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Rocky Mountain Brews : Avalanche Conditions In Denver
By Marty Jones

Breckenridge Brewery, one of Colorado’s pioneering and longest-standing craft breweries, has expanded. The company has put the finishing touches on a new structure at its Denver headquarters, which now holds two 150-barrel fermenters and has room for four more 200-barrel tanks.

“We are planning,” says Breck’s marketing man, Steve Kurowski, “to name this expansion “The Avalanche Ranch,” since most of this space will be dedicated to the production of Avalanche Ale.” Fans of the company’s growing lineup of more richly flavored beers will be happy to know that the expansion means more of their preferred Breck beers, too. “This will allow us to brew more small-batch and seasonal beers with the fermentation tanks that we have now,” Kurowski says.

Breckenridge Head Brewer Todd Usry has plans in the works for a ramped-up rendition of an ESB that will appear in late September or early October. To celebrate its 10th year of brewing at the company’s Kalamath Street brewery in Denver, Breckenridge whipped up an extra-strength version of it biggest seller. The über-Avalanche weighed in 7.5% abv and was sold in limited-release, one-liter bottles (just 1,200 of them) in select Breckenridge markets.

Left Hand Brewing is turning loose a few new brews of its own now. A reworked version of the late Tabernash Marzen is being released under the Left Hand label in mid-August. It will be sold in six-packs and kegs. Fans of Belgian-style beers will be happy to hear about Left Hand’s St. Vrain Tripel, the latest entry in the company’s Big Mo series. The beer is made with Styrian Golding hops and Belgian candi sugars and will hit stores in late August in 750-ml champagne bottles.

There’s a contest where customers pair a homemade recipe with one of Left Hand’s beers. The grand prize? Free beer for a year.

In other news from the Longmont-based brewery, Jackman’s American Pale Ale is getting a packaging facelift, and Black Jack Porter earned a gold medal in the Brown Porter category at the 2006 North American Beer Awards. There’s also a contest being conducted in the brewery’s tasting room in which customers pair a homemade recipe with one of Left Hand’s beers. The grand prize? Free beer for a year. Get details by visiting the tasting room at 1265 Boston Avenue in Longmont. Colo.

Bristol Brewing’s Jason Yester reports that he’ll have a few choice arrivals in August and September. The lineup will include a pale bock, a Belgian-style wit, a hefeweizen and the company’s glorious Winter Warlock Oatmeal Stout. If you like to hug trees and beer mugs, the Colorado Springs brewery’s August 12 Craft Lager Festival is your kind of beer fest. This year’s fourth annual celebration of bottom-fermented beers takes place in nearby Manitou Springs, and proceeds from the event go to protect open spaces in the Pikes Peak region. The event takes place at Soda Springs Park, 1016 Manitou Avenue. Admission is $20 for unlimited sampling. Get more info at craftlagerfestival.com.

David Mentus reports that the Pump House is serving Summertime Organic Saison, his second organic beer of 2006. The beer is fermented at a toasty 90°F and brewed with organic malts; a few dashes of flaked rye, wheat and oats; and organic Hallertau hops from New Zealand. Mentus will also be serving up a delicious-sounding porter made with carob molasses and aged with Belgian chocolate. Yum. There will also be a Survivor Cream Ale, named for the Pump House’s assistant general manager, John Ryan, who escaped a serious brush with death this past spring while stranded for three days in the forests of Colorado’s Keystone Resort. (Now there’s a man worthy of a beer brewed in his honor.)

Speaking of Keystone, on August 5–6 the annual Bluegrass & Beer Festival takes place at the popular ski resort. The lineup includes The Biscuit Burners, Grass It Up, The Ackermans and yours truly sitting in with the mighty Halden Wofford & the Hi-Beams. Get details at their website located at keystoneneighbourhood.com.

The 5280 Roadhouse & Brewery at 578 S. Rapp Street in Littleton has changed its name. The establishment’s new handle is Mill Steakhouse and Brewery, and Greg Shofner remains in charge of the beers there. The new handle was taken on to better reflect the establishment’s upscale-casual feel (far removed from that of a roadhouse) and to end some confusion with the often-used-in-Denver “5280” handle. On a recent visit, the always-hospitable Shofner was serving his usual array of finely crafted beers, including an elegant Brit-style IPA and a delightful, caramelly brown ale. Shofner is one of the area’s under-recognized pub brewers, a maker of consistently tasty and well-balanced brews, and the Mill’s new menu sports a nice mix of steaks and other goodies. Get the latest info on the beers and the brewpub at 303-730-8000.

Marty Jones is the “Bard of Beer Songs,” Oskar Blues Brewery’s lead singer and a cheerleader for various gems in Colorado’s craft-beer culture. Got beery news? Reach him at martysjones@att.net. Hear his music at martyjones.net.


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