The ten best new Colorado beers of 2012
Colorado breweries made and packaged dozens and dozens of amazing new beers in 2012, expanding their range and proving which state is the center of the craft beer universe. And although hundreds more were brewed and sold on draft in tap rooms, bars and breweries, this list -- like the one I did last year -- is just for the beers that were packaged in cans or bottles. In addition, the beers named here all fit into one of the following categories: year-round offerings that debuted for the first time in 2012; seasonals that will return; formerly draft-only beers that are just now being packaged; or one-offs that were widely available and brewed in significant quantity.
Oh, and they had to be available in the Denver area, where I could get ahold of them.
The reason I set these parameters is because I want this list to be at least somewhat useful to craft beer lovers and consumers, and not just a rundown of stuff that was really hard to get or will never return to liquor-store shelves. In addition, although it saddens me, there are simply too many draft-only beers out there for me to try them all.
So, for instance, you won't see the one-off sours from Crooked Stave, AC Golden or Avery on this list, or hard-to-get limited releases from Oskar Blues.
Here are my picks:
Dig didn't make many ripples when it debuted as New Belgium's newest spring seasonal early this year, but the beer managed to incorporate a couple of unusual and sometimes finicky hops varieties -- Nelson Sauvin and Sorachi Ace -- with a delicate touch that was both satisfying to this hophead and light on the palate. Floral, earthy and bright, Dig doesn't taste like anything else New Belgium makes.
9) Pond Hopper
Pond Hopper combines rich, biscuity English malt notes with fruity, almost tangy hops characteristics that bring to mind, ever so briefly, a sour beer. In fact, the beer's sliding nuances make it one of the most intricately balanced beers I had this year. Subtle and satisfying, Pond Hopper isn't the product of a novice brewer. Rather, it's the result of what happens when two experts -- Odell and the UK's Thornbridge Brewery -- come together on either side of the Atlantic ocean to launch the somewhat stale category of the pale ale into the 21st century. It is what a collaboration truly should be.
8) Mole Stout
Durango's Ska Brewing experimented for more than a year on different stout recipes to come up with the series of seasonals that it debuted in cans last fall. The first of these was the Autumnal Mole Stout, a rich, chocolately stout layered over with enough spice to give it a bite without burning your lips. This beer managed to blend spicy peppers with roasty coffee notes and a touch of sweetness that made you want another.