Beer In Situ: Gravity Brewing

We find ourselves spending a lot of time in brewpubs, brew places, breweries, and tap rooms now that we are doing the visa waiting game for our next move abroad. It’s amazing to have so many places available to us in the Front Range of Colorado. Every time I come back from living abroad, new places have opened and new beer is waiting to be discovered. Today’s review is of my hometown brewery, a favourite place for me and my husband when we are in town. 

A note: In honour of the Top Gear host who was fired this week, Russell has channeled Jeremy Clarkson to review a few beers. Please direct your inevitable complaints to BBC headquarters. 

The beer parlour. Little bit dark at night!

The beer parlour. Little bit dark at night!

The Pertinents

  • Gravity Brewing
  • 1150 Pine St, Louisville, CO 80027, United States
  • Founded in September 2012

Their Self-Description

“Are you one of those folks who appreciates the road less traveled? If so, we’ve got a tip for you. Tucked away in a funky corner of Historic Downtown is an only-in-Louisville brewery and tasting room serving up unique craft-brewed beers. Now serving food from Worldwide Vittles!!

Being a touch fanatical about beer and brewing, we could use the rest of this space to bore you with lots of science and detail, but you know what they say, “one pint is worth a thousand words.” So come on in and get the Gravity experience first hand.” – thegravitybrewing.com

No separation between the brewery and the beer parlour.

No separation between the brewery and the beer parlour.

The Space

It’s a big space for a brewpub, and the brewkit is a part of the room instead of behind some glass barrier. The bar itself is probably one of the longest in Colorado, handmade and shiny in the light. The room has has an unmistakable feeling of Louisville (the hometown I can’t really come home to). It’s unpretentious and normal, with picnic tables, games, and a TV that usually has the science channel playing in the evening.

The bier garden in the back is the perfect place to sit in the summer, and they grow some small hop bines in the sun. Relaxed, approachable, and friendly. The trains that go by add ambiance to the place, especially since that temporarily cuts the beer parlour off from the rest of town. No gimmicks. No pretenses. Gravity shares the bathroom with the local chapter of the American Legion.

This is a craft brewery that endures beyond the current boom in craft beer.

“It’s a bit like your Nan’s house, but you still want to go every Saturday.” – Russell “Clarkson” Knight 

Beer list!

Beer list!

The Beers

The first thing that I notice, especially since this has not been the case for all the breweries that we visited over the past month for the Beer In Situ series, is the strong aromas all the beers have. Even the Hale-Bop lager smells like a lager beer plug-in and I love it. The blackboards behind the bar are all but filled up; the beers have suitably punny names like Coal Kriek and Steve.

There is a serious barrel-aging programme at Gravity, and they’ve stashed the maturing beers under the bar, in corners, and in a special barrel-aging rack built to purpose. This was where I had my first-ever BA beer, and they experiment with different liquor/beer matches I’d never come up with.

Barrel-aging in process.

Barrel-aging in process.

The styles are all tricky to make, but there are none of the growing pains that I’ve seen at other breweries of the same age. American-style IPAs, German weizenbocks, Belgian abbey styles, and a huge Russian Imperial Stout that rivals any I’ve had in the world of craft beer. It doesn’t matter if you like beer. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t sure which beer to choose. There isn’t a single one that I wouldn’t recommend.

One of the coolest things about Gravity is that the brewmaster comes from especially strong craft beer stock. Julius grew up with the first craft brewery in Colorado, Boulder Beer, which was co-founded by his father at the dawn of the craft beer age (1979). Despite how homey the Gravity Beer parlour is, the simplicity belies a secret: this brewmaster won more than a dozen medals at the Great American Beer Festival over the years. These beers are seriously good, and I’m not just saying that because Gravity happens to be my favourite brewery.

Aliens is really have.

Aliens is really have.

Tasting Notes

Acceleration  

  • Style: Double India Pale Ale
  • Geekery: 9.8% ABV, 98 IBUs, Colour = Thick Golden Caramel
  • Do those numbers remind you of anything? Yep, the standard acceleration due to gravity toward the centre of the Earth is 9.8 meters per second squared. This big, balanced, almost cutting DIPA is one of my favourite beers on Earth. Massive flavours, including lychee, pine, and cedar. In it’s barrel-aged form, this beer is truly special and takes on a slight buttery character. Thick, satisfying mouthfeel.
  • Overall Rating: 5.0 pints (out of five pints)

 “A car crash of hops in your mouth.” – Russell “Clarkson” Knight 

Rum Barrel-Aged Mendacious   

  • Style: Barrel-Aged Belgian Golden Strong Ale
  • Geekery: 8.0% ABV, 28 IBUs, Colour = Yellow Blonde (like my hair)
  • Tastes and smells like a fancy cocktail from the Night Jar cocktail bar in London. I’m not even a huge fan of rum, but this was the perfect barrel-aging choice for this beer. Boozy and slightly less sweet than the non-aged version, this is Belgian-y (characteristic yeast taste) and bitter, but not at all hoppy. Balanced and clean, with a teensy bit of buttery taste that is obviously purposeful and complements the ageing.
  • Overall Rating: 4.8 pints
Acceleration.

