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Belt’s Beer Garden: Hoppy Birthday Denver Beer Co!

I unwrapped some great presents from DBC on their fifth birthday.

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Today marks Denver Beer Co.’s five year anniversary, opening their doors on August 12th of 2011 and, as circumstances would have it, I just happened to get some of their beer right now.

As a native of Illinois, I’m not always able to get my hands on a lot of beers from out west but, when my friend brought me back a mixed 12-pack and a few bombers of their stuff, I was stoked. I’ve always heard a lot about them but hadn’t had the pleasure of trying any of their beer to this point.

For those who haven’t heard of them; Denver Beer Co. creates a lot of small batch beers under the principle that you should always have “a few old favorites always on tap, but new goodies” every month from a brewery that creates “high quality, flavorfully crafted beer [with] the belief that the best pints are those shared with good company.” From what I have seen online, they are still only available in Colorado at the moment.

In this special version of Belt’s Beer Garden, I wanted to showcase more than just one of their beers. And, since I got my hands on quite a few, I have not two but three new beers for you. After all…you only celebrate your fifth birthday once.

The first beer I wanted to spotlight is their seasonal double IPA: Blood Orange Tandem Pedal.

Their regular double IPA, Tandem Pedal, is brewed with Cascade, Mosaic, Nelson Sauvin and other hops. This year, in addition to that, they made a special one that’s a tad bit different.

They took their regular Tandem Pedal and added some extra hops and, for good measure, blood oranges to increase the already high citrus levels. Their Blood Orange Tandem Pedal (or BOTP as I’m going to call it) is brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, Citra, Mosaic, and Nelson Sauvin hops and brings a huge 10% ABV to the table and that could be trouble!

It poured a dark copper, nearly brown, color with decent head. Just about two fingers of thin, airy, off-white foam sat atop the beer after I poured it. The head remained for a solid amount of time, slowly slipping away and leaving a patchwork of foam along the way.

There was a strong fruity aroma, as was to be expected. Grapefruits, oranges, and tangerines were the main offenders up front; while sitting behind them was a big hop profile and some bready malt that was trying to counter the massive amount of hops.

My first sip of BOTP started with a punch of hops to the palate and, for just that first moment, I was taken aback slightly. However, less than a second into the sip, the hoppy bitterness disappeared completely and left me with a plethora of flavors.

The flavors mostly came and left in waves with two exceptions; throughout it all, the grapefruit and tangerine made themselves noticeable while the others battled it out for second place. First some bready malt showed up for a moment before the sweet blood orange swooped in before a slight piney hop flavor took over.

At the end of the sip there was no lingering bitterness that some (i.e: a lot of) DIPAs can leave, no sticky sweetness from all the sugar and fruit…the flavors simply disappear with the liquid, minus the slight drying of your tongue. As the beer was excavated sip by sip, it left some decent lacing throughout in a random web-work of bubbles across the surface of the glass.

For a 10% beer BOTP was undeniably and incredibly smooth (after that first initial hop shock). Its lighter mouthfeel and medium body made it feel more like an IPA than the huge double that it is…making it just about as sessionable as a double can be.

That means BOTP, as I predicted earlier, is indeed a dangerous beer. The beer hides the alcohol so well that you hardly know it was there until it hits you about half way through the bottle. There’s a reason it’s called Tandem Pedal – it’s because Denver Beer Co. recommends you share this bomber with a friend…and, after trying it, I concur.

It’s a really good DIPA. No overpowering hop sting (after the first sip), awesome flavors, a nice balance with the malt (which really comes out as the beer warms up a little), and a huge ABV…all in a 22-ounce bottle that is priced really well ($7.99). Don’t miss this one because who knows how long it will last! 8.5/10

8.5

Of course I had to try their year-round IPA, Incredible Pedal, which has a pretty solid ABV itself.

Their staple IPA poured a crisp, golden amber color with minimal head topping the beer. There may have been a finger of foam immediately following my pour but, with in 15-20 seconds, there was only a dusting along the edge remaining.

My face lit up when I smelled Incredible Pedal for the first time. The aroma this beer has is absolutely amazing. It had loads of juicy tropical and citrus fruits – grapefruit, mango, pineapple – and really nothing else. It was like smelling a fruit punch more than an IPA that is 7% alcohol.

Needless to say, after merely sniffing it I was ready to dive right in.

And I was not disappointed. It starts with a lighter mouthfeel and just a dash of carbonation up front. After that fizzles out, all those sweet, juicy fruit flavors flooded my palate; the mango and grapefruit dominating the flavor profile.

There is a slight hoppy bitterness that follows you for the entirety of the taste but it’s mostly drowned out by all the almost sticky-sweet tropical flavors. Incredible Pedal ends slightly dry…which was fine with me because it just made me want to drink it more.

As it warmed up a bit, I will say the hoppy bitterness (all of the 61 IBUs) became more prevalent but, again, that was just a small price to pay for such a good beer. Plus, again, just made me want to drink more of it (and quicker).

While the beer was drained from my glass the little bit of foam that remained laced the glass steadily but with no clear design; just a random patch-work of bubbles strewn about the side of my glass.

Overall, I honestly couldn’t believe that it had a 7% ABV attached to it…it was so sessionable and so delicious that I could have easily drank a six-pack in a few hours. As I’m writing this (and I’ve done the math) I’ve had 665 different IPAs, including this one…now that’s quite a large sample. But this one…this one right here is unquestionably a top-5 IPA for me. 9.5/10

9.5

Finally, I wanted to introduce you to Princess Yum Yum, a raspberry kölsch that’s only available during the summer months (May through August).

This German-style kölsch is fermented with real raspberries and pours a nice pink, semi-ruby, hue with, once again, not a lot of head. Only a thin ring of bubbles around the edge top her.

On the nose this beer was pretty sweet and slightly tart. Pale bready malt and some sour raspberries made up the majority of the aroma. It had a smell that was almost more gose-like than kölsch.

My taste buds agreed with my nose on this beer.

There was a small carbonated fizz initially that lasted a mere moment before faded out and allowing the flavors to come through. Some hay and other grassy characteristics stood out first but then the beer reminded you that there were, indeed, raspberries in it. And once those raspberries wanted to be noticed…they were for the remainder of the beer.

The fruit, however noticeable, never really overpowered the other flavors (of which was mostly light spice and pale malts) but rather complimented them in a semi-tart sweetness that showed up on the backend of the sip. During the first few tastes of Princess Yum Yum, while I was still getting used to the flavor, I will admit there were a few times that the sourness from the fruit almost made me pucker.

However, as the flavors faded from my palate there was no lingering aftertaste, just a slight dryness. It had a more crisp finish to it and was a very solid fruit beer. The lighter 4.8% ABV just adding to the easy drinkability of this beer.

When all was said and done, this was another really good beer. It wasn’t in the same league as Incredible Pedal (but not much is). It was sessionable, crisp, and perfect for those hot summer days where only a beer will quench your thirst.

And, while this might not have been as great as their IPA, as a stand alone beer this is another really well made brew. Kölschs aren’t my favorite type of beer, and so I don’t drink them often…but this was worth the price of admission. It was almost as good as my favorite kölsch (Clown Shoes’ Mango Kölsch)…but perhaps I just like mango more than raspberries.

Either way, grab this beer while you still can because, come next month, it’ll be gone. 8/10

8 beers

As you’ve seen over the past few years, I don’t often spotlight a brewery like this...but I just happened to try Denver Beer Co right before their fifth birthday and, after seeing how good their beers are now, I can’t wait to see where they go from here.