Beer Me: March 1, 2016 – March 7, 2016

collabfestThe third annual Collaboration Fest takes place Saturday, March 19, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The event pairs local, national, and even international breweries together to create one-off synergistic beers.

One such collaboration is occurring between Call to Arms Brewing Co. (Denver, CO), Conshohocken Brewing Co. (outside of Philadelphia, PA), and Denizens Brewing Co. (Silver Springs, MD). Denizens’ Jeff Ramirez used to be the head brewer at Mountain Sun and Andrew Horne was the cellar manager at Avery Brewing Co. (where the Call to Arms crew met) before helping to open the second Breakside Brewery outpost in Oregon and then Conshohocken Brewing Co. two years ago.

“We were going to do a best bitter for Collaboration Fest,” recalls Jesse Brookstein of Call to Arms, “but then decided to do something funkier.”

After considering the logistics of brewing a Brett Eisbock (a high-octane, concentrated Dopplebock) they decided to go in the complete opposite direction and brew a kettle-soured Rye Bread Kvass.

For those not of versed in Slavic beverages, in terms of ABV, a Kvass typically falls somewhere between Colorado supermarket-strength beer and the cough medications you need to show ID for at the pharmacy. This version, however, will be “imperial strength”, clocking in somewhere between 3% – 3.5% ABV.

“We started working with Raleigh Street Bakery,” related Brookstein. “The rye bread we used in the kvass was bread they made with our spent grain…and then for Collab Fest, they’re going to make a bread with the beer that we’re making. So it’s going to be bread made with beer made with bread made with our spent grain.”

“Traditionally, they would put the bread in hot water in a big jar and just let it ferment overnight and then drink it,” explained Chris Bell – also of Call to Arms – of the style’s origins. “That’s why the ABV was always around 1% – 2% max. They had kvass trucks with a big barrel and – like an ice-cream truck here in America – the kids would run out to the kvass truck.”

While the spirit of collaboration exists outside of Denver, both Ramirez and Horne admitted it wasn’t as established among brewers in their locales.

Horne has worked with local orchards and coffee roasters to source ingredients, but, “there’s nothing quite as steadfast and organized in terms of breweries working together like out there. It’s pretty awesome. That’s why I’m going to steal the idea and bring back to Philly,” he joked.

The 11-barrel batch of Kvass will be available at Collaboration Fest and also at Call to Arms, but don’t expect to see Kvass taking up tap space around Denver anytime soon. “It’s a pretty esoteric style,” concluded Brookstein. “You really need the right server to explain it.”

Now, events!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016 @ 3pm: Let’s Get Incredible at Ratio Beerworks

Collaboration Fest is right around the corner and many of the joint ventures are coming to fruition. Ratio collaborated with New Belgium to brew Let’s Get Incredible, a Bruleed Grapefruit Saison. Ink Lounge will be setting up shop and screen printing a limited run of commemorative posters and folks are encouraged to stop by and help. Will there possibly be samples of Incredible? According to the event listing…”maybe.”

Thursday, March 3, 2016 @ open until close: Celebrate 303 Day at Illegal Pete’s

March 3rd a.k.a 3/03 a.k.a 303 Day will see metro-area Illegal Pete’s locations offering discounts to those in CO gear and providing live music and comedy to boot. Enjoy FREE Pablo’s Coffee with breakfast, FREE chips + queso with entrée purchase (lunch, dinner, + late night), $3.03 New Belgium drafts, and $3.03 Laws WhiskeyCheck-out the full lineup of performers here.

Friday, March 4, 2016 @ 11am – 11pm: First Friday w/ Helikon Studios at Black Shirt Brewing Co.

This Friday, enjoy some art with your beer! Black Shirt Brewing Co. will host an impressive list of artists from Helikon Gallery & Studios, displaying a wide range of work and styles, including prints, paintings, and drawings. No cover.

Saturday, March 5, 2016 @ noon: Gin Barrel-Aged Pink Peppercorn Saison Release at Chain Reaction Brewing Co.

Chain Reaction introduced their flagship Saison – brewed with pink peppercorns, coriander, and orange peel – into Roundhouse Spirits Gin barrels and let it set for several months. This is a very limited release so get there early. The first 50 peeps through the door will get specially designed commemorative glassware.

Saturday, March 5, 2016 @ noon – 8pm: Bon Voyage at Caution Brewing Co.: East

Caution sold it’s Eastside location back in January to Brewability Lab, an organization dedicated to teaching the art of brewing to the developmentally challenged. Brewability will open soon, but first Caution needs to move some beer. To do so, they’re throwing a farewell shindig, featuring beer specials and giveaways whenever someone kicks a keg. Green Tree Stir Fry will be serving up eats. Caution will now operate full-time out of their West location in Lakewood.

Sunday, March 6, 2016 @ 2pm: Craft Meets Craft at Declaration Brewing

If koozies were currency, we’d all be rich. We hoard them as if refrigeration was in danger of being lost forever. This Sunday, step outside of the neoprene box and knit your own unique can holder at Declaration. Tickets to this event are $15 and include yarn, design, instructions, and a free pint of beer. A basic understanding of knitting is recommended but not necessary; BYON (bring your own needles) and RSVP here.

Monday, March 7, 2016 @ 5:30pm: Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion Release Party at Falling Rock Tap House

The venerable Firestone Walker Brewing Co. will release the first version of Luponic Distortion, a rotating series of beers brewed with the same base but showcasing different experimental hops. The batches will utilize as many as nine different hops in the brewing and dry-hopping process, with one hop being featured more prominently in each installment. “We can completely evolve, change and redirect this thing as new hops come to us and as we get to know the hops better,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “Luponic is this beer that can keep morphing and stay interesting and remain out in front of this crazy hop wave.”

Still thirsty? Use this handy map of Colorado breweries and other drinking establishments to plan your next adventure. Cheers.

Matt Sandy, a self-proclaimed “Beer Gadabout,” has been enjoying beer since he was of legal drinking age. Having been born across the pond where “legal drinking age” is a relative term, let’s just say he washed down a shandy or two while still in short pants. He moved to Denver in 2007 and immediately took up residency at the Great Divide taproom. Since then, he’s enjoyed exploring all of the craft corners of this great town and in this column will highlight weekly beer-related events that you should consider drinking in.