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Boulder’s Upslope Brewing Co. is canning and expanding in Colorado

October 16, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Travelin'

Three days before the start of the 2012 Great American Beer Festival, Upslope Brewing Co. in Boulder, Col., was bustling.

Customers were sipping on beers in the taproom, a kettle was boiling in the cramped brewhouse and the canning line was churning out cans of Upslope’s Pale Ale.

On Saturday, the brewers at the upstart Upslope were taking the stage at GABF, winners of their third medal since 2009. Upslope’s Brown Ale took the silver medal in the “American-Style Brown Ale” category, a feat for a brewery that has been around just shy of four years.

Upslope Brewing - exteriorUpslope opened its doors in November 2008 at 1501 Lee Hill Road in North Boulder with a Pale Ale and India Pale Ale, both in cans.

Upslope Brewing-samplerAmong the standout beers at Upslope: the Craft Lager, Brown Ale, Pumpkin Ale and the Thai IPA. The Pumpkin Ale, a special release, won the gold medal in the “Field Beer or Pumpkin Beer” category at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival.

Upslope Brewing-taproomA view of Upslope’s taproom. Upslope has announced plans to build a new brewery in Flatiron Park in Boulder. The new brewery will be operational in the first quarter of 2013, allowing Upslope to initially expand by 70%, with plenty of room for future expansion. It will also open a 2,300-square foot taproom in the new facility.

Upslope Brewing-barOver the past three and a half years, Upslope has expanded six times in its current location. Once the new brewery opens, Upslope will continue to operate its taproom and brewery at Lee Hill. The Lee Hill brewery will be both a production brewery and an incubator for new and innovative beer styles.

Upslope Brewing-breweryUpslope currently produces just 6,000 barrels a year and brews on a 7-barrel system. Upslope will be upgrading to a 30-barrel system. “Demand for our beer continues to grow exponentially and ongoing expansion at the current location doesn’t meet our future goals. Flatiron Park has the infrastructure that our production brewery needs to take it to the next level,” says founder Matt Cutter.

Upslope Brewing-canning lineMany thanks to Sam for giving us an up-close look at Upslope’s canning line in action! Upslope cans its Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Brown Ale and Craft Lager, plus limited-release beers.

Upslope Brewing-canning Why cans? “Cans are better for the beer, the environment and are perfect for the on-the-go lifestyle of Colorado and points beyond,” according to a release from Upslope. “The benefits of canning – protection from light and oxidation and retention of brewery direct freshness – have been well received both through Upslope Brewing’s popular flagship and limited release beers.”

There’s always a line for Russian River beer at GABF, even before the doors open

October 15, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Events

Great American Beer Festival logoLines are a common sight at the Great American Beer Festival.

Just to get in you have to wait in a line that can snake for a mile around the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

Once inside, there are popular breweries that always have a line of thirsty attendees, from The Lost Abbey to Cigar City Brewing to Dogfish Head.

But nothing compared to the Russian River Brewing Co. booth. Before the session opened on Friday, before the public was even allowed in, there was a nice, long line of beer industry folks waiting for their 1-ounce pour of Russian River beer.

People just had to have their Pliny!

What’s your favorite beer from Russian River?

Memphis’ Ghost River, Boscos to have bigger presence at Great American Beer Festival

October 10, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Events, Homebrew, Memphis, Travelin'

Ghost River BrewingYou’ll be able to find Memphis beer in a lot more places at this year’s Great American Beer Festival, taking place this week in Denver.

Memphis’ Ghost River Brewing, which is entering four beers in this year’s competition, will have a booth on the festival floor. (Find it in the Southeast section, booth F12.)

In addition to its regular booth, Ghost River is participating in the Farm to Table Pavilion, a special area off the main hall where attendees can taste how well craft beer pairs with food. Ghost River’s beers will be featured with food from Vin48, a restaurant in Avon, Col.

There’s a new Brewpub Pavilion at this year’s festival, and Boscos Brewing Company will have a booth in the special area. The pavilion will feature 24 breweries representing all regions of the country, and it will be set up to recreate the brewpub atmosphere that craft beer enthusiasts enjoy. Boscos, with brewpubs in Memphis, Little Rock, Nashville and Franklin, has entered 10 beers into the competition.

Boscos logoFinally, both Boscos and Ghost River have entries in the Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am competition.

Ghost River’s entry with Memphis homebrewer Mike Erskine (yep, that’s me!), the “Red Hop Ale,” will be poured during the Thursday evening session in the Pro-Am competition booth.

Boscos’ entry with Nashville homebrewer John Malone, the “McFearless,” will be poured Friday evening. Malone is president of the Music City Brewers.

On another note, Chuck Skypeck of Boscos and Ghost River will be serving as a judge at the festival for a 15th straight year, and he’ll also be participating in the You Be The Judge promotion on Saturday at 1 p.m. The event allows attendees to judge a beer along with GABF judges in a directed tasting.

