A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited back to Colorado and to squeeze in a little more skiing before the end of the season. I have waxed poetic about my pro-West Coast bias in the past. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to invite Colorado into the West Coast family. Colorado, you’re much too beautiful for the Mountain Time Zone. Your people are much too fit and your beer (with one noticeable exception) is much too good.
The skiing itself took place in Beaver Creek. Beaver Creek is a gorgeous resort town just a short drive from Vail. This was my second visit to heaven on earth and this visit contained multiple personal firsts such as: surviving my first double-black, eating at a fancy pants mountain top restaurant and overhearing a person moaning about “taking the private jet out the shop”.
Another new experience was sampling and exploring Bonfire Brewing. Bonfire Brewing is located in Eagle, which is about thirty miles west of Beaver Creek. Escaping the private jet-fueled glamour of the resort, Eagle is a much more of a local’s town and those locals need a place to meet up and drink. With no signage other than the word “BREWERY” written all along the side of the building, Bonfire provides a laid-back venue for the community.
I visited the taproom on a Friday night with my gracious hosts, Mike and Rachel (who just happen to be my boyfriends parents), who were just as excited as I was to try a flight of local beers. The tap room was decorated in a way that told you exactly where you were and what you should be doing. Beer bottles, old skis, and huskies the size of bears were all insulated in a layer of old wood and flannel. The effect was a great, casual drinking atmosphere that exemplifies Colorado through and through.
Our three person tasting party (and Rachel who generously drove us) decided to split a sampler of six different pours. Each beer was tasted alone and paired with M&Ms, a brilliant suggestion by Dr. Mike (clearly an advanced mind and palate). While I have been known to take down a sampler alone, a full day of skiing lowered my drinking stamina. I would love to return on a night when my thighs don’t burn from my poor mogul form to really enjoy the great atmosphere and unique brews on tap.
Cone of Shame
7% / 70 IBUs / India Pale Lager
This is the first IPL that I recall tasting. I was excited to sample a highly hopped beer with a lager-like fermentation process. This beer had a nice floral hop smell but it didn’t taste like biting into a golf course. You could still taste the bitterness but the stronger ale flavor was missing. This beer was a crowd pleaser for all three of us. This is the type of beer a brewery could build their empire off of. Not fancy and pairs well with most everything, including M&Ms.
Final score: four out of five vintage skis.
8.8% / 66 IBUs / Double Red Ale
I don’t know why I keep ordering reds. Is it the color that appeals to me? Is it a last ditch attempt to expand my beer preferences? As one who doesn’t enjoy malty beers, reds are rarely an enjoyable experience. I was grateful for Mike and Eric’s backup opinions to make sure that I wasn’t casting unfair judgement. We all agreed that this beer tasted burnt. The high alcohol content wasn’t hidden in any way. This was our least favorite beer of the night.
Final score of one out of five taxidermied animals.
6.2 % / ? IBUs / American Brown Ale
This beer took me completely by surprise. Did you read what I said above about hating malt? Ignore that. This beer was clever, original and a joy to drink. Bonfire wanted to make a beer that you could serve with pride at a Thanksgiving dinner and they succeed. This beer would hold it’s own at them most decant of celebrations. It is malty without being burnt. Did I mention it’s brewed with squash? The gentlemen at the table were sure that they could taste the winter squash flavor, whereas I got more of a brown sugar vibe. I stubbornly maintain that I am correct because who eats squash without brown sugar? (Monsters, that’s who.)
Final score, five out of five mountain man-beards.