Tag Archives: Coors

Some Thoughts on Pocket Beers

Pocket beers are just one of the lower key aspects of skiing.  For all the people who spend near $10 for a draft at the top of the lifts there are a smaller number of hardy souls who take the route less traveled.   During the few minutes of isolation on a lift the pocket beer is produced.  It is consumed before unloading, sometimes shared, and the can is either stowed away or deposited discretely in a receptacle at the top.  Do not be the guy who tosses an empty somewhere on the mountain.

Over Spring Break I discovered that the pocket beer is looked down upon at Beaver Creek.  A fellow lift traveler looked at me as if I had told him that I was going to make America great again with my consumption of beer.  Perhaps it would have been more appropriate if I had broken out a single serve can of chardonnay.  Properly chilled of course.  Just kidding.  I would never drink chardonnay on a lift unless it was goon.  It’s an Australian thing.  Check it out.

Over the course of the week I thought about the nature of the pocket beer because I did not spend any time looking at the news, watching Netflix, or working.  It is amazing what you think about when left with your thoughts on a sunny Colorado afternoon in the spring.  Here are my conclusions:

  1. Pocket beers must be in cans. Like the beach, including the one at A Basin, and the pool glass should be a non-starter.  Bottles can break, the tops are another item to deal with, and it is harder to conceal a bottle in a gloved hand.  Oh sure, you could get by with an aluminum bottle but those are generally only purchased by people who are captive audiences at sporting events.  Don’t be that guy.
  2. Pocket beers should be shared. If you have more than one, offer a beer to a fellow lift rider.  If you only have one, offer a drink to a fellow lift rider if you know the person well.  Strangers might have a fear of your distinct brand of cooties.
  3. Pocket beers should not be craft beers. Yes, craft beer is ascendant and craft beer is a big deal in mountain communities.  However, with most high speed lifts only taking a few minutes to complete their runs there is no time to savor.  Reserve the craft beer for the après pint.
  4. Acceptable pocket beers:
    1. Rainier: Where do people find this stuff? I had not seen anyone drink Rainier since a childhood trip to the Pacific Northwest with my parents in the 1980s.  Sure enough it made an appearance this season on a lift at Keystone.
    2. Yuengling: I cannot stand this beer, but legions of East Coast ice skiers will scream if I do not include their favorite swill.
    3. Natural Light: The Natty is a legend among the hardy souls who ski the Midwest’s small hills. Purchased in containers with no fewer than 24 cans and usually 30 cans the Natty is the common currency of tailgates, impromptu backyard parties in your twenties, and pocket beers at Afton Alps.  Yes, it is swill but when the mercury is dropping below the 0 mark you do not have time to taste.
    4. Coors: Not that Coors Light garbage. When you are in Colorado and producing a pocket beer it should be the Banquet Beer.  The muted yellow can is iconic even if the beer inside is fairly mediocre.  It’s only brewed in Golden, which is off I-70 on the way into the mountains.  If you are chilling on the Peru Express lift, whip out a Banquet Beer, and enjoy your moment of perfection.

Embrace the pocket beer and the grungy soul of skiing before we are all left at mega-resorts staring at a menu of eye watering prices.  The pocket beer is the resistance.

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Faux Craft: Colorado Native Lager

What is craft beer? This is a question that is vexing the industry as formerly small batch brewers grow and expand or big brewers make moves into the craft market via mergers, acquisitions, and brand extensions.

Take Blue Moon for example. To most people who occasionally drink beer it is a craft beer. It is not carrying the label of any of the big three—Miller, Coors, or Budweiser—and it is a style of beer that differs dramatically from your typical light American lager. However, for its entire life Blue Moon has been brewed under the aegis of Coors.

Colorado Native Lager is another product, like Blue Moon, that is brewed by a subsidiary under the aegis of Coors. This time it is brewed by the AC Golden Brewing Company—AC for Adolph Coors perhaps—which operates a brewhouse within the larger Coors complex in Golden—hence the Golden in the name.

The marketing gimmick is excellent. It is brewed only with ingredients from Colorado and it is available only in Colorado. Sort of creates the same mystique that Coors had in the 1970s when people would make road trips to the Centennial State in order to bring back a trunk load of the banquet beer. Can you imagine someone doing that now? We would think they were insane.

