Friday, June 25, 2010

All aboard the summer beer train!

Yo peeps.  I don't know how it is where you live, but Summer has roared into Colorado with a vengeance.  The past few days have felt more like the 7th Level of Hell then the nice, cool climes of the Rocky Mountains. It's been above 90 for the better part of the last month.  Now, 90 degrees might not seem hot to you folks in Nevada or Arizona, which frankly is the 1st Level of Hell, or back east where you have to use a paddle to wade through the humidity... but 90 is hot when you live over a mile closer to the sun.  It's HAWT!  And in this kind of weather nothing goes better then a crisp, cold brew. 

Question:  how many of you base the type of beer you drink on the season?  For example, I only drink lighter colored beers in the summer. Beers like pal ales, IPAs, wheats, hefes, lagers.  During the winter I hunker down and start suckin' on nothing but stouts, porters and the like.  I can't down a thick heavy beer like those in the summer.  It just doesn't work for me.  How about you?

Another Question: anyone notice the new look of the site?  Anyone like it? Dislike it?  Thoughts?

I'll be heading down to Alamosa later today where Fran and I will hanging out at Scott and Angie Graber's brewery - San Luis Valley Brewing Company.  You may have heard me mention them a time or two in the past.  Angie is the head brewer and makes Hefe Suave, one of the single best American style Hefeweizens I've ever had. Since they don't distribute outside the Alamosa area, it's usually months between tastings.  Can't wait!

But we're not driving all the way down to Alamosa just to get my hefe fix.  On Saturday SLVBC is hosting the 3rd Annual Rails & Ales Festival.  Basically, it's riding a train (while drinking beer) to a beer festival in a gorgeous mountain meadow situated at 9,700 feet.

Trains drop everyone off at the top of the pass where there will be 80 different beers to sample. Live music will be performed on the boxcar stage, and some great BBQ will be available. It's Rio Grande's most popular train of the season.

Unfortunately for you, if you haven't bought tickets yet... you won't be able to go. Tickets have officially sold out!  This really is one of the coolest, most unique festivals in the state of Colorado, one you need to attend.

If you missed this one, don't worry... you don't have to wait a whole year! On October 2nd they'll be running another beer train, this time for the 3rd Annaul Rails & Ales Octoberfest.  This event has a few differences though. Instead of stopping in the pass the train goes all the way to Le Veta where passengers get off and enjoy the quaint town's 24th Annual Oktoberfest.  Fran and I went the first year and it was incredibly fun! With any luck, we'll be back in Alamosa in October. 

Coming Up:  expect to see a Brewvie Review for From Paris With Love.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Brewvie Review: Avatar


Disabled Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) travels to planet Pandora to become an avatar, ingratiate himself with the natives and help Americans mine lucrative unobtainium. But he finds himself in an interstellar conflict after falling for Na'vi warrior Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). James Cameron writes and directs this Golden Globe-winning CGI odyssey that has broken box office records. Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang co-star.  - Description from Netflix

I took me 171 days after Avatar was released in theaters to actually see it. I know... a Sci-Fi geek like me taking six months to see one of the best Sci-Fi flicks ever made, right? Shame on me.

All I can say is... James Cameron did it again. Even with all the hype, Oscar nods, and merchandise whoring I was still blown away.  Yes, the special effects make your eyes bleed, but they do so much more.  They create a world that looks and feels real. The effects bring James Cameron's movie to life in a way rarely seen. I've been a SF geek as far back as I can remember and the only other movie that so fully engrossed me into its world as to change my own reality was the original Star Wars movie.  I was 10 at the time, so it's not hard to imagine the impact a movie like that can have on child that age. But for it to happen, at least in part, to a full blown middle aged adult - in this day and age no less... is quite the accomplishment.

Avatar is a movie that you must see, even if you're not a space cadet. The story is poignant on many levels.  Frankly, I don't buy the naysayers - many of whom are clearly out of touch with reality - who claim James Cameron embedded a political statement within his fanciful yarn. Everyone everywhere has to voice their opinion, and technology has given them all a platform to do so.  And even if he did... who cares?  Last time I checked we still lived in America. It's his right. Here's something else... if he did, then his message apparently struck just the right nerve in just the right way. And maybe that's what the naysayser are really terrified of.

In any case... if you haven't seen it, do so.  This epic SF yarn weighs in at just under 3 hours, but it never feels like it. As with all things though, not everyone is going to like it.  In order to fully enjoy this film you have to have an open mind, one capable of simultaneously enjoying sweeping fictional sagas as if you were a child, but mature enough to take away a deeper understanding. You too have to become something of an avatar. 

Avatar gets a perfect score of:

Beer suggestion for Avatar

Avatar Jasmine IPA from Elysian Brewing Company in Seattle, Washington.  This "new incarnation" of an India Pale Ale is the perfect brew to watch this film with. One of the main tenants of Avatar the movie is just how out of touch we "civilized" and "technologically advanced people" have become with nature.  Avatar the beer (6.3% ABV) bridges that gap with a floral nose and flavor that balances the subtleness of jasmine with the I.P.A.'s essential hoppiness. Dried jasmine flowers were added in the boil and hopback, which sounds a lot like something aboriginal people would have once done to a beverage they were making.

Monday, June 7, 2010

String Cheese and brew!

