A year after Scott Kerkmans created the role of Chief Beer Officer for the Four Points by Sheraton hotels, it began to get around that Denver was the "Napa Valley of Beer." As NPR later reports, the rumor is a culmination of a life spent steeped in beer culture. Before creating Colorado Beer Week and beating out more than 7,000 applicants for the title of CBO, Kerkmans was on the production side at Alaskan Brewing Company. He’s since authored articles for Draft Magazine, taught at Cook Street School of Fine Cooking, and judged burped renditions of the Pledge of Allegiance at the Great American Beer Festival. He shares his taste in microbrews with more than 140 hotels and restaurants worldwide through the Four Point's beer program, but keeps his feet planted firmly on his home turf during his nine-day spring festival, which highlights the finest pours from Colorado breweries including New Belgium, Oskar Blues, and Ska Brewing Company.
Dad & Dude's Breweria's father-and-son duo pair small-batch craft beer with classic and inventive pizzas fashioned atop dough sweetened with spent beer grains and agave nectar. Acquaint taste buds with the menu's surrealist creations by sinking teeth into the Shroom pie ($11), a portobello-mushroom cap brimming with spinach, roasted garlic, and a reduction of Dali's daydreams. Dad & Dude's specialty pies crisscross the line between classic and creative with the italian-sausage-topped Tommy Gun ($13+) or Da Rasta Mon ($12+), speckled with jamaican jerk chicken and caramelized pineapple. Keep tables securely seated on the floor by topping them with a hefty selection of more than 10 sandwiches ($7+) or heaping bowls of pasta ($10 each) such as the pepper jack mac 'n' cheese suffused with spicy-white-cheddar-jack-ale-cheese sauce and pancetta ham.
The community-driven Big Beaver Brewing Co serves several handcrafted brews concocted on-site—though the racy titles of its drinks are appropriate for adults only. Thirsty patrons can sidle up to the bar to sip on eight different 2-ounce beer samples, including the Potent Peter IPA, a hoppy, aromatic ale, and the Wonder Wiener Wheat, boasting strong notes of clove and banana. Fermentation fans can then take take 64 ounces of their favored barley in a Big Beaver growler, which can be kept, refilled, or returned to the brewery for a $4 refund. Big Beaver’s brewing model relies on a community of beer lovers refilling their growlers with reusable containers to reduce their carbon footprint and give feedback as to what types of beer should be brewed next.
Avanti Winery handcrafts its own signature wine blends alongside more than 25 local Colorado wines, furnishing oenophiles with myriad grownup grape-juice choices. A bottle of chardonnay ($16.95) transports hints of vanilla, lemon, almonds, and hazelnuts to taste buds, and the popular white table wine ($16.95) melds five varietals potent enough to charm palates and steal guests’ girlfriends at dinner parties. Swill sips of Avanti's table red wine ($17.95) or uncork the signature cabernet sauvignon ($22.95), bursting with maroon-tinged fruits. The merlot ($22.95) introduces cherries and a dry finish to palates, and the port III’s dashes of caramel, cherry, and chocolate ($24.95) form a trio of dessert flavors in tipsifying liquid form. Avanti Winery also offers free wine tastings Thursday–Sunday from a different Colorado winery each month.
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In 1995, Twisted Pine Brewing Company began as something more of a grove than a forest, with brewer Gordon King crafting just a trio of beers in equipment purchased from New Belgium. Come 1996, the company fell into the hands of current owner Bob Baile, who merged the nascent brewery with his own project, Peak to Peak Brewing Company, and began bolstering the lineup with inventive stouts, ales, and porters. Since then, Twisted Pine has maintained a high standard of quality even in the face of its expanding scale, as evidenced by the gold medals garnered at the Great American Beer Festival for its American Amber Ale and Oak Whiskey Red. They credit their love for experimentation and strong community involvement as the driving force behind crafting beers that surprise and delight their loyal customers.
Today, locals and visitors mingle in the tap room, where the beer menu offers seasonal specials such as the Ghost Face Killah, infused with the 1.1 million Scovilles of the Bhut Jolokia pepper, and rated by Bon Appétit as one of the top ten weirdest beers in America. And to pair with the beer and drawers of otherwise useless silverware, the food menu features hearty pizzas, sandwiches, and salads.
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