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Nick Hilborn of Rocky Mountain Brewery

The other day I had my first couple beers from Rocky Mountain Brewery. They pretty much knocked my socks off as they didn’t seem to necessarily stay true to any given style, but were really experimental. I love experimental beers. After looking into RMB more, I saw they currently have S’mores beer on tap and were about to release something called “Cranberry Sauce.” At the All Colorado Beer Festival they won the people’s vote for the Favorite Brewer Award. I thought I’d better get in touch with the brewer and ask some questions. So, below is an interview with Nick Hilborn, the head brewer:

I noticed that a number of your beers don’t necessarily pertain to any given style, and they seem really experimental, is this something you do on a normal basis? Can you tell me a little about what inspires you to make beer like this?

We are all homebrewers. Before ever getting close to large scale brewing all of us that work here, and volunteer here, brew homebrew for ourselves. We brew beers to taste
good, and use the ingredients available, just like homebrewing. Many of our beers are out of style because “traditional” beers always taste better when you mess with them a little bit…ha! I mean, why make just a plain cheesecake, when you can try to make a chipotle tequila key-lime cheesecake, with panko breadcrumb crust and curried glazed walnuts?

What was your original idea for the S’mores beer and how many times have you made it to get it to taste the way you want it?

The S’Mores beer was Grants idea. He is my assistant brewer. He wanted to do a beer that tastes like s’mores. My idea was to brew it as three separate beers, instead of just one beer. Thats how you make a real s’more right? So we made a graham craker golden ale, a toasted marshmallow cream ale, and a hersheys chocolate stout. They are all blended together, three 10-gallon batches, and kegged into two 15-gallon kegs. It pretty much tasted great the first time we made it, we just didnt blend them until it was poured into the glass, each glass was a lil’ different. But this time, to make it easier on the serving staff, we blended ahead of time.

Is the beer available multiple times a year, or just now? Where can people expect to find it? 

We will do it at random intervals throughout the year. And as most of our specialty and small batch beers, will only be available at the brewery, pint and growler style.

This photo is from the Rocky Mountain Brewery Facebook Page

I tried your Smoked Hef over at Brewer’s Republic and I don’t think I’ve ever had a beer like it, although I’ve had plenty of smoked beers. Can you tell me more about? Do you smoke the wheat? Is this difficult to do? Or do you smoke the grain?

The recipes for all of our beers we keep on a list on a wall at the brewery, free for any to make themselves. But the smoked grain is Weyermann rauchmalt. The wheat is Weyermann wheat malt. Weihenstephan yeast, and very little Tettnanger hops. Its one of our most simple beers.

I noticed that you’ll have a beer called “Cranberry Sauce” just in time for Thanksgiving. What can people expect from this beer?

The cranberry sauce is one of our “Rump Romper Cyder” flavors, all malt beverages, but tastes like a hard cider. Our own spin on the “mikes hard lemonades” of the world. We currently have more than 15 flavors of Cyder we have done. (Update: The Cranberry Sauce was gone in 2 days)

Written By

Eric teaches art, loves being outdoors, and organizes beer events around the country. He founded Focus on the Beer and Beers Made By Walking.

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