Great Divide brewing started as a one-man homebrew operation in 1994. First operating in the shadow of the Coors Field construction site, they have grown exponentially in the 20 years since, now being the sole owner/tenant of the building at 22nd and Arapahoe. Along with the expansion in space came the expansion of their brew lineup, they now offer 26 beers in total: 10 year-round offerings, 12 seasonals (3 per season) and 4 limited releases.
Now, I know I mentioned vodka earlier. Don't judge me. For one, my friend makes those Fade-o-rades so that you can't even taste the vodka for the most part. And also, those are only drank for practical (or impractical) purposes. Beer is for enjoyment. And today I'm excited to share this spot with you all, because I was really surprised by the quality of the brew I found there.
For beer this week, I'm going to change it up a little bit. Instead of a beer review, consider this to be more in the vein of beer education. And we're stepping outside of the state for a little bit.
We're spoiled in Colorado when it comes to craft beer, both in the variety of breweries we have, as well as the quality of the beer produced. This is a good thing. The quality is such that the scope and reach of many of these brewers extends nationwide (New Belgium, Boulder Beer, etc), and deservedly so. But it's important not to let our state pride manifest itself into arrogance, and let that feeling keep us from sampling some of what other states have to offer.
I'm trying to draw a parallel between the passing of this past year and the refining of one’s own taste in beer. While a year might not make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, the passage of time brings with it more experience, and with more experience comes the opportunity to establish a personal preference. Personally, I laugh at how far I’ve come in that regard in my own right. I’m sitting here writing about craft beer when ten years ago I was slurping down bum juice like King Cobra 40 ouncers and Mad Dog 20/20. Those were the days!
That being said, I haven’t had a 40 since I became old enough (legally) to drink.(EDITOR'S NOTE: I have since drank many 40's in an effort to get back to my root's with our CEO. It was for research purposes only) That’s not just an Atmosphere line; in my case it’s 100% true. While cheap booze is OK if your goal is to simply get drunk as fast as possible, they have no place in the fridge of someone who’d rather have something enjoyable - and hey, if drunk is the end result - so be it.
At last year’s Winter Brewfest, I was steered towards Strange Craft's booth by a friend of mine who had heard about Strange Brew through some co-workers at Budweiser. We must have stopped back by there about ten times after the initial sample. IPAphany IPA is what we were drinking, and it was excellent.
I know I might sound like a broken record here at this point, and some might think that I need to expand my palette, by IPAs are still easily my favorite beers. And this one is up there with some of the best that I’ve had.
This week we’re going to forego the usual beer review and instead provide an interesting little vignette about a specific style of beer brewed by one of the vendors there; Sanitas Brewing Company in Boulder.
This brewery and taproom was opened in September 2013 by three friends already well versed in the craft business (their backgrounds include time at Boulder Beer and Oskar Blues), and their rotating tap list features 23 unique styles of brew, ranging from regular American ale, to more exotic styles like cherry stout and the beer in question; their 360 Tripel.
Tie between Lowdown Brewery and Kitchen’s IPA, and Gravity Brewing’s Tsar Bomba Russian Imperial Stout. For more on Lowdown itself, I’d like to invite you to check out the initial post of my esteemed Colorado Culture colleague Elaine’s Brew Review. As far as the beer itself is concerned, I know I keep harping on IPAs. But if you’re a TRUE hophead like me, this is one you must try. Usually extreme floral notes of hops and pine lead to extreme bitterness, but this was melded nicely with citrus tones of grapefruit and tangerine. 7.0 ABV. Easy, tasty and strong. So all of the best traits of IPAs brewed into one.
Gravity Brewing is a place that I am actually not entirely familiar with. It’s located in Louisville, just up the “Buffalo Highway” from the People’s Republic of Boulder, and is fairly new on the craft brew scene. But this Russian Imperial Stout (one of two beers they had to offer at their stand, so you know the owners are proud of their concoction) will no doubt put them on the map permanently. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to whet your palette with a brew such as this after snagging anything with the letters “IPA” in it for an hour, as it is almost the polar opposite in terms of flavor profile. While IPAs are sharp and bitter, stouts such as these are smooth and malty. This one in particular was nice and heavy on the molasses and brown sugar, giving it a mellow sweetness that can make you forget that you are drinking a beer that is 12% ABV. Check them out here: http://thegravitybrewing.com/
There is a runner up in this category, simply because the beer was so unique. Again, if you’d like to find out more about the Denver Beer Company itself, slide on over to “Brew Review” and see the experience that Elaine has written up for you all. But at the Brewfest, they had an offering that was one of the strangest brews you can find. Their “Raspberry Princess Yum Yum” is termed as an “American Pale Wheat Ale”, which is a combo that you won’t find often in a name. Its flavor profile is equally unique. Drinking this beer is like drinking some kind of liquid jelly donut. It was the strangest thing. But strangely good. So next time, you’re hankering for a flavored fat pill, skip Voodoo on Colfax and go to Denver Beer Company for a pint of this. It can’t be worse for you, and you can’t get drunk off of donuts anyway.
