On the Road
With Chris Mueller
I just came back from one of the best one-day
symposiums I have ever attended the fifth-annual Rocky Mountain
Microbrewing Symposium in Colorado Springs, Co., hosted by the
For such a small conference it was full. The stuff
was challenging the topics were in-depth, technical and meaty. Some
of the things were outside of the box for the normal brewers. For
instance, one presentation was on clarifying agents for beer. Most of
these people do not package, but they always think about it.
This is a critical time for Colorado brewing because
it is changing. Breweries in Colorado have always been known for their
ales, and they were some of the first to go big. They are some of the
originators. Now, they are going a step further by experimenting with
styles. Lagers, which were never a part of the Colorado tradition, are
being discussed and created throughout the region.
But the changes go deeper than styles. More and more
breweries are doing in-house testing, focusing on quality control, and
using a variety of yeast strains. They are saying, "Lets figure
out how we can do things better."
Brian Lutz of Redfish in Boulder is trying any
yeast he can get his hands on and as Derrick Osbourne (B.J.s
Chicago Pizza and Brewery), says, "Hes got the Mojo." He
always has some nice Belgian beers going, and he is interested in
Alan Styles of The Warehouse (formerly Palmer
Lakes) had a multitude of beer styles and yeast strains but was free to
discuss any aspect of his beer or receive suggestions. By the way, he
had a great Belgian ale and a Rauchbier, or smoked beer. While a lot of
brewers are saying, "I have to make a light beer to sell it,"
he is saying, "I have to make a good beer."
Rick Bristol and Chandler Bruining of
Bristol Brewing Company are always trying to improve an already
successful brewery. Their place is comfortable, and they were offering
interesting beers including their "winter warlock" and
Abe Long of Phantom Canyon Brewing Company is
creating some amazing beers and is constantly talking with the brewers
from Durango to get ideas.
Besides experimenting and using better ingredients,
many Colorado breweries are also expanding. They are no longer just
selling in their own towns, they are going for the whole state and the
region. It is more competitive than ever, so the brewers are focusing on
cost control and cleanliness.
This was evident in the seminars. Topics such as Beer
Flavor Stability by Greg Casey of Coors, Statistical
Process Control, and Off Flavors Workshop by Isle Shelton
of Seibel Institute were well received.
The best part of the Colorado scene, though, is the
brotherhood of brewing. Even though market share is tough to come by,
the brewers are taking care of each other. They have not forgotten what
it is all about.
I am looking forward to attending the conference next
year but not just for the beer. I am looking to reunite with some
Chris Mueller is vice president of White Labs Inc. He can be reached
at (858) 693-3441 ext. 222.