Stoney’s Brew Crew featuring New Belgium Brewing

Stoney’s Bar & Grill is a favorite downtown hangout of ours.  Not only is it within easy walking distance from both of our offices, but the food is good, the beers are big (and 2×1 during happy hour) and the decor is Colorado at its best.  Plus, they’re responsible, being big on recycling and sustainability.  What’s not to love?  Jeff and I are there all the time for lunch, a quick bite to eat after work, or happy hour drinks with friends and coworkers. So how the hell did we not know about Stoney’s Brew Crew, a meetup for homebrewers and beer enthusiasts that happens the first Thursday of every month? I mean, what the hell?! Someone clearly dropped the ball.  Dammit, it was probably me.

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The Stoney’s Brew Crew is the brainchild of Will Trautman, one of Stoney’s owners and all-around awesome dude. Serving amazing craft beers and delicious foods weren’t enough for Will, as he had a thirst (pun intended) for more knowledge about the brewing process. Clearly, Will knew that beer geeks like us love nothing more than to talk about beer while we sample beer, and the Brew Crew was born. This month was something like their 11th meetup, which means we’ve already missed far too many, and we have to ensure we never miss another!

The featured brewery for the March Brew Crew meetup was New Belgium Brewing, a local favorite and a powerhouse in Colorado craft beer. Apparently, they keep brewer Eric Salazar locked up in the barrel room at New Belgium Brewery because he had to attend via Skype from inside the brewery. No worries though, because Eric did a great job telling us about his job brewing some of New Belgium’s great sour beers. The New Belgium staff on site brought a few cases of La Folie 2013 for us to enjoy while Eric told us about brewing this beer. These weren’t samples mind you, but full glasses of this Lips of Faith classic. To encourage us to finish every drop, the glasses were ours to keep. Nicely done, New Belgium.

Eric Salazar of New Belgium Brewing.
Eric Salazar of New Belgium Brewing.

If you follow our blog, you may have read about our recent excursion to New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins. We took the full tour and got to visit the very barrel room where Eric Salazar is being held hostage and forced to brew these delicious beers. The only thing is, neither of us really like sour beers. We had a sample during the tour and really tried to like the tart brew, but it just didn’t happen. So imagine our surprise when the La Folie 2013 we had at Stoney’s was … wait for it …. delicious! Yes, the first sip still made our throats pucker and jaws tighten, but you know what, we got past it and really began to enjoy the flavor. La Folie has a definite sour patch kid taste, thanks to the lactobacillus used to bring the sour out. The tart dryness became more pleasant as we drank, and we both actually enjoyed the beer. While I admit it’s a little early to call us sour beer fans, I found it really drinkable, and Jeff truly loved it. We now fear no beer, not even a sour one!

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Next up for our drinking enjoyment was Rampant IPA. Rampant had just come out the Monday prior to our Brew Crew get-together, so it was new to us both. An 8.5% ABV beer, Rampant is not only a hoppy IPA (85 IBU) but a truly unique one. Rampant is made with 6 different hops and is dry-hopped with two newer hop strains: Mosaic and Calypso. The finish was definitely a bit fruitier than many IPAs, with a lingering mango and citrus flavor. The jury is still out on this one for me, but there are only a few IPA’s I really love. Jeff enjoyed the Rampant quite a bit but says it’s still not as good as his favorite New Belgium IPA, the Ranger. Regardless of what we think, Rampant is a nice replacement for the Belgo IPA, which New Belgium recently stopped producing. Apparently, Belgo just didn’t have the following to justify the shelf space in your local neighborhood liquor store. Hopefully Rampant fares better.

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Overall, the Stoney’s Brew Crew was a great time. We met a few fellow home brewers, some friendly beer enthusiasts, and a few nice New Belgium folks. If you want to check out the Brew Crew, look them up on Meetup.com and join us next month for another fun and informative night.  You buy the fried cheese curds, we’ll buy the beer.

Cheers!