In terms of beer this week, there won’t be a review sadly. The reason for the aforementioned hiatus is that I’ve been a bit under the weather as of late, so the beer drinking has been kept to a minimum. Although I expect to be back on schedule here this weekend however, because I do it for YOU: the readers. With that in mind, I’d like to talk about some beer that I’m not sure if I’d have the guts to try in the event that I ever ran across it.
Hello Culture Heads! My name is Elaine and like most of you, I love a good Colorado beer. Luckily for all of us there are a multitude of impressive and innovative breweries here in the Denver metro area. I’m going to be covering a local brewery every other week and we will be posting the review just in time for you to make your weekend party plans.
This front-range micro-brewing establishment is located in downtown Golden, CO. It opened about a year and a half ago and is nestled off a main street of Golden, close to an intimate neighborhood setting. If you love seasonal takes on classic beers and craft beer creators who aren’t afraid to experiment, this is the brewery. The motto of this brewery is “Carefully Crafted” and I highly agree that each one of their unique brews is crafted quite carefully. While I was there I tried six of their seven beers on tap:
This December one of my best friends moved to Denver and almost immediately wanted to know what brewery he needed to add to the top of his to-do list. He had never been to the Highlands area and so, of course, I took him directly to Denver Beer Company’s doorstep for some quality brews and views.
I love many things about the setting of Denver Beer Co. The neighborhood is always bustling with many boutiques, sandwich shops, and bars around the block. The crowd is welcoming and this brewery is notoriously cyclist friendly, offering many cycling accessories with their brand proudly printed on them. It has been around since 2011 so if you haven’t checked out this popular locale yet, shame on you!
While visiting I sampled and shared eight different beers:
Unique and utterly entertaining, Slow Magic put on a great show this weekend at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre. The man behind the colorful mask knew exactly how to excite and entice the crowd with his delicious beats. From songs like “Waited 4 U” to a his mix of Odesza’s “Say My Name”, Slow Magic’s set encapsulated it all. It was a great set coupled by his amazing drumming abilities and some great openers.
“Welcome to our church. Our helmets. Our religion.” Such is the mantra of Montreal natives Patrick Barry, Marc-André Chagnon & Julien Maranda, otherwise known as Black Tiger Sex Machine. Since it’s inception in the summer of 2009, the guys have continued to evolve, transforming from a DJ collective between three friends who shared common musical interests, to the version of BTSM that we all know and love today. Part of that evolution has been translating their idea of culture to their live performances.
Comprised of high school buddies AP Adair and Luke Sims, Bass Physics have been making a name for themselves with their combination of skilled production and live instrumentation since their formation in April 2012. They're both Colorado guys, having met while attending Cherry Creek High School, and are huge proponents of the culture that we all know and love here. They've toured across the country, and maintain that Colorado is the place where people seem to be the friendliest. Whether it's the combo of the music scene, mountains, or other unique activities offered in the cities themselves, people here are simply happier than in other places. We greet strangers with a smile. We're prideful and passionate about our home state and want to exude that as much as possible at every opportunity. AP and Luke recognize this, and their aim with Bass Physics is to harness that positivity and those good vibes and do their part to make sure that they spread. And their music is the best way that they know how to accomplish that.
Operating out of Boulder by way of London, jackLNDN is another one of the artists on the Decadence lineup to whom it would be a disservice to simply call a producer. He’s classically trained on the piano, he can play the harp, and he is also a trained vocalist. He write songs that aren’t dance tracks. He also produces hip hop, having done some work on Chicago MC Lupe Fiasco’s previous album. So why produce dance tracks when you have al of these other talents at your disposal? Well, one day after his 18th birthday he flew with some friends to Ibiza with the goal of taking in a set from Carl Cox at Space Nightclub. As it happened, Carl was sick. So they replaced him with none other than Fatboy Slim. Not bad for your first clubbing experience ever. After that, jack knew that he wanted to be a part of that scene going forward.
Culture is creativity. History. Knowing where you came from. Culture itself is simply a door to the human experience. Each separate culture represents a different doorway through which you are able to shape who you are as a person. Such is culture as defined by Michael Abadie, who began performing under the Son of Kick moniker in London back in 2008.
Growing up being trained in multiple instruments in addition to as a vocalist, Michael formed his Son of Kick project to reflect the variety of music influences that he had around him as a youth. And Son of Kick's music is a blend of just that: hip hop, swing, jazz, metal, electro, trap, dubstep, downtempo, etc. He uses the entire spectrum of sonic energy in order to spread his idea of culture, and this approach also allows him the freedom to express his different moods by melding them all. It's a bit of an ADD-approach to writing music, as Michael freely admits, but it's worked so far so why change anything?
