Black Shirt Brewing's slanted Offero glasses will change the way you drink beer

Categories: Beer Man

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Jonathan Shikes
Black Shirt Brewing will use both of these Offero glasses in its tasting room.
You're going to spill beer on your shirt. That part is guaranteed. But when people understand why the owners of Black Shirt Brewing have decided to serve their red ales exclusively in glasses with slanted rims, it will all make sense.

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Made by Offero Vessels in Golden, the glasses are based on a coffee-mug design that is engineered to capture the aromas of a beverage as you bring the glass to your lips.

"It will make people slow down and consider what is going on in that glass," says Black Shirt co-founder and head brewer Branden Miller. "When people first see it, it's a little off-putting, and the beer will end up on your shirt. But it's a risk I'm willing to take."

But it's not the only risk. Miller and his brother Chad and Chad's wife, Carissa, have put everything on the line for Black Shirt, which is tentatively scheduled to open in August in the River North neighborhood, and they are doing things a little differently.

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Black Shirt co-owner Branden Miller can't stand regular pint glasses.
First, there's the beer. "My dad always told us you should focus on one thing and do that one thing better than anybody else," Miller says. "So, we are brewing one style and one style only, red ales, in hopes of showcasing the four ingredients in beer." For instance, they plan to brew an imperial red rye IPA that will bring out the bready flavors of certain rye malts; their red saison, meanwhile, will highlight a Belgian yeast strain.

Then there's the neighborhood. Located right next to a liquor store on busy Walnut Steet between 38th Avenue and Downing, Black Shirt won't be the first brewery in RiNo, but the Millers have incorporated a lot of RiNo into the feel of their place.

The bar and the tables in the taproom are all made from the flooring of box-car trains -- and, in fact, you can watch the trains go by from the back deck of the brewery, where Black Shirt is growing its own hops and vegetables. A light-rail station is also being built just a block away to complement the bus stop right outside the bright red front door.

Miller, who works at Duo, will also have a small food prep area inside the brewery, where he hopes to get some of his chef-minded friends in the restaurant business to whip up plates of cheese or charcuterie or whatever they want.

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But it's the red ales and the Offero glasses that will really set Black Shirt apart.

The brewery will start with 250 stemmed glasses, which it will use for full, twelve-ounce pours, and 250 stemless glasses, which it will use for beer flights.

To drink from one of the glasses, you raise the lower portion of the glass to your lips, letting the higher side rest against your forehead (or glasses, in some cases). It can be awkward at first, and if you've had a few or forget what you are doing, it's very easy to spill.

The effect, though, is similar to what happens if you cup your hand behind a glass of beer or wine, or a mug of coffee, to trap the aromas against your nose. Doing so elevates your senses, while the glass design actually forces you to pay attention to every sip, changing the experience of drinking into a much more active one.

And that's exactly how Offero founder Mitch Bangert, a Wyoming fly-fishing guide, came up with the idea for the slanted design. A coffee geek, he was at a tasting when the host asked everyone to cup their hand behind their mugs as they were drinking.

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Black Shirt Brewing

3719 Walnut St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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