A Week in Laramie: Part 2

During the first week of May, Andrew De Haan took a trip to Laramie, Wyoming to visit his friend Jeremy. What follows is a log of beer and adventure with drinking in Laramie and Denve.

The road cuts through the rock on I-80 as the shuttle descends into Laramie. These tarnished silver hills, torn ragged by the highway—I’ve spent the past two hours gawking out the window as the land rose and rippled. There is a point where the edge of hill stops and the view opens up, and there before me is the high plains of Wyoming, stretching flat and barren with little growth over three feet. The town itself is not that large—under 30,000—but it’s got roots. Once solely known as a railroad town, Laramie now has the only university in the state, the University of Wyoming.

I get dropped off by the shuttle at the university where I meet up with Jeremy. We headed to the Library, a local sports bar/brewpub across the street from the University’s library. It’s a bit of a joke around town—Don’t lie to your mom. Tell her you’re at The Library. The place has three parts to it: the family restaurant, the bar, and the liquor store. We’re seated in the bar area, which is a scrappier,s worn-out version of a typical sports bar. It’s got character, and I love it.

Wyoming has odd state liquor laws that forbids grocery stores to sell liquor, wine, or any beer over 3.2% ABW, but they allow places that already hold a liquor license to sell booze-to-go. Strangely enough, the laws do allow drive-thru windows. How odd and fickle liquor laws in our country can be.

At the Library we order a big pizza and a couple pints. I pick the kölsch to start. There used to be a time when I wanted to drink only the biggest and boldest craft beers, my interests only piqued by beers over 7% ABV, but that’s long gone. A true measure of a brewer’s abilities is whether he or she can brew a tasty, low-alcohol and low-IBU beer that remains elegant, delicious, and drinkable. This kölsch hits the spot. Straw-yellow, a crisp hoppy bitterness, with a bready malt profile, but it finishes clean and dry. Right now, it’s exactly what I want to drink while eating this pizza.

Jeremy and I swap stories and catch up for awhile, then a friend of his swings by. More pizza devoured. More beer ordered. I get a pint of their Coffee ESB. With a strong whiff of coffee, this reddish-brown ale does not smell like much else. As I sip, all I can think of is how it tastes like a generic iced-coffee, with little to show for beer-wise. While it is clean and drinkable, it fails to strike a chord.

The night rolls on, and when we get home I’m beat. It’s only 9:30pm MST, but I’ve been up since 6:30am, and that was in Michigan, a world away. I hit the sack and sleep for a good ten hours, waking up, ready for more.

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