To pick Colorado’s top craft beers and breweries in 2016, the Denver Post surveyed more than two dozen brewers and experts to reflect on the year in beer and look forward to 2017.
Once Denver’s secret brewery, Black Project made its formal debut in August, replacing Former Future Brewing on South Broadway. The new iteration — which recently expanded its space to make room for more barrel-aging beers — focuses on wild and sour creations but also offers a delicious hazy IPA and intricate saisons. The brewery also recently did a collaboration with North Carolina’s Wicked Weed Brewing.
Here are Sarah Howat’s picks for 2016:
Favorite Colorado beer of the year: This question is always tough because it’s nearly impossible to remember what stood out over the whole year. However, Wiley Roots Key Lime Express did stand out. The rose water took me by surprise in the very best way. I love brewers that take a flavor — familiar or not — and use it in a way that works uniquely.
Favorite Colorado brewery of the year: Cerebral. They continue to offer a place to enjoy a pint as a neighborhood taproom with standard offerings, as well as offer something innovative and distinct. To do both, and do them well, is an accomplishment.
Favorite new Colorado brewery: Bierstadt Lagerhaus. I could drink their beer every day.
Colorado brewery to watch in 2017: Weldwerks is going to continue to do great things. I’m excited to see how their sour offerings evolve.
Most notable craft beer trend in 2016: Foraged ingredients — both physical flora and microflora. Both hold the power to bring a sense of place to the beer. I love that more and more breweries are seeking ways to be truly unique and showcase their domain. It keeps things interesting and keeps drinkers engaged.
Craft beer trend to watch in 2017: I think more and more small breweries will start to specialize in one area, rather than continuing to be a “catch-all” for any and every style.