In 2011, Boscos Hefeweizen took gold in the category of German-style Wheat Ale. It was the fourth win for the Hefeweizen at GABF. Ghost River took the silver medal in the Irish-style Red Ale category for the Ghost River Copperhead Red.

Memphis made, Denver bound: Brewing the Red Hop Ale at Boscos

September 10, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Competition, Craft beer, Memphis

It’s every homebrewer’s dream: leaving the garage and getting to brew your beer at a real brewery.

Last month, I was lucky enough to do just that.

As the winner of  2012 Boscos/Bluff City Brewers Pro-Am competition, a qualifier for the Great American Beer Festival Pro Am in Denver, I brewed my Red Hop Ale on the professional system at Boscos Squared in Memphis.

The Red Hop Ale, an American Amber/Red Ale, was inspired by Green Flash Brewing’s Hop Head Red. I tried it in California a couple years ago and it left me wanting to brew a hoppy, red beer.

Working under the tutelage of Boscos founding partner Chuck Sypeck and head brewer Adam Hargrove, we adapted my 5-gallon recipe, scaling it up to brew on the 7-barrel system at the brewpub.

On brew day, fellow FuzzyBrew blogger and homebrewing buddy Grant Smith was able to join me. Adam was gracious enough to let us do most of the work while showing us how to operate a system that was far more complex than our homebrewing set-ups.

It was undoubtedly one of the biggest thrills of my life, and Grant and I took plenty of photos, from start to finish.

•••

Boscos - grainThe Red Hop Ale recipe called for 540 pounds of grain: 450 pounds of pale ale malt, 40 pounds of Caramel 40, 40 pounds of carapils malt and 10 pounds of roasted barley.

Boscos - mashtunA view of the spotless mashtun from above, before adding in the grains.

Boscos - Mike pours grain into mashtunHere’s me adding in a 50-pound bag of grain. The process of brewing at a brewpub is similar to homebrewing, except for the scale. Instead of a spoon for stirring, we used an oar.

Boscos - Grant and Adam workingGrant (left) and Adam at work on a narrow ladder. The brewery at Boscos is tiny, and three people is probably the most that can work in it at any one time.

Boscos - Mike stirring the mashHere’s a shot of me, taken from the restaurant looking into the brewery, as I stir the mash. Brewing is not easy work! My shoulders were sore the next day.

Boscos - spargeDuring the sparge, the wort was drained from the mash and the grains were rinsed with hot water.

Boscos - Beer moves into kettleA first look at the red ale as it’s moved into the boil kettle. The roasted barley gave the beer its nice color.

Bocos - brew kettleSteam rises from the kettle as it fills up with wort.

Boscos - hopsThe Red Hop Ale was brewed with Columbus, Centennial and Cascade hops.

Boscos - Adam looks at recipeAdam documented every step and measurement throughout the brew day.

Boscos - weighing hopsUnlike homebrewing, where hop additions often measure less than an ounce, at a brewpub you may add a pound or more at a time.

Boscos - Mike is ready to add hopsReady to add the first hops into the kettle. The smell was glorious.

Boscos - Mike adds hopsHere I’m adding 50 grams of gypsum, which helps bring out the hops.

Boscos - spent grainsAfter the mash, it was time to clean out the mashtun.

Boscos - Grant shovels spent grainsGrant shovels the spent grains from the mash tun. We filled up three trash cans to the very top.

Boscos - fermentersA view of three of the fermenters at Boscos.

Boscos - Grant turns on the pumpYou can see how cramped the brewery is in this photo. Here, Grant operates a pump.

Boscos - fermenterRed Hop Ale is about to go into this shiny fermenter.

Boscos - Grant sanitizes the fermenterGrant meticulously sprays sanitizer on the fermenter.

Boscos-Mike adds yeastAction shot! Here I’m pitching the yeast. After that, we quickly sealed up the tank and we were done.

Boscos - brew kettle trubInside the kettle, the bottom was caked with hop residue after the beer was moved to the fermenter. I got to spray it out as the clean-up started.

Boscos- Clean upAnother shot of the brewery as Adam cleans up.

Boscos - Adam in the brew kettleTo get the kettle REALLY clean, Adam jumped in and scrubbed it out, capping off an incredibly fun day.

•••

The Red Hop Ale is now on sale for a limited time. And as part of a special charitable fundraising effort, Boscos will donate $1 for every pint of Red Hop Ale sold to the Mid-South Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, so grab a pint soon.

Thanks to Boscos and the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs, I’ll be traveling to Denver in October for the Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am competition. The Red Hop Ale will be competing against other beers from teams of homebrewers and craft beer professionals from across the country.

Thanks again to Chuck and Adam for this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Sampling the Red Hop Ale