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Blending Beer


First it was the increasing number of double-digit alcohol-by-volume beers, and then there was talk about how letting said high-alcohol beers age a year or more in wine, rum or whiskey barrels added all sorts of great flavors. And that was followed by buyers of high-alcohol beers letting said bottles age for a year or more (isn’t that what you do when there’s a cork in the bottle?) before drinking them. And now, as if beer wasn’t getting treated even more like wine, we have brewers blending beers.

Just as a vintner in pursuit of a high quality red wine will often combine the juice from Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz grapes (to name a few), so, too, are brewers turning to blends to create new craft styles. And no, we’re not talking about floating some Guinness on top of some Harp or Bass for a Black and Tan.

Firestone Walker Brewery in Paso Robles, Calif., is among the veterans of blending beers. Their Proprietors Reserve XV is a combination of eight barrel-aged beers and the finished product—limited to only a few hundred cases—clocks in at just over 12 percent ABV. Serving suggestions are to let the beer “breathe” in a wine glass or brandy snifter, which let the chocolate and vanilla aromas shine and mingle with a subtle, citrusy flavor. Brewer notes say, “this beer will age well and change favorably for years to come.”

Closer to home, you can find delicious, interesting and innovative blends from Breckenridge, Oskar Blues and Avery that rarely find their way into bottles and are only available on tap until they run out, which is typically a couple of days at most.

Such a rarity is Avery’s Eremita Sour Ale #3, on tap now until it’s blown. This is a fermented version of a Warhead or Cry Baby sour candy that will put your pucker on big time. For that reason it’s hard to call it a session beer, even though it only registers in the single digit ABV range. But several barrels were blended by head brewer Andy Parker, and after 18 tastings, he settled on a mix that’s on tap at the Avery Tap Room.

Raise a pint for Danny

Boulder beer aficionado Danny Williams died Jan. 23 at his home after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 52. In addition to spending the last decade making sure the more than 4,000 beers received each year for judging as part of the Great American Beer Festival were handled properly and kept at the right temperatures, Williams was also legendary for his beer cave. Converted from an old mine shaft on his Sunshine Canyon property, his cave holds more than 3,000 bottles of (mostly Belgian) beer at an optimum 52 degrees F. Friends and beer lovers are invited to celebrate his life at a memorial service being held at 6 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Backcountry Pizza and Tap House, 2319 Arapahoe Ave. Parking is limited, so car pool or ride your bike.

It’s heeeere, again.

The dark love is flowing once again from the taps at the Mountain Sun, Southern Sun and Vine Street Pub in observance of the 19th annual Stout Month. The somewhat rare and creative (Addiction Coffee and Nihilist imperial stouts are back) black ales will be joined by periodic additions to the tap list. “Like” Mountain Sun on Facebook for daily updates on their offerings and special events; they try to keep up on their website, mountainsunpub.com, but FB is your best bet.

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