Catalyst Ale: 2012’s Create Denver Week Beer

Catalyst Ale Tap Handle

With my only experience designing for anything remotely beer related being the work I’ve done for our home brew operation, I was thrilled to play an integral roll in the design for 2012’s Create Denver Week beer, Catalyst. Getting to be the lead designer for the logo has been a highlight of my tenure at Design & Image and it was an honor to create something for the community – both creative and at large – that I am a native of. Moreover, it was pretty awesome to see how others involved in the week took my work and integrated into their contributions to create a successful campaign for the beer and event. Getting to see my work on tap handles around town was an added bonus.

Catalyst Ale Logo

The inspiration for the visual direction tips its hat to a few sources. Primarily, the logo is meant to reference utilitarian design that adorns light poles, circuit breakers, and various other industrial artifacts. The correlation establishes a foundation that the logo, beer, and week are a spark of energy for the creative community. The atomic-like symbol completes the circuit by being placed in the negative space of the “C”, a nice metaphor for what the week and beer represent.

Catalyst Ale at Wynkoop

The beer itself tastes like collaboration. A belgian quality dominates the initial taste of the brew which soon gives way to a hop bitterness provided by Sorachi Ace and Eldorado (?) hops. To me, Sorachi skates a line between a lemon citrus flavor with hints of more typical hop bitterness. Prior to having Catalyst, I had yet to have a beer that I’ve really enjoyed that utilizes this hop. They always seem to be a tad too lemon or sweet for my taste and lacked any bite. What I like about Catalyst however, was the combination of the hop bill and what the seven different yeast strains did to the beer. The bitter and citrus qualities of the hops mingled nicely with the Belgian flavors imparted from the yeasts that decided to take center-stage during fermentation. In the end, an apt beer for the week and the brink of summer.

Catalyst Ale Coaster

Not a bad post for B+C’s 100th, eh? Maybe we’ll end it on this.

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.

Avery’s Meretrix

Avery Meretrix Release Party

Up until this past weekend I had never attended a bottle release party, especially one where attendance is a must to procure a bottle or two. I’ve been to my fair share of beer festivals and brewery parties, but this sort of beer event had alluded my attendance. To my recollection, few within the Colorado region have crossed my radar, and those that have presented scheduling conflicts. Therefore, I’ve always been jealous of friends in the North East who have taken many short whimsical road trips, through beautiful countryside ripe with delectable seafood and brew, to obtain a special releases from the likes of Allagash and Portsmouth Brewing Companies. Thus, when news of Avery’s release of Meretrix – a sour ale brewed with sour cherries and aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels – crossed my wire, Miss E and I decided we would make a rare trip to the People’s Republic with the hopes of acquiring a few bottles.

On a sweltering mid-summer day, with Miss E catching some flies while sitting shotgun, we headed northwest for our first special release party as well as first visit to Avery Brewing Company. In all honesty, I’m not that familiar with Avery’s offerings. I recently had Maharaja, their Imperial IPA, at Amato’s and enjoyed it. While I like their traditional IPA on tap, I found a recent 6er purchase to be a bit metallic on my taste buds. Other than that, I’ve knew little of their beers. Subsequently, we had little idea of what to expect from their tap-room and brewery. Upon our arrival around three in the afternoon, the brewery was alive with activity with beer-fiends packing the small tap room like bees to a hive. Impressively, the tap-room offered at least 15 beers conservatively speaking (more likely in the range of 20) and our favorite of which was Eremita, a sour ale.

We obtained a spot near the front of the line assuring us the eight bottles of Meretrix we had come to acquire. Having obtained a prime spot in line meant we were able to wait inside the brewery which was key given the heat of the day. A few minutes after the stroke of 5pm we purchased our bottles and headed back to the tap room to have a few more tasters and shoot the shit with some friends.

Avery Brewing Company

We’ve yet to try Meretrix, and I plan on writing about it when we do. We got three bottles for ourselves, one of which I will cellar for a year or so, and the remaining five will be given to friends and family. In hindsight, we didn’t need to get to the brewery so early to get the beer, as friends of ours were able to snag bottles long after the line had subsided. With that said, if I decide to attend their next barrel series release, I’ll still get there just as early to enjoy the fun.

Drink up.