Hop Goddesses

Karen Hertz, Betsy Lay, and Tiffany Fixter joined the craft brewing movement in Denver for one reason—to make excellent beer. How they wound up busting into a boys’ club, and defying their critics, in the process…

Know Your Beers

Reporting by Nate Samson

Julia Herz, craft beer expert at the Brewers Association, explains all the basics, plus recommends some local brews to try.

Lager/Pilsner

The Lowdown
“The original hoppy, pale beer, pilsners offer clean, bready maltiness and plenty of hop character. Classic interpretations can be traced back to areas of Germany and what is now the Czech Republic. With this style, take note of the fullerbodied bohemian styles reminiscent of Czech versions, compared to the thinner German interpretations. Pilsners can be straw to gold in color, with medium- to fast-rising bubbles. Alcohol content is usually mild, and the body can be drying.”

Local Faves
Prost Brewing’s Helles Munich Style Lager
SKA Brewing’s Oktoberfest (Durango)

Food Notes
Pairs well with lighter, saltier foods: grilled chicken sandwiches, Caesar salads, or rubbed salmon. Street food and burgers make a perfect pair.

Swig With…
TAG Burger Bar’s Tag Classic
Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs’ Bacon Cheddar Brat

Pale Ale

The Lowdown
“Pale ale is a catch-all term dating back to the 17th century when control of malt color was in its infancy. These beers were simply called ‘pale’ in comparison to the darker beers being produced at the time. Today, these beers are generally produced with two-row malted barley, referred to as pale malt. While generally more balanced than the hop-forward India pale ale, some versions can push the boundaries of the traditional style.”

Local Faves
Great Divide Brewing Co.’s Fresh Hop Pale Ale
Telluride Brewing Co.’s Bridal Veil Pale Ale (Telluride)

Food Notes
Pairs well with strong, spicy foods like Indian curry, Thai, or Mexican dishes. Also goes nicely with citrusy desserts.

Swig With…
Patzcuaro’s Mexican’s Camaron al Mojo de Ajo
Biju’s Little Curry Shop’s Naddan Bowl

Golden/Blonde Ale

The Lowdown
“One of the most approachable styles, this is an easy-drinking ale that has no dominating malt or hop characteristics. Rounded and smooth, it is an American classic known for its simplicity. These beers can have honey, spices, and fruit added, and may be fermented with lager or ale yeast. Blondes and goldens are typically straw to light-amber, with medium to high carbonation. Hop aroma is present but not dominant and hop bitterness is low to medium-low. Light malt sweetness is usually present.”

Local Faves
Great Frontier Brew Co.’s Blonde Annie (Lakewood)
Bootstrap Brew Co.’s 1956 Golden Ale (Niwot)

Food Notes
Pairs well with sweeter salads and light meats, particularly seafood—sushi, chicken, turkey burgers, and flaky fish.

Swig With…
Park Burger’s Turkey-BaconGuac Burger
Root Down’s Stuffed Kuri Squash salad

Amber/Red Ale

The Lowdown
“This American version of English pale ale gets its color and flavor from roasted caramel and crystal malt additions. One of the most widely enjoyed styles in the U.S., ambers are a cornerstone of the American craft brewing revolution. Ambers have a medium-high to high malt character with medium to low caramel character. The American amber is characterized by American-variety hops, which lend notes of citrus, fruit, and pine to balance the sweetness of the malt.”

Local Faves
Comrade Brew Co.’s DEFCON Red
Wynkoop Brew Co.’s Rail Yard Ale

Food Notes
A very versatile pairing beer that goes well with a wide range of foods, including most meats and cheeses.

Swig With…
Birdcall’s Original
Culture Meat & Cheese’s Meat & Cheese Board

Brown Ale

The Lowdown
“Brown ales are generally British in origin. Historically produced with a type of brown malt, today’s brown ales are usually made with a pale malt base and additions of darker specialty malts for the color and chocolate/ nutty flavors. Despite the obvious color similarities, the comparison between styles that make up the brown ale family can vary with strength, hop character, mouthfeel, and flavor intensity. Just because you’ve tried one brown ale doesn’t mean you’ve tried them all!”

Local Faves
Our Mutual Friend Brew Co.’s OMF Brown Ale
Station 26 Brew Co.’s Miss Brown’s

Food Notes
Pairs well with hearty foods. Examples: Roast pork, smoked sausage, or grilled salmon.

Swig With…
Hearth & Dram’s Berkshire Pork Short Rib
Harris Ranch braised beef Pot Roast from Steuben’s

Porter

The Lowdown
“This longstanding style can be traced back to the working class of the 1700s and its popularity with street and river porters. A porter is dark in color with flavors of chocolate, light coffee, and caramel. Porters are less roasty and espresso-like than stouts, but have deeper cocoa flavors than brown ales. Porters are a great beer to have with a wide variety of foods, and a favorite among many craft brewers.”

Local Faves
Denver Beer Co.’s Graham Cracker Porter
Crow Hop Brew Coy’s KneeKnocker Porter (Loveland)

Food Notes
Pairs well with roasted or smoked food—roasted meat, barbecue, sausages, or blackened fish.

Swig With…
Smokin Fins’ Blackened Fish Tacos
Russell’s Smokehouse’s Beef Ribs

Stout

The Lowdown
“Stouts are very dark beers fermented at warm temperatures, and they vary in strength. The name ‘stout’ comes from the term ‘stout porter,’ describing a bolder variety of the popular porter style that dates to the 18th century. Stouts have stronger roasted flavors than porters, but can vary in character from dry, smooth, and sweet to strong and bitter, depending on the type.”

Local Faves
Copper Kettle Brew Co.’s Mexican Chocolate Stout
Mockery Brew Co.’s Chai Milk Stout

Food Notes
Overpowers most dishes but pairs well with game meats and fruity desserts.

Swig With…
I-CE-NY Ice Cream’s Mango Sticky RI-CE
Bastien’s Thick-Cut Sugar Steak