Once you are living in Boulder county, you will soon pick up on the fact that the people who live here are passionate about craft beer. Beer is not just a drink you have with burgers or pizza; it’s a religion. So what is one to do if you do not know the first thing about beer? Start from the beginning. Here’s a quick guide to understanding craft beer and some great local breweries to get you started.
1. IPA (India Pale Ale)
These beers have a more “hoppy” taste (that bitter aftertaste) said to have originated from people adding in more hops in the beer so they would last longer on the trip from India. Many people who consider themselves beers snobs are really into hops because, once you have developed a pallet for them, there is a big range available. IPAs can be bold, fruity, or harsh. They also tend to contain more alcohol (4-9%)
These beers are like the Bud Light of craft beers and are a great transition if you are dipping your toes in the water. They are less boozy (3-4%) and are light and easy to drink. They are nice during the day, by the pool, or on the patio.
People tend to think that stouts are heavy beers, but that’s not always the case. While they can be heavy, what make a stout a stout is their inclusion of lots of richer flavors like caramel, chocolate, coffee, etc. Stouts can be an acquired taste and many folks like to enjoy stouts in certain setting like a cold night or by the fire.
Wheat beers are great beers for people who enjoy a lighter tasting beer, but don’t like their beer to taste hoppy. Wheats can taste fruity and floral and are easy drinking but not necessarily lower alcohol content (5%). Wheats are another great day or patio brew.
5. Pale Ale
Some people call pale ale’s the poor man’s IPA. They are somewhere in between an IPA and a wheat brew and they aren’t going to be too boozy or bitter. They include a massive range of flavors and because of their flexibility they are harder to classify. However, you are sure to find one you enjoy if you try enough flavors.
These tend to be beers that more experienced drinkers enjoy. Big bonus points if you can point these out. Belgian beers offer a lot of variety. A Belgian regular resembles a wheat beer—but with more depth and definitely a higher alcohol content. Belgian dubbel is going to resemble a stout, but it is going to be a little thicker, darker, and more intense. A Belgian Tripel is going to definitely be more booze (7-9%), more intense. Quads are rare and hard to come by, but if you can, give one a try. They can clock in at 11% or more so proceed with caution!
Breweries to Try
While there are literally hundreds of breweries in the Boulder area, these are just a few of my favorites….