So, how does the beer stack up:

Colorado Native

First off, I am less and less of a lager fan every day. Some people will claim that the lager style is simpler and that the lack of any overtones from the yeast allows the hops to shine through. I get none of that with lagers. The aroma that gets me is burnt or off in some similar way that I cannot place.

Second, this beer is sweet. Not cider sweet or Smirnoff Ice sweet, but sweet like a shandy without the lemon hit to balance the sweetness somewhat. There is no sugar in the ingredient list, but I would not be surprised if some honey from the San Luis Valley made its way into the fermentation vessel.

Third, for a beer that claims in its hop bill to have Chinook, Centennial, and Cascade there is very little discernible hop flavor or aroma. It is very muddled. Generally, Chinook is a very distinctive hop—especially when used for dry hopping—and the other two hops are distinctive craft brewing staples.

Last, it comes in those silly cans like Coors Light that have a slightly different geometry than any other twelve ounce can in the world. Why is this a pain? Try combining a twelve pack of disparate cans and discovering that some of the cans are just a little taller. God damn it.

Overall, the gimmick of being made in Colorado from Colorado ingredients and available only in Colorado can take the beer just a little bit beyond failure:

Purchased One Mug Rating

In the past I have been harsh to other “faux craft” beers because I think there is something much more to being craft than purely size. It’s an ethos that is separate from the mega breweries that gave us pale liquid sold more by girls in bikinis than the quality of the drinking experience.

Miscellaneous Colorado Beers

Unfortunately, I did not get to try as many beers along the Front Range as I would have liked but that leaves more things to do next time.

While on a break from biking along the Ten Mile Canyon trail at Copper Mountain I got a chance to have an Avery Brewing White Rascal:

The White Rascal is Belgian wheat.  Unfiltered, low bitterness (22 IBU), and moderate in alcohol (5.6% ABV) this beer is very drinkable.  Granted, I was over an hour into my light ride and the temperature was 10 degrees warmer than planned—thank you global warming—so I was a little dry.

Avery Brewing was not a company that I had heard of until I saw the beer listed on the menu.  This is the great thing about beer, there are so many different beers from so many different brewers that it always leads to discovery.  It’s why it is great to get out of your usual and try something new.

One thing I would like to see go away is serving a big chunk of fruit on a glass of beer.  Coors’ Blue Moon started this trend in bars a while back and now every unfiltered Belgian beer is served with a chunk of orange or a wedge of lemon.  Stop the insanity.

This pint made me want to see what else the folks at Avery Brewing are doing.  Next time.

At a shop in Breckenridge I picked up two six-packs of Odell Brewing Company beers: Easy Street Wheat and St. Lupulin.  Often, Odell is described as the other brewery in Fort Collins because of the omnipresent New Belgium.  I have found that the smaller brewers, owing to smaller scale, are able to push the boundaries because there is less push to satisfy mass taste.  Granted, even large craft brewers like New Belgium push the boundaries all the time with beers in the Lips of Faith series.

Easy Street Wheat is described as being “light and refreshing.”  That pretty much sums it up:

Low in alcohol (4.6% ABV) and very low in bitterness (15 IBU) Easy Street Wheat, like White Rascal above, is a very drinkable beer.  Not much else to say beyond that.

St. Lupulin is a different story:

Following Easy Street Wheat this beer is a little bit of a smack to the palate.  Not in a bad way, but a little shocking.  It’s a lot stronger (6.5% ABV) and bitter (46 IBU) than the first beer.  Furthermore, the beer tastes like it has been dry hopped which leaves a strong hop aroma in the beer because the beta acids are not driven off during the boil.  Used sparingly, this technique can produce strong aromas without making the beer overly bitter.  Used excessively, the beer ends up smelling like someone opened the door to a coffee shop in Amsterdam.  St. Lupulin falls more toward the sparingly end of the spectrum.

To no fault of the beers from both Avery Brewing and Odell Brewing, I got sick after my first morning in Breckenridge and spent the better part of a day in bed or hanging my head over a toilet.  It’s hard to separate the beers from that experience.  Getting sick sucks…