It is that time again when our local rivers are running fast (the recent two feet of snow last weekend only added to it!) and some of us (okay, it’s me) begin to think about warm summer days floating down rivers or out hiking and camping with the fam…or maybe just a mid-week BBQ with the neighbors. So, in honor of summer kicking off (which means snow followed by 60+ degrees a few hours later for us in Colorado), this month’s #ThirstyThursday segment will focus on those fun beverages that scream outdoor fun.
We are going to start our tasting with a wine (of course I need to have at least one!) from Gunnison (Colorado). Buckel Family Wine has some wonderful locally sourced wines (I took home a half case of their 2019 Cinsault) but their entry for this tasting has to be their PétNat (Pétillant-Naturel or méthode ancestrale which indicates the wine is bottled before primary fermentation is complete without an addition of secondary yeasts or sugars) called Clug Clug. Instead of offering this in a standard 750mL bottle, this fun twist using Reisling as its base comes in a 375mL bottle, making it perfect for your bottle coozie. Don’t be deterred by the sediment or choice of Reisling…this is a super dry wine, with pleasant bubbles, that offers aromas of honeysuckle and orange blossom on the nose while bright acidity dances on the palate. If you are heading over to the western slope, be sure to stop in “Gunny” or Telluride and visit owners, Joe and Shamai Buckel, and even more important, their adorable pupper, Rico! If you aren’t local or aren’t heading over to the western slope soon, Buckel does ship!
After stopping in and saying hi to Rico, continue your journey over to Hotchkiss and stop in at an awesome working orchard (and when fruit comes in, a you pick em!), Big B’s Fruit Company. I recently spent the night there in one of their new cabins while my business partner enjoyed one of their fancy glamping tents. They not only offer cabins and glamping but spots for your RV as well. Live music and concerts make this a wonderful place to visit while you explore the West Elk AVA of Colorado. Big B’s also produces award winning ciders, both hard and family friendly. They have a wonderful farmer’s market store and café, so be prepared to do some shopping when you visit. We will be tasting their original, British-inspired hard cider, their Orchard Original. This is their driest cider, with delicious notes of fresh apple but a super dry finish. (I also enjoyed Cherry Daze…you can always sample the ciders before you pick up a six pack or fill your growler.)
We are also going to be trying some hard seltzers from our friends in Arvada at Elevated Seltzer. When we first tried their seltzers, we tried Lemon Lime Cucumber, Acai, Guava Coconut, Plum (Mandy’s favorite), Grapefruit, and Pomegranate Apple. That was a lot of seltzers! But we didn’t get to try them all so we are going to try some of their other flavors, in this case, Cherry Lime, Lychee Vanilla, and Limoncello. All of their seltzers are gluten free, GMO free, and contain ZERO carbs and sugars.
Seltzers can be brewed from fermented cane sugar (making those gluten free) or dextrose (from corn) or the usual suspects in the beer making process (may or may not be GF) or vodka. The Wood brothers grew up in the craft beer industry in Golden, Colorado, which has influenced their approach to making hard seltzers and they use dextrose and seek to use the best quality ingredients from their Champagne proprietary yeast blend to the flavor concentrates infusing their seltzers. Hunter is the master brewer while Warren handles the front of the house operations. If you are interested in meeting them and trying some of their seltzers, be sure to check them out in their Arvada location (here is a blog link about their operating hours.) They have lots of great events at their bar in Arvada and I am hoping to get Mandy and Millennial Grant (find Grant’s podcast with Warren on Taking it for Granted here) up there to check it out in person.
Moving on to our beers for this month’s segment, I wanted to focus on some breweries off the usual beaten path or new to the scene. Up first is Manitou Brewing Co. in Manitou Springs. Located right off the main drive through town with a gorgeous outdoor patio to enjoy a beautiful day (and is the perfect recovery point post Incline climb), this brew pub is pretty awesome in terms of vibe and selection. If you are an IPA fanatic, this is the place for you. Since Mandy and I are not big on the hops, I chose to go with two of their other options which we will also pair with Mark Anthony’s Pretzels, located in Colorado Springs.
Up first will be their Manitou Lager. A classic spin on a German Pils, this lager is an amazing pairing with warm pretzels dipped in beer cheese and a post Incline hike with your teenage son (which I proved last week when we did all of these things.) The brewery aptly describes this lager as “sun rays poking through clouds, shining down on the reservoirs of Pikes Peak where our water comes from.” I don’t disagree with this description. It was refreshing and danced on the tongue and would be perfect for a hot summer day. We are going to try this with the Mark Anthony Philly style pretzels with both the cheese and honey mustard dips.
Our second beer from Manitou Brewing will be their Tmavé Pivo. This beer is a classic old world, dark Czech lager. It has gone through a long, cold fermentation which imparts the classic bready malt and dark fruit notes you would expect from old world lagers. This also pairs nicely with the pretzels, and especially the honey mustard dip, but would be a great beer to enjoy while grilling brats, playing some cornhole, and soaking in the Colorado clear blue skies we get to enjoy almost year-round. This beer would be one I would take glamping (and since they offer canned growlers, aka “crowlers,”) I very well may pick this one up after my next Incline climb (which we are aiming to do two to three times a month this summer with completing it once a week by the end of summer our final goal.) I have also brought in Springside’s Salsa Jack because we all know beer goes with chips, cheese, and salsa! All you need to do to make a quick batch of nachos is take this delicious cheese and melt it. Easy peasy.
