Welcome to the Boston Better Beer Bureau, our latest incarnation of the trusty suds reporting we’ve done at DigBoston ever since people referred to beer as suds. Really, we remember the days when we’d spend half our checks on fancy German bottles just so that we could review them, whereas these days breweries from all around New England kindly send us samplers and stay in touch. The BBBB is a new attempt to return that love, all while sharing more news about the innumerable microbreweries and pubs among us.
Why the hell has this guy been writing about Colorado for the past three weeks? He’s supposed to be the editor of a Boston newspaper, Goddammit!
If I was still just a regular reader of the Dig, instead of one of the poor bastards who painstakingly puts it together, I would probably be singing that tune or one like it. After all, we take a lot of pride around here in keeping it indie and regional. Earlier this month, for example, we limited our favorite beers of the year (so far) list to New England picks—not because there isn’t good beer elsewhere, but because we are loyal to local. There’s an ocean of impressive beer out there, so we might as well support the ecosystem that we rest in.
With that said… even living in a prosperous and lovely place like Boston, it can be nice to look to other places and say, Wow, that locale is simply better. The grass is always greener, sure, but especially in the case of Colorado. Which is why we wish we had the room to bring a couple of sampler packs back to Mass. Since it’s not the ’80s and you have to pay for extra luggage, though, we did the next best thing and took plenty of notes and memories. Which will hopefully come in handy on our next trip out west, your next trip out west, or in the event that some of these faves secure distribution out east.
Juicy Freak IPA by Denver Beer Co.
I wouldn’t quite call this potion ubiquitous, but you are going to run into the delicious Juicy Freak quite a bit between Denver and Boulder (and probably beyond that, but for the sake of staying on theme, just think of it as being as reliably present as your favorite common selection from, say, Lord Hobo). The brewer’s claim: “Bursting with bright citrus.” I guess that works, but they’re underselling their own brilliant product. It’s more calming than “bursting,” and is extremely clean and crisp, sort of like the air from which it hails. And while the fruit is present and a significant part of the punch, Juicy Freak is not for bitter connoisseurs who want their teeth to feel like they just sucked on a grapefruit. Verdict: not exactly juicy like a headline about OJ golfing on a kumquat grove while sipping on a bloody, but a juicy juicer for sure, and one worth drinking frequently if you are in the area.
ODD13 Brewing (Various)
Even though the double IPAs from ODD13 in Lafayette, Colorado, can send you into the turnbuckle, it is far from a chore to get inebriated on them. I drank several selections from this iconic brewery during my week in the mountains, and not a single one was a letdown—even its rookie treat, n00b Pale Ale, a blend of Mosaic and El Dorado hops, which, at 6% ABV, is its least devilish of all. The catch with ODD13 is that you come for the artwork—each unique offering is basically its own comic book on a can, with designs and characters (mostly) by artist Jesse Glenn—but stay for the liquid. The Mad Dog 20/20 potency is yet another hook—take its Intergalactic Juice Hunter, an 8% double IPA with Galaxy, Amarillo, and Simcoe. Or the League of Extraordinary Hopheads, another 8% number ODD13 cooked with Cerebral Brewing (Denver) and the outstanding Fiction Beer Company (also Denver). At the end of a day drinking these, however, you’ll be drunk on taste as well as high percentages.
Blood Orange IPA by Tommyknocker Brewing
I’ll make this one quick since you’ve already heard enough about how sweet the mountains are. Based out of Idaho Springs, Colorado, these Tommyknockers are doing incredible things. I sipped and chugged a lot of winners on my Denver trip, but none gave me as many goosebumps as this seriously citrus IPA. Beers of this variety are almost always too sweet or too hoppy, counters that can delete from the impact of each other. Not in this case, though, as it is the finest blood orange banger I have ever sucked. And I have had a lot. I always try ’em, even though I don’t expect to like ’em, and I suppose this is why.
Of course, in Colorado, I should have expected to hit gold every time I touched my shovel to a pint glass.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.