Remembering the Beers We Left Behind
Flagship February is coming upon us. You might be asking “What is Flagship February?” It was an idea spawned by Stephen Beaumont on twitter. He tweeted out the following:
“Flagship beers are down in sales across the board because drinkers get bored...In the spirit of alliteration, how about we make next month Flagship February!?! The focus would be on drinking faves from the early years, not necessarily exclusively, but frequently. The brands would get a boost and drinkers would be reminded of what got them here.”
The idea has sparked a dialogue around the craft beer world and many beer drinkers seemed to be interested in the idea.
I was intrigued by this idea as well. Looking at what beers I enjoy now, my habits tend toward high gravity and experimental stouts and IPAs. It’s not a bad position to be in, but it certainly exemplifies what Stephen was talking about. When beer drinkers get interested in beer, they often find something that they love after a period of experimenting and then they run with it. At least that is what happened with me. Thinking about this, I enjoy the idea of rediscovering the beers that got me there by spending some time with the beers that got the breweries I love where they are.
Colorado has hundreds of breweries, so when I spent a while considering which breweries I would focus on. I settled on two breweries from Colorado and then one brewery from California that I can credit with introducing me to craft beer. The two breweries from Colorado are Great Divide and Dry Dock and the brewery from California is Sierra Nevada.
Great Divide brewery is a Denver brewery that was founded in 1994 by Brian Dunn. They have grown to be one of the larger and more well known breweries in Colorado. The beer that I first fell in love with them was their Yeti imperial stout. Great Divide has since popularized the Yeti with a series of seasonal variations of the beer. Among beer drinkers in Colorado (and beyond?) the silhouette of a yeti and the phrase “I Believe” has become synonymous with the brewery. Their flagship beer is the Denver Pale Ale (DPA). I chose this beer because it has been a beer that I always enjoy when I get it, but often overlook due to their other offerings. Since Great Divide opened a taproom in the RiNo arts district, they have used their DPA as a way to partner with and showcase local artists over the last 3 years. The partnership has been a fun way to get involved in the local culture as well as bring some attention to their flagship beer and I will spend some time enjoying it.
Dry Dock brewery is a brewery in Aurora, Colorado that was founded in 2005 by Kevin DeLange and Michelle Reding. It was originally a small taproom next to their home brew store, The Brew Hut. They have slowly expanded their storefront and brewery over the years at the original location to about half of the total space in the strip mall. In 2013 they opened a production/bottling facility in northern Aurora which was expanded to another taproom in 2014. As the brewery name suggests, they have a wide variety of beer that is named after, or has artwork designed after, a nautical theme including the USS Enterprise, HMS Bounty Old Ale, and the Breakwater Pale Ale. Established primarily by word of mouth they have made a name for themselves winning a number of awards at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. Their flagship beer, Dry Dock Amber Ale (formerly known as the HMS Victory ESB) won gold at the World Beer Cup in 2006, only 6 months after opening. Dry Dock has been my neighborhood brewery since I have lived in Colorado. I always seem to be live no more than 5-10 minutes away. The Amber Ale, however, is a beer that I have not spent much time enjoying. I typically go with their seasonal stouts or a Hopricot (50/50 blend of their Hop Abomination and Apricot Blonde). Because of this, I am planning on spending some time with their Amber Ale this next month.
Sierra Nevada brewery is America’s third largest craft brewery. It is located in Chico, California and was founded in 1980 by Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi. Sierra Nevada is one of the most well known craft breweries, perhaps second only to Samuel Adams. Despite its size, it is still an independently owned company. Because of that it has commanded a great deal of respect in the craft brew world. One of the other ways that it has made a mark is with its emphasis on sustainability and organic ingredients. It is the largest buyer of organic hops and was awarded the Green Business of the Year by the EPA in 2010. Their flagship beer is their Pale Ale which was their first beer brewed after opening. The reason that I decided to jump over to California and not just stick exclusively with Colorado breweries is because the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was the first craft brew that I fell in love with. This is the only of the three breweries that I have not visited, but without this beer, it is likely that I would have never discovered either Great Divide or Dry Dock. For Flagship February, I look forward to taking a trip back to my roots, especially since it is a beer that I haven’t had for quite a few years.
Flagship February is a way that beer lovers can return to their roots. It is also a way that we can return to the roots of the breweries that we have grown to love. It’s not simply about beer; it’s about remembering our past and finding ways to not take our past for granted. We all have our stories. As we learn to slow down and look back at where we’ve been, it can help us appreciate where we are going. Of course, Flagship February doesn’t have to be anything like this; it can also simply be about enjoying good beers we’ve forgotten about. Either way, drink independent beer and, when possible, support local business.