What a week. Last weekend I was in Aspen, Colorado for a work trip (more on that later), and traffic getting to the Denver airport on Sunday was so bad I had to run full speed through the terminal to just make the last plane back to D.C.
Then of course, earthquake-mageddon hit D.C. (one tip – don’t be in an elevator during an 5.9 earthquake) which I somehow survived, buoyed by Josh’s well-wishes. And now, I’m waiting for Hurricane Irene to slowly churn her way up the coast. Blarg.
Anyway, back to Aspen, where it’s rumored the beer flows like wine. I love Colorado beer and never miss a chance to drink them, so I convinced my work colleagues to visit Aspen Brewing Company’s tasting room. It’s a very chill place just off the main drag of town, with five beers on tap plus their very own root beer for the kids.
Since I’m an IPA guy, I started with the Independence Pass IPA – overall, pretty good as far as IPAs go, with a 7.7% ABV. This brew had a cloudy copper color and decent little foam crown, and it smelled super hoppy. The start was a bit non-descript, but the middle was dominated with dry hops, and it ended on a very long bitter note. While I thought it was drinkable, if you’re not a hops head the bitterness will be too much.
After the dry hoppy bitterness of the Independence Pass, I wanted something sweet, so I ordered This Season’s Blonde, Aspen’s spring/summer seasonal, with a 6% ABV. It was a cloudy, pale yellow color, without much aroma, and the only thing traditional about it was the wheaty backbone. I got some citrus on the start, but it was much hoppier than I expected through the middle and had a sour ending. I was a little let down, to be honest, because it wasn’t light, spicy or summery.
Since we had to be up crazy early, I decided to go for broke on my last order, and asked for their Pyramid Peak Porter. The Pyramid was pitch black, like used motor oil, with a light foam dusting on top, and smelled smoky and malted. I’m not usually a Porter guy, but this was outstanding – it started out sweet with a hint of smokiness, turned to a deep roasted malt through the middle, and ended with a nutty-chocolate aftertaste. This is probably one of the best porters I’ve had, and would be crazy good with barbecue food. The 5.5% ABV means you can have a few, too.
Overall, I give Aspen Brewery the same grade I give Aspen the city – a solid “meh.” Both looked great, and had some highlights, but neither lived up to their booking.