Autumn in Colorado is just about as wacky a season as you can find, with temperatures fluctuating between the 20s and the 70s...occasionally on the same day. So you'll need a variety of beer styles in your fridge. While you may crave a robust porter when it's approaching the freezing point, a nice fresh IPA is more palatable on a surprise sunny afternoon. Here are five local brews we've been enjoying, whatever Fall's weather brings.
Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale
Wet-hopped brews are a must-drink each autumn, since they're released shortly after the annual hop harvest. To make this brew, Great Divide overnight ships hops from the Pacific Northwest straight to the brewery, and immediately adds the aromatic cones to the brew kettle. The result is a bright, grassy pale ale with loads of flavor, and pretty light bitterness.
Left Hand Warrior IPA
Another excellent wet hop beer, but this one features locally-grown Warrior and Cascade hops delivered by freight from Rising Sun Farms in Paonia, Colorado. The aroma is a terrific blend of pine resin and caramel from the malt, giving way to a balanced earthy and grassy flavor with a slightly sweet finish. These fresh-hopped beers are best enjoyed fresh, so your time is running out.
From the 2012 GABF "Small Brewing Company of the Year" (and 2 time gold medalist), comes Scepter, a Belgian-style golden ale aged in cognac barrels. The aroma is complex, blending oak, floral, and earthy notes with a pronounced sweetness. The first sip is a punch of apricot and vanilla with a dusting of pepper. Scepter's bitterness fades quickly into a sweet finish with just enough heat to warm you up on a chilly night.
Elevation Signal de Botrange
Named after the highest tower on the highest point of Belgium, Signal de Botrange is a Belgian-style farmous ale aged in Chardonnay barrels. They've only been open to the public for 5 months, but Elevation Brewing Company in Poncha Springs is brewing up some incredibly well-crafted beers. Signal de Botrange is loaded with white wine aroma and flavor, complementing the a bit of spice along with notes of honey and vanilla.
Dry Dock Vanilla Porter
Perfect for those cold nights sitting around a fire, Dry Dock's Vanilla Porter is the s'mores of beer. While the nose is pure vanilla, the flavors are much more complex, hinting at roasty chocolate, vanilla, and a bit of graham cracker (or is that my imagination?), and melding together to create a gently warming bliss.
Have you enjoyed any brews from Colorado this Fall? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!
About the Author: Sean Buchan covers the Denver craft beer scene for Denver off the Wagon in addition to doing freelance photography for Colorado breweries. You can also view his beer photography on his blog, Beertographer, here.
Elevation Signal de Botrange provided as sample for review consideration.