The week after Mother’s Day, affectionately known as the “mother of all beer weeks,” is the perfect time to celebrate the craft beers that make our lives so varied, exciting and delicious.
American Craft Beer week started in 2006 with 124 breweries across the country hosting celebratory events. They even got the government involved — and not just any government, but the U.S. Congress. That very same week, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 753 (is this the name of a beer yet?) in which American craft breweries were praised as “a vibrant affirmation and expression of American entrepreneurial traditions.” The resolution also tips its hat to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and basically says the government supports the establishment of American Craft Beer Week and demands that everyone go out and enjoy it. That very last part may not have been in there specifically, but it was implied and it’s a good idea anyway.
Since its inception, registered participation in American Craft Beer Week has risen to more than 1,000 breweries representing every single state with events such as festivals, tastings and homebrew competitions.
Beers of the Summit
Summit County is certainly not immune to the charms of a craft beer week. The local crafty brewmasters will have some offerings on hand to satisfy the stomach and pique the palate as we celebrate American Craft Beer Week in style.
Those looking to shake off the chill of winter might be interested in tasting the Dam Chili Beer, which will be on hand at the Dillon Dam Brewery starting this weekend. As described by Dillon Dam brewmaster Cory Forster, “It’s a light Mexican-style lager with 33 pounds of six different kinds of oven-roasted green chilies.” Don’t worry, that’s 33 pounds into 500 gallons. So while it won’t burn your face off, it just might warm you up while the snow/sleet/rain falls.
“Ours is designed to not be real spicy but to have the rich roasted green chili flavor to keep it a little drinkable still,” Forster said. “It’s a perfect pairing with the nachos.”
Speaking of pairings, the folks over at Pug Ryan’s Steakhouse and Brewery will be pairing their tasty brews with equally tasty dishes of food throughout the week. Buddying up with the Morning Wood Wheat, for example, is a lemon-peppered chicken bathed in a wheat beer gravy. We’re particularly intrigued by the pork chili rellenos paired with a pint of jalapeno stout and the crispy duck confit paired with the Helles Bock.
Breckenridge Brewery will be sending its beer fans on a trip down memory lane with its latest launch of 23, a Belgian Double Oatmeal Stout.
“It is a tribute to the first beer we ever made 23 years ago,” brewmaster Jimmy Walker said.
This won’t be the exact same recipe, as Walker has added one and a half times the grains, dark malt and hops to the mix. He’s also using a Belgian yeast.
“Whereas milk and cream stouts can have a richness to them, because of the milk sugars and stuff, almost sometimes too sweet, the oatmeal stouts can be kind of oily,” Walker said. To explain further, he used an analogy, describing a milk stout as a cream-based pasta, whereas his oatmeal stout will be more like an oil-based pasta.
After tweaking the recipe, Walker aged the brew in bourbon barrels donated by the nearby Breckenridge Distillery.
“Normally when you add all these dark malts and extra hops it would make it too bitter, but the American oak adds a lot of vanilla flavors. … Also, the sweetness of the bourbon, it counteracts all the bitterness from the dark malts and the abundant hops,” Walker said. “It’s really cool; it has this sweet almost vanilla-y flavor.”
Don’t let the flavor fool you, though, as the double stout packs a punch at 7.7 percent alcohol by volume.
Due to unfortunate timing, the Breckenridge Brewery will be closed for the majority of craft beer week. Walker will unveil the double oatmeal stout today, serving it until Sunday. When the brewery reopens on May 17, he’ll serve it again, providing there’s any left.
Frisco will also make its offering to American Craft Beer Week through the Backcountry Brewery, where we’re told head brewmaster Alan Simmons has cooked up his own mai bock. Simmons assures us it’s perfect for any kind of spring weather, with a refreshing coolness for warm days and a 6.5 percent ABV warmth for cooler days. He also reminded us he’s got some double IPA, an imperial stout and rye brown ale available and might kick out a few one-off specialty kegs if the mood strikes him.
However you choose to celebrate it, with pilsner or stout, chili peppers or bourbon-flavored oatmeal, we hope you enjoy this year’s American Craft Beer Week. Cheers.