Acceleration.

Louisville Belgian Ale   

  • Style: Belgian Abbey/Dubbel
  • Geekery: 6.5% ABV, 25 IBUs, Colour = Chestnut with red undertones
  • A huge amount of aroma comes off this beer. It’s soooooooo Belgian. Spicy (cardamom, cloves, nutmeg), with the characteristic dry fruit and raisin flavours of a Dubbel. It tastes like coffee cake, but without the coffee. Better than the most widely-available commercial Dubbel, Westmalle’s abbey ale.
  • Overall Rating: 4.7 pints

Regular   

  • Style: India Pale Ale
  • Geekery: 7.5% ABV, 65 IBUs, Colour = Regular IPA
  • Deceptively session-y for that ABV! Regular is a simple, clean, American-style IPA. A slightly toasty malt backbone gives it support for the clean, not-too-assertive hop profile. I seemed to taste this beer mostly on the centre of my tongue. It’s not overly bitter, and easy to drink.
  • Overall Rating: 4.6 pints

“Reliable like a Subaru tuned with nitrous oxide.” -Russell “Clarkson” Knight 

Beautiful beers!

Beautiful beers!

Houndbeast  

  • Style: American Barleywine
  • Geekery: 11% ABV, 80 IBUs, Colour = Rosy Brown
  • I brought this beer to London, to share with my colleagues at Brewdog. The first reaction was, “This is f***ing delicious!” And it is. This is easily one of the best barleywine styles I’ve ever tasted, easily outstripping even big names like Alesmith and Victory breweries. Subtle butterscotch taste, with treacle, Ponderosa pine, sultanas, and bread pudding. Complex and even the slightest smokey middle taste. This could be aged in Islay Scotch barrels and called “Beast of Islay.”
  • Overall Rating: 5.0 pints

“I’d let an overzealous Husky dry hump my leg before I let them take this beer off me.” – Russell “Clarkson” Knight 

Tsar Bomba 

  • Style: Russian Imperial Stout
  • Geekery: 12.5% ABV, 60 IBUs, Colour = Nuclear Winter Nighttime
  • Served in an understandably small pour, this is a serious stout for serious beer drinkers. Like Gravity’s motto says, take the beer seriously and yourself lightly. So much chocolate and coffee taste, balanced with a certain assertive creaminess that I’ve rarely found in this style. It’s dense and heavy, but not boozy (if you can believe it!). A celebration beer.
  • Overall Rating: 5.0 pints

“Rasputin himself could not compete with the allure of this beer.” – Russell “Clarkson” Knight

Worldwide Vittles!

Worldwide Vittles!

The Munchies

The Gravity beer parlour has an attached kitchen, which has housed Worldwide Vittles for some time now. The food is awesome pub fare, from Big Ass Nachos to jalepeno poppers. Our favourite are the breaded chicken fingers, which are more than enough to share (get the buffalo sauce!).

The family that runs the food operation for Gravity is welcoming and friendly. They work very hard to provide great service and ever greater food. This week they had a special, a flaming cheese board! Looks delicious!

Driving like Jeremy Clarkson. On a provisional license.

Driving like Jeremy Clarkson. On a provisional license.

Russell’s One-Line Review

“9.8 out of 10! And on that bombshell…drink here!!!” 

What I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know About London

The clouds move so fast in London. They fly and swoop and change with every passing second in a way I’ve never seen anywhere else in the world, a characteristic mutability. I am sitting in the atrium of Chandler House, my new academic home at UCL and already since I’ve written this sentence two more have already eased by overheard. Today they are white and puffy, but diffuse. Lit up by the early autumn afternoon sun, driven on by the breeze which is barely perceptible here at the level of mortals.

I haven’t done it in a long time, but today’s post has a song attached to it. I know, Bastille for God’s sake. What a predictable cop out, being that they’re from London and all. It’s a good song, I promise. Take a listen.

