Ok, I lied. Actually, it is entirely untrue: I have never even tasted beer early in the morning. But, on Friday night I came close to purchasing VIP tickets to Drink the District (Beer Edition) for 11am entry, if only to find out whether I did enjoy an early-morning buzz. In the end, I could not bring myself to spend the morning with hundreds of others in the 95-degree heat clamoring for unlimited 3-oz artisanal beer pours. But a good idea is a good idea, and we started our own search of refreshing ways to beat the hot weather (and taste craft beer).
Certainly, the best escape from the heat would involve going back to Mt.Evans, the closest fourteener to Denver where we spent our 4th of July holiday.
By the way, that was a fantastic trip full of culinary delights, such as the amazing omakase from Sushi Den (one of the very best sushi restaurants I have ever been to), Paul Bara champagne, and a perfect sundried tomato risotto made from scratch by my dear friend The Blissful Adventurer.
However, Denver is not exactly stone’s throw from DC, and we had to get creative.
So, we hid in our apartment and had a picnic lunch on our cool granite floor (one can sit or lie on a sheepskin rug). We fortified ourselves with Watermelon & Feta salad and Fattoush, before heading to a local watering hole by the name of Churchkey, in order to taste through some stellar locally produced stuff.
Just in case the pictures are making you hungry, and you would like one of your own, the W & F salad features sheep’s milk Greek feta from Lesbos co-op, watermelon chunks, spearmint, salt-packed Sicilian capers from Il Mongetto, lemon juice, a splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar, and baby local red onions.
My version of Fattoush (a popular Lebanese peasant salad) is made with toasted pita strips, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, purslane, red onions, parsley, mint, green bell pepper, lots and lots of lemon juice, olive oil, and sumac.
After a couple of scoops of Talenti sea salt caramel gelato (highly recommended!), we finally embarked on our tasting adventure. Churchkey boasts a 555 unique label selection from 30 countries, including 5 authentic cast conditioned ales, and 50 draught beers, in different tasting formats. As I prefer variety, 4oz pours is my usual format of choice.
We tasted through some 10 microbrews (all on tap), ranging from summer ales and pilsners to American IPAs to Altbier and cask ale. All-in-all, nothing over 7% (so, no imperial stouts, tripels, double IPAs, etc).
Thus, our Top 5 list of local artisanal summery brews (from East Coast microbreweries) was born. The general criteria were aromatics, complexity, refreshing mouthfeel (must be appropriate for summer), and of course, the looks, such as a pretty head coupled with a beautiful translucent amber-hued body. (That doesn’t make me a shallow person, does it :-)?
Here is goes (in alphabetical order):
1. Dominion Hop Mountain by Coastal Brewing Company, DE. An American Pale Ale (authentic cask ale), dry-hopped in the cask with Chinook hops. Dangerously smooth and balanced. Piney, citrusy, hoppy, and moderately malty.
2. Prima Pils by Victory Brewing Company, PA. A German pilsner made with whole-flower Czech & German hops. (***Jeff’s strictly summertime favorite). Lemony, grassy, bitter, crisp, and earthy.
3. Smuttynose IPA “Finest Kind”, NH. An American IPA made with Amarillo, Simcoe, and Santiam hops. (***Jeff’s overall favorite). Floral, very grapefruity, pleasantly bitter, and balanced.
4. The Corruption by DC Brau, DC. It is an American IPA made with Tomahawk hops. (***my overall favorite, – perhaps, not surprisingly, as I am very familiar with the concept of corruption :-)). The most intense, aromatic, and complex of the bunch.
5. Victory Altbier by Victory Brewing Company, PA. A lively Altbier that is spicy, hoppy, earthy, and bready.
The efforts of these breweries are quite refreshing, although I am unsure if I would drink them first thing in the morning. I think maybe you have to warm up your body and mind first, to be able to cool down and fully appreciate what they have to offer. Those are not just some brainless blonde ales but, to borrow the wine world term, “birre da meditazione”, – beers that command contemplation.
Prima Pils is one of my favorites as well – though this year’s spring favorite was Mayflower Spring Hop. Amazing. Thanks for your visit to The Nutrition Doctor is in the Kitchen! Cheers, PK
I will have to look for it, thanks for the recommendation!
I’ve learned to enjoy many foods and drinks later in life, but so far beer is not amongst them…
Beer is not the first beverage I reach for, however, a well-crafted fresh beer can be as complex and satisfying as many other libation choices.
Thanks so much for the shout out and I am so glad you loved Sushi Den! We had an amazing picnic with Yasu, about 40 guests, and a few farm animals at their state of the art farm last weekend in Brighton, CO.
Now of course you guys are going to have to come see us in SF if we don’t see you in DC first. I am kicking myself for not bringing those CO beers as roadies from the airport when you guys hot here :-). Miss you guys!
We had a blast, and are already looking forward to seeing you in SF. BTW, after we said our goodbyes to you at the airport, Jeff and I headed straight for the Boulder Beer Tap House for an early lunch… so that deficiency has been rectified. 🙂
very nice! I love it
I love a really good beer. It goes well with burgers and sandwiches, steaks, Mr. B’s Bistro’s barbecue shrimp, gumbo and amazingly sushi, just to list a few. The flavor differences between a pilsner vs. a lager vs. an IPA, vs. a porter, etc. is stunning. Each one has its own flavor profile and a master brewer an coax so many complexities and nuances out of the mix of grains and choice of yeasts used in the process. Sounds like you had a fabulous time.
My point precisely! As for sushi, sure I would ideally have a nice Junmai Ginjo, but for a casual sushi meal, most of the time, I’ll drink a seasonal craft brew (most recently, Devil’s Backbone Golden Leaf Lager).