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Post On: May 10With:-- comments_number('zero', 'one', '%'); comment(s).--- ?>
After nearly a year of scheming, remodeling and patience, the Pilot System has officially launched at Altitude. A big thanks to everyone who showed up for the official release party – if the amount of beer consumed is any indication, a good time was had by many.
Several exciting pilot-related developments that I wanted to let everyone in on:
1) One of my goals for the pilot system was to pursue bottling some of the beers that come off of the system. There are several reasons for this, among them: a) some beer styles (e.g, Belgian styles, Barleywines, high gravity beers) benefit from bottle refermentation and aging, b) many of our patrons want to take our beer with them, and c) bottling certain beers allows us to monitor their maturation. To that end, we have completed our first bottling run. The first beer bottled was “Mary Magdalene,” a Belgian Golden Strong Ale coming in at just under 8% ABV. I’ve received a lot of questions regarding when bottles will be available, and the short answer is: we don’t know quite yet. I would anticipate some releases before the year is out; stay tuned for more details.
2) I’ve brought in our first collaborator on the pilot system, a very talented local home brewer by the name of Nathan Fleming. Nathan and I came up with a beer to showcase a really fantastic malt out of the UK (Golden Promise) and used a large amount of New Zealand hops (Nelson Sauvin) to create a beer that should be perfect for the warmer weather ahead. The beer doesn’t have a name yet; it will be released sometime later this month.
3) To pay tribute to my Californian heritage – and one of the coolest pieces of architecture in the world – I’ll be releasing a Golden Gate Bridge tribute beer on the anniversary of the Golden Gate’s official opening (May 27th). It’ll be a fitting tribute: California Common Ale (a style made famous by San Francisco’s Anchor Steam Brewery). This beer was made with a hybrid lager/ale yeast strain, is hopped with a distinctly woodsy-flavored variety and will match the color of the Golden Gate Bridge.
That’s all for now. Hope to see you soon at Altitude.
Post On: April 11With:-- comments_number('zero', 'one', '%'); comment(s).--- ?>
Brewing – first and foremost – is a science. It is a craft honed through empirical observations and repeated procedure. Brewing is not just about coming up with ideas, but being able to translate those ideas into a set of ingredients and procedures that will lead to the initial idea being realized.
Over the past several weeks, I have been familiarizing myself with our new Pilot Brewery – a 10-gallon Sabco Brew Magic System. Most of the initial beers to come off this system will be ones that I have brewed numerous times before – recipes that I trust – so that I can begin to understand how this system behaves. Repeatability and predictability are both key.
For a product with only four ingredients (water, barley, yeast, hops), there are an unbelievable amount of variables (e.g., fermentation temperature, mineral content of brewing water, grains used, type of hops, amount of hops, mash temperature…the list, really, is endless) that impact the beer which ends up in your glass. One of the biggest advantages of having a pilot system, then, is to be able to produce a smaller volume and begin to tweak certain variables. For example, what would Tumblewheat taste like with Amarillo hops? What would happen if we added melanoidin malt to Bearpaw Brown? What would coffee ale heavily dosed with espresso be like? Having a pilot system allows us to carry out more of our ideas to fruition. My goal, at this point, is to know the system so intimately that the beer will match the intent.
I’m really looking forward to getting some of these initial brews into the hands of the Altitude faithful. Perhaps unsurprisingly to those who know me, the first several batches will be either: 1) heavy on hops, or 2) Belgian-inspired. The pages of my idea notebook are being rapidly filled with ideas for future projects – stay tuned.
Managers Note: Altitude will be tapping the first brews off our new pilot system May 4th at 11 a.m. – join us as we rotate through many of Jared’s beers all day long.
Post On: April 8With:-- comments_number('zero', 'one', '%'); comment(s).--- ?>
Join us on Saturday, May 4th when we will be celebrating beer ALL DAY.
Pilot Brew Launch
We’re tapping the inaugural brews fresh off of our new brewing system beginning at 11 a.m. New brews will be tapped all day!
