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!!!” 

Beer In Situ: Finkle and Garf

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. Yesterday we went to the one of the newest microbreweries in Boulder, CO.

Games!

Games!

The Pertinents

Their Self-Description

“Finkel & Garf Brewing Company is a collaboration between Eric and Dan Garfinkel, a father (Finkel) and son (Garf). We share a love of well crafted beer and an appreciation for the life experiences we have enjoyed with a beer in hand. Our reason for being is simple:

To make outstanding craft beer

To facilitate great moments among family and friends.

We are often asked why we chose to put toys in the Finkel & Garf crest rather than images of hops and barley. The answer is because we are all still kids at heart. Toys are fun and they remind us not to take ourselves too seriously.” – finkelandgarf.com

The Space

Immediately, one notices the well-honed aesthetics of the tap room just off Lookout Road. It smells strongly of the brewery in the back, pumping out steam in the freezing afternoon. The neighbourhood appears to be booming in construction, with new shops and apartments springing up in well-organised clumps of trendy wooden panels and metal siding. These guys chose a prime, growing location.

Since this is one of the newest breweries in Boulder, it has a lot to live up to. Everything is quite clearly brand new, and well-designed almost to a fault. I particularly liked the giant board games hung from leather straps on the wall, ready to play at any time. The blocks on the tables are a great touch, which Russell appreciated greatly. Beer, toys, and early 90s hip-hop and French rap music blaring? Perfect for the under 35 crowd that seems to be moving to the area.

The bar

The bar

Dogs are made to feel like valued customers. Every one of the people working in the brewery came by to sit on the floor and be licked. A minor scuffle broke out because one doggie was a little anxious, but no one was hurt. Treats are behind the bar.

Simple pricing scheme. No long descriptions of the beers on the board. No IBUs. Lots of nostalgic foods populating the shelves behind the bar, including Twinkies and Spam. Well-built, apparently handcrafted space. I especially love the lights on the bar, and were they not bolted down with welded nuts, I’d love to take one home.

House Flight, $9. With Pairing, $15.

House Flight, $9. With Pairing, $15.

The Beers

I get the impression that this brewery wants to take back some corner of craft beer from beer geeks. I get that. It’s annoying at times to have long-winded debates about beer. Listening at too much length to a rival beer geek wax poetic about the virtues of whirlpool hopping or the inherent superiority of Carafe II over Carafe III can drive a person to drinking solely double quadrupels. The Finkle and Garf philosophy is very clear from their website:

“The process of selecting and drinking a beer shouldn’t be complicated, confusing, or too serious. Beer should be straightforward in presentation, consistent in flavor and quality, and balanced. Beer shouldn’t be the center of attention, but rather a facilitator of unforgettable moments.”

Balanced can mean either ‘balanced’ or ‘not too hoppy’ according to the person using it in reference to American craft beer. At my London Brewdog bar, I got more than one person from my native state coming in and railing about how out of control US craft beer has gotten and insisting our styles were sooooooo much better (usually while drinking a US-style DIPA with 150 IBUs, but who’s counting?). I got the sense then, and have since gotten more of one from a month craftbeering in Colorado, that a pushback of sorts is underway against the big, piney, robust beers the US scene is known for.

Finkle and Garf’s philosophy is immediately apparent in the beers themselves. Balanced. Clean. Almost no dry-hopping aromas whatsoever in any of them. English-y (read: traditional) pale ale and IPA. No frills. Good. Maybe not yet great.

Russell loved the blocks, though.

Tasting Notes

We tried everything on draft except the house root beer.

American Lager 

  • Style: Light Lager
  • Geekery: 4.8% ABV, 27 IBUs , Color = Extremely light
  • Fruity and a bit hoppy for a lager. The colour is so light. So light. None of the golden colours that some light lagers take on. The hops are interesting, and this is a very drinkable beer.
  • Overall Rating: 3.5 pints (out of five pints)

Cream Ale 

  • Style: Cream Ale (cold-fermented ale)
  • Geekery: 5.4% ABV, 36 IBUs , Color = Straw
  • We initially were told that this was the wheat ale in our house flight, which means that my tasting notes are a bit screwy. I commented that it wasn’t very wheat for a wheat ale. Well, it wasn’t one. Maybe a tiny hint of lemon on the nose.
  • Overall Rating: 3.6 pints
Notes and beers. The dream.

