winterfestI’ve always been wary when big breweries claim they’re making craft beers. For example, I winced when I first heard Bud Light would release a Golden Wheat beer.

But I’ve been intrigued by Coors, which in 2007 started AC Golden Brewing Company, a subsidiary that is trying to develop new brews for the Coors brand (a smart nod to the ever-growing craft brewing movement). In 2008, they released Herman Joseph’s Private Reserve, which is on draft only in the Denver area, and this year they’ve released Winterfest to the public.

Winterfest is also sold only in Colorado, and there’s a limited release of the beer. (So limited, in fact, that they number their bottles. I drank number 51,935 out of 85,248.)

The bottle’s text suggested that I pour the beer into a pint glass to release its bouquet and flavor, so I complied. The bouquet is so light that I kept smelling the beer before each drink. (Perhaps a light citrus hops? After the entire pint, I was still unconvinced.) The flavor is incredibly well-balanced, however. The malts have a dark-rye flavor that doesn’t linger on the tongue due to the blend of dry hops that finish the taste.

My verdict? Despite my wariness, kudos to AC Golden. I’m looking forward to the next local release.