Houses of Craft · Travel Stories

Avery Brewing Co, Boulder, CO

On my last day in Boulder, I sought out my namesake, the Kaiser Imperial Octoberfest from Avery Brewing Company. 

So obviously I didn’t find an Octoberfest on tap in February. But I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The Tap Room, located in a light industrial park a couple miles outside of town, is a straightforward, but unabashed affair. With about 20 beers on tap and a couple more on cask, I was quick to forget the impetus for my visit. 

The Tap room serves a variety of sizes, including 4oz tastings of most beers for $1. With beers like the Fumator, Seventeenth Anniversary and Mephistopholies on tap, a guy could waste an entire day here. And I sorta did.

I tasted about a dozen brews, and a couple of mixes invented by the barkeep, in the 60 degree sun outside the Tap Room for the better part of the afternoon leading up to the tour.

I was first on the list to see the facilities, and in the meantime the barkeep introduced me to the “smoked ham” — a mix of the Big Smoky (a Tap Room exclusive) and the Hog Heaven Barleywine— the meatiest meal this vegetarian’s had in awhile. And then she recommended one for the tour — the Dry-Hopped Joe’s with a good helping of hops added to the keg after fermentation.

Then it was time for a look behind the scenes. For a regional brewery, Avery has a fairly advanced set-up with contemporary brewing and bottling machines scheduled to run 24/7 by Spring this year in order to keep up with demand.

But on the slower side of things is the barrel aging room. Filled with about a hundred barrels ranging from Chardonay to rum, the barrel room ages Avery’s brews anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Unexpected was the variety of wineries, whiskey and bourbon makers that Avery sourced from. When I asked if they were concerned about the recent string of brettanomyces unintentionally spreading from barrel to barrel and turning beers sour (a la Deschutes’  recent troubles with Abyss), they cited their strict regulations and care. But one wonders if the barrel-aging crowd is a little on-edge lately.

It was a remarkable visit, and one I hope to make again. In the meantime, I was lucky enough to have room in my suitcase for the Reverend and Salvation to get me by.

Michael Kiser