By now, you're aware that you made a huge gaffe yesterday when you suggested Colorado doesn't know from good beer. Supporters of Avery, Boulder, Breckenridge, Great Divide, Left Hand, New Belgium, Odell, Oskar Blues, Tommyknocker, Wynkoop (founded by the man who is now Colorado's governor!), and any number of other Colorado breweries have surely set you straight. Fact is, Colorado is one of the epicenters of the craft beer movement.
To get you started on your craft beer education, we suggest you start with these:
Avery Brewing Co.'s Maharaja, an imperial India pale ale, is so powerful, so incredibly hoppy, that even a two-year-old bottle of it is better than many fresh double IPAs. I know this because a while back a friend brought to my house a 22-ounce bomber of Maharaja that had been bottled two years earlier, and we didn't notice the date on the label until we were well into the bottle. It never occurred to us that the beer might not be fresh. Fresh Maharaja, though, is something extra special -- and extra aggressive. With a glowing amber color and a small head that dissipates into an oily sheen, the beer emits a pungent aroma of floral hops and tropical fruits -- pineapple, grapefruit, orange, mango, papaya, you name it. Resiny and bitter -- it registers 102 International Bitterness Units --Maharaja deploys a massive hops ordnance into the nose, mouth, and throat. 10.5 percent by volume. About $9 for a 22-ounce bottle.
Oskar Blues Brewery's Ten Fidy is one of the best Russian imperial stouts around -- and, like more and more great beers today, it comes in a can. Ten Fidy's name refers to its high alcohol content -- 10.5 percent. Yet despite all that booze, it is a shockingly quaffable beverage. Pouring midnight black with a small mocha head that disappears in minutes, Ten Fidy is slick and highly viscous -- it looks like it could keep your lawnmower running smoothly. Smelling a bit nutty with chocolate undertones, the beer is thick and intense, like a cup of Peet's French roast coffee. It's no surprise that Ten Fidy has won the gold medal at the World Beer Championships. About $15 for a four-pack.
Great Divide Brewing Co.'s Oak Aged Yeti is an imperial stout that's aged in oak barrels for 20 months. The beer pours pitch black with a frothy brown head and gives off an aroma of caramel, coffee, vanilla, and surprisingly robust hops. The high alcohol content is masked by a smooth woodiness that hints of burnt wood and roasted coffee beans. More hops arrive toward the finish. Great Divide also brews chocolate and espresso versions of its Oak Aged Yeti. 9.5 percent alcohol by volume. About $10 for a 22-ounce bottle.
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