Four top-rated local beers to consider this winter season

November 08, 2016

Kyle Guthrie

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     This year, “Zymurgy Magazine,” the official publication of the American Homebrewer’s Association, released a list of the fifty best beers in the U.S. based on reader votes.

     Four of the listed beers are local Coloradan brews available in most retail liquor stores in the state. I was curious to see how these brews stacked against some of my favorites, so I grabbed a few six-packs, re-watched “Casablanca” for the 50th time and gave each one a taste.

     Here is my take on if the listed brews are worth their weight.

Odell India Pale Ale

     I decided to start the night with Odell India Pale Ale (IPA), a year-round brew based out of Fort Collins. The brew has a seven percent ABV with newly added American hops to their brew this year.

     I noticed that there was a perfect balance of bitterness and sweetness, much like Rick Blaine’s (Humphrey Bogart) character in “Casablanca.” The beer had an initial burst of what I suspected to be pine hops, which quickly gave way to a sweet, caramelly flavor that lingered as a pleasant aftertaste.

     The body was light for an IPA, and the carbonation was perfectly balanced to convey the flavors to the drinker.

     While I drink IPAs on rare occasions, this was a pleasant drinking experience that I would highly recommend to all IPA fans.

Grade: B+

Oskar Blue’s Ten Fidy

     As Ilsa was persuading Sam to play “As Time Goes By” in “Casablanca,” I popped the top of the Oskar Blue’s Imperial Stout and took my first sip. The beer has a 10.5 percent ABV.

     This beer, made with two-row and chocolate malt, had a strong, pungent combination of flavors: chocolate, coffee and caramel, providing a brutal, yet refreshing taste.

     Luckily, the tasty flavor masked the pungent flavor of the alcohol in the brew, even if the thick body filled me up like a steak dinner.

     While calling the beer “strong” was an understatement, it went down much easier than the more traditional Russian Stouts I have experienced in the past.

Grade: B

Left Hand’s Milk Stout Nitro

     This beer went down the hatch with a smooth, creamy taste that was a welcome change of pace from the brick that was still in my stomach from the previous stout.

     The beer had a six percent ABV and is composed of pale two-row, crystal, Munich, flaked barley and chocolate malts.

     The beer put me in an incredibly pleasant mood; the milk in the drink blended lightly with the chocolate hints and bready flavor in a delicious way.

     This may have been due to the fact that I was starting to feel a bit buzzed or because the beer had hints of flavor that reminded me of a good Irish whiskey.

Grade: A

New Belgium Brewing La Folie

     My final beer of the night, La Folie, was as bittersweet as the ending of “Casablanca.”

     The wood-aged, sour, brown beer had a smooth finish, but was an unfortunate way to end the evening; it had a bitter, fruity taste, but I still found it unsavory.

     I am impartial to fruity and bitter beers, so it already had two strikes against me before I even took my first sip.

     As a silver lining, I would say that it wasn’t a particularly bad beer; it just wasn’t nearly as good as the previous three. I found it to be a disappointing choice.

Grade: C