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It was a little after 10:00 in the morning when Harry Smith, co-owner of Black Sky Brewery, offered me a beer. I looked down at my coffee, double-checked the time on my phone, looked back up at Smith, and accepted. Smith, along with brewers from Strange Craft Beer Company, Chain Reaction Brewing, and the Brew on Broadway, were supposed to be finishing up a Russian kvass—a low-ABV, slightly tart, bread-y brew—that they’d tap at an upcoming Traveling One Barrel Wednesdays event, a collaboration project for the four breweries since the beginning 2018. But they would get to the kvass in a second. At the moment, everyone was busy discussing the latest beer news—specifically, whether the Brewers Association’s move to recognize the New England Style IPA was bogus or not.
As I sipped my second morning brew, I spoke to Strange’s owner, Tim Myers, who says One Barrel Wednesdays are a throwback to Strange’s early days in 2010. At that time, Strange brewed everything one barrel at a time. As the brewery grew, Myers decided to keep that tradition alive by hosting a weekly One Barrel Wednesdays event for close friends and fellow brewers; the party has been ongoing since 2010.
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Earlier this year, Myers approached Smith and his wife, Lila, Paul Webster of the Brew on Broadway, and the Christofferson brothers over at Chain Reaction Brewing with the idea of making One Barrel Wednesdays a traveling, collaborative event: Each brewery would host one Wednesday event per month. All hopped aboard, and, seven months into 2018, the collective quartet has put together an impressive, often whimsical, collection of one-barrel brews.
There was the kvass they brewed using house-made rye bread left over from Black Sky’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration; June’s lineup boasted a Sriracha red ale and a fudge Pop Tart porter; and early July saw a Mango Tango pale ale, a session brew perfect for hot summer days. The group isn’t quite sure what the beer will be three weeks from now—that’s not how this kind of collaboration works.
“The fun part is not knowing what you’re going to make next,” Myers says. Thinking back to that morning at Black Sky Brewery, I understood. I also appreciated the fact that it’s fun like this that makes Traveling One Barrel Wednesdays the embodiment of why Denver’s beer scene is so damn great.
If you go: Traveling One Barrel Wednesdays will be at Black Sky Brewery (490 Santa Fe Dr., 720-708-5816) on Wednesday, July 25. Click this link for a full calendar.