Crafty Ladies with Oskar Blues’ Hops and Heifers Farm

I knew going into the Oskar Blues Crafty Ladies  that I was going to have to pace myself, as Oskar Blues has some incredibly high ABV beers, but when I walked in and was handed a G’Knight (8.7% ABV) as the “starter” beer I really had to watch it. G’Knight is a smooth, yet strong, Imperial Red named for former master of brewing Gordon Knight. Lucas Allen, our Oskar Blues guide for the evening, shared some nice words about Gordon who won three GABF titles from three different breweries in the 1990s. Unfortunately, we lost Gordon too young while fighting a fire near Rocky Mountain National Park in 2002. But his glory lives on with the folks at Oskar Blues and G’Knight.

Oskar Blues is no stranger to Crafty Ladies events,  so to mix it up a bit the focus of the evening was around their Hops and Heifers Farm in Longmont.  Hops and Heifers is the 50 acre home to 100% Oskar Blues raised Black Angus cattle. The cows feast on the spent grain from brewing, which Allen described as “candy for the cows,” especially the grain from the Ten Fidy. They also have two acres of hops Continue reading

Crafty Ladies: Left Hand Brewing Company Oktoberfest

We walked into a room filled with cameras, lederhosen and beer. . . not your typical Crafty Ladies. Left Hand Brewing hosted their annual Oktoberfest Crafty Ladies event and head brewer, Ro, came dressed for the occasion, looking dapper in his traditional German garb. The cameras were a new addition for a special taping of Crafty Ladies to be aired on the new Beer:30 television show on Channel 3.  To say I was excited for this Crafty Ladies event is an understatement. I love Left Hand, they are one of my all time favorite craft breweries and knowing that they were going to put on an Oktoberfest extravaganza made me elated.

Upon arrival, we were handed the crisp and refreshing Polestar Pilsner to be paired with grilled artichoke and Highland Tap and Burger house-made duck liver pate.  Polestar is a German-style pils that is light in body with nice floral hops, which, as Left Hand’s VP of Brewing stated, paired perfectly with the earthiness of the duck. Continue reading

Crafty Ladies Summer BBQ Beer Dinner with Firestone Walker and Oskar Blues

Elizabeth Kagan from Firestone Walker and Chris “The Gubna” Katechis from Oskar Blues compiled an in-your-face tasting menu of big beers for our Summer BBQ Beer Dinner.  We started out light with the Solace and Mama’s Little Yella Pills weighing in at 4.8% and 5.3% respectively. Both beers are nice and easy session beers, perfect for the 30 minute time frame between arrival and the first course.  The Solace is a “summer fusion wheat” beer and Mama’s Little Yella Pills is the 2011 GABF Silver Medal winner. Bittered with Czech Saaz hops, Mama’s is a great pilsner that went down smoothly on the hot summer night. Both beers are currently on tap at Highland Tap and Burger, though the Solace is headed out to make room for one of Firestone’s fall brews. Continue reading

Crafty Ladies Brew Day with Odell Brewing

There’s no better way to start a day than with a beer.

Chocolate Chips

Even better, I began a day in July with seven Crafty Ladies at a place that makes some of the tastiest beer in the state, one of the happiest places on earth. We’re talking Disneyland-two-hours-before the-gates-open happy: Odell Brewing. On this special Crafty Ladies brew day, we arrived at an empty tap room, (a truly rare site at Odell, only possible because of the early 9 am hour), where they gave us our pick of whatever morning beer suited us best. I tried several samples from the current Pilot Series: Strawberry Rhubarb Saison, Thick as Thieves Stout on nitro, Pomegranate Pale on cask, and an oak aged IPA from their Woodcut Series. Ultimately, I withdrew to the breakfast of champions, my favorite, St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale.

After this rather tough decision, we headed into the brewery to assist Linsey Cornish, Odell’s one and only female brewer, (she’s also one of just two women who work in the entire Odell brewing operations sector).   Continue reading

Crafty Ladies: Alaskan Brewing

“It’s summer time in Alaska and the campfire is roaring.”

This slogan embodies the Crafty Ladies event with Alaskan Brewing on Tuesday, July 10th, where bottles of Smoked Porter from 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2011 surprised and delighted our palettes. We were fortunate to explore the intricacies of this toasty brew through our vertical tasting that began with the youngest and smokiest 2011 to the twelve-year-old, slightly smoky and definitely sweet 2000. Ashley and Darin, representatives from Alaskan Brewing, certainly put their best foot forward by thoughtfully pairing the delicious food from Highland Tap and Burger with these four vintages of their most robust porter. Continue reading

Beer Mecca in California

You may have noticed a few postings on our Facebook page and recent blog posts about California breweries. We took a little sabbatical from Colorado beer to explore breweries both big and small from San Diego to Sonoma Counties. During 600 miles of driving, we visited 25 breweries and wineries, including three beer meccas that were simply magical. The Webster Dictionary regards meccas “as a center for a specified group, activity, or interest;” Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, Lagunitas in Petaluma, and Russian River in Santa Rosa fulfill Webster’s definition exactly.  And though all three breweries offered very different experiences, it seemed that angelic choirs of beer gods sang to us as we walked up to the front entrance of each location, acknowledging our arrival to very special places. Continue reading

The Small Town Brews

“If your town doesn’t have a brewery then it’s not on the map.” We heard this quote somewhere down the line in our travels and it certainly rings true as far as we can tell. There are very few towns in this state without a brewery or two to draw in locals and travelers alike. We’ve prided ourselves on making our way to all of the breweries in the state, big or small, from Ft. Collins to Alamosa. One thing we’ve noticed is that breweries, especially the smaller operations in small towns, have created a space for folks to gather and build community. Local breweries generally offer a low-key vibe and there are always friendly craft connoisseurs eager to strike up a conversation. Oh, and one other thing is absolutely sure, the beer is always good. So because of this pleasant community atmosphere, spots like Dolores River Brewery in Dolores, Colorado have quickly become our favorites. Continue reading