I'd love to tell you I didn't spend 20 minutes trying to think up a more creative title than that, but I don't want to lie. When did title-writing become so difficult? Maybe the better question is when did I start caring? Nobody needs fake chuckles at lame play-on-words headlines. Besides, it's not like any of my readers have a post with a similar title...
The goals of this trip (beyond the obvious family bonding, outdoor adventures, yada yada yada):
1. Visit any number of the numerous--and there are tons--breweries, brewpubs, saloons, gastro pubs, beer bars and watering holes in the central Colorado area.
2. Purchase, consume, ponder and review a wide selection of beers unavailable in Minnesota.
3. Leave with taste buds intact and functioning.
4. Don't alienate and/or piss off family.
5. Don't be 'that guy.'
That's sort of a prerequisite goal of any trip, outing, situation. Has being 'that guy' ever been a good thing? Unfortunately, I believe I became 'that guy,' drunkenly chucking bean bags across the cabin deck by myself well into the morning hours.
Missed the 7:15 am flight to Denver. Several reasons. Incredible congestion at airport. One security person funneling all passengers to one bag-checking metal-detecting line. Random bag-check selection. Most remote departure gate. Whatever the reason, the four of us somehow made it onto the next flight when twelve connecting passengers missed their connection. Arrive in Denver around 11 am. Bags, shuttle, rental car, and we're on our way to Boulder, and stop number one: Liquor Mart.
This is what I love about liquor stores, and exactly what I was getting at at the top of this post. Rarely does a liquor store have a creative name, and more often than not, the facade simply says "LIQUOR." They know it, we know it, everyone knows it--you need not say anything more. How many "Liquor Marts" or "Liquor Depots" or "Wine and Spirits" are there in the country? Sure, you could throw your name in front of 'Liquor,' but people are stopping all the same. Why bother?
Liquor Mart was the stop because I read they had the best selection of singles in the area. I was surprised in general at the lack of favorable liquor store reviews in Colorado, specifically Denver. Luckily, Boulder was directly on the way to our destination, and I had a car full of booze-hungry fiends ready to splurge. I picked up a dozen or so single bottles and cans--yes! cans! (20% off mixed six packs!), mostly from mountain/west coast breweries I'd heard of but never tried. I just made my monthly exclamation point quota. Had to grab a Chupacabras Pale Ale from Mexico because I simply love the chupacabra. A label-saver if I've ever seen one.
Before leaving Boulder, we stopped for lunch at the Lazy Dog Sports Grill and Bar. Maybe wouldn't have been our top choice but we were famished and already feeling the one hour time difference. I tried the Lazy Dog Amber, which I later learned was an in-house brew contracted by Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Paso Robles, California. Oh well. It was decent, but really fell off toward the last third of the pint. Ambers are difficult for me. This one was pretty nutty, biscuity (don't like using that word. feels awkward) and had an aftertaste akin to a handful of dirt. My last two comments: "Gets worser and worser. Skunky." Decent may have been overstating it I guess.
Stomachs and trunk filled, we meandered toward the Estes Park area and location of Luther Lodge. Where, it turns out, bloody marys were being served, with Left Hand's Polestar Pilsner as chaser. I believe that was the role this beer was meant to play. I'm not one for pilsners to begin with, but this one was "like gnawing on a sock." Not even worthy of my traditional complaint about lackluster pilsners tasting like grass. No matter, the bloody was putting me in the right place.
Next up was Great Divide's Denver Pale Ale, a malty English pale ale with a bit of a metallic hop finish. I like these beers, but this one wasn't my favorite. Next. A can! I like cans, and I enjoyed canned beers from three different Colorado breweries on the trip. This one, SKA Modus Hoperandi, was my favorite beer of the night. Nice grapefruit hop smell as soon as you crack it. One of the reasons I love cans. You can't crack a bottle like you can a can. That sizzle snap followed by bursting scents is pure and untouchable. This was one of those beers I could tell I was going to love just by its color and how it rolled in the glass. Nice creamy texture; not too thin, and definitely not syrupy, but with enough flavor to satisfy. Terrific pine bitter finish as well.
My final beer of day one was the Alaskan Summer Ale, a kolsch. Again with the styles I don't terribly enjoy. On the night's spectrum, this one fell somewhere in between the Lazy Dog and the DPA. Not skunky, for sure, but not a lot to keep me coming back to the glass. Had a ciderish quality to it, like a sweet, flat British tap cider. I'm not sure the words sweet and flat could be used to describe anything in a pleasant way. Maybe a frosting-slathered graham cracker. Day one in the books.