Serious Eats: Drinks
On the Beer Trail: Avery Mephistopheles' Stout in Colorado
Editor's Note: Ethan Fixell tours the country as a comedian—and as a beer drinker. Can he sip a local beer in every state? Watch him try.
My first ever trip to Colorado was a whirlwind: I still can't remember many of the details because of how overwhelmed I was by the plethora of renowned craft beer...Or maybe that was just because I was drinking so much. But I do know this: on my hectic maiden journey I fell in love with the Rockies. (The mountains, not the baseball team. Only a mother could love them after last season.)
My comedy partner Dave and I were in Colorado for a show, and we had intended to stop first at Oskar Blues, a Longmont brewery known for its canned beer. From a distance, it's easy to mistake "Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids"—the brewery and attached taproom—for Old MacDonald's Farm. Barreling down Route 119 (a.k.a. the "Diagonal Highway"), we did just that, and totally missed the exit. (You'd assume that we'd have been tipped off by the giant beer can-shaped silo bearing an enormous Oskar Blues logo, but look, stuff gets a little blurry at 80 miles per hour.)
Luckily, between Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins, there are literally dozens of top-tier craft breweries. So rather than turning around to get back to Oskar, we simply kept driving until we hit the next brewery visible on Google maps. Our serendipitous mistake that day actually allowed us extra time at what would prove to be the highlight of the trip.
Avery Brewing is in Boulder, but on the outskirts of the city, sandwiched between an auto parts shop and a self-storage facility (the location doesn't exactly make for a scenic happy hour). But grab a seat at the L-shaped bar or at one of the high tables to get involved with the extensive draft and food menu, and you'll be thankful you stopped by.
We chose some high-end palate cleansers (sweet potato tots) and personally customized beer flights. From Ellie's Brown Ale, to the New World Porter, to their India Pale Ale, pretty much every Avery brew I sampled was a standout (perhaps the sole exception their more widely distributed White Rascal, a witbier spiced with orange peel and coriander which provides easy drinking without offering much more). But the clear winner that day was the final beer we tasted: Mephistopheles' Stout.
Mephistopheles pours pitch black with a deep, dark, nutty scent laced with coffee and dark chocolate. The smell is utterly intoxicating. At 16.8% alcohol by volume, a single sip nearly put me on my ass. But the overload of booze does a fine job balancing the surprisingly intense hops. If you ever run into a bottle, be sure to give it a try, but don't bother picking up more than one. One is enough. One is definitely enough.
The sheer number of quality breweries in Colorado can make a guy dizzy. Or maybe it's just the high altitude. Either way, to really do Colorado beer justice, you need to set aside several full days and come armed with a plan. Which is exactly what I did just a few months later.
To be continued...
About the Author: Ethan Fixell is a writer and comedian from New York City best known as one half of comic "dating coach" duo Dave and Ethan. He is also the creator and editor of ActualConversation.com. For more on Ethan, visit EthanFixell.com.