She’s Back

Peugeot Road Bike
Back in August, while hiking the mountains surrounding the beautiful Crested Butte, Colorado, my knuckled head bashed my favorite lens into non-working order. Heartbroken, I shot the rest of the weekend missing my good friend. Returning to what would eventually become my new job, new schedule and limited time to get her fixed, she sat on my desk begging to be repaired. Feeling rather naked without my 50mm prime for my digital, I turned back to shooting my images with another best friend my Nikon FM2 and experimented with using the cell phone as a documentary device. A few weeks ago, I sent her off to the Canon repair facility* in Irvine, California to be worked on by a team of specialists. While at lunch at Euclid Hall with my co-workers this past Friday, I received a call from Fed-Ex indicating her arrival at my apartment.

Peugeot Road Bike
This past summer, after a stint of trying out running and absolutely hating it, I took to biking to work some form of exercise into my life. After finding it more and more enjoyable, I decided to ask my father to loan me his road bike: a late 1970s early 1980s Peugeot road bike which I’ve named White Lightning Thunderbolt Booyah! Not only does she fly, she’s fucking sexy as all hell. From the white paint to the boss Peugeot typography she is a work of beauty. What she lacks in modern technology, she makes up in her visual appeal. Therefore, since I acquired her on loan back in July, I’ve wanted to document her aesthetic appearance, but I was without proper digital means to do so. Thus, with my lens fixed, my first shots would be of her. If these vignettes don’t quench your thirst, you can see us cruising the Platte Trail, commuting to work or at next years Tour de France.

*Canon’s customer service and my experience with this repair and other issues in the past have been absolutely antiquated and miserable. I love their digital gear (while hating their film gear), but their service is at best shit.

In Search of Old Cherry Ale

Tasters at Equinox Brewing Company

Taster trays at Equinox Brewing Company
Photo Credit: Erin Williams and David Hilgier © 2011

The weekend most recently passed the lovely Miss Erin and I headed up to Fort Collins for yet another excursion of brews and hanging out with friends. With plans of a haunted tour of Fort Collins in the evening, we decided to make a day of the event and grab some eats and brews to bookend the happening. Aside from the drive to and from, which becomes more and more reminiscent of a jaunt on an LA freeway, the day away from Denver and apartment was a welcome excursion.

After arriving in Fort Collins, with bellies running on empty, we decided to fill our tanks at Choice City Butcher & Deli prior to imbibing on some delectable brews and our tour of the city. Quintessentially, I had the Italian sandwich which, while enjoyable, was enough to fill three. Choice is indeed choice. If you have the means…However, this time the food was not what caught my eye.

Two Cherry Ale Bottle

Two Cherry Ale bottle from circa 2001

Sandwiched within the plethora of amazing draft beer selections was a diamond amongst diamonds. a handle of New Belgium’s Old Cherry Ale called out to me like a long lost lover through a pea soup fog in an some distant train station. Harking back to years long past hanging out in the DU dorms with my great friend Geoff, Old Cherry Ale (10 years ago for me was Two Cherry, based on Old Cherry Ale from 1998) was one of the beers that forayed my palate into craft beers. With what seemed a logical choice at the time, I decided to pass on having Old Cherry Ale, let alone a beer at all, at Choice City since I had an afternoon of beer drinking ahead of me which included a stop at New Belgium, a logical place to get Old Cherry after filling my stomach.

Equinox Brewing Company

The Brewhouse at Equinox Brewing Company
Photo Credit: Erin Williams and David Hilgier © 2011

After our meal at Choice City, we traveled a few blocks and made our first visit to Equinox Brewing. Unfortunately, the umbrella thesis of this story perhaps will eclipse my thoughts of Equinox, but I must say I really enjoyed my time there. To tie everything back together, this reminded me of visiting New Belgium shortly after I turned 21 as it was a low key place with no need to jostle one’s way to obtain a brew. In my opinion, if I had the means to run my own brewing company, it would follow a similar paradigm as Equinox: good beer, board games, families welcome, an outdoor seating area amongst the highlights. Between the two of us, we split two taster trays. One their standard offerings, the other I believe seasonal/specialty brews (forgive my lack of notes as to specifics to the differentiations). While my taster tray was a bit too heavy on the Hefewiezens for my preference, I really did enjoy the Atom Smasher Wee Heavy and Imperial IPA I received along with the Autumnal Alt on Erin’s plate. I wish a place such as this existed in our neighborhood, and with luck hopefully that is the direction Denver will turn and eventually be filled with neighborhood centric breweries.

Taster at New Belgium Brewing Company

Taster in New Belgium’s new outdoor patio
Photo Credit: Erin Williams and David Hilgier © 2011

With limited time between the closing of the breweries and the commencement of our ghost tour, with the prospect of samples of Old Cherry and bombers of Kick, we decided to make our second and last stop of the day New Belgium. Immediately upon viewing the tap handles I realized that I had potentially made a fatal error by not trying Old Cherry when we first saw it earlier. I thought it was safe to assume if available elsewhere in the town, one could surely obtain it at the location which it was brewed. Disappointed, we made the best of New Belgium’s new taproom setup and had full pours of Clutch, Kick, and La Folie – enjoyed in their new outdoor seating area – prior to making our way back downtown to meet up with friends for our tour.

