The ten best Colorado beers of 2011

Categories: Beer Man

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5) Crabtree Brewing Cezanne Saison
Greeley's Crabtree Brewing pushed its way into the Denver beer scene this year by refusing to be ignored. And while its experiments -- which included barrel-aged beers, multiple packaging styles and sours -- were hit or miss, Cezanne Sasison was an amazing, sweet and spicy success. I liked it even better than Crabtree's Berliner Weiss, a sour German ale that won a medal at the Great American Beer Festival.

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4) Fort Collins Brewing Wheat Wine
I satisfied my sweet tooth all year with this dessert-like wheat wine from Fort Collins Brewing. Rich and toffee-sweet, this beer was actually released in 2010 (so, I am cheating a bit here), but didn't become widely available until this year. Similar to a barley-wine, the wheat wine is made from 50 percent malted wheat, and each sip hits the senses like tasting candy for the first time.

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3) New Belgium Le Terroir
Sour beers are a Belgian specialty, so it makes sense that a brewery named New Belgium should make a good one. And Le Terroir may have been the most perfect sour beer I've ever had, elevating tart ripeness to the level of the five food groups. I hope the brewery, which is building a second location on the East Coast next year, brings this one back.

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2) Avery Rumpkin
Rumpkin is a beer with so much attitude that it has taken on its own cult of personality, sending beer lovers into fits of joy -- even when they're paying $10 for a single twelve-ounce bottle. Liquid candy for adults, Rumpkin is a pumpkin beer aged in rum barrels, giving it an ABV of close to 16 percent. Previously available only on draft, Avery bottled it for the first time this year, and plans to do so again in 2012.


1) Odell Mountain Standard

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Elegant, powerful and full of complex flavors, Odell's Mountain Standard Double Black IPA is the kind of beer that people schedule vacations to Colorado to try. And when they return to their home states, they keep talking about the beer until their friends tell them to shut up. Perhaps the most well-balanced version of this beer style that I've ever had, Mountain Standard manages to combine hops and black malts in a way that brings out the best of both ingredients without making the bitterness overpowering. The best part? All of the hops used in this beer were grown in the Mountain Standard Time Zone.

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10 comments
Ron Jonny
Ron Jonny

Solid list. Excited to try some of your top hitters, and the fact that there's no Oskar Blues (nothing personal against them, sure it's a great company, love the canned concept etc. but the beers are just not good to me, especially the Dale's Pale) shows me that you thought outside the normal Colorado box.

Josh
Josh

Awesome list!

Love the Odell love

Johnocox
Johnocox

Hard for me to believe there isn't a single Tommyknocker beer on this list.

Johanna
Johanna

Can anyone tell me where I can buy bottled Rumpkin in Denver? I want it so bad!

Mantonat
Mantonat

Good list, but I think you limited yourself too much. I'd like to see one list for top draft beers and one list for top packaged beers, regardless of rarity or limited release status. I'm not sure I see the difference between something like Bligh's Barleywine and Fertile Soil. Fertile Soil may be coming back next year, but I'm guessing it still had a very limited bottling and won't be around for a while. Plus since it's fresh hopped, it has a pretty limited shelf life so even if there are bottles available now, they probably won't be as good as when they were originally released. Fresh hopped beers are the beaujolais nouveau of the beer world.

Ryan
Ryan

Fail. Bligh's Barleywine is easily the best thing to come out of CO this year.

Michael Shearer
Michael Shearer

Odell's Mountain Standard is a phenomenal beer.  I have some in my fridge right now but may need to double stock it now.  

Guest
Guest

Can't promise it's still there, but the last time I saw Rumpkin was at Davidsons Liquor in Highlands Ranch by special request only.  Might want to call them first.Cheers!

jonathan_shikes
jonathan_shikes

Mantonat, your points are well-taken.Part of the reasons I limited myself were because of:A) The sheer quantity of beer, especially in tap rooms. Denver Beer Co alone has made more than forty different beers this year.B) I wanted to make the list as relevant as possible to beer drinkers who are looking to try some of these. Most are either beers that are available right now or those that will be back next year. The Avery releases will likely never return.

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