New to the microbrewery and cidery scene, Batch Slapped Brewing in Colorado Springs, has only been open a few months but let me tell you, they have a fun, fresh, and unique approach to brewing. This is the kind of place where you the consumer gets to participate in the beers they will produce. If you are close enough and want to help them develop their lineups, consider joining their club and become a Lab Rat. Lab Rats exclusively get to try the new brews and vote on what will be produced for the general public. Don’t tell my husband, but this is going to be his bday present from me this year. Shhhh, it is our secret.
For our beer from Batch Slapped, we are going with the Crazy Rowan Boy Red Ale. Infused with black pepper, brown sugar, and smoked malt, this beer has a note of candied black pepper bacon within this delicious red ale. If you aren’t into infusions like this, their standard Rowan Boy red is also delicious. We’ll pair this beer with Maple Infused White Cheddar from Springside Cheese Shop in Pueblo.
For those who don’t enjoy beer, they also produce ciders. Now, these ciders are not to my taste buds…I like super dry ciders, but I am hoping perhaps Dave the Intrepid can appreciate one. I have selected their newly released pineapple cider, Bikini Bottom. It isn’t a super sweet cider but you definitely get the pineapple (which is why Mandy won’t try it) profile that is delicious. I plan to drizzle in some Coco Lopez (sweetened cream of coconut) to make sure it meets Dave’s Diet Pepsi trained tastebuds. Let’s see how this summer libation goes over with my most challenging taster ever!
We are also going to try a cocktail from Idlewild Spirits Distillery in Winter Park which began with a focus on spirit production but also now has canned premium craft cocktails perfect for cookouts, fishing, hiking, camping, or just for gathering with friends this summer. I had a chance to try their lineup and while The Wine Gallery isn’t carrying my favorite (Passion Press was absolutely my favorite), we are carrying the Idleade. A mix of cucumber juice, lemon and lime juice, agave syrup, house made grenadine, vodka, and gin, this sparkling cocktail is refreshing and delicious. If you are feeling fancy, pour it into a fancy glass and drop in some sliced cucumbers. I love this lineup and recommend you search them out at your local liquor store or stop by their restaurant if you find yourself in Winter Park.
We have a lot to choose from in terms of perfect summer snacks and food to pair with these beers, ciders, seltzers, and craft cocktails. I have already mentioned the pretzels we will be enjoying but I have also discovered some other local and fun food producers for our nosh. Western Culture Farmstead out of Paonia makes small batch goat cheeses from their farm of well-loved goats (their motto is “Goats First.”) I haven’t had the chance to taste their aged cheeses (but plan to on my next trip in two weeks), but their feta and chevre are something to write home about. We will be trying their feta, a marinated feta, and their lemon chive chevre with fresh baguette from The French Kitchen.
We will also try Merfs Pandemic Peach sriracha. Merfs is located in Denver and they offer sriracha, wing sauce, and hot sauces. We are going to sample this sauce on The French Kitchen‘s Taste of June featured caramelized onion and goat cheese quiche as well as their pork rillettes on baguette. This is going to be delicious with the ciders we have on hand or even the PétNat from Buckel.
We will also have on hand Jocelyn & Co crackers and Rustic Vegetable Dip, because chips and dip are certainly always good for pairing with wines, beers, ciders, and seltzer. We will also have some extra virgin olive oil with J&M Farms Italian Herb Garlic Grinder for dipping baguette. Located on the Western Slope, you can find these farmers at the Crested Butte Farmers Market this season or shop online with them. For our sweet tooths (aka, Dave the Intrepid), we will also have Colorado Popcorn Company, out of Sterling, Snickers Caramel gourmet popcorn. Now, I know Dave is a connoisseur of the corn…so, hopefully, this one suits his palate. I know this is going to be delicious with the Crazy Rowan Boy ale.
With the beverages and food covered, I did also want to offer a non-alcoholic refreshing option…especially nice for those of us ladies who are experiencing the fun of the “big change.” Ashley’s Alchemy out of Paonia offers a series of scrubs, lotions, and mists meant to pamper your skin with ecologically balanced and focused intention products. Today we will sample her Colorado Gal Ultra Hydrating Facial Mist and her Chill, Baby Mist. I have applied liberally, especially before bed to help wind down from the day, breathed deeply, and enjoyed the cooling and refreshing feeling these mists provide. Great for pairing with your evening rituals, meditation or yoga practice, or on a hot summer day.
That wraps us this month’s Thirsty Thursday on a Tuesday segment. We will be back in a few weeks to chat Weird Wine Wednesday where I introduce you and Mandy to unusual and amazing wines from here in Colorado to Brazil, Uruguay, and Slovenia. Be sure to tune in and here what Mandy thinks!
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to drop them here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cheers and namaste,