In the next day or two expect to see a more detailed article about the 7th Annual Chili Pepper & Brew Fest on my Colorado Springs Craft Beer column. We had a great time, tasted some great beer, and got to hang out with bona fide rock star - Kyle Hollingsworth of String Cheese Incident!

According to photo provider WhopTbird Jones: "Kyle Hollingsworth about to do some beer kung fu on Eli."

Besides performing music around the country, Kyle is a beer geek and homebrewer and has a very cool beer related event coming up. In anticipation of this summer’s sold-out String Cheese Incident run at Red Rocks (July 23-25), Kyle, in conjunction with Great Divide Brewing Company, The Mountain Sun Brewery, and Deschutes Brewery will be presenting... Kyle's Brew Fest

This kick-off party will take place at Denver’s Great Divide Brewery (2201 Arapahoe Street, Denver) on Thursday, July 22 (from 6:00 – 9:00 pm) to benefit Conscious Alliance. Tickets cost $25, and can be purchases online (click here) with ALL proceeds going to Conscious Alliance. A very limited number are still available. Price of admission includes: 
  • An exclusive performance from Kyle Hollingsworth Band
  • Limited edition Kyle’s Brew Fest logo pint glass
  • Several drink tickets
  • One 2-oz taster per brewery (participating breweries include Great Divide Brewing, The Mountain Sun Brewery, Deschutes Brewery, Avery Brewing, Boulder Beer, Ska Brewing, Stone Brewing, Trinity Brewing, Upslope Brewing and others)
  • Delicious grub from Mountain Sun
  • An opportunity to bid at the Silent Auction (which features rock memorabilia from the scene’s favorite artists, among other items)
If you can't make it Beer Tap TV will be on hand to film the festivities. But we hope to see you there!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Beer dinners, conferences, and festivals... oh my!

It's been a while since I actually wrote a column that wasn't a movie/brew review.  Which means now is a good time to do just that... especially since I actually have several things to write about!

Crafty beer dinner at Craftwood Inn

Fran and I attended a beer dinner a few weeks ago hosted by Craftwood Inn (Manitous Springs) featuring beers from New Belgium Brewing. It was spectacular. In attendance from New Belgium were Travis Flett and Matt Jones, and brew master extraordinaire, Pete Bouckaert. Craftwood's Executive Chef, Ben Hoffer prepared all the food and specific pairings. You can see the full menu of what you missed by visiting Craftwood Inn's Facebook page.

For me, two dishes really stood out. First was the peppered buffalo and grilled asparagus salad paired with Blue Paddle, a Czech style pilsner with a refreshing crispness that went perfectly with the buffalo and the summer heat. The dessert, according to Chef Ben, was the riskiest of all the dishes. This sour cherry lambic float was paired with Transatlantique Kriek, a spontaneously fermented lambic ale made with Polish cherries. Ben rocked that float!

The next time Craftwood Inn hosts a beer dinner - featuring beer from any brewery, but especially New Belgium's - get on down there!

Beer Blogger is as Beer Blogger does

This week Zephyr Adventures, headed by Allan Wright, announced the world’s first Beer Bloggers & Social Media Conference to be held November 5-7, 2010 in Boulder, Colorado. The conference will bring together an estimated 150 beer bloggers and others involved with online and social media in the beer industry.

And I'd like to say... IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME!

Our good friend Ashley Routson (aka The Beer Wench) will be the Chief Blogger for the 2010 conference. And since this first of its kind conference is taking place here in Colorado, they'll be working directly with several of Colorado's finest beer bloggers to help make sure it has the full Rocky Mountain flavor, including Chuck at Beer at 6512, Rick at Big Foamy Head (who also operates Epiphany Brewing), as well as myself and Erik Boles from Beer Tap TV.  

The conference will include dinners, tastings, speakers, and academic sessions designed to help beer bloggers improve their trade. They've already lined up some serious support including the Boulder Beer Company and Oskar Blues Brewery as their two dinner sponsors, Draft Magazine and Mutineer Magazine to help promote the conference, and the Boulder Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Colorado Brewers Guild. The host hotel is the Boulder Marriott. More sponsors will be announced soon.  For more information check out their website (, send them an Email at, or leave a comment on there blog. And be sure to sign up on their mailing list to receive updates. This is gonna be EPIC!

Chili Peppers & Beer... at Altitude

The 7th Annual Chili Pepper & Brew Fest, which combines three fiery components into one smokin' weekend, starts today in Snowmass, Colorado. 

The International Chili Society holds two chili competitions/tastings, microbrewers and homebrewers face off in two separate competitions, and festival-goers will get to sample beer from over 50 breweries. New this year is a European and exotic beer tasting tent.  Oh, and then there's the music!  Fanny Hill will be rocking with the Kyle Hollingworth Band, The Wailers, and George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic!!!!

Me and the rest of the Beer Tap TV gang will be up there on Saturday to schmooze, film, sample great beers (we'll be helping to judge the home brew competition as well), light our mouths on fire with chili peppers, and enjoy the setting! This one of the best outdoor beer festival in the state... don't miss it!

Tickets range from $25 - $75.  For more information, surf over to their website (, call 1.800.SNOWMASS (1.800.766.9627),  or Email them.

Until next time... ZIVJELI!