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The rarest beer in town

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By now you’ve probably heard about the release of Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro (it’s worth all the hype) and I suspect GABF 2011 will be remembered not just for its 30th anniversary, but also for the release of that particular beer. But—this is GABF after all—there are so many beers around town worth mentioning. Today, I sipped the rarest of rare beers at the Pints for Prostates Denver Rare Beer Tasting sponsored by All About Beer.

This event is just as dizzying as GABF itself. Held inside Wynkoop, it doesn’t rival GABF’s stunning attendance or beer count, but drinking the bizarre beers is about as demanding on the palate as anything else out there. This year, sours were king. Even Brooklyn’s Garrett Oliver wondered whether people were able to really taste his Cuvee de la Crochet Rouge (a pleasantly acidic version of Local 1 that was barrel-aged for six months on wine lees from chardonnay and pinot noir barrels), after sampling all the other tart brews at the event. On top of Brooklyn’s beer, here were some other highlight pours:

* Avery Dihos Dactylion: Yet another stunning sour from Avery. This beer’s simply a melange of flavors and mouthfeels. After a primary fermentation with saison yeast, the beer then gets a secondary fermentation with Brettanomyces, lactobacillus and pediococcus while it sits in cabernet sauvignon barrels. The result is a wealth of funk, sweet grapes, tannins and lactic tartness.

* Boulevard Love Child #1: A Boulevard sour? To date, the sour series is unreleased, but if the eventual products taste anything like #1, we’re all in for a treat. This beer’s spiked with Brett and aged for a year in second-use whiskey barrels. I’ve never tasted such a dynamic blend of barnyard Brett and whiskey. Get thee to your email and let them know the public demands Boulevard sour ales.

* Firestone Walker Agrestic Ale: I spent some time with this one because it kept developing in the glass. Brewmaster Matt Brynildson told me that this unusual brew was actually their Double Barrel Ale inoculated with Brett. It was wonderfully rich for a tart beer, and the English pale ale base was completely transformed.

* Nebraska Inception Series #1: Co-owner/brewmaster Paul Kavulak nailed this (non-sour) brew, a smoked porter aged in Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey barrels. The rich smoked Briess malt perfectly balanced the vanilla and whiskey notes for a rich, smooth swallow.

 

Author
Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.

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