Archives for November 2010

Introducing No. 3: Upslope Brown Ale

From homebrew adventure to third can, here is the story of how  Upslope Brewing’s  newcomer evolved from concept to reality.

It’s September 2009. Tap Room Manager and avid homebrewer, Chad Pieper, brought in a bottle of one of his latest concoctions. It was his first attempt at a brown ale. He wanted something a little non-traditional.

Sure the British introduced the Brown Ale way back in 17th century. It was  light brown and sweet,  and brewed exclusively with brown malt. Chad decided that this was a good foundation, but as Americans do, the style needed to be Americanized. It needed to be roasted, and malty, and it needed to be a little more bitter than the style that was an  English  second cousin to the mild ale.

As the bottle of homebrew was emptied into small glasses, the brewers took notice. Chad brewed another batch. The sampling continued. The brewers scaled the recipe up to a 4 barrel batch. The tap room starts to serve it. More brown is brewed and it starts to generate interest at local restaurants and taverns. It goes on tap for the ski season at Eldora Mountain Resort. Over several months, the brown becomes a  mainstay in the tap room.

It didn’t stop there. We continued to tweak the recipe; switch up the specialty malts, bring out new flavors and finishes  with different yeast strains, and combine American hops with the English hops.  In time,  we gathered feedback from our customers in the tap room and wherever it gathered a following in local restaurants and taverns.

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Two Years and Counting

It’s been quite a year.

On November 6th, we mark our second year. Let’s recap some of the highlights:

December 2009: One of Matt’s first homebrew recipes makes it to the production system. The kettle boils orange peel and juniper berries for the first time. Upslope Christmas Ale is born.

January:  Killer cold snap. Luke is delivering beer in Denver and it freezes in the back of the van while he’s delivering! Protecting our fans, the beer comes back and is “liberated”. At their request, we ship a case of beer to Maxim Magazine. They think our Pale Ale is the bomb and deems it “Best Pale Ale”.  We buy a bunch of issues . . . for the articles, of course.

February: Our first profitable month ever, by a few hundred bucks. Matt starts sleeping again. Brewer Alex talks Matt into brewing a Belgian Quadrupel Ale which finally mellows out in August.

March: Our first 30 barrel fermeters and brite tank arrive, doubling our capacity. By some twist of fate, we end up not dropping them as we attempt to get them vertical with a forklift and straps.  There is much rejoicing. It becomes difficult/impossible to move full fermeters out of the way for the new arrivals. Production takes a hit while the brewery is “rearranged”.

April: Picking up the pieces from March. Director of Sales Henry and Sales Associate Luke sell so much beer that the van is sent to the shop limping.

May: With the plan for the third can in the works,  Head Brewer Dany says, “Maybe we should see how the summer goes with the Pale and IPA first.” Henry and Matt contain their excitement and go with the flow. Summer unfolds and Dany is proven correct.

June: Beer festivals, beer festivals, beer festivals. We buy a second jockey box to handle the conflict with 2 festivals/one day. Top Rope Mexican Style Craft Lager, brewed by Upslope, debuts at Big Red F restaurants. People seem to like it.

July: The ill-fated voyage of the  Upslope crew  on bikes to several breweries in town is attempted. We’ll call it “team building”. Fellow brewers take very good care of us and Tap Room Manager Chad proves that sitting in a lawnchair  on a bike trailer is not necessarily a safe mode  of transportation.  

August: We roll out new 12-pack boxes and trays from North Star Packaging that are Sustainable Forest Initiative certified and made of 100% recycled content. The planet gives us a wink.

September: Baby bear pumpkins from Munson Farms make their way to the employee’s ovens. Alex brews 7 barrels of a killer pumpkin ale.  Chad  and Henry roshambo over who gets the majority of kegs. Henry wins, but Chad gets to shine with 9News during the GABF.

October: The new canning line brought to us from our next door neighbors, Alexis and Jeff at Wild Good Engineering, starts to do what we had always hoped it would do. We are mesmerized at the idea of something actually being semi-automated in our brewery.

November 6th: Upslope Brewing Company celebrates two years of officially being on the planet with bands, and BBQ, and 17 (that’s right . . . 17!) different Upslope brews that Chad has been hoarding for this very event. He likes to put on a good show.

The road has been hard, but true. We are wiser, but  also just a few steps from the trailhead. Your belief and support has brought us this far. Your reaffirming comments and stories feed us as we continue to strive to brew the best beer that we know how. We’d be honored for you to celebrate with us. Join us, if you can, to raise a pint.