The thirteen best new Colorado beers of 2013
Colorado breweries made and packaged hundreds of amazing new beers in 2012, expanding their range and proving once again which state is the center of the craft beer universe. And although thousands 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 newly 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 very first time in 2013; new seasonals that will return; formerly draft-only beers that are just now being packaged; or new 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 a hold 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. But I also wrote a list of 20 of my favorite limited-release or draft-only craft beers from 2013.
Here are my picks:
13. Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Dry Dock Facebook page
Dry Dock Brewing
A pumpkin beer? Yes. Why? Because it was really good. Dry Dock does big, sweet beers very well, from its Wee Heavy to its barleywine to its old ales, and this was no exception. Although it is loaded with pie spices, the spice-rack flavors that some pumpkin beers impart is mellowed here by the big malt content that makes this beer a bit of a boozy treat. It's like pouring a little brandy on a slice of pie topped with caramel.
12. Imperial India Pale Ale
This bodybuilder of a hop bomb is so loaded up with pungent aromas and flavors that Uplsope needed a bigger can to hold it. In fact, the brewery was only the second one in Colorado to use a 19.2-ounce imperial pint (the first was Oskar Blues) and to sell it in singles. Upslope doesn't like to give away its recipes and would only say that it used four hops varieties from North America and New Zealand, but it used a lot: six pounds per barrel. Some of the dank, piney notes will be familiar to double IPA drinkers, while the more tropical pineapple flavors are a fun surprise.
11. Wake Up Dead Nitro
Left Hand Brewing
Longmont's Left Hand Brewing hit one out of the ballpark in 2012 when it figured out how inject nitrogen into its milk stout, making the beer pour creamy out of the bottle in the same way it would come out of a nitrogenated draft line. But the brewery upped its game in 2013 by releasing Nitro versions of two other beers, Sawtooth and Wake Up Dead Russian Imperial Stout, the latter of which is aptly named considering the fact that you could drink this silky beer in two swallows before stopping to read that it is 10 percent ABV. Balanced, roasty and sweet, Wake Up Dead is worth living for.