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Ahead of the Pack


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That breweries in Boulder County, Denver and the Front Range win medals at the Great American Beer Festival isn’t the big news it was at the beginning of the nationwide competition that just celebrated its 29th year.

The news today is the breadth and depth of the brewing talent and exemplary quality of the beer that is consistently found no more than a 15-minute drive from just about anywhere along I-25 or US 36.
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For Boulder County, the darker beers prevailed this year with a gold medal going to Lefthand Brewing in Longmont for their Fade-to-Black foreign-style stout. Rich, roasty and full of espresso and molasses flavors, this was a taproom favorite when it first arrived last November. This is one of Lefthand’s seasonal offerings, so don’t let the winter get away without getting your fill.

Rodney Taylor at the Walnut Brewery in Boulder won gold for his Old Elk Brown Ale in the English-style brown ale category. If you’re a fan of Newcastle’s version, do some learnin’ and taste Taylor’s head to head with the Nut Brown. Old Elk’s rich, malty, wheat-toast nuttiness is balanced with just enough hops to keep it from being cloyingly sweet. If you like that style, you’ll never stoop to the import again. And for a limited time, Old Elk is on a nitrogen tap (which gives it an even smoother, creamier flavor and mouth feel).

Boulder Beer also struck gold this year with their Business Time English-style mild ale. If you’re looking for a delicious session beer with a light malty flavor and a hint of hops that—at just under 4 percent alcohol by volume—is easy on the liver, roll yourself over to the Boulder Beer taproom on Wilderness Place, just south of Valmont and east of Foothills Parkway. It’s only on tap, for now…

Other GABF medalists included Mountain Sun, which won a silver medal for its Illusion Dweller English-style India Pale Ale; Twisted Pine, winner of a bronze for its delicious Big Shot Espresso Stout in the coffee flavored beer category and New Planet (which is brewed at Twisted Pine) won a bronze for its 3R Raspberry Ale in the gluten free beer category.

Great Divide brewing won a silver medal for its Colette Farmhouse Ale in the French and Belgian style saison category. Usually a lighter beer meant for serious drinking by hard-working farmers in the summer, this saison tips the scales at about 7 percent alcohol and has a crisp, almost tart, flavor.

Also worth noting is that last year’s small brewery of the year winner, Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, killed it again, taking home four silver medals for their Whale Tail Wit, U-Boat Hefeweizen, Bismark Altbier and Nobel Stuff Export Oktoberfest-style beer. And the Yak and Yeti Brewpub on Ralston Road in Arvada won gold for its stellar Himalayan IPA. This is a beast of a beer and worth a trip to grab it fresh out of the tap.

And just when you thought that there was no winning going on at Coors Field, the folks at Sandlot Brewing, Blue Moon Brewing and AC Golden Brewing—the trio of Molson Coors’ craft brewing subsidiaries—knocked it out of the park at the GABF. Blue Moon—which was launched via the beer by that name, first brewed at Sandlot—was named Large Brewing Company of the Year on the strength of the two gold medals it won for its Chardonnay Blond fruit beer and Summer Honey Wheat Ale in the honey beer category.

Sandlot, the brewpub at Coors Field, won a gold and two silver medals for its Flor Hosen Märzen-style beer, Clueless Beer Writer Vienna-style lager and Random Luck pilsner beers, respectively. And AC Golden won a gold, silver and bronze for its Dunkel, Pilsner and Schwarzbier dark lager, respectively. Given this haul by the team of brewers that these Coors subsidiaries have put together, don’t be surprised to see more award-winning production from these folks. Now, if they’ll only distribute these winners so we can enjoy their efforts.

At least someone on Blake Street is on a winning streak.

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