Notes and beers. The dream.

Pale Ale

  • Style: Pale Ale
  • Geekery: 4.8% ABV, 40 IBUs , Color = Golden-y and more English-looking
  • This is not in the American Pale Ale style, but falls more into a traditional, session pale ale from England. Few hop notes, and a little bit spicy. Relatively noticeable malty backbone to the beer. A tiny bit leafy (potentially English hops).
  • Overall Rating: 3.8 pints
Volcano. Russell, 2015.

Volcano. Russell, 2015.

Wheat 

  • Style: American Wheat Ale
  • Geekery: 4.7% ABV, 21 IBUs , Color = Darkish and not too cloudy
  • This is definitely in the American style. Not too many phenolic flavours like banana or cloves, although there is a tiny bit of spiciness on the finish. Not sweet (phew), with a little bit of balancing hop character and bitterness. A little bit thin on the carbonation and mouthfeel for a wheat.
  • Overall Rating: 3.8 pints

IPA  

  • Style: India Pale Ale
  • Geekery: 6.5% ABV, 80 IBUs , Color = Golden
  • No nose! Where my dry hops at?? Very little aroma for an IPA, but maybe that’s the balance they want. There was an initial buttery taste, which was subtle but noticeable. It was a bit like diacetyl, but could have been hop-related (high alpha or maybe Pilgrim hops, sometimes they have this flavour). A bit slick on the mouthfeel. English-y and traditional.
  • Overall Rating: 3.0 pints

    Nailed it.

    Nailed it.

Milk Stout  

  • Style: Milk Stout
  • Geekery: 5.5% ABV, 36 IBUs , Color = Dark Chocolate
  • Smokey and a bit rauchbier-like for a stout. The typical sweetness that is left in a milk stout from the unfermented lactose is overpowered by that. Balanced, but really more of a Milk Porter. Oatmeal Milk Porter would be a cool style to have started!
  • Overall Rating: 3.9 pints (because I love rauchbier, even if it isn’t rauchbier)
Imperial Red.

Imperial Red.

Imperial  Red

  • Style: Imperial Red Ale
  • Geekery: 9.8% ABV, 100 IBUs , Color = Reddish Brownish
  • Easily my favourite of the beers (no one is surprised). Sweet but not sickly. Pine, toffee, and light carbonation. Slightly funky. Way more bitter than most of the beers.
  • Overall Rating: 4.0 pints
The Shard.

The Shard.

Rye Saison 

  • Style: Saison with Rye
  • Geekery: 6.5% ABV, 27 IBUs , Color = Reddish Brownish
  • There’s actually a nose on this one! It’s tasty, but holy crap SO MUCH SAISON. It seems that the funkiness of the rye works really well with the funky saison yeast. Raisins, tobacco, and caramel flavours. The most interesting of the offered beers.
  • Overall Rating: 4.2 pints

The bartender also made me a taster of the Red, Nitro Cream, and Brown ale mixed together. He called it the Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson; big, brown, and smooth. They should try to make a blended beer than incorporates these three and then put it on Nitro. It was easily the best thing I tasted in the taproom!

The Dwyane 'The Rock' Johnson.

The Dwyane ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

The Munchies

Nostalgic, child-like foods. Goldfish. Twinkies. Cookies. Not too much that looked very substantial, but then again the beers aren’t very strong on average. It might be better to have snacks, but they could get food trucks to come by every once in a while to serve more substantial foods. They might well have already figured that out.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Russell’s One-Line Review

“Not bad. Better than a kick in the blocks.”

Next Time: My hometown Brewery. But for reals. Maybe even a weekend post. See all the Beer In Situ posts in one place!

Leftover Ratatouille Hand Pie

With hot pepper sauce for a bit of colour!

With hot pepper sauce for a bit of colour!

I made a yummy ratatouille with chicken last night for dinner, and made a ton in order to eat it for days. I plan on bringing it to work when I close tonight, so I don’t have to spend money or go hungry.

I used shortcrust sheet, a few scoops of the leftovers, and two duck eggs to make this pie. Baked at 180C for about 25 minutes, and cooled before serving. Leftovers kick arse!

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