This first week of classes was frenetic, hard work, and more than a tad overwhelming. I feel rather confused as to how I am able to guess so precisely what in the hell is going on in my wide variety of modules that cover all the major areas of Linguistics. Thus far, Pragmatics and Phonetics are the favourites…though I am apparently best at guessing in Syntax. Some underlying rationale in my brain appears to intuitively know the proper button to push on the clicker, even if I have no conscious idea of what role SAI/SVI play in Dutch. I assure you, I barely know more about those acronyms than you do.

I’ll admit, I never saw myself living here. I had a blatant bias after studying abroad the very first time in Perugia over six years ago…why would one ever want to live abroad in an English-speaking country? And London is so expensive! It’s such a massive city and it’s dangerous and it’s got terrible food. And it rains constantly. More than I’d like to admit, I probably steered students away from studying in London when I was a study abroad advisor, pushing them toward cheaper, “more foreign” options that would “challenge” them more.

I didn’t know that I didn’t know the real London.

I didn’t know that I would someday call a two-hour commute “normal,” or that I would worry more about how much I needed to pay TfL than how much groceries cost. I didn’t know that signal failures are a daily disruption on the Tube that can cause situations to put claustophobics in hysterics, with pushing thousands jammed into the seven feet between the wall and the MOVING FUCKING TRAIN. I didn’t know that my toes would often fall asleep on the morning commute while I train-surf and refuse to lose a hand on my newspaper to stability.

I didn’t know that my morning smash in the Tube could become an exercise in compassion. This morning, smashed into a train without an inch of breathing space at Bank after another goddamn signal failure, I had to remind myself that humanity is a single family in order to stave off a panic attack. Being pressed up against strangers head to hand to foot to arse is a lot less annoying if I tell myself we are related.

I didn’t know that I’d be getting heat rashes on a daily basis. How could I have expected that, in this supposedly foggy city? It’s been unseasonably, ludicrously, obnoxiously hot practically since I arrived. As I commute two hours, I don’t have the luxury of popping by my room to pick up or drop of a jacket when the weather turns on a dime. I end up carrying and cursing a coat all day, only to freeze my arse off the next when I refuse to bring it along.

I didn’t know that London has unbelievable food. Expensive, I suppose. But amazing. Name a food. You can get it in London. From all corners of the Earth, and with remarkable ease. A little work, and you can even eat cheaply and healthily. I bought two huge butternut squashes from the African grocery in our neighbourhood this week and paid a pound for each. I can get kimchi, espresso, camembert, and Chipotle all in one day and wash it down with Chilean wine.

I didn’t know that London has more top universities than any city in the world. And I am at one of them!

I didn’t know that gambling was as prevalent as it is. Perhaps the word is pervasive. It’s everywhere, and as someone raised in Puritan-Cultural-Continuance-Land I am both uncomfortable and shit with it. Last time I managed not to lose all ten pounds of my dog-racing money, but only just.

I didn’t know that I’d be eating my lunches with the dead in between classes. That sounds morbid and sufficiently Dickensian, but it’s literally true. My building borders on St. George’s Gardens, which is a former cemetery converted into a public park and dog wee collection centre. I eat lunch there at least three times a week, sitting on a bench in front of the relocated headstones, the names worn off with age.

I didn’t know that “Pub” is short for “Public House.” Felt like a right idiot for that one.

I didn’t know that use of space would be so efficient. I’m in the atrium of a university building right now, but I”m looking into the waiting room of a doctor’s office. Our local post office is also a convenience store (and it sells liquor for while you wait!). I get the sense that taxis are also half ambulances or that the UCL Main Library doubles as a massive nightclub in the evenings, but have yet to see any concrete evidence.

I didn’t know I would hear so many wonderful languages every day.

I didn’t know I already dressed a bit Londonish.

I didn’t know that the DLR is my favourite line of the London Underground.

I didn’t know I would love it so much.

The clouds are still slipping by overhead, silently as far as I can tell. Do clouds have language? That might be a metaphysical question to save for the second term, but for now the adjustment to life in London rolls by in imitation of the white weather above. They certainly aren’t sleeping furiously, not yet.

Welcome, new home!

New on Reverse Retrograde: Weekly Polls

I’m happy to announce that my HTML skills are progressing to the points that I can add depth to the site. Every week, I’ll put up a poll for you lovely readers, and you can give feedback on posts, on my views, on your own views, on the news, or whatever pops into my mind as something I’d like more than just my opinion on.

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