20 of our favorite Colorado craft beers from 2013
There are roughtly thirty breweries in the city of Denver alone and nearly that many in Boulder. There are dozens more in the surrounding towns and suburbs, and that doesn't even include Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Durango and the mountains. I've been to a lot of them, but I've missed a lot more. Still, I tried at least 500 different Colorado beers in 2013 -- from longtime standards to draft-only one-offs -- at as many breweries, beer bars, restaurants, bottle shares and festivals as I possibly could.
Here are twenty (this list focuses on draft-only or very limited release beers since I am also working on a list of the best new packaged beers of 2013) that made me happy, either because the brewers made something perfect or because they went out on a limb, because they tried something different or did because they were just having fun. They are listed in no particular order. Many all still available. Cheers.
River North took some oak bourbon barrels procured by a liquor store down the street called Mr. B's and aged their fantastic Quandary quadruple in it for many months, along with cherries. They bottled it just for Mr. B's, but the bottles sold out fast, so I tried this beer on tap at the brewery during GABF. I haven't stopped thinking about it since.
Dry Dock Brewing
Yeah, I like quads, and this was the year for them since I got to try a dozen or more on a trip to Belgium, and about eight others made in Colorado. Waltvleteran 12 (a play on the famed Westvleteren 12) stood out because it was rich, balanced and sweet without being too hot or alcohol-y tasting.
This beer was so good that I sought it out twice, and regretted not doing so more than that. A blend of one-third Big Bad Baptist -- Epic Brewing's powerful bourbon-barrel aged imperial stout brewed with coffee and chocolate -- and two-thirds Strange Brewing's addictive Cherry Kriek, the results produced a beer that played down the bitter side of BBB and the sweetness of CK for a complicated, wonderful beer.
Simply put, this crisp, low-alcohol sour wheat beer brings just the right amount of tart lightness to make it perhaps the best Berliner Weiss being made in Colorado.
Okay, Momi Hiwa wasn't actually on draft. In fact, it was primarily sold in bottles, but if you didn't make it to the brewery on the day it was released (or to a handful of liquor stores in Denver where it sold out within a day or two) then you missed it. Made with toasted coconut, this 17 percent ABV imperial stout was aged in rum barrels and designed to taste like a Mounds bar. One its most unusual characteristics, though, was the rich oily mouthfeel and chunks of coconut that remained in the bottle. It was one hell of an unusual experiment that tasted like paradise in a bottle.