Red Evelyn, Black Shirt Brewing Co., Denver

Style: Imperial Red Rye IPA

Serving Type: 22-ounce bomber

ABV: 10 percent

Hop Meter (1–10): 8

Malt Meter (1–10): 5

Reviewed: January 2016

The cold has ushered in a season of dark brews (stouts and browns and porters, oh my!) but don’t cheat yourself by overlooking the limited batch of imperial red rye IPA from the cellars of Black Shirt Brewing Company. Pop the cap off the 22-ounce bomber of Red Evelyn to reveal a beer that is as bold as it is complex, but remarkably smooth. The grapefruit notes complement the varied hops in the brew, while sweet caramel, toffee, and rye bring it back to earth. Note: I don’t usually steer towards IPAs, but this easy-drinker is perhaps my new go-to.

The story behind the beer is reason enough to try it. Red Evelyn is a tribute to Evelyn (Evie) Miller, the grandmother of owners Chad and Branden Miller. “She was the rock of our community [in Westcliffe, Colo.],” says Chad, noting the Southern Colorado town has population of around 500. “She owned a general store, and when people couldn’t afford what they needed, she would just give it to them. She was seen as a kind, gentle soul.”

Chad says that his grandmother instilled in him most of the values that drove him to follow his dreams and open a brewery, so when Evelyn passed away in 2003 after a battle with breast cancer, the Millers created this beer as a way to thank her.

“It’s a double IPA because she was a firecracker and she spiced things up when she was around,” Chad says. “The sweet, toffee notes and the citrus nuances that come through remind me of the sweets she left on the table for me and my brother, and the pine notes are from the foxtail pine trees that surrounded her house. We designed a beer out of memories.”

The Red Evelyn is brewed once a year and is usually released in August at a party to remember Evelyn Miller. Chad says that new people come up to him every year to let him know how much she meant to them—even people he has never met before. The 2015 brew was released in 2,000 bomber bottles in late December. According to the Millers, half of those are already gone (so if you want a taste, head to Black Shirt soon). Proof that the best things in life are fleeting.

The Ideal Drinker: The Denver transplant desperately trying to love IPAs.