Breckenridge Brewery gets back to its roots with Mountain Series | SummitDaily.com

Breckenridge Brewery gets back to its roots with Mountain Series

Krista Driscoll
kdriscoll@summitdaily.com

Breckenridge Brewery recently launched its Mountain Series, a collection of pilot, small-batch and seasonal brews that pay tribute to the brewery's roots in Summit County.

The brewery opened its doors in 1990 in Breckenridge, starting as a ski bum's dream to brew beer for winding down after a long day on the mountain, and has since moved its production facility to Denver. The original brewpub in Breckenridge is now the home of the pilot brewery and workshop, and the Mountain Series showcases the creativity and experimentation that thrives in the brewery's original home.

"The Mountain Series is a tribute to all the creative beers that are being made up here and only available currently at our Breckenridge location because we don't distribute from here," said Jimmy Walker, head brewer at the Breckenridge Brew Pub. "That's what it's all about."

BUDDHA'S HAND

The first beer in the Mountain Series, called Buddha's Hand, is a Belgian wit brewed with an ancient, tropical citron fruit called Buddha's Hand, which is segmented into finger-like sections resembling the hand of Buddha. The recipe for the beer was developed by John Jordan, who works in the quality assurance lab of the brewery, and was first brewed in Breckenridge in May 2010.

"We worked really close together when I became the head brewer, so he sort of mentored me," Walker said. "We worked on the recipe together, and basically, he came up with the recipe, came up here and brewed it with me."

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Buddha's Hand is 6 percent alcohol by volume with a low level of bitterness at just 15 IBUs. Intended to be a warm-weather beer, this brew is crisp with a subtle citrus note and is still available exclusively in the Rocky Mountain Sampler pack. Walker said the Breckenridge Brewery is well known for making beers that are flavorful but appeal to a lot of people, and Buddha's Hand is no exception.

"We're not that brewery that makes the clove, lavender, sour, barrel-aged Belgian beer," he said. "We're known for cranking out really solid, drinkable beers."

TASTE IT HERE FIRST

Walker said some of the beers that have been created in Breckenridge have become annual staples at the brewpub and could be potential candidates for the new series.

"If you follow us on any social media account, you can keep up with all of the one-offs and experimentals as they are tapped," he said. "You could taste a beer that maybe a year from now might be in the Mountain Series bottle."

Possibilities range from the popular Mango Chili IPA to Pineapple Express, a roasted pineapple Belgian double IPA, or one of the brewpub's fruit-infused saisons, such as the pomegranate-ginger.

"This year, we did a saison series up here, six different saisons," Walker said. "Playing around with different flavor profiles and pouring 300 gallons to our patrons at the brewery gives us great feedback from all kinds of different people from all over the country."

The series isn't limited to the reaches of Walker's imagination, either. Multiple brewers from the Denver brewery often travel to Breckenridge to brew what strikes their fancy, from individual recipes to projects with other breweries.

"It's an outlet for them, as well as doing collaborations with other breweries from around the country," Walker said. "The Mango Chili started as a collaboration with Papago Brewery in Phoenix. It was so good that now this is the third year that we've made it."

PRODUCTION V. PILOT

Breckenridge Brewery has grown from its humble roots to become the nation's 40th largest craft brewery and will soon open a new production facility in Littleton that could potentially double its brewing capacity, Walker said. The Farmhouse, the brewery's new restaurant and tasting room, is slated to open in April, with the commissioning of the new brew house scheduled for mid-May.

Operations will move entirely to the Littleton site by June, but until then, Walker said, the Denver brew house is at maximum capacity, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, cranking out beer just to fill its current orders across its 32-state distribution area.

"They can't tie up a fermenter with some strange beer," Walker said. "They've already sold thousands of barrels of beers like Agave Wheat and Lucky U all over the country. So they've turned to the original location up in Breckenridge to sort of take on some of the creative outlet."

Walker said having a large production capacity on the Front Range frees up the little brewpub in Breckenridge for more experimentation.

"Every brewer's dream is to have the ability to be creative and not crank out the same three or four beers every single day of brewing," Walker said. "What's a lifesaver is they take the production demand off of me, so if I run out of Avalanche, which would be bad, unacceptable, I can get kegs of Avalanche so I don't have to brew Avalanche every single day. They allow me the creative outlet, which is great."

Find the beer

The Rocky Mountain Sampler, featuring bottles of Mountain Series beers, is available at liquor stores all over Summit County. For specific locations, visit http://www.breckbrew.com/beer-locator, select “Sampler” from the product drop-down menu and enter your zip code. For more information on the Rocky Mountain Sampler and the limited release Mountain Series beers, visit http://www.breckbrew.com/mountainseries.