The first thing you should know about this native of Toronto, Ontario is that he isn’t your typical bass music producer. Both in the approach he takes to making his music, and the fact that he is no stranger to Colorado (having just played here a few months back with label mates Black Tiger Sex Machine, and with another date with them coming up here soon). Sure the same can be said about almost anyone in the Decadence lineup, but what distinguishes Dabin is that his incorporation of an electric guitar into his mix is more of an homage to his roots than it is a way to stand out, although he easily accomplishes that as well.
The weekend of January 22nd saw Mile High Station play host to the 10th annual Denver Winter Brewfest (with this edition being the 8th one in a row hosted by this particular bar). For 2016, the venue played host to over 75 sponsors providing everything from delicious craft beer as well as a bevy of food options (including artisan cheeses provided by Fort Collins' own MouCo Cheese Company). Lastly, as always there was live music in the back tent, and this year the band turned out to a pleasant surprise: a competent cover band playing everything from the likes of skate punk demi-gods Rancid to late 90s bubblegum sensations the Spice Girls. It really lended a lot to the party atmosphere of the event, putting everyone within earshot at ease and in an almost instantly better mood.
First thing's first however, let's talk a little bit about the most unique aspect of this event, which was the beer and cheese pairing provided by the team of Fort Collins' MouCo Cheese Company and Greeley's Weldwerks Brewing (pictured above). Offering all five of their signature soft cheeses, with flavors ranging from mild (Camembert) to robust (Pepbert), the cheeses were then paired with a beer sample designed to have the flavors accentuate each other accordingly. It was an interesting wrinkle added to the experience from previous years, and we really hope that it continues to have a presence at their future events. In terms of all things barley cola however, we figured we'd break down the experience in a couple of different ways: for best beer, and then best vendor - in our humble opinions of course. To be honest this was a tougher call to make than we had originally thought, just due to the sheer number of quality beers (and people pouring them) that we encountered throughout the night.
We’re pretty sure you’ve heard us talk about Illenium for quite some time, but what we’re about to share is something we’ve never had the privilege of saying before. And truthfully the thought never even crossed our minds. There are moments in our lives that define us and we try to talk about them all of the time here at Colorado Culture. When we go back through the rolodex of memories in our lives, these are the moments that stand out over and above all else. We’re fortunate enough to have these moments quite often in the line of work that we do, and we’re constantly adding to that rolodex.
This week, in preparation for this Saturday's Larimer Block Party, we sat down to chop it up with Colorado's own Catch Lungs, aka John Morse. This dude has been making waves in the Denver hip hop scene, and it's easy to see why; the guy has had hip hop on the brain since a very early age. We also touched on some of his experiences collaborating with other artists (some of Detroit's finest), and his goals for this weekend and beyond. Check it, Cultureheads.
Colorado Culture: What's your favorite thing to do when you're not making music?
Catch Lungs: Getting money. You know, music is a hard world to crack with actually getting money as an artist, but I like to invest in creating things for my future, so I give a lot of free downloads….basically encourage people to steal my music.
CC: Does that help with your promo?
CL: It does, but I've also been fortunate to make some good money by doing shows too.
CC: What hip hop albums did you listen to growing up?
CL: Well, I was born in '89, and I'm 26 now….I was probably about four or five years old listening toThe Chronic and Nas' Illmatic, and I used to be able to (still can now) recite "Dre Day" and "Nothin But a 'G' Thang". So Dre was really my first hip hop. The first CD I actually bought then was Skee-Low, and then the "Space Jam" soundtrack. You like "Space Jam"?
CC: Yup. That whole soundtrack was dope. How has the culture in Colorado influenced your music?
CL: Weed, weed, weed, weed, weed. Hahaha.
CC: A lot of that 420-related stuff?
CL: Haha nah. I rap about a lot of stuff; really whatever I'm feeling at the moment. But Colorado's culture is dope: I've lived in places like L.A. and Atlanta before, and I love those places in their own way and for their own personality, but the vibes here and the people are just different than in big cities. I choose to be here because I love it.
CL: It could just be the people that I know here, but I feel like there is a lot more genuine people who follow through with stuff.
CC: Any big collaborations coming up?
CL: Just shows mostly. I'm definitely looking at a few different people to potentially work with in the future, but I'm mainly focused on myself and making myself the main thing. I've definitely been hit up to do some features with some good people, but we'll see.
CC: Got any features out right now?
CL: I have a feature out with Danny Brown that's pretty cool, did one with Elzhi from Slum Village -he's one of my favorite rappers of all time-, Guilty Simpson from Detroit, went on tour with One.Be.Lo and Binary Star. So kind of doing more underground stuff, and evolving into a new artist. And that all comes from the same place: I'm trying to push myself to explore and become the artist that I want to be.