Old Cherry Ale

Old Cherry Ale found at The Mayor of Old Town
Photo Credit: Erin Williams and David Hilgier © 2011

As our ghost tour drew to a close and with the end of the evening looming without having a sip of Old Cherry, we decided to try our luck at The Mayor of Old Town for some nosh and hopefully a night cap of the beer we’d been seeking since first spotting it at Choice City. Prior to last weekend, I had yet to visit or even hear of the establishment and upon walking in I knew that even if they didn’t have Old Cherry, I probably wouldn’t be disappointed. With a roll normally reserved for showing sports games in any other large bar, a massive projector system spanning the length above the white tile backed bar displays the offerings of the evening, which purportedly top 100 beers. Simply put, something for everyone with a lot of rare finds mixed in. Skimming the list for what we had been hunting all day, our objective finally was met. So, in the low lit bar, while playing a game of dice with a train slowly rolling by just outside the windows, I sipped on the red-hued libation and recalled memories of years now long passed. The beer itself is slightly tart and very drinkable, by no means sweet, fruity or overly “cherry”. It was a near perfect recreation of my palate’s memory of drinking the beer on crisp fall evenings. The best beer of the day? Probably not, but some times taste isn’t the end all be all factor.

Drink up.

Great American Beer Festival Weekend 2011

Great American Beer Festival 2011

Thursday, September 29th
The Great American Beer Festival, one of Denver’s most anticipated yearly events, was held this past weekend and of course I was in attendance. I’ve been the event numerous times since my time at the University of Denver, but this was the first year that I took part in the Thursday evening session. Pacing myself a bit more than normal for a GABF, given a looming day of work on Friday, I ended up sampling in the neighborhood of 40 beers. This year my selections centered around coffee stouts, imperial stouts and sour offerings occasionally straying for an IPA or Pale Ale.

The highlight of the evening for me was finally getting to try an offering from Cigar City Brewing. Mixed in with a splash of hype and a line longer than Dogfish, my palate was blessed with their Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout. A beautiful beer all around that aptly reminded me of the textures and aromas of a cigar humidor or a library filled with timeless classics and age worn leather chairs. With a color as black as night, and a head an espresso brown, this beer transported me to a place far beyond the florescent lighting and relentless loud white noise of the convention center.

Other beers which piqued my interest and received “stars” on my antiquated home-made notepad filled with my chicken scratch were these brews:

Ithaca Beer Company: Le Bleu and Brute
Russian River Company: Defenestration and Supplication
Goose Island Beer Company: Bourbon Country Blend Coffee Stout
Oskar Blues Brewery: G’Knight (Gordon) and Ten Fidy

Great Divide Brewing Company’s Biergarden

Friday, September 30th
After a Friday at work that was less of a hungover struggle than I had anticipated, partially thanks to a lunch break at Euclid Hall complete with a special tapping of Boulevard Brewing Company’s Saison-Brett, my coworkers and I headed over to Great Divide Beer Company for a bit of a pre-party prior to attending this years Bordo Bello. The troubles of the day were quickly alleviated with a few Fresh Hop Pale Ales. Having not been able to take part in any pre-GABF events, it was great to spend an hour in their biergarden enjoying the start of the weekend.

Epic Beer Tasting

Saturday, October 1st
With friend visiting from out of town to attend the beer festival, we all congregated one final time on Saturday for what is best described as an epic beer tasting. Over the course of an early fall evening alongside some fine cheese, fruits, and exquisite BBQ we imbibed on a few recent releases, aged selections, and some homebrews:

Boulevard Brewing Company: Saison-Brett, 2009
Boulevard Brewing Company: Saison-Brett, 2011
Odell Brewing Company: Deconstruction, 2010
The Bruery and Cigar City Brewing: Marrón Acidifié, 2011
Harvest Ale, 2011 (homebrewed)
Dry Hopped Pale Ale, 2011 (homebrewed)
Fuzzy Peach Pale Ale, 2011 (homebrewed)
Fuckit Wit, 2011 (homebrewed)
Firestone Walker Brewing Company: Parabola, 2011

A notable part of our evening, aside from some world-class beers, was trying our peach pale ale for the first time. After what was a disaster of a wheat beer brewed a few months ago, I’ve been a bit nervous about our brewing results ever since. What can be describe as a bit of a crap shoot in adding fresh fruit to a fermenting brew for the first time turned out to be a lovely offering with a great peach nose followed by a flavor comprised of fruit and cascade hops.

As always, I am sad to see the event and everything that surrounds it pass into the books. Next year I will definitely try to go to the Great American Beer Festival on Thursday as the pace and mindset of the night was noticeably different. Thanks to our friends for their generosity, hospitality and for sharing some of their coveted beers. Until next year!

Drink up.