Mexican Chili Ale Tapping Party
This time, it’s here to stay! Celebrate with us as Mexican Chili Ale becomes a permanent beer in our line up. Enjoy $2.50 pints all day.
Go behind the scenes with Altitude’s brewers! Tours will take place at Noon, 2 pm and 4 pm. Register for a tour at the bar.
Chili Cook Off
Enter your best chili in our cook off, or simply join us for the fun. 11 am – 3 pm.
We’ll be featuring Cinco de Mayo food specials all day.
Post On: February 6With:-- comments_number('zero', 'one', '%'); comment(s).--- ?>
Nathan, our Brewmaster, is offering a Beer Training class to test and strengthen your “Beer IQ!” He will share some of his knowledge of principles of food & beer pairing and there will be beer drinking as he takes you through vertical and horizontal beer comparisons utilizing popular craft beer brand samples with our beer samples. This class will take place on 3 separate days:
Class 1 Tuesday, February 12 @ 6:00pm
Class 2 Saturday, March 2 @ 2:00pm
Class 3 Saturday, March 17 @ 4:00pm
Classes are limited to 25 people per class, it will be open to the public @ $12 per person, and for Mug Club members it will be $10 per person! Sign up with one of the bartenders for the class that you would like to attend right away!
For questions, email Nathan at email@example.com
Post On: December 18With:-- comments_number('zero', 'one', '%'); comment(s).--- ?>
I am preparing for a presentation about beer and cheese pairings at the Big Beers Belgian and Barley Wines in Vail. This has been hard work involving drinking several brands from Altitude and from other breweries alongside several cheeses crafted by artisan cheese mongers. I want to share two of my pairing principals. First, the purpose is to enhance your culinary experience. Pairing itself, successful or otherwise, is a culinary experience; but what I mean is that the food should make the beer more enjoyable and the beer should make the food more enjoyable. If you enjoy the pairing, you have been successful. Second, pairing should enhance your understanding of the nature of each item. What is it about some styles of beer that go well with, say, salmon that other styles do not posses. What is it about salmon that calls for one style over another? You should walk into a pairing attempt with a theory based upon the nature of each item and walk away with a conclusion. Most of all, Pairing is about being conscientious about what you eat and drink.
Post On: October 17With:-- comments_number('zero', 'one', '%'); comment(s).--- ?>
Altitude’s commitment to quality was once again recognized at the largest commercial beer competition in the world, The Great American Beer Festival. Tumblewheat once again won a silver medal in the American Wheat With Yeast category, meaning Altitude was among only 3% of the breweries participating who could say we won back to back (2011-2012) with the same brand. Another exiting accomplishment is that Wyoming led all states with a 17.4% winning percent, an improvement from our top 4 finish last year. In all 666 breweries entered 4338 brands into the competition where 254 medals were awarded to 171 breweries. But back to work with both eyes fixed on every batch demonstrating the highest quality. The medal is on the wall and the celebration is over, but the pursuit to brew good beer has never been stronger.
Post On: September 27With:-- comments_number('zero', 'one', '%'); comment(s).--- ?>
This week Altitude is teamed up with ACRES for the much anticipated production of ACRES Pumpkin Ale. ACRES stands for Agricultural Community Resoucres for Everyday Sustainability often just called the UW student farm. Mike Curran and I had a few conversations over a pint and decided to collaborate and brew a locally grown pumpkin ale. So far we have harvested over 150 lbs of pumpkins and if the weather holds out, we will have enough for two batches this fall.
Two closely related concepts should be highlighted from this project. Sharing a beer is an important social activity because when members of a community gather together around a few pints of beer they tend to share resources and knowledge with one another. People from all walks of life meet at local pubs, people with different education, work experience and skill sets. The local pub itself is a great resource where people can draw upon the strengths of others and possibly form collaborations within the community, for the good of the community.
