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Even with hundreds of breweries and seemingly endless rotating taps, Colorado brewers continue to take to their labs and ferment novel new beers that fall into the “who would have thunk” category. This kind of limitless experimentation is a cornerstone of brewing in our sudsy state, which is how Oskar Blues convinced us yellow mustard belonged in beer and how WeldWerks’ Spaghetti Gose gained a cult following.
In time for spring—and at a point in history when we could all use a little more levity as we emerge from our COVID confinement—brewers have dialed up the creativity with their spring releases. Yes, some of these beers are wild and wacky. Others sour or spicy. But one earns innovative marks for supporting social justice movements; and, at another brewery, a taproom manager’s saison is an exploration of his Cambodian roots.
Here, a look at the craftiest of the craft beers in Denver (and beyond) to sip this spring.
Moctezuma III at Dos Luces Brewery
The “purple beer here” sign outside of this South Broadway brewery is your first clue there’s some wild brewing happening in the tanks. (All the beers are gluten-free, some brewed with Peruvian purple corn). Dos Luces has even dreamed up its own styles of beer, including an Imperial Pulque. Eschewing barley, the pulque is made with malted corn and aguamiel—which is the sap of the Mexican maguey plant, a member of the agave family. Last year, the Moctezuma vintage was aged in reposado barrels, yielding a special beer for tequila lovers. This year’s vintage took a bath in Napa Valley Cabernet barrels before making it into the tank, which gives the brew a “hint of sweetness to contrast the deep sour flavors,” explains Judd Belstock, owner of Dos Luces. It’s jammy like a red wine, but still has that Sour Patch Kids’ tickle-you-on-the-tongue effect you’ve come to crave from a sour. Released; 1236 S. Broadway
Hot Sauce Barrel Aged Taco Gose at WeldWorks Brewing Co.
Back in 2018 at the Great American Beer Festival, WeldWerks poured Spaghetti Gose (a German-style sour wheat beer pronounced “go-suh”). The marinara beer was polarizing, yes. But the saucy sour garnered devout fans. For the next course, WeldWerks is serving a Taco Gose, which, this year, was brewed with 200 pounds of fire-roasted tomatoes, as well as spices like oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and cumin. Skip Schwartz, WeldWerks’ wood cellar and innovation lead, explains that taco spices mixed with fire-roasted tomatoes brings about a sort of red beer (a beer spiked with tomato juice and spices). For an extra layer of complexity, the Gose was aged in BLiS hot sauce barrels. “The final product is like drinking a taco-spiced, hot and spicy Michelada,” Schwartz says. This spring’s Hot Sauce Barrel Aged Taco Gose is a super-limited batch (just 34 cases) that’s only available in the Greeley taproom. Released; 508 8th Ave., Greeley
Cambodge Soir Saison from Diebolt Brewing Company
The Cambodian Saison is the result of an in-house collaboration with Diebolt’s tasting room manager, Sopheak Sao, who explored his Cambodian heritage through the making of this beer. The brewery is creating a large batch this spring and canning the saison. The beer is fermented with saison yeast and incorporates Cambodian ingredients such as galangal root, jackfruit, and rice in the mash. The jackfruit makes it juicy, the galangal root is reminiscent of ginger and the lime lends a touch of acidity that rounds out the beer making it a perfect sip. Release date: May 15; 3855 Mariposa St.
Lemon Meringue Pie Sour from Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery
Adventurous beer is the motto at Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery and the brewery team is especially fond of creating new and unique sours. Right now, and lucky for us, they’re on a dessert kick, with pie cases the muse for their taps. First up was a Key Lime Pie Sour. Next is a lemon meringue beer fermented with Greek yogurt. It may sound crazy, but Greek yogurt totally makes sense for beer. It contains multiple strains of Lactobacillus, which is a primary souring strain in beer, explains Chad Bratt, a certified cicerone and general manager at Jagged Mountain. “Yogurt adds the element of lactose, too, which helps add creaminess to the mouthfeel giving it that ‘slice of pie” consistency,” he says. Lemon and vanilla round out the beer with a touch of pie crust from the malt selection. Release date: May 19; 1139 20th St.
Bubby by Nature from Boulder Beer Company
A curious hat trick, Boulder Beer Company’s new Bubbly by Nature is a lager/IPA/hard seltzer. The hybrid beer is hoppy, citrusy, and fruit-forward like an IPA; it’s light and crisp like a lager; and yet it also brings the bubbles you love from a hard seltzer. The innovative beverage is still brewed with beer’s founding fathers (water, barley, hops, and yeast). But it uses an English ale yeast strain to lend a drier finish and the carbonation is cranked up for that bubbly mouthfeel. The result is a tropical, hoppy crusher that feeds your need for bubbles, says Mikey Abell, head brewer at Sleeping Giant, which has a partnership with Boulder Beer. Released; find it here
Big Gay IPA from Lady Justice Brewing
At Lady Justice, there’s plenty of tasty and innovative beers on tap. But for the bonus round, the Latina-founded, queer- and woman-owned brewery is crafting beer with the purpose of making the world a better place. In fact, 100 percent of the profits from Community-Supported Beer members go directly to nonprofit partners. Cheers. To. That. In collaboration with Goldspot Brewing Company, Lady Justice recently did a catch-it-if-you-can limited springtime run of Big Gay IPA, which the team described as “fruity AF with notes of mango, pineapple, apricot, and strawberry.” Proceeds benefited Transformative Freedom Fund and Queer Asterisk. If you missed out, the Sandra Day IPA is a staple on tap and more do-good collaborations are, well, on tap for the future. 9735 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora
Mix Pepper Variety Pack from Spice Trade Brewing Co.
Inspired by the fan-favorite Jalapeño Pilsner, Spice Trade Brewing Co. released a variety pack of pepper-infused beers. Ranging from tame to kick-you-in-the-pants spicy, each can of beer in the four packs is spiced differently. The varieties include Thai chili peppers, Aleppo peppers, gochugaru peppers, and jalapeños. The spiciest is the Thai Chili Pilsner, which is also slightly fruity. You might want to double fist with a light beer to wash down that fire! Released at Greenwood Village taproom and select Colorado liquor stores. 8775 E. Orchard Road, Ste. 811, Greenwood Village