Archives for November 2013

Pumpkin Ale: An Inside Look

The leaves are done changing, Halloween pumpkins are long gone and our Christmas Ale is already hitting shelves, but it’s still fall and the perfect time to enjoy one of our favorite Limited Releases, Pumpkin Ale. It’s both our most highly anticipated Limited Release and the most labor-intensive beer we brew. A truly local farm to brewhouse collaboration, this labor of love deserves a moment in the limelight with its own video dedicated to showing you how it goes from field to can to your hand!

Plus, with Thanksgiving only a few short weeks away, we thought it appropriate to feature a beer that captures the essence of the season and goes quite nicely with turkey and stuffing, too! We’re also doing our part to help you out this holiday season and remind you to stock up on beers to help ease the pain of those imminent family gatherings. So, if you haven’t already hoarded some of our Pumpkin Ale, get on it! Supply is dwindling, and Christmas Ale is ready to take center stage. Either way, grab some cold ones in preparation for the holidays, and check out how we make this fall favorite in our video (music by Rocktin Grove – our brewer Nate’s band!) and learn more on the process below:

The Pumpkin Ale Story

Inspiration for a craft brewer comes in many forms. Realizing the potential of an experimental brewing method, or the addition of a spice or vegetable or fruit, and researching and acting upon it, is the nature of today’s brewing pioneers. In this case, a collision between a Boulder farmer and brewer has resulted in something very local, popular, and downright tasty – our Pumpkin Ale!

A couple of years ago, Mike Munson, of Munson Farms located only a few miles from our brewery in Flatiron Park, approached us with an idea to create a unique beer made with his locally grown pumpkins. We’re thankful that he had the idea and happy that they grow LOTS of pumpkins. After baking a number of styles, our Founder, Matt Cutter, chose baby bear pumpkins for the recipe. This year we used about two acres worth, or 8,000 pounds!

Back in the day, we would gather the pumpkins from the field, with some major help from the folks at Munson Farms, and have staff take them home to bake ’em in their own ovens. This year, we doubled the quantity brewed and wised up – we rented a commercial kitchen and hired some special helpers to work their magic on the pumpkins, getting them processed and ready for the brewhouse. Thanks to Richard and Jane Ellen, all 8,000 lbs of our pumpkins were turned into pumpkin meat ready for our mash tun. The pumpkins had to be washed, cut in half, baked (about 400 lbs at a time), gutted (resulting in a total of about 2,500 lbs of meat), blended, and packaged in gallon sized bags to be stored for each batch.

Now for the fun part – brewing. The pumpkin comes into play right away. The processed pumpkin meat is added to the grain in the mash tun. Then the wort, the sugar water from the mash, now full of pumpkin flavor, heads to the kettle. The spent grain gets mashed out and is now ready to feed some cows at Black Cat farms. Once the wort is at a steady boil, we add our blend of six spices to fully infuse those fall aromas. Then it’s off to our fermentation tanks where we wait for the magic to happen, when Pumpkin Ale actually becomes beer.

The last, and final stop, for this brew before getting it into your hands, is our canning line. We package all of our beers in cans because it’s good for you, the beer and the environment. In the video you can see our “OG” canning line in action as it pumps out 40 cans a minute. The 16 oz cans are then hand packaged into four packs before making their way off to a store near you.

You know the rest, crack a cold one and enjoy this awesome time of year!

So, as you can see, there is no shortage of work in producing our Pumpkin Ale, but it’s a brew we love and an Upslope fall tradition. We hope you all enjoy it as much as we do making it! And don’t forget to stock up. You’ll be the envy of your family this holiday season. It may even give your Grandma’s pumpkin pie a run for its money.

Happy holidays from Upslope!

Cheers to Five Years: Thank You from our Founder

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The dust has settled from our weekend of celebrating Five Years of Beers, and we’ve taken some time to reflect on how awesome reaching this milestone really is and how we have all of you to thank for it! A few words from our Founder, Matt Cutter, on how we got this far…

The dream to make it to a Five Year Anniversary Party was always just that to me – a dream. It’s hard to believe it’s already been that long, but we’re here and feel lucky to have come this far doing what we love.

It all started in 1996 when I put a business plan together for a microbrewery. That business plan was shelved for other pursuits, but I eventually dusted it off and started on my vision for Upslope Brewing Company in 2007. One year later, my business plan got legs – I met a brewer from Argentina, we got a spot to brew in, and the homebrew recipes and pilot batches started taking shape that fall.

Our 2,200 square feet at our original Lee Hill location filled up quickly. We doubled it and then started looking for enough space to allow us to continue that growth. Out of an empty 17,000 square foot warehouse in Flatiron Park was born our new brewery this past February. The seven barrel brewhouse that we started on at Lee Hill was converted to brew specialties, and the new 30 barrel brewhouse at Flatiron Park became the focus for production. Fermentation capacity, the primary way in which we scale up production, grew quickly from the initial three 120 barrel fermenters to the nine that we have now, and we’ve still got some room to grow.

It’s hard to believe that in five years, we took what seemed like a pipe dream and made it the reality that is now Upslope. The outpouring of support from our fans, suppliers, partners, and fellow brewers this past weekend was mind-boggling. Like us, so many folks could simply not believe it had been five years. The love and support of all of those people is really what got us this far, and for that, we are forever thankful.

Early on, my wife hung up a little plaque on the wall that really hit home. It still hangs next to me now and offers, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I have always answered that question the same way . . .

Cheers to five more years!

Matt Cutter