It’s 2014 and the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) is nigh upon us, pushing every brewer to Denver April 8-11. This year is the first that the great state of Colorado is hosting the monumental event and the Colorado Brewers Guild (CBG) came together to brew one of the most striking beers to ever grace the conference’s floor. 145 CBG members devised what will be called the Centennial (hint- Colorado) Pale Ale, a beer with a 5.280% (yep, 5280) ABV featuring solely Colorado ingredients and packaged in a can. This ultra-collaboration of Colorado genius is meant to emphasize the state’s unique and forward-thinking culture, as it is the first official beer of the CBC to be consumed from a can.
Let’s break it down a little bit more…
Malt from Colorado Malting CompanyHops from Colorado Hop Yard, Rising Sun Hop Farms, High Wire Hops, Todd Hops, Oskar Blues Hops and Heifers Farm, and New Belgium Brewing.Yeast from The Brewing Science Institute.ALL COLORADO (including Centennial hops).
19.2 ounce cans with Dynamark™ Variable Printing Technology from Ball Corporation (a Colorado company)- the cans spell out “2014 CBC Colorado” when positioned correctly. The idea of the can also stemmed from the active mentality that so many of this state’s residents have hardwired in their DNA- you can’t risk breaking bottles while roaming around the mountains!
The focus on Colorado also marks the first official CBC beer to be made with 100% locally sourced ingredients. The CBG originally hosted a townhallish meeting to decide how the state wants to represent its magnificent brewing culture- it’s pretty hard to get everyone together and on the right page, but Colorado’s collective community lent itself beautifully to yielding successful results. Steve Kurowski of the CBG noted how the collaborative nature of the state is as strong as, if not stronger than, anywhere else in the U.S. He also recognized the power of the craft beer movement and the importance in bringing breweries together as “a rising tide raises all ships.” Jumping from that idea, we talked about how the industry is unlike any other out there right now in terms of cohesive action, as he cited united efforts following the flood earlier this year as just one example of its character.
It seemed natural to brew and can the liquid magic at Oskar Blues, a “pioneer” in canning craft beer, while exploring test batches at Strange Brewing. Tim at Strange has frequently helped develop future brewers find their own way and can always be seen at events with a smile and interacting with everyone around. He helped the crew at Oskar Blues as they set to work on the 50bbl barrel system at 10 in the morning.
Naturally, before noon over half of the brewers were hanging out in the tasting room. When I walked into the 35,000-square-foot-facility, I felt as though I had stepped into a tank amusement park. With 43 HUGE vessels, Oskar Blues continues expanding and producing quality and consistent beer. Barrels for experimenting are put wherever there is any space and piles of cans are stacked ready to be packaged in an unbelievably effective machine. I felt incredibly lucky to be there and hang out with some fantastic brewers, talking about everything from Left Hand’s symbiotic relationship with the city of Longmont to baking sourdough bread and listening to a discourse on bike racing. I also met Peter Bouckaert of New Belgium...and La Folie. I was a little bit overwhelmed to say the least.Witnessing the creation of this batch really demonstrated how perfectly it represents Colorado in its unified and innovative brewing culture. For the official press release, see:http://www.craftbrewersconference.com/news/2014-symposium-ale-announced#more-8811