By: Ryan Hodros, Culinary Arts Student
As a newly proclaimed (by KDVR’s Everyday) beer expert, and longtime “guy who likes beer,” friends and family often ask what my favorite beer/brewery/bar is. Regular readers of this blog will already know the answer to that question—“Fat Tire.” But to be honest, I’ve been sort of fibbing. FT is only my favorite beer you can get in most liquor stores! Yes, my favorite beer/brewery/bar is in fact Twelve Degree Brewing in Louisville.
It’s a fairly non-descript place. Nice wooden bar, friendly staff, board games, television…all the things you like to see in a neighborhood joint. But it also comes with amazing house-made beers that will change the way you think of beer. They specialize in Belgians—owner Jon Howland spent a great deal of time enjoying the legendary beer scene north of France and wanted to bring that experience back to America.
In ye olde times, Belgians brewed much of their beer in open fermenters, exposing them to a number of micro-organisms not generally associated with the brewing process. (If you remember my article on beginner’s homebrewing, this is a big no-no.) Fortuitously, this led to the discovery of Brettanomyces bruxellensis (as well as other strains of bacteria) that lead to the “sour beer” often associated with Belgium, including Lambics, Farmhouse ales, and some wines like Chateau Musar.
The flavor profiles for this style of beer are as varied as any other type—some are fruity, some are spicy, and some are mouth-puckeringly sour. Still others are sweet, bearing the oddly out-of-place-but-not-really pink bubblegum flavor that will twist your head at first but eventually grow on you. If done properly, they all mesh seamlessly into the traditional hops/malt flavor profile you find in most ales. While there are a number of good sours out there, Twelve Degree does them more consistently better than any microbrew I’ve been to.
My favorite among his regular offerings is Walter’s White (in no way related to the AMC character). With a relatively low abv, it’s sessionable without skimping on flavor or body. It’s got a dry, light fruitiness that’s accessible for those new to Belgians without coming off as bland or compromising. It is brewed with orange peel and coriander, giving it a nice summery brightness even in the darkest part of winter. I recommend pairing this with the Twelve Degree cheese plate because the tartness cuts through the fat of the cheese in a really delightful way.
If you’re looking for something a little more familiar, give their Foxx Rouge a try. It has a lightly caramelized foretaste that meshes wonderfully with the malty sweetness that will remind you of bread pudding. This is accentuated with the dark fruit flavors, with touches of figs and raisins in the aftertaste. It’s 8.5% alcohol, so be careful sipping on this brew even if you have a designated driver, because it can creep on you fast.
Sorach l’Orange (or “that one” when I try to order this beer) is another favorite primarily because it is so refreshing. Many craft beers taste amazing but fill you up or quickly overwhelm your taste buds. Its yeast flavor paired with blood orange and lemon flavor will remind you of a toasted bagel with marmalade. Try this with a selection of chocolates available at the bar—orange and chocolate go hand-in-hand, and the bitter black stuff will definitely refresh your palate.
I could go on, but I recommend heading down to Twelve Degree in person and try a brew or two yourself. It’s right on main street and tucked into a nest of great eateries (and down the road from Gravity Brewing, which will be an entry of its own one day). With Twelve Degree as its anchor, Louisville is fast becoming the place to pub crawl in Colorado.