Part 2: Red and Hip at Black Shirt Brewing
Dim lights, but high ceilings. An old warehouse building, but newly remodeled. A big crowd, but this is the only time the brewery will be open all week. An industrial section of Five Points, once forgotten, but now on the map. A neighborhood brewery, but a destination for beer fans from Boulder, Fort Collins, Oregon and beyond.
We’re seated at a table beneath a large painting of Johnny Cash holding his guitar and giving us the bird in his smiling, ironic way. These are my first impressions of Black Shirt Brewing . . . I dig it. And it’s quite different, the opposite actually, from the family-friendly vibe of Brewery Rickoli. These unique angles on beer are part of why we love touring every brewery in Colorado.
Earlier, while we waited for a table to open, we perched at a standing bar that looked into their brew house, a fun aesthetic for anyone who loves the aroma of malts and hops as much as I do. And one can see the potential for an additional warm vibe during the summer months: a large garage door opens from the taproom to the outside. We’re just hoping that they extend to more regular hours; they could certainly attract the crowds.
As for the beer, it’s artisan and focused. All four beers on tap were considered reds, each named for their style. But what seems like simplification is an actual refined finesse; something you realize the minute the beer comes to your table in a shell-shaped stem-glass designed to increase the aromatics of the beer. I’m eager to find these glasses for my own collection at home.
– The Red Pale Ale: 4% abv session . . . a smooth and delicious red nectar.
– The BSB Red (used as the base for the rest of the beer): 6.5% abv . . . this was the reigning favorite of the day. Not too complex, but a perfect balance: it both quenched our thirst, and made us want more of it.
– The Red IPA: 5.5 % abv with delightful notes of the Chinook hops . . . this changed the flavor game a bit from the other beer and prepared you for the final offering:
– The Red Saison: Balanced by a malty backbone and a yeasty bite . . . kind of the perfect saison for the warm start to winter, don’t you think?
This focus on red beer (this is not a Corona with Clamato) lets people know what reds can be. I look forward to returning in the future and seeing what new brews they offer and what new styles they choose to focus on brewing.
Mini Mini-Series on Atmosphere: I’ve been pretty keen on the topic of context lately, and specifically observant about the way the “when and where” I’m drinking beer changes my enjoyment. This was made particularly clear to me in a recent article that talked about Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Once a hop-head favorite (before there were hop-heads), fans of this Pale Ale now claim that “the beer has changed.” While the recipe for Sierra Nevada may have changed slightly, it’s more likely that our palettes have rapidly evolved. What was once considered “hoppy” no longer compares to the hob-bombs available today.
Similar to changing palettes (as individual beer drinkers and as a customer base on the whole), I think atmosphere dictates a little bit of our enjoyment and experience with beer as well. And this couldn’t be more true than in three of Metro Denver’s newest breweries to open. This mini mini-series will cover Rickoli (see yesterday’s post), Black Shirt Brewing (today), and Our Mutual Friend (Thursday).