As 2014 comes to an end, we’re once again asking leading figures on the Colorado beer scene to reflect on the past year and look ahead to next. This next installment in our 4th annual Beer In Review features Bess Dougherty, a brewer at Wynkoop Brewing Co., the state’s oldest brewpub. Dougherty had quite the moment when she unexpectedly found herself talking beer with the president of the United States, who shot pool and drank beer with Governor John Hickenlooper in July at the historic LoDo watering hole while in town for a fundraiser. On to Bess’s bipartisan picks …
Favorite beer of the year: Oh man, trying to pick just one favorite is damn near impossible. I have about three beers that I am compelled to get every time I see them. The first is Speedway Stout from AleSmith out of Cali. I had tried this beer on several SoCal trips but now that it is distributed to Colorado I’m going through at least a bottle a week. So damn tasty! My other go-to beers are the newish Rudie session IPA from Ska Brewing and Mongo IPA from Port Brewing, which Falling Rock has on tap fairly regularly.
Colorado brewery of the year: Colorado brewery of the year for me is Great Divide. Twenty years plus a new facility, these dudes and ladies are killing it. Their standard lineup of beers is consistent quality beer, which I adore, but the past year or so I have been really impressed with their pilot system batches. The strawberry rhubarb kettle sour was absolutely delightful!
New Colorado brewery of the year: Gotta go with Former Future Brewing for this one. James and Sarah are wonderful human beings and their beer is fantastic. Their win at GABF for a coolship beer was just ever so exciting. I can’t wait to try more spontaneous and pilot system beers from these cats.
Colorado brewery to watch in 2015: I’ve got a good feeling about Cannonball Creek. These guys have been making incredible beers since the doors opened but being a little off the beaten path I think they have not quite gotten the recognition they should have from the beer community in Denver. I think their win at GABF for the black IPA helped put them on the radar a little bit more. I can’t imagine these guys not blowing up. I think it’s just a matter of when. As far as new breweries, I can’t wait for Call to Arms to open. With a team that talented and experienced I’m pretty sure it’s going to be tits.
Most notable craft beer news or trend of 2014: I think that my favorite craft beer trend was the rise of more session beers. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore barrel-aged imperial stouts and barleywines and double IPAs. I am really digging the fact that I can get a full-flavored, complex beer and be able to have a few without getting knocked on my ass.
Craft beer trend to watch for in 2015: I think that 2015 is going to see more buying and selling of smaller breweries. I don’t view this as a negative. At some point for some breweries this is the best way to grow the brand. As long as the beer being produced remains the same this is a-ok in my book. I’m curious to see who is going to be next.