the Breckenridge Distillery (which we have not yet visited). It is a really cozy tasting room with a couple of log tables with ski lift seats, four seats at the bar, and a couple of old cafeteria tables that can be pulled out when needed (they were needed). Jason Ford, the owner and brewer, as well as his staff, were all very welcoming, which is not a given in tourist-driven Summit County. We did their whole flight, all of which were solid beers. I ended up drinking a mix of their chocolate porter and toasted coconut stout (choco nuts?) that was excellent. They have a great little brewhouse with one of the best brewery views I’ve ever seen. There’s a part of me that really likes that they saved the view for the brewers, since they are there most of the time, and certainly do the most work. There is one disconcerting thing about this brewery, however, and it’s that they have “clown storage” above the brewhouse, and that said clowns are only corralled by a little half door. Since we did not see any of these clowns (the Bearded Brewer doesn’t count) on our visit, I can only assume that they are tiny little porcelain clowns come to life, which somehow makes them way more terrifying.
Our bellies full of breakfast and beer, we headed over Hoosier Pass to avoid the post-apocalyptic hellscape that is I-70 on a Sunday. The drive up 285 is one that is just terribly pretty, so if you have the time, I highly recommend it.
A quick pitstop at home was all we needed before heading down to Denver to Chain Reaction Brewing Company‘s (#245) second day open. Their location is along Lipan just north of Mississippi in an area that I believe will see some significant gentrification (for better or for worse) in the next few years, and these guys have gotten in on the ground floor. What’s great is that you can hit up several breweries in a single afternoon in this area, but they aren’t as congested as, say, the RiNo district.
Chain Reaction’s large tasting room is well designed and comfortable. Inside the front doors are two leather sofas that will definitely get a dose of Dev-butt come this winter. The owners Chad and Zack are beer geeks with a dream, and are doing an excellent job of getting there. We were especially impressed with the fact they opened with 16 beers on tap (off of a 1 BBL system!) and that the majority of their beers were solid, if not downright good. I had my second IPA shocker of the weekend with their Lemon IPA hopped with Sorachi Ace hops. This is a hop that I have mostly avoided because of it’s overt astringency. However, in this single-hop iteration, it was fruity and herbal and downright bizarre. Needless to say, I got a pint. I also really liked their barley wine (another shocker). Their creme brulee stout had a good base, but was not quite as round as I would have hoped. If they brew it again, I hope they consider putting a few kegs back for a few months to allow the flavors to really come into their own. We were also delighted to run into a couple of friends we never see and be able to share some beers with them. Chain Reaction, though only a week old, is proving already a neighborhood watering hole. If they continue with the quality of beer and service they are providing, I know we’ll be back.
One last stop on Sunday was Former Future, just five minutes away from Chain Reaction, as our friends had never been there, and we had only been on opening weekend when they had only had two beers left. Former Future has some of the coolest decor of any brewery tasting room, as their bar is made of an old airplane wing and their bar chairs are reminiscent of a 60s lounge. Their beers have greatly improved since they opened, with several that were both delicious and challenging. However, the beer was on the spendy side, and the woman working behind the bar was downright unpleasant to us when we first came in, going so far as to roll her eyes at me when I didn’t immediately know I could raise or lower my chair at will. Of course, once we realized that, we made sure to raise them all the way up so our knees were knocking on the lip of the bar. Take that! She did come back down after we had completed our tasters and ask what we liked, but it didn’t really make up for her initial rudeness. We will probably return to Former Future just to try some more of their interesting beers, but they won’t make the top of our list.
Holy crap, that was a lot of stuff jammed into just one weekend! And that wasn’t even all of it… We also had a lot of fun this week, the highlight being Beer College with Steamworks Brewing at Historians Ale House. We love the guys at Steamworks and it was great to see them on the Front Range and hear some of the history and tech behind some of our favorite beers. But more on that some other time.
Now, what we are doing this weekend! I’ll (probably unsuccessfully try to) keep this short.
Trouble I am getting into this weekend
Friday, June 27th
Nothing. It is lovely and rainy and I took the day off and I’m going to sit in my PJs all day and write and do dishes and laundry and drink beer. Because I want to.
Saturday, June 28th
Beryl’s Beer is opening in RiNo, so we may go down there, which would also give us an excuse to visit some other breweries we haven’t been to in a while. Or we may make the long-delayed jaunt down to the Springs to visit the half dozen breweries we have never been to in that town. However, the Colorado Brewer’s Festival is going on in Fort Collins, so many brewers may be up there. And is a reason we won’t be going to Fort Collins this weekend.
Sunday, June 29th
Hops & Harley! I cannot express how much I am looking forward to this event. This annual event is put on by City Star Brewing in Berthoud and is a benefit for National Mill Dog Rescue. Harley is a little dog with a big dream: to end puppy mills. He was a stud dog in a puppy mill until being rescued by NMDR three years ago. Read his entire story on his Facebook page, it’s worth it. I’m excited about this event because it raises money for an organization that I wholeheartedly believe is important, it involves a brewery I adore, and I get to meet Harley!!! Also, dogs! If you are free on Sunday from 11am-5pm, please PLEASE consider joining us in supporting the important work NMDR does, and have some beers while you do it!
Other things going on that sound fun as crap
I mentioned the Colorado Brewer’s Festival above. This is not one of my favorite fests since it’s usually way too hot, it’s pay-by-the-taster (which is a pain), and they allow munchkins to be darting all over the place and generally being a nuisance. However, a lot of people seem to like it, so if it sounds like your kind of fun, then get your rear up there! It’s nice that they list the actual beers that will be poured, as well, so you’re not entirely flying blind.
4 Noses in Broomfield reportedly has a nitro porter on right now that kicks some serious ass. Considering how good their other beers are, I would say that this is a safe bet for a quick roll outside of the city.
Red White and Brews is going on up in Avon this weekend for those of you in the Central Mountains and Western Slope. Looks like a nice line-up of beer and wine they’ll be serving alongside live music.
For other awesome stuff going on, get ye to Fermentedly Challenged.