The Top 3 Microbrews in Colorado

Colorado has a long rich history of microbrew beer or better known today as craft beer. In 1978, the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) was founded in Boulder, CO while the Great American Beer Festival debuted there in 1982. The Brewers Association trade group comprised of 1,000 US brewery members and over 19,000 AHA members is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado.

Today, over 49,000 people annually flock from around the world to the three-day Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado to sample microbrews from Colorado and the United States. As Mayor of Denver and Founder of Wynkoop Brewery John Hickenlooper adequately stated “What people in Denver don’t realize is that Denver is considered the Munich of the West, the Napa Valley of beer.

Picking the top 3 microbrews in Colorado is impossible. It’s like choosing your favorite ski run. Choosing the top three microbrews requires writing the names of all your favorites on slips of paper, putting them into a hat, and then drawing names.

Here are my top 3 microbrews in Colorado:

Hazed & Infuzed Dry-hopped Ale – Boulder Beer Company, Boulder, CO

On Sept. 25, 2009, Boulder Beer Co. celebrated 30 years in the microbrew beer business. Hazed & Infused is a wildly popular Colorado microbrew that reflects what 30 years of microbrewing knowledge can produce.

Hazed & Infused is an unfiltered microbrew produced with Crystal and Centennial hops. Pop the top off a bottle of this beer and you’ll immediately smell the aroma of hops. On the first sip, you’ll taste the bold hop spiciness and caramel malt. It lasts from start to finish. It’s a light-bodied hoppy beer with medium mouthfeel. It’s a great beer year round.

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1554 Enlightened Black Ale – New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO

While not as well known as the wildly popular Fat Tire Amber Ale, 1554 Enlightened Black Ale is a microbrew of note in Colorado. New Belgian Brewing uses a light lager yeast strain, chocolate malts, and old Belgian script to produce this dark beer.

A quick glance at a draft poured pint of this microbrew might have you expecting the strong aromas, flavors, and finish of a porter or a stout. Not so. You’ll be greeted by mild aromas of chocolate and coffee with good follow through by the same mild flavors and sweetness. It has a medium mouthfeel and body.

While this is a very dark beer, it doesn’t have a high hop bitter finish. It’s the perfect beer for the dark beer novice. It’s best tasted as a draft pint served slightly chilled but, a bottle of this microbrew is still perfectly acceptable. It’s a very drinkable microbrew year round.

B3K Schwarzbier – Wynkoop Brewing Company, Denver, CO

It’s a good thing that Wynkoop Brewery dosen’t can this beer or there wouldn’t be enough left for fans in Denver. The B3K Schwarzbier is another deceptive dark microbrew of Colorado. As a winner of a Gold Medal at the 2008 GABF, it didn’t fool the beer judges in the German Schwarzbier category.

B3K is a very dark German-style black lager served only along metro Denver’s Front Range. It is best-tasted on-tap at Denver’s Wynkoop Brewery and consumed in the enormous upstairs billiards room.

B3K greets one with smells of chocolate and burnt wood. It follows through with tastes of chocolate, roasted barley, mild sweetness, and very mild hop finish. It doesn’t have the bitterness one typically finds in dark beers. It’s a microbrew with medium body and mouthfeel. I find it to be a refreshing microbrew on warm or cold days. Unlike your typical dark beers, B3K won’t overpower the flavor of most foods.

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