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Technically speaking, all beers are brewed with flowers—hops are the female flowers of the Humulus lupulus plant. But even before hops became a key brewing ingredient (the first documented case of hops used as a brewing agent was around 900 years ago, while beer itself dates back at least 5,000 years), ancient brewers relied on other flowers, herbs, and roots to flavor their wares. Despite the early use of blooms in brewing, however, experimenting with floral flavors nowadays is seen as trendy and innovative. Local brewers are tapping into the craze, using hibiscus to add sweet-tart notes and even throwing in lavender buds for a peppery kick.
While flower-infused beers are usually reserved for spring and summer, we think they also happen to make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for suds-lovers (basically all Coloradans). This year, skip the pricey flowers and pick up one of these four floral Colorado brews for your sweetie instead.
Forget rose petals sprinkled on the bed. This sumptuous brew, made with oats, wheat, tangerine and lemon zests, Brettanomyces yeast, and—you guessed it—rose petals, ups the ante on the classic Valentine’s Day flower. Strikingly aromatic, this intoxicating brew boasts deliciously strong floral notes and juicy bursts of citrus, while the oaky tail pays tribute to the Chardonnay barrels it matured in. The beer’s complex, rosy flavor changes as it warms, making each sip a new discovery.
Where to get it: Trinity Brewing Company, Colorado Springs; Lukas Liquors, Lone Tree; Tipsy’s Liquor World, Littleton; Hazel’s Beverage World, Boulder
Thanks to its refreshingly tart punch, hibiscus has become a popular addition to many summery beers. But Spice Trade Brewing’s Jeff Tyler took it a step further. Not only is his Scarlet Giant brewed with the tropical flower, but it’s also fermented with a wild yeast harvested from its namesake varietal of hibiscus at the Denver Botanic Gardens. While brewing with the untamed yeast was a test in patience (this strain took almost two weeks to commence fermentation, seven to 10 times longer than a typical brewer’s yeast), the wait was well worth it. The result is an intriguing Gose (a sour, salty German variety) that pours a festive bright red with a pink head. The balanced brew offers tartness from the hibiscus and a splash of key lime, saltiness from Utah rock salt, and a hint of coriander.
Where to get it: Spice Trade Brewery/Yak & Yeti Restaurant, Arvada
Lavender, the key ingredient in this beer, makes its presence known straight away with a strong hit of its distinctive, soothing scent that’ll remind you of sinking straight into a relaxing bubble bath. As with that bath, however, this is a beer you’ll want to ease into. At first, the bold floral flavor jumps onto your palate almost a bit too vigorously. But after a few sips, the subtle sweetness on the tail-end becomes more pronounced, smoothing the flavors into a harmonious blend. The spiciness of the French-imported lavender is cut perfectly by the residual sugar left by the Belgian yeast, providing a pleasant honeyed taste that lingers on the tongue well after the last drop is gone.
Where to get it: The Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project, Denver
This inventive Boulder brewery likes to derive inspiration from nature, and this pale ale is no exception—the smell alone has the power to transport you to a lush Colorado meadow in high summer. Whole dried Jasmine flowers add their beguiling flavor, building on the essence of already-floral Tettnang hops. The flowers also serve to soften the bitterness of the brew’s hop-driven, earthy character. Bonus: Don’t love jasmine? Try Wild Wood’s Wisco Wit instead, which takes delectable inspiration from Wisconsin’s unofficial cocktail, a Brandy Old Fashioned (owners Jake and Erin Evans both grew up in the Badger State). This Belgian Witbier is impossibly rich thanks to the addition of plenty of orange peel, cherry, and coriander and time spent aging on brandy-soaked oak. Get it while it’s still around—the limited supply is expected to last only until early March.
Where to get it: Wild Woods Brewery, Boulder