A Beer For All Seasons

Our beer-y taste buds change with the weather—but Colorado’s craft brewers cater to our seasonal whimsies. Here, our top 24 beers: six each for summer, autumn, winter, and spring. 

August 2011


  • Silverback Pale Ale
    Wynkoop Brewing Company, Denver
    Malt Meter: 5
    Hops Meter: 7
    ABV: 5.5 percent

    Rarely can you combine philanthropy with beer drinking, which is why we dig Wynkoop’s canned homage to Africa’s silverback gorilla (a portion of the proceeds help protect these wild beasts). Brewed with “grains of paradise,” a West African spice that the gorillas eat, this pale ale has a jaunty aftertaste, but is less cloying than most pale ales. silverbackpaleale.com


  • Ellie’s Brown Ale
    Avery Brewing Company, Boulder
    Malt Meter: 8
    Hops Meter: 3
    ABV: 5.5 percent

    Avery makes a lot of phenomenal beers, and Ellie’s is one of its best. An amazingly balanced brown ale with a strong malt and nutty chocolate flavor, it lacks the overwhelming sweetness that too often typifies the style. When the weather drops below 50 degrees, we look to Ellie’s to warm us up.averybrewing.com


  • Flashback India Brown Ale
    Boulder Beer Company, Boulder
    Malt Meter: 6
    Hops Meter: 7
    ABV: 6.8 percent

    This beer blows our minds every time we crack a new bottle, because it’s a complete mashup of flavors—one doesn’t expect a hoppy brown ale. It’s the kind of beer that will persuade dark beer lovers to try IPAs and hopheads to go to the dark side. boulderbeer.com


  • Modus Hoperandi IPA
    Ska Brewing, Durango
    Malt Meter: 6
    Hops Meter: 8
    ABV: 6.8 percent

    When it comes to India Pale Ales, Colorado brewers tend to take the Wal-Mart approach to hops: the bigger, the better. This isn’t a problem—we love hops (see 471 IPA). But sometimes, we want a more subtle, nuanced IPA, and when we do, we pick up a sixer of Ska’s Modus Hoperandi. Sure, it’s hoppy, but it has enough malt that it’s not a one-note beer. skabrewing.com


  • 471 IPA
    Breckenridge Brewery of Colorado, Denver
    Malt Meter: 4
    Hops Meter: 9
    ABV: 9.2 percent

    Many of Breck’s beers tend to skew malty, but not its small-batch double IPA. Blasted with four types of hops (including Centennial, one of our favorites), 471 is a bitter, but remarkably balanced beer—especially considering its 9.2 percent alcohol content. That’s about twice as strong (and 471 times as good) as the swill that Budweiser calls beer. breckbrew.com


  • Cutthroat PORTER
    Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins
    Malt Meter: 7
    Hops Meter: 4
    ABV: 5.1 percent

    Cutthroat—so named for Colorado’s state fish, the Greenback Cutthroat Trout—pulls off the neat trick of being both strong and smooth. This brew has notes of coffee and bitter chocolate on the nose, and with a moderate ABV, you can knock back a few of these at a company party without embarrassing yourself. odellbrewing.com


  • BONUS BOMBER: Fresh Hop Pale Ale
    Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver
    Malt Meter: 4
    Hops Meter: 8
    ABV: 6.1 percent

    Every fall, farmers harvest hops, the little leafy cones that impart bitterness to beer. Some of these fresh “wet hops” go into special batches of beer, like this American Pale Ale that’s hoppy without being bitter. It’s a shame that it only comes around once a year. greatdivide.com