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.

Brewing for the Holidays, Part II

Holiday Brewing, Part II

Following up the brewing of our first 2011 holiday ale a week prior, this past weekend, we fired up the propane burner and set off on knocking out our second batch for the season. To compliment our spiced English ale, we thought we’d come out swinging with an imperial stout. My thinking was to lull our friends and colleagues in with a decent session beer and then hit them over the head with a high alcohol and strong hop presence stout (think along the lines of GDBC’s Yeti series or Firestone’s Parabola). A perfect accompaniment to a cold, dreary winter day. Unfortunately, as a result of some bad math and pulling a bit too much from the mash tun during our sparge and we’re left with a run of the mill stout.

I’ll quell my disappointment until I sample the resulting brew, but my heart was set on hitting another home run as we did with our second batch of our Vanilla Porter. Brewed for Design & Image’s 40th anniversary party last week, 24 bombers of our best brew to date* were given away to a lucky few at the soirée.

Vanilla Porter brewed for Design & Image

And so this may indeed be the last brew update of 2011. While we didn’t get as many brews in as we did in 2010, our quality has far surpassed what we doing a year prior. With my 30th, the holidays, and a few back to back home Bronco games fast approaching, our free time for the remainder of the year is dwindling. Combine that with our misstep that was this past weekend’s brew, resulting in a decision to go back to the drawing board in regards to our setup and process, and this stout may have been the last beer brewed of 2011**. My goal for 2012 is to become far more efficient in our process as well as increasing our brewing capacity so that we can be doing at least 10 gallon batches from here on out.

*As well as our highest alcohol by volume brew. While our main objective has never been to get the most alcohol out of a batch of beer, creating a 9.5% ABV brew on our own is an accomplishment we’re proud of as home-brewers. Nearly 2 years into the hobby, we’re still refining our craft, but to hit our numbers and the mark on any beer is something that makes me smile. To do so for such an important event allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief (we’ve fucked up “occasion” beers in the past) while feeling rather content with what we produced.

**We are going to bust out a cider this upcoming weekend which will be kegged and enjoyed by those with access to our tap room.

Drink up.