Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Of the Cupolas of Bierstadt

I am currently in Denver for work, having arrived on Sunday evening and staying here for a week before heading home to Virginia in time for the twins 5th birthday.

Even though I admitted recently to being an abysmal beer tourist, in the sense that I very rarely plan travel around breweries to visit, when I travel for work I do my research and pick out some places that I want to try. Given that Colorado is known for its lager brewing, I had plenty of options, but I knew straight off the bat that Sunday night would be Bierstadt.

In the week before I flew out social media was full of pictures of Bierstadt's legendary Slow Pour Pils beer as it seemed that everyone and his mate that attended the Great American Beer Festival had made a beeline there.

I was pretty wiped out by the time I got to Bierstadt on Sunday, and my palate may not have been in the best of shape, having had a couple of airport porters, a brown ale, and when I got to Denver a couple of excellent Mexican lagers from Reverence Brewing. If you are ever in Denver you should go there, it's a fantastic place that feels like a community bar that happens to have damned good beer.

Having grabbed a seat at the upstairs bar, I ordered the obligatory Slow Pour Pils, and a Helles to drink while I was waiting...

The thing that hit me most about both beers was just how insanely clear they are, almost in a fuck you juxtaposition to the hazy IPA world. I wasn't taking notes, preferring to just mess around with my camera in the very cool art deco/industrial fusion surroundings. Knowing that I had some spare time on the Monday, I decided that I would head back once work was done for the day, and also so I could think a bit more about the Slow Pour Pils, as Evan Rail had asked for my thoughts on Instagram.

With work commitments out of the way, at least until a late dinner, I headed back over to do some more considered evaluations, and also make sure I had a palate more up to the task at hand - as in I remembered to drink plenty of water. Again I went to the upstairs bar, and ordered myself a pils, pulled out my phone and shock, horror, I took notes about a beer I was drinking in a bar! So here we go...

  • Sight - pale gold, huge rocky white head (duh), crystal clear
  • Smell - crackers, crushed water biscuits, very subtle floral hop aroma
  • Taste - classic pilsner malt graininess, almost flinty mineral note, grassy hops with a hint of wildflower
  • Sweet - 2/5
  • Bitter - 1.5/5
Advertised as a Northern German pilsner, I was expecting more bitterness upfront, maybe the slow pour kicks some of it out of the beer? The mouthfeel was softer than I expected, which makes the beer feel sweeter. I realise the slow pour part of things is the star here, but I was left wondering how it would taste hladinka style in a mug, especially unfiltered - can't remember where I read it is filtered, but I am sure I did. It is though a thoroughly delicious beer, if I didn't have plans for another couple of breweries...I'd likely be back.

I didn't take notes about the helles, I just sat and enjoyed a lovely iteration of one of my favourite styles, I did though make sure to try the first märzen of the trip, and it was likewise excellent, though poured from a can as they were done with draft, and it scored a very respectable 32/40 in my points system, which places it currently joint third, along with the likes of Port City and Olde Mecklenberg.

The thing I had hoped to do while I was at Bierstadt was to get a peek at their brewhouse...and I wasn't really paying attention as I walked to the bar when I noticed a copper dome. The brewhouse is right there for all the see, and what a thing of beauty it is.



From what I understand the brewhouse was originally housed in the local brewery in Ammerndorf, a small village just outside Nürnberg, and was built in 1932. Bierstadt shipped it to Colorado and essentially rebuilt it exactly as it had been in Bavaria. To my mind, this kind of thing is what makes a "craft" brewing business truly artisanal. I may have geeked out looking at those glorious copper domes.

I am not sure when I will ever make it back to Denver, but whenever I am here I know I will go to Bierstadt, not just to enjoy the triple decocted beers, though the Pils is double decocted, but to look at that rescued brewhouse and be glad it is still churning out great lagers.

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