Welcome to Summit Suds: Summit Daily’s newest column to spotlight the community’s craft beer | SummitDaily.com

Welcome to Summit Suds: Summit Daily’s newest column to spotlight the community’s craft beer

Bruin, not quite the legal drinking age, begs for a beer at the Outer Range Brewery in Frisco.
Hugh Carey / Summit Daily News

This may come as a shock for some, but I didn’t always enjoy beer. Whenever I had a drink during my European vacations I preferred simple cocktails like rum and Coke, whiskey sours and dark ‘n’ stormys. The mass-market beers available didn’t appeal to me.

Jon, my brother four years older than me, came of age during the dominance of bitter, grassy India pale ales, which I wasn’t a fan of either when he’d let me take a small swig from a can or bottle.

Then, everything changed when I had a brief study abroad stint in Germany and Belgium.

I first enjoyed a deceptively strong golden Duvel and watched the cobblestones of Ghent sway beneath my feet. The next night out I became enthralled with the banana esters of Kwak and its unique, albeit gimmicky, glass that requires a stand to keep its rounded bottom upright.

With the beer cheaper than water, on a hot afternoon my friends and I ducked into a mom and pop cafe after a hike in the German mountains and I treated myself to schnitzel and a half-liter of Bitburger. When in Rome.

I landed back in the states on my 21st birthday and as a student at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, there was no shortage of quality drinks in Colorado’s Napa Valley of Beer. I was a convert who was lucky enough to be in the holy land without needing a pilgrimage.

My first local love was Odell Brewing Co. I will never say no to a 90 Shilling Ale, I look forward to enjoying the fruity characteristics of Myrcenary Double IPA on a patio and Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout will always have a special place in my heart.

Just down the road, Funkwerks introduced me to the wonderful world of saisons, a Belgian beer style brewed for farm hands to drink in the summer. Though I will always try whatever French farmhouse ale I can find, it just isn’t the same as Funkwerks’ flagship. Horse & Dragon Brewing Company opened up during my last semester and I still think about a beer they made with juniper berries and cedar, along with their stellar Sad Panda Coffee Stout.

As the only person over 21 at the student newspaper’s arts and entertainment desk aside from my editor, I got “stuck” reviewing beer. Each week I’d get a new flight of whatever struck my fancy from the Mayor of Old Town, a bar with 100 beers on tap that displayed their menu across four projector screens.

The choice of craft beer narrowed when I moved back down south to Alamosa. However, the quality was still there. I had the amazing opportunity to report on Square Peg Brewerks taking home a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival — the first in the entire San Luis Valley — for their historical Dutch-style kuyt. Months later I told the story of how Colorado Malting Company opened up The Colorado Farm Brewery, making them a unique destination that controls the whole process of growing ingredients, malting and brewing their beer.

Now I live in Summit and we’re fortunate to have two breweries per town. My family and I have been patronizing Dillon Dam Brewery since we moved to Colorado over a decade ago. I’m a mug club member at Angry James Brewery, I’ve been going to HighSide Brewing practically since they opened mere weeks before I moved here and — as an obvious admirer of Belgian beers and sweeter New England IPAs — I was a fan of Outer Range before they started canning their goods.

Which brings me to Summit Suds. This column will highlight the county’s craft beer bounty. It’ll be a place for local beer reviews, previews of nearby drinking festivals, explainers on fundamentals of fermentation, and whatever else pops into my head as I pour a cold one.

I don’t claim to be an expert, just a passionate connoisseur. I’ve never worked in a bar or brewery. I’ve only homebrewed two one-gallon batches of beer that were both barely passable. I don’t have Cicerone certification, which is essentially the beer world’s answer to sommeliers. But, as a journalist who views himself as a professional student always asking questions, I may be persuaded to take the test one day. At the moment, though, I’m simply doing this for the love of the craft.

I hope you enjoy reading this column as much as I do writing it. If you happen to see me at a local establishment, feel free to introduce yourself and let’s chat about this industry over a pint or two. Cheers.

Jefferson Geiger is the arts & entertainment editor for the Summit Daily News and managing editor for the Everything Summit publication. Have a question about beer? Send him an email at jgeiger@summitdaily.com.

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