The ten best new Colorado beers of 2012

Categories: Beer Man

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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.

See more:
- Fort Collins and Funkwerks step up in a down year for Colorado GABF medals
- Ska Brewing will debut a new series of seasonal canned stouts
- The ten best Colorado beers of 2011

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:

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10) Dig
New Belgium

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.

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9) Pond Hopper
Odell Brewing

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.

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8) Mole Stout
Ska Brewing

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.

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22 comments
meatnation
meatnation

Quit calling it a "wild yeast." They didn't get the yeast off a shoe. It's a cultured product introduced intentionally. There's nothing "wild" about it any more than a walmart goldfish is wild. This is about the 10th post where you incorrectly refer to a yeast as "wild" when in fact it is not in any way shape or form. And, by the way, yeast doesn't sour a beer like oud bruin. That's bacteria like lacto and pedio. You call yourself a beer man? You need to read some books on how beer is made I guess. You're lacking the background to write a column. 

thesuperflirts
thesuperflirts

@skabrewing greetings from the Philippines. Happy new year! :)

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

I think all this talk of alcohol is bad for Colorado's reputation.

maxplanck0
maxplanck0

A formidable list. Deviant Dale's is so good, it seems to disappear from the shelves before before I get to crack one open. I suppose the next time I locate a supply, I should buy it all and fill up the house's crawl space....

Jay Stooksberry
Jay Stooksberry

Not sure if it has made it east of the Continental Divide yet, but you gotta love Dirty Hippie by Palisade Brewing Company.

NapaofBeerGirl
NapaofBeerGirl

@ColoBeerMan glad @OdellBrewing Pond Hopper made it, that is my beer of the year! I can't get enough of it.

JestersBets
JestersBets

@datingdad it was good but I could only drink one before I needed something else

a94buff
a94buff

What a crisis of riches we have in CO.

zamboni332
zamboni332

@jennymuld agreed I have had all those except the one from poncho springs !!

Legen Dairy
Legen Dairy

Kona pipeline porter and coconut milk stout

ElevationBeerCo
ElevationBeerCo

@ColoBeerMan Thanks for including us on that fantastic list of great #colorado #craftbeers, we drank our fair share of those ourselves!

ColoBeerMan
ColoBeerMan

@NapaofBeerGirl @OdellBrewing Yes, it kind of flew under the radar, but it was really good.

ColoBeerMan
ColoBeerMan

@ElevationBeerCo definitely an amazing lineup

NapaofBeerGirl
NapaofBeerGirl

@ColoBeerMan @OdellBrewing Not low on my radar, I think I drank at least half of a recent keg at @TapandHandle ha!

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