Monday, July 30, 2012

Kugs says Aloha to: Colorado. Day the First

We arrived this afternoon after a pretty pleasant flight on Southwest.  It’s amazing how much easier flying is after having lost 80 pounds.  I actually dozed off a bit for a change.

It was cloudy and drizzly when we arrived so the Rockies were obscured in great part, but we still got a few nice views.  It reminded me of living in the shadow of the admittedly much smaller geological formations on Oahu.  I haven’t made it to Denver yet as we are staying in Aurora and arrived around dinner time. 

Yes, we are in Aurora, scene of the recent movie theater shootings.  While we haven’t talked with anyone locally about it yet, to say there is a pall over the community would not be a stretch.  Flags are at half-staff all over town.  The shuttle from the airport took a rather roundabout way to get to the hotel, in an effort to avoid some evening traffic, and as such, we found ourselves driving through the various hospital campuses in Aurora, all of which I’m certain were very busy ten days ago.  The van grew very quiet as we drove through that part of town.

Wife and I had dinner at the Bentfork Grill down the street from where we are staying.  Learn about them here if you like, as they were excellent:  I had a unique fish-based Jambalaya and the wife had a very solid Trout Almandine.  Since we were there, I thought I might as well get started on my review of the local beers, and we started off with two from the New Belgium Brewery, the “Fat Tire Amber Ale” and the “Sunshine Wheat,” both on draft.  The Amber was a nice color and a very pleasant fragrance.  A unique smell and a really great taste.  Smooth flavor with no noticeable aftertaste.  Great body and very fresh taste.  Far more drinkable than a Sam Adams or a Newcastle, which is what it reminded me of visually.  Final few sips were a bit more bitter than the first, but overall a really nice start.  The Sunshine Wheat was a very light blonde color-almost looked too wispy to have any real body but I was nicely surprised by this one.  Wife loved it.  A very citrusy fragrance with a hint of lemon.  It was served with a wedge of orange, which the wife ate instead of squeezing into the beer, so perhaps we’ll have to revisit this one.  Check out New Belgium at:

For round two, we decided to try the local Aurora brewers, Dry Dock Brewing Company.  The Bentfork had their IPA and their “Apricot Blonde” on tap, and while I’m still not the world’s biggest IPA fan, this one was well done and drinkable.  Smooth, but a little bitter for my taste.  The winner here though was the Apricot Blonde-holy flashback to childhood this was a good beer.  It was cloudy and presented a real richness visually.  First taste took me back in time to when I was a kid at Shop Rite with my Mom doing the weekly groceries and if I were good I got to pick a fruit roll from the special fruit roll stand.  This was before you could buy Fruit Roll Ups and Fruit by the foot and stuff.  It was a real special thing and when I was good, which was regrettably not always, I used to get the Apricot Fruit Roll and I loved the daylights out of it.  This beer brought me right back to that.  The wife loved it and it was a really unique use of fruit in a beer that, for me anyway, didn’t overwhelm the beer itself.  It was such a neat balance of flavors.  She thought it was a perfect complement to her Trout.  I thought it would have been well paired with either Pork or Duck.  Really flavorful beer and seriously well crafted.  Definitely an early favorite for beer of the week.  Learn more about them, as I hope to at

At this point we decided to head back to the room and catch some Olympics and MasterChef (which wasn’t on…unacceptable) and do a slight bit more research before hitting the ground running tomorrow.

I brought home the Boulder Beer Company’s “Hazed and Infused” in Bottle form and Oskar Blues “Old Chub” Scottish Ale.  A friend of mine recommended the “Hazed” and while I found it diverse and interesting, it was slightly too hoppy for me.  It was clearly a beer to drink from the bottle as the bit I poured to check color and fragrance were not as flavorful as the bottled remainder.  It’s a unique beer and I wasn’t sure what to make of it in the end.  I plan to try it again.

I had high hopes for the Oskar Blues beer as I had heard a lot about them, in particular during my visit to the Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis.  This beer came in canned form and again I found the sample I poured out to check color and fragrance to be inferior to just drinking it from the can.  This may be the best Scottish Ale I’ve ever had, and I’ve always felt guilty as and Scots-Irish guy that I could never get behind Scottish Ale.  Just never found one that I really liked until tonight-this is a fresh and crisp Ale, really unique fragrance but no unpleasant aftertaste and not at all unbalanced, as I’ve found other Scottish Ales, including Samuel Adams Wintertime Scottish Ale.  This is drinkable, refreshing and delicious.  Another contender for beer of the week, and we are only on day one. 

So, we are early on in our trip here.  I am hoping to visit some of the breweries and brew-pubs tomorrow.  My new friend Jonathan Shikes @ColoBeerMan on Twitter, has recommended trying Downtown’s –

-Great Divide Brewing Company:

-The Denver Beer Company:

-The River North Brewery:

-The Wynkoop Brewing Company:

And the Falling Rock Tap House:

So, those places are on tap for tomorrow, assuming I can figure out the public transportation into the city.  If you know those spots and have an insight, please share it.  I like to go in informed. 

Until then, we are enjoying our time.  Looking forward to seeing more of the craft beer scene, and the Rockies, and of course, Roller Derby on Thursday.  So, stay tuned.  Follow up on Facebook for more pictures, and if you want to know something, just ask—until tomorrow, Aloha from CO!

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