In light of Colorado’s favorite donkeys heading to the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 2, we decided that it was high time we featured some of the outstanding beers from Bronco Country. For us, the motto is: Win or lose, we drank some damn fine brews. Here are some of our favorite selections from Denver-area breweries.
Strange Pale Ale: Strange Brewing Co.
5.5 percent ABV
Although it’s in the name, there’s nothing “strange” about this pale ale, except how easy it is to come to love it. The Strange Pale Ale is brewed American style, so it’s not too surprising that the flavor profile definitely seems to favor hops. It’s on the high end of the IBU (International Bittering Units) scale for pale ale, but that’s not surprising, with four different hops in the mix. The variety of hops is nice, as they offer a wider range of hop flavors (pine, citrus, etc.). The really interesting thing about this brew is five different malts balance out all that hoppiness, giving it more complexity and that golden/bronze glow.
Claymore Scotch Ale:
Great Divide Brewing Co.
7.7 percent ABV
It’s just about impossible to go wrong with any Great Divide beer. The company has been consistently winning medals at the Great American Beer Fest and has a wide range of flavorful beers. The Claymore Scotch Ale gets its name from the ancient Scottish sword and can be true to its namesake if you have too many, clocking in at just under 8 percent alcohol by volume. This is a true Scotch ale, of the “Wee Heavy” Scottish tradition. It’s deep red in color, with smooth, malty caramel flavors, plus some deeper hints of fruit. Great Divide suggests pairing it with pot roast, so it will likely go well with any of the meatier, more savory Super Bowl snacks making the rounds.
Psycho Penguin Vanilla Porter:
5.5 percent ABV
First of all, you just have to love the name. This vanilla porter from Odyssey Beerwerks offers a creative backstory about an insane penguin trying out brewing experiments. With a low (for a porter) alcohol by volume, this brew is quite drinkable. It pours dark, with a light silky mouth feel, unlike some heavier porters one might try. It’s brewed with Mexican vanilla beans, which come through but not too overwhelmingly. This blends with some delicious chocolate and malty flavors. This could be a great beer to pair with some of the sweeter snack foods available at your Super Bowl bash.
Elder Brett: Crooked Stave Artisan
Beer Project and Epic Brewing Co.
9.1 percent ABV
This beer is a collaboration between Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project and Epic Brewing Co. and is technically bottled at the Epic brewery in Salt Lake City, but since Epic also has a brewery in Denver and Utah doesn’t have a dog in this hunt — or a dog at all, when it comes to the NFL — we’ll allow it. Elder Brett is billed as a saison-brett, made with brettanomyces yeast to give it that funky sour hit. Unlike a lot of beers in this family, this one goes easy on the sour to leave your taste buds in tact for other heavenly Super Bowl snacks. Pair it with a sweet treat like cookies or brownies to get that sweet-sour combination. Just keep an eye on your intake — this one might be light in color and flavor but it’s heavy in alcohol, and you’ll probably want to actually remember the game.
American Red Porter:
Black Shirt Brewing Co.
7.5 percent ABV
Black Shirt Brewing Co. is located in the River North neighborhood of Denver, just north of downtown, and if you haven’t been there, it’s definitely worth the trip. The brewery has sort of an industrial-grunge vibe that’s oddly welcoming, but the main reason people keep going back is for the beer. Black Shirt specializes in red beers, literally anything with a red hue to it, and though the American Red Porter falls on the deep, dark end of the color spectrum, it still has a touch of crimson when the light hits it. This brew is smooth and well-balanced, without the boozy overtones that you might see in others at this alcohol level. The maltiness of porters also go well with sweets, but this one would be great with a burger or to help put out the fire of some spicy nachos.
The Tower E.S.B.: Bull & Bush
6.8 percent ABV
From the outside looking in, Bull & Bush Brewery in Denver might be one of the most fun places to work in the Mile High City. These are the guys who dress up in crazy matching costumes every year for the Great American Beer Festival and hand out posters with their signature slogan, What’s yours? The Tower has been winning medals in the extra special bitter category since 1998, bringing a caramel maltiness to temper the hops. It’s a Denver classic and a super tasty beer.