Blue skies beam down, the sun shines, the snow melts . . . it’s been spring in Colorado for some time now, and there’s nothing like unseasonably warm weather to inspire inhabitants of the Rocky Mountain state to get outside. We’ve done just that, hiking, camping, gardening, and celebrating the glory that is the Colorado beer scene.
Now I know there are still critics of canned beer. But I say, let them be. It’s they’re loss to miss out on the enjoyment of Colorado craft in its most portable fashion. As I look back on the 2012 spring season, some of the finest outdoor moments found me with a can-in-hand.
This is not a rating of the beer, or even a ranking list. And it’s certainly not an exhaustive table of all the great beer available in cans. This is simply a glimpse into a few of the canned joys the weather has bestowed on our palettes, joys that will continue into the summer.
Maybe we should have held out on this until Cinco de Mayo festivities, but an early end to the ski season meant hiking up to the base of Winter Park and enjoying the sunshine, not the slopes. The flavor and on-point approach to this style will sway any Pacifico fanatic to the Ska side of town. Add in the bright green can and playful logo, and this one will be stock- piled for BBQs all summer long.
I’m not one to advocate always bringing beers on outdoor adventures . . . the beauty of wilderness is more than satisfying. But on occasion, there’s no doubt that sitting stream-side with a beer after several long miles of hiking can be rejuvenating. While savoring Upslope’s Pale Ale, we discover they’re using Patagonia Hops, a Chilean-grown version of Cascade. The hops of this pale pack a crisp punch, sure to brighten the day . . . just double-check that you’re packing out all the empties.
A distributor from Aspen passed Lady Lupulin a six-pack of This Season’s Blonde, and we debated for a while about when we should drink it. After finishing a day of planting peppers, tomatoes, spinach, and squash, we decided it was time to relax. Bean Bag Toss, known as Cornhole, (where would Denver be without its Midwestern routes), seemed like a perfect way to celebrate, and there was nothing more fitting than Aspen Brewing Company’s seasonal delight. We’ve found that our Cornhole skill rises exponentially when a delicious beer balances out our other hand. This Season’s Blonde didn’t disappoint.
A beer list about cans would seem incomplete without including something from Oskar Blues. And quite frankly, we could mention every single beer they make since they are the godfathers of canning craft beer. After making the leap of faith more than a decade ago, Oskar Blues still produces some of the finest Colorado beer in cans. It seemed fitting to enjoy a can of their 15th Anniversary Abbey Ale at their 15th Anniversary Party last April with a half dozen other beer aficionados at our table. The irony was not lost on me as I poured samples of the Abbey Ale into plastic cups. The overall opinion? Let’s get another can.
To further celebrate Oskar Blues’ positive effect on the industry, it seems fitting to honor a recently emerged Colorado brewery plunging into the can phenomenon. With a brand new canning line from Wild Goose in Boulder, Eddyline of Buena Vista is cranking out palettes of their Drag Bag Lager. The aesthetic of these tall boy cans might be mistaken for Budweiser . . . until you open one up; this is a delicious beer for a hot summer day along the Arkansas River (or anywhere else in the state for that matter). Eddyline’s Crank Yanker IPA is a must try in its can form, and is also available at their new tap room right off of Highway 24.
And five cans doesn’t seem descriptive enough. I’ve left out dozens of fine contenders, and will probably have to revisit this topic as the summer progresses. My main suggestion? Go out and get a six-pack to share with friends. Craft Beer in cans is an experience not to miss, but please, be responsible, recycle, and remember, beer and heat can make for a nasty dehydration cocktail. Even in a can, Craft Beer is for sipping, not slamming.