There have never been more breweries in Colorado or the country—which means it’s more imperative than ever to stand out among the crowd. Unfortunately, many new breweries are focusing too much on gimmicky beers and barrel programs before they’ve managed to perfect standard styles. Recently, the New Kids on the Block event put on by Two Parts at The Lobby showcased twenty of Colorado’s newest breweries. The following five breweries stood head-and-shoulders above the rest, not because of their unique ingredients, but rather their mastery of classic styles combined with innovation.
Coconut Porter: Broken Compass Brewing, Breckenridge
No subtleties here. Roasted coconuts are the star of this robust porter. A healthy accompaniment of velvety chocolate flavors from the malt gives the brew a full-flavored, but not overly sweet backbone. This is a perfect beer to enjoy after a day on the slopes, being both full and warming, with that added bit of tropical flavor. The brewery itself has a full range of offerings, from a crisp and refreshing helles lager, to other more adventuresome barrel and experimental beers that make it a welcome departure from its bigger neighbor in Breckenridge.
Oats and Hose Oatmeal Porter: Call to Arms Brewing Company, Denver
Call to Arms specializes in well-made standards that have lately taken a back seat to beers laden with adjuncts and special ingredients. Oats and Hose highlights this brewed-to-style philosophy, but with just enough extra character to make it truly exceptional. Like several of the other beers on this list, chocolate seemed to be the theme of the night for great beers. The beer is unbelievably smooth and full of a roasty chocolate flavor and aroma. Look for this brewery to show up on future “best of” lists, as the team of former Avery Brewing brewers has the caliber and commitment to make them one of Denver’s rising stars.
Dear You Saison: Ratio Beerworks, Denver
A lot of American-made saisons seem to rely too heavily on yeast to provide a majority of the flavors in saisons. Rather than drinking like an after-work beer as they were originally intended, they typically have a full-bodied mouthfeel and loads of fruity and bubblegum esters. Dear You is not like these Americanized versions. More along the lines of a French saison, it does have some of those yeast-derived flavors, but they are much more subdued by a drier body and herbal/mineral quality. A welcomed American addition is that of Citra hops, providing a hint of refreshing citrus.
Juicy Bits New England IPA: WeldWerks Brewing, Greeley
The name really says it all. Tropical and citrus flavors dominate, but without the bitter pithiness you might get in most IPAs. Due to a majority of hops being added much later in the boil—which keeps the volatile aroma and flavors intact without extracting bitterness—the ‘East Coast’ or ‘New England’ style of IPA is known for big hop flavors without the teeth-gnashing bitterness of West Coast counterparts. Don’t be put off by the haze of this increasingly popular style of beer, as it is a normal byproduct of excess protein. The body is much softer than similar styles with the same mouthfeel, yet without the sweetness you may get from larger amounts of malt. This and other genre-bending beers are worth the drive to our Northeast Colorado neighbor of Greeley.
Fourth Estate Belgian Chocolate Stout: Lost Highway Brewing Company, Denver
Fourth Estate drinks like a guilty pleasure. A beer purist may scoff at the descriptive flavors, while simultaneously downing pint after pint of this decadent brew. The chocolate is all flavor and no bitterness, like drinking liquified malted milk balls. The big head and creamy body give it a fluffy texture I’ve not quite found in almost any other beer of similar style. The rest of Lost Highway’s lineup runs along the similar vein of Belgian base beer with an addition of American flair.