Baking pies tonight. The coolness of late Fall in Colorado has settled in and reminds me of the colder days to come. But that’s OK. The beauty of Colorado is that every season brings on the next series of imminent possibilities. This next chapter is composed of . . . layers . . . boots instead of shoes . . . skinning up trails instead of biking up trails . . . hunkering down . . . darkness. As the seasons change, so does the style of beer that I desire. Lagers and pilsners have no place for me now. Show me the porters, your browns and stouts. Give me rich, deep, dark maltiness. Give me high ABV and easy on the hops.
After the first year of challenges, and stress, and unknowns, and wins, and endless possibilities, I hesitate to say that we have almost developed a somewhat efficient brewing and packaging schedule. Head Brewer, Dany Pages runs the show, develops the weekly schedule, and for the most part it is executed as planned. This is not to say that curve balls never come our way. Take, for instance, the desire for a Christmas Ale. This has always been a strong desire since the inception of the brewery. For me, it was something that I could homebrew, bring to a friend’s holiday party with a big green sharpie “Câ€ marked on the bottle cap, and offer to anyone who was interested. The Christmas Ale, in my mind, is a combination between dark, sweet maltiness, fruit and spice. Many of the flavors would come from the right combination of orange peel, ginger, allspice, and in this case, juniper berries. For many years I have been searching for the redeeming qualities of the high alpine, stiff and gnarly juniper tree. It produces a berry that screams “Christmas Aleâ€. It’s time to bring that spice to center stage and its true fate as part of a wintry beer.
As a homebrewer, I haven’t homebrewed for many years. The demands of founding a microbrewery have taken precedence. Last Friday, I got to brew again. With the patient teaching of Dany, I got my feet wet on what it is like to brew on our equipment. Dany and I consulted on bringing my homebrew recipe to a production level. We started the mash in the early morn and set the schedule for lauter, hops, spices, and fermentation. We took the gravities, pitched the yeast, and let nature take its course. Juniper berries never felt such purpose.
This year, I will once again get to bring Christmas Ale to holiday parties. It’s a little different this time. I didn’t brew it on my stove, but the same rules apply. Whatever brings you comfort and warmth during the days approaching the solstice, relish in it. For it’s this time of year that dormancy brings vigor from the branches to the roots so that come springtime, we’re ready to hit it once again.
Please join us on Friday, December 4th as we tap the first keg of Upslope Colorado Christmas Ale.
Upslope Colorado Christmas Ale
Celebrating the wintry nights and lights of the season, this lightly spiced English old ale is caramel colored and malty sweet. Second generation to the traditional Winter Warmer, allspice, orange peel and ginger round out the piney aroma of crushed juniper berries.