Coloradoâ€™s craft breweries have taken a hit, but that doesnâ€™t mean theyâ€™re down for good, with continued sales supported by customer loyalty and the way Colorado law allows breweries to sell their own beer to-go. (Glass 64-ounce growlers have been the go-to prior to aluminum 32-ounce crowlers becoming a thing.)
Whatâ€™s more, Colorado Springs brewers have been taking advantage of this lockdown to roll out some offbeat and limited-run beers. We picked up a few crowlers and, using responsible social distancing, got a taste of what some of the Springsâ€™ beer-makers are offering during this challenging time.
From Bristol Brewing Company, an iconic part of the Springs beer scene, we pick up a crowler of Tequila Beehive, a variant of their flagship Beehive blonde ale, aged in tequila barrels.
Itâ€™s the kind of beer that makes us want to sit out on a porch with a plate of tacos and enjoy the sun. We get a hit of citrus to start, thanks to added lime. Thatâ€™s a good choice with the subtle wood and earthy-spicy tequila notes that dance with the rich, faintly honeyed taste of the mouth-filling ale at the base. Itâ€™s a good variant on an already good beer.
Available from both Cerberus Brewing Company and Fossil Craft Beer Company, Weedish Phish is a collaboration initially brewed for the Collaboration Brew Festival. It was named for the first band to play the Fillmore Auditorium, where the fest was set to be held, and for 4/20, the date it should have taken place.
The beer is a kettle sour aged on Swedish Fish â€” yeah, the candy â€” and terpenes, the chemicals that make hops and weed taste and smell like they do. Oddly enough, we donâ€™t get a big dankness on the nose as we might expect. Thereâ€™s a marked citric and lactic sourness right up front on the sip, very clean and punchy. We taste the candy and notes from the terpenes, but only subtly. Still, itâ€™s a good sour.
Smiling Toad Brewery finally reopened in their new location on the Westside just eight days before the lockdown, so it feels like fate aimed a steel-toed boot right at the ownersâ€™ groins. But the quality in their beer hasnâ€™t wavered.
We pick up a crowler of Howl Oâ€™Clock Hazy IPA, which lacks the big, fruity character one might expect from the style. Oh, itâ€™s hazy, but itâ€™s not sticky, and itâ€™s bitter, with grass, citrus peel and faint spice notes that taste more like old-world noble hops than new-world dank and tropical hops. Gentle fruity haze fans may not like this, but fans of West Coast and English IPAs might find more to love.
The fourth brewery we visit, Manitou Brewing Company, is selling its beer in 25.7-ounce cans, slightly smaller than a more commonplace 2-pint crowler but fine for those who want a smaller portion. We pick up a can of Garden of the Guava blonde ale, expecting big fruit on a neutral beer backbone.
That ainâ€™t what we get, though. Rather, itâ€™s a well-executed blonde ale first and foremost, with biscuity and faint nutty notes. The guava comes through more subtly, adding pleasant acidity and fruit notes that complement rather than dominate.