The ten best Colorado beers of 2011
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.
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.
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.
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
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.