Post On: August 16With:-- comments_number('zero', 'one', '%'); comment(s).--- ?>
This summer Altitude participated in three brewing collaborations. Brewers gathering together to brew is nothing new, but this new wave of collaboration beers is changing the American craft beer scene in very good ways. In the same way that genetic diversity is needed for physical health, ideological diversity is needed for mental health. When we gather together to brew one beer, no two brewers have the same ideas or brewing practices, creating an environment where we can learn from one another and hopefully discern better practices which result in a higher standard of quality. While it is not true that every brewer has the ability to listen to others and make improvements, collaborations demonstrate a commitment to serving you, the patron of craft beer, a product created with high standards in mind.
Which leads to an interesting note about craft beer culture. Why are competing businesses sharing ideas that help one another out? First, I don’t think collaborations are supposed to make sense. In fact, financially they certainly don’t. Second, each brewery has a different reason for collaborating. But on a very fundamental level, I think brewers want people to have a good experience with beer regardless of who’s beer he or she is drinking.
Notes on each collaboration
* April 20th: Wind River Brewing Co hosted a state-wide collaboration, where 13 of Wyoming’s 14 breweries participated in the production of an IPA. Simply awesome to see an entire state rally together like that.
* May-June: Jeff Doyle from Odell’s Brewing in Fort Collins traveled up to Laramie with some incredible hops and made an IPA unlike any I’ve ever tasted. The following month I traveled to Odell’s and made a partial sour mash on their pilot system which they poured at the Downtown Laramie Brew Fest.
* July 30th: A handful of mountain region reps from Sierra Nevada joined me in Laramie to brew a SN Pale Ale clone for an in-house competition they have each year in Chico, CA. This unlikely relationship began when fellow Altitude brewer, Jared Long, traveled to Chico last autumn for Beer Camp where he, along with other home brewers from across the nation, brewed Alternate Ending.
Post On: June 13With:-- comments_number('zero', 'one', '%'); comment(s).--- ?>
Three beer festivals in three weeks with another around the corner. One question that always comes up at festivals is, “Which of your beers has the most alcohol in it?” It is important to address this question for two reasons. One, nothing is intrinsically better about a beer because it is higher in alcohol than another. In fact, someone could lie about the ABV of a beer simply to favorably influence an opinion about an otherwise flawed beer. Second, “craft beer” is not synomymous with high ABV brews. Craft brewers strive to brew historical styles according to their cultural origin. Yes, sometimes that means brewing a high ABV ale, but only in terms of its stylistic criteria. Most ales are low abv, in
the 3.5-5% range. Much to people’s suprise, the majority of Altitude’s beers are low ABV.
This issue is important because any misrepresentation of beer style is detrimental to the healthy growth of the craft beer industry. Brewing out of style, specifically boosting ABV on styles, misreprenets the historical style born in a unique brewing culture. If craft beer becomes synonymous with getting drunk quick, then we have failed to distinguish ourselves from the most base elements of the alcohol industry.
Post On: June 4With:-- comments_number('zero', 'one', '%'); comment(s).--- ?>
Beginning Tuesday evening, I joined the forces of 80-some professional beer judges in the collaborative effort to award gold, silver and bronze medals in internationally recognized categories at the North American Beer Awards. We were split into groups of 6 and presented with blind samples from a field of well over 1300 professional entries. In the last 60 hours I have worked with several dozen different judges, evaluated approximately 105 beers in 15 different flights (8 of which were medal placement flights) and helped award 24 medals, none of which I know the brewery responsible at the time of this writing.
The level of professional expertise I have witnessed, both in the technical quality of the blind samples and in the sophistication of the judges, is a phenomena within this industry that is only getting better. We’ve made decisions that have kept high quality beers from being medal-recognzed simply because we found three that were better. Medals at the North American Beer Awards are hard to win. Any brewery that can win multiple medals tonight has my utmost respect.
Friday, June 1st at 1pm, 5 hours from the award ceremony.