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Through the Drinking Glass

Taps at The Old Mine, cidery and brewpub.

Taps at The Old Mine, cidery and brewpub.

Cheers to a Taste of Summer

The hotter it gets, the better light beers taste. The taps that poured winter’s porter and stout now pour kolsches and wits. Session beers, or lawnmower beers if you prefer, are often lighter in alcohol by volume (I’m of the camp that any beer above 4.5% ABV isn’t a session beer). With breweries battling to stay fresh with hop-heavy IPAs and bottle-aged sours, it’s always refreshing to find a beer that blows you away with its subtlety. That was my reaction to the Summer Teath IPA by The Post Brewing Co. Its herbal aroma and faint bitterness come from dwarf hops and green tea from Boulder’s Peko Sip House. It pairs with foods well as a palette cleanser, and at 4% you’re welcome to sit on the back patio and enjoy a second or third. It’s not even my favorite beer by Post, but it was the one that reset my taste buds and made me realize it was summer.

Dale’s Ales Pales

The beer world is grumbling about the growth of the brewer known for putting craft in cans. Oskar Blues Brewery has taken hits for outside funding, an expansion into Austin, Texas and its super-size taproom pouring out-of-state beers. Texas brewers cried foul when the Longmont-based brewer didn’t weigh into the fight to reform the state’s arcane distribution laws (which tilt things in favor of behemoth beer brands). However, Oskar Blues did join the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, and may find themselves involved whether they want to be or not.

Closer to home, longtime partners in craft are upset with the direction Oskar Blues is taking, specifically a new Denver music venue with 43 beers on tap. Chris Black, the founder of Denver’s Falling Rock Tap House partner, took to Facebook to write what is essentially a break-up letter to Oskar Blues. “I was your first account outside of your immediate area of Lyons. I’ve been a loyal supporter & account ever since. I feel like such a sucker.” The main gripe is the competition of a (well-funded) brewer acting as a brewpub on their turf. “There are over 4,300 breweries in the US, 300+ in Colorado alone, I have LOTS of choices, & I choose to spend my money on beers brewed by brewers that don’t actively & directly compete with me.”

It’s easy to dismiss the craft brewers’ complaints as schadenfreude, but this issue over the distribution of out-of-state beers and conglomerate craft businesses is mirrors the fight to repeal Colorado’s 3.2% restrictions. If Your Choice Colorado gathers enough signatures by the end of July, voters will decide whether to repeal the restrictions in November. The state’s craft brewing industry has flourished under the Prohibition-era regulations, and is strongly against the change.

Cider Expansion and Cellaring 

The Old Mine is digging deep. The tap room located in downtown Erie will soon have a sibling at the airport. Handlebar Factory is the name of the new taproom and production facility, with enough tanks to product up to 2,500 gallons of cider. Once permits allow them to finish building out the airport hangar, kegs of Handlebar Cider will start to roll out. Owner Mike Yeager has plans on canning their signature cider as well. By the end of summer, we should be able to sip on cider at the airport and stare at the Rocky Mountains.

Old Mine’s list of cellared bottles has grown, too, as currently stands at 78. However, if you pay close attention, as some loyal customers do, you may notice a surprise pop up. Yeager says they sometimes reach into the secret stash during anniversary parties or special tastings. His strategy has been small-scale, going after beers that will be worth the wait. “It is basically trying to get and hold onto the best of the best stuff we can get our hands on,” says owner Mike Yeager. There are plenty of beers off the bottle list, with some Belgians slated to appear after 10 years of aging. “We just want to sit back and get some age on it.”

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