Breck Bike Week ramps up this week, whipping cycling enthusiasts into a full-on frenzy for the coming Breckenridge stages of the USA Pro Challenge. From amateur to pro, local residents and visitors will be putting foot to pedal for participatory activities all over town. But for those hopheads like me who would rather sit at a pub on the sidelines and enjoy a cold brew than spend more than a few minutes in a bike saddle, there are still ways to get into the festive biking spirit without taking your hand off your glass. Here are three of them:
New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale
New Belgium ranked No. 17 on Outside magazine’s list of best places to work in 2013, partly for its active lifestyle culture and some sweet perks — every employee is given a custom cruiser bike for their one-year anniversary with the company.
Fat Tire Amber Ale was born in June 1991 and named for the co-founder’s bike trip through Europe. The beer has an aroma of sweet biscuity and caramel malts, with a light sweetness and a hit of hoppy bitterness on the finish. Brewmaster Peter Bouckaert has been making this beer since 1996.
“I think it’s the most difficult beer that we make,” said Bouckaert in a video on the brewery’s website. “It’s quite a delicate beer. The flavor balance that we have to get from the yeast, from the hoping and from the malt really needs to be a close balance.”
New Belgium is a frequent sponsor of cycling-related events throughout the state. Each year, the brewery also hosts its Tour de Fat, a multi-city event that celebrates dressing freaky, riding bikes, listening to bands and drinking beer to raise funds for local cycling nonprofits. This year’s Denver stop benefits Bike Denver and the Denver Cruisers.
Boulder Beer Singletrack Copper Ale
Singletrack Copper Ale is a salute to one of the passions of the Boulder community.
“Reflecting a lifestyle adopted by many at our brewery and in Boulder, Singletrack is an homage to the two-wheeled athletes and weekend warriors pounding the narrow trails of our backyard mountains,” the brewery writes in its marketing literature for Singletrack.
The beer is medium-bodied and brewed with rye and caramel malts to give it complexity and its signature copper color.
Boulder Beer encourages its employees to commute to work by bike as part of its ethic to be environmentally responsible, from its pub to brewing and production and even packaging and printing. The brewery was also the first business in Boulder to adopt a section of a city bike path, keeping it clean and safe.
Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA
Chainbreaker is a recent addition to Deschutes’ year-round stable of beers, winning a silver medal in the American Belgo-style ale category at last year’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver. The beer is brewed with pilsner malt and both malted and unmalted wheat; Bravo, Citra, Centennial and Cascade hops for a balance of bitterness with a citrus aroma; and additions of sweet orange and coriander for a flavorful finish.
This IPA-wheat hybrid is named for the Chainbreaker Mountain Bike Race, an early-season, cross-country run through private timberland west of Bend.
“Chainbreaker kicks off the mountain-bike season,” said Jake Harper, brewer and barrel master at Deschutes, in a video on the brewery’s website. “It’s one of the first races of the year — there are lots of mechanical failures, lots of broken chains, lots of flat tires.”
Brewing beer, like riding mountain bikes, involves a lot of risk, especially when breaking trail with a new style. Chainbreaker is a true homage to its namesake race.
“There are a few similarities,” Harper said. “Possibly the grittiness of a wheat beer with the dirt in your teeth that you get from this bike race.”
Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Ore., also made its mark on Outside’s list of best places to work, coming in at No. 65. The company even celebrated its 25th anniversary with a bike ride from Black Butte to Mirror Pond.