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.
Fortunately, I did a much better job of planning my return trip to Colorado than I did my first visit to the state. But I couldn't resist over-booking, aiming to travel through Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Aurora for stops at six different breweries in a mere 48 hours. Allowing time for sleeping, eating, and a whole lotta peeing, I was left with a total of twelve business hours to cover some serious drinking ground.
My first goal was to tend to some unfinished business from my last expedition at a particular mountain ranch. From a distance, Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids looks like Pee-Wee's Farmhouse. But the food at this country-themed BBQ taphouse is nothing to joke about—I can now say that some of the best shrimp and grits I've ever tasted were sampled not in South Carolina, but in Colorado.
Liquids and Solids serves all the ol' Oskar standbys: Mama's Little Yella, Old Chub, and of course, Dale's Pale Ale. I found the earthy hops in their Gubna Imperial IPA overwhelming, but the balance is perfect in the G'Knight IPA, with its addition of spicy rye. Ten FIDY—a rich, dark, imperial stout—is also not to be missed. Taking its name from its alcohol content (10.5%) the FIDY is a heavy hitter—after downing two, you might as well throw your car keys in the toilet.
The best part of my second Colorado tour, however, was a stop en route to the airport. Upon rolling up to Dry Dock Brewing Company, I initially thought I had accidentally navigated to a nautically themed Blockbuster Video. At 12:05 p.m., we were the second and third customers of the day, arriving only after one half-drunk local who was already making his way through generous tasters of every single beer on tap. The taproom's rustic wooden framing sets the perfect tone for drinking like a sea dog, and soon the bar was rocking like a rowdy pirate ship, packed with thirsty, jolly patrons.
We tried a dozen beers that afternoon, with some of the highlights including the U.S.S. Enterprise IPA (smooth and balanced with a touch of fruit in the finish), the Urca Vanilla Porter (rich vanilla from front to back, with a nice helping of malt and hops in between), and the Wee Heavy (sweetly malted to prepare for a boozy punch). Despite their intriguing names, don't bother with the watery Paragon Apricot Blonde or the unpleasantly spicy Black Seas Spiced Stout—their gimmicky flavorings aren't enough to keep them afloat.
The true winner turned out to be one of Dry Dock's most popular beers. Following a delicious burst of citrus up front, the Double IPA reveals its powerful hop profile, which is deftly balanced by a slightly fruity sweetness. The finish is rounded out by the return of more pleasantly dry hops. At 9% ABV, this one is surprisingly smooth, and now one of my favorite IPAs from the western US.
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.
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