During the first week of May, Andrew De Haan took a trip to Laramie, Wyoming to visit a friend of his. What follows is a log of beer and adventure from drinking in Denver and Laramie.
The plane hits the tarmac, shuddering with the sound of rubber coming into contact with the ground, hard and fast, friction made apparent. Standard and uneventful, I’m sure, but it sends my heart reeling every time. When I place my feet in the Denver International Airport, the respite I gain from being on solid ground is quickly overwhelmed by the fact that I’m in an airport—a spidery nebula of anxiety. An airport is never somewhere you want to spend more time than you need to—it’s a thoroughfare, a world between where you were and where you’re going, where night and day have little bearing, where all of human behavior is focused on leaving, or at least getting through security. Fortunately, this airport is equipped with a New Belgium pub and a Boulder Beer Co. pub. I catch a train and hike down the concourse to the New Belgium pub for some vittles.
The New Belgium Hub looks sort of like a cross between a sports bar and a Build-A-Bear Workshop. With televisions flickering on the wall, and a color palette brighter than the future of a National Spelling Bee Champion, it’s a bit of a clash, but I am in no place to complain. It’s 10:30am MST, but it’s well into lunchtime for me. I order a grilled portobello sandwich with fries and a 1554 Black Ale. The waitress asks if I want a 14oz. or a 20oz.—I think the answer is obvious. I sip on my big glass of 1554 while I wait for the food. It’s a deep mahogany color with beige lacing, bready and warm on the palate, with a burst of dried apricot backed up by caramel. It finishes dry, a touch of roast lingering. Not unlike a Märzen, but with a fruitier ale profile complimented by roasted malt. My guess is this ale has a significant percentage of Vienna and/or Munich malt. It is incredibly drinkable, yet at this elevation, I feel it just after one. I try to savor the food and drink, but end up scarfing it down in about 20 minutes.
Determined and wobbly, I walk down the concourse toward my bus-stop. After getting there and realizing that I have more than an hour to burn, an insatiable urge for ice cream overcomes me. I head to the food-court and spot a TCBY a floor below me. Taking the escalator, it is slowly revealed to me that right next to the TCBY is the Boulder Beer Taphouse. Looks like frozen treats are off today’s menu. I make a beeline for the bar.
Boulder Beer has been available in Michigan for some time now, particularly their Hazed and Infused Pale Ale, Mojo IPA, and Mojo Risin’ Double IPA. I’ve enjoyed each of these beers several times, but with looking at their tap list and seeing several names I did not recognize, I decided to try something new. I order a pint of Flashback India Brown Ale. A deep reddish-brown with an off-white head, Flashback smells strong of pine needles and brown sugar. Bitter up front, it dissolves and opens up into a citrusy chocolate mid-palate—reminding me of one of those orange-flavored chocolate balls. The ale finishes with a scraping bitterness, perfectly dry, toasty, and a residue of floral hops on the tongue reminiscent of goldenrod.
After savoring the pint, I meander back to my bus-stop. I board my shuttle, staring west toward the great mountain faces rising into the hazy sky. Majestic and powerful, they captivate and beckon me. I cannot imagine what is to come…