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1. Nitro Cocktails
The team at Breckenridge Brewery tinkered over the recipes and tech behind its Velvet line of egg-white-inspired nitro malt cocktails for three years before launching it in December. Inspired by the thick, creamy head on a gin fizz or whiskey sour, the three iterations—berry-forward Pink, sweet elderflower Purple, and bittersweet lime Golden—are even vegan-approved, for the nitro renders actual egg whites unnecessary.
2. Amber Lager
Ryan Wibby, brewmaster and president of Longmont’s Wibby Brewing, leaned into his love of German lagers—and that country’s malts—when creating the Volksbier Vienna, an amber lager made using German malt and American hops. The 2020 Great American Beer Festival gold medal winner being available in cans, as of December, makes it taste that much sweeter.
You’ll smile for two reasons when popping the top of this concoction of Cappelletti, Cardamaro, soda, and orange peel: The two-serving to-go cocktail is beautifully bittersweet, and Il Posto owner Andrea Frizzi is pictured on the label with a jaunty smile and arms open wide to give you a virtual hug.
Bierstadt Lagerhaus is known for its refusal to package its lagers—or even allow restaurants to carry its Slow Pour Pils if the proper glassware isn’t used to serve it. While we applaud head brewer Ashleigh Carter for her distinction, we give her a standing ovation for succumbing to the moment this past spring and canning anyway, including the cold-weather favorite Snüpinator Doppelbock.
5. Cider Spritzer
Presenting: Snow Capped Cider’s lavender lemonade spritzer, a first in Colorado. The 4.5 percent ABV sparkler is made from Jonathan apples grown in Snow Capped’s own orchards in Cedaredge on the Western Slope—with a dash of Palisade lavender and fresh lemon zest thrown in for delicious measure.
6. Gin Cocktail
Lee Spirits, in Colorado Springs and Monument, has turned its Ginfuego (infused with Fresno, jalapeño, and árbol chiles) into the backbone of its new spicy-tart Fuego Lemonade cocktail. The noncarbonated drink is a nine percent ABV delight, only improved upon by a float of something bubbly.
In July 2019, brothers Warren and Hunter Wood opened Elevated Seltzer in Olde Town Arvada, establishing Colorado’s first independent hard seltzery. The Golden natives use organic fruit extract and malt liquor to produce five to 10 percent ABV drinks without added sugar. Look for Elevated’s brand-new pomegranate-apple and mango flavors, out this month.
8. Hard Kombucha
Does reaching for a Luna Bay Booch boozy kombucha make us feel like we’re making a positive decision because we know there is fruit, botanicals, yerba mate tea, and probiotics in each can? Or is it the fact that Denver native and former Crooked Stave head brewer Johanna Denne is producing the tangy drink at Crazy Mountain Brewery on behalf of female-owned and -run Luna Bay (based in Chicago)? Or is it because they’re refreshing and a manageable six percent ABV? Really, it’s all of the above.
9. Sparkling Rosé
Fort Collins’ Odell Brewing Co., now in its third decade, added winemaking to its repertoire in May 2020 with the OBC Wine Project. Its rosé with bubbles, one of four flagship canned varieties, bursts with juicy notes of strawberry and white peach. Bonus: It was produced using Western Slope and Pacific Northwest grapes grown by some of the same farmers that raise hops for Odell’s beers.
Brewing for Good: Black Is Beautiful.
First, Black is Beautiful—a national social justice brewing campaign established this past summer in response to the Black Lives Matter movement—inspired Dos Luces Brewery to make the world’s first black chicha (a tart, corn-based brew originally from what is now Peru, generally pale yellow to deep red). Next came the Túpac Amaru III, out in March. It’s an ebony beer made with the same local roasted blue corn malts used in the chicha; it’s aged in whiskey barrels with palo santo staves; and flavors of coffee, dark chocolate, anise, and clove abound. A portion of proceeds will be donated to Colorado organizations fighting against social injustice.