REVIEW: Spring Blonde from New Belgium Brewing Company

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: New Belgium Brewing Co.
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Style: Belgium Blonde Ale
ABV: 6.0%
IBU: 48
Appearance: Deep, Translucent Gold with Snow-White Foam
Aroma: Mild Lemon Zest, Grainy Yeast, Bread
Flavor: Malty Sweetness, Mild Bitterness
Availability: Spring Seasonal
Pairs With: Grilled Chicken, Creamy Pasta, Salmon Rigatoni

I am always ready to sample any new offering from New Belgium Brewery up in Fort Collins, Colorado. What’s not to love about this place; it is employee owned, run in a highly sustainable and environmentally ethical way, and they make some killer beer. Which are all reasons they made my list of American Breweries to visit.

Back a couple years ago Outside Magazine rated New Belgium the number one company to work for in their yearly “50 best places to work list.” And, as if all that wasn’t enough, the employee “extra” that inspired this beer and, most likely, was a big factor in their ranking at the top of Outside’s list, is a spring biking trip to Belgium for all 5 year employees; a trip to see the companies roots, as it were. I’d have to say that’s quite the perk.

I love most of their beers (and sorely miss some of the ones they have discontinued), and a chance to try a new offering is hard to pass up, especially something they haven’t tried to brew yet, like a Belgian Blonde Ale.
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REVIEW: 90 Shilling Ale from Odell Brewing Company

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: Odell Brewing Co.
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Style: Scottish Ale
ABV: 5.30%
IBU: 27
Appearance: Copper, Slightly Red with Off-White Foam
Aroma: Bread, Biscuit & Big Malt
Flavor: Sweet Malty Characters; Faint Hoppiness
Availability: Year-Round
Pairs With: Roasted Pork or Quail; Dark Chocolate or Caramel Desserts

Odell Brewing Company is another one of those success stories. You know the ones, a home brewer goes pro and ends up a grand success. Those stories, the ones that, as home brewers and beer coinsures, we have a mixed bag of emotions about. We love to know that if one of us bravely stepped off the boat into the wide ocean and took the plunge, there’s a chance we’d come up kicking water and swimming hard at some point. But we also kinda hate them because they’ve gone before us, and are “there” already, making a living, doing something truly loved. Well, Odell is a grandfather on the craft brew scene, so don’t get your feathers too ruffled.

Founder, Doug Odell, along with his wife Wynne, and sister Corki got their start in 1989, which is, on a craft brewery timeline, the beginnings of the post probation climb back into popularity. There was only one other craft brewery operating in Colorado when they started, now there are probably over 200. So, they’ve been brewing for a while. They know their stuff.
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REVIEW: 400 Pound Monkey from Left Hand Brewing Co.

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: Left Hand Brewing Co.
Location: Longmont, CO
Style: English IPA
ABV: 6.80%
IBU: The Monkey Isn’t Telling.
Appearance: Light-Golden Pour with White Foam Head
Aroma: Subdued Citrus & Grain with Hoppy Freshness
Flavor: Earthy Pine, Grapefruit Hints, Malt
Availability: Year-Round
Pairs With: Coconut Chicken with Curry, Burgers with Caramelized Onions

Colorado seems to be full of top notch craft breweries these days and Left Hand Brewing Company is no exception. They have a nice year round lineup of beers including the one siting before me now, fondly named 400 Pound Monkey. I’m not too sure what gave them the idea for the name, the beer doesn’t taste like a 400 pound monkey at all (bad joke… sorry).

Actually the name, as far as I can gather, came out of a discussion over extreme beers for an article Lew Bryson was writing for Beer Advocate Magazine. In the article Eric Wallace quotes his VP of brewing as saying “Any monkey can put 400 pounds of hops in a kettle,” and with those words I can only speculate that both an idea and a name were born.

India Pale Ale’s are gaining more and more of a foot hold within the craft brewing community and there are more consumers out there than ever willing to take the plunge into bitter beers. So, why another IPA? Well, judging from the article just quoted, I think maybe the brewers up at Left Hand got it in their heads that they might be able to pull off something a little different than the usual “mostly” American IPA offerings out there. They decided to try to make an English style IPA.
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