“No Crap On Tap!” is the motto for Falling Rock Tap House in Denver, Co. Since 1997, the yellow and black sign that most people recognize from the mountain roads of Colorado has a hung on the walls of this historic building, inviting Denverites in for only the best available beer.
When you walk into Falling Rock, it can feel like the wrong place for the novice beer drinker. The dark wood floors and booths direct your attention to all the colorful tap handles behind the bar, brewery tin tackers strategically placed on the wall next to neons signs and framed magazine articles. The walls are also lined with over 2,000 bottles of beer from all over the world making it feel like a beer history museum, telling stories of beer past.All the beer bottles are Owner Chris Black’s personal collection,who has spent years drinking and collecting. There is also a downstairs offering dart boards and pool tables to help pass the time while you explore all the beer that Falling Rock offers.
However, don't be intimidated by all the exotic beer and history if you are a beer newbie. If you’re just looking to finish your day with a nice local beer, even a quality import from Germany, Falling Rock is a great place to sample them. If you’re looking to try a new style of beer, it’s more than likely that one of their 75 plus draft lines will have it, in addition their extensive bottle selection offers over 130 beers. Even if you’re a nostalgic. There are a couple of cask beers there for you to enjoy. There is only one question you have to ask yourself when you go to Falling Rock; “What do I want to drink?” Because the greatest problem to have is too much selection, especially with beer.
The best part of Falling Rock’s commitment to “no crap on tap” is the ability to taste and enjoy the beer from the best breweries in Colorado all in one place. Just be sure you have a designated driver because with great selection, comes great responsibility.
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DENVER, Colo. (KDVR) — Falling Rock Tap House is the original Denver craft beer bar.
Owner Chris Black and his brothers opened their doors in LoDo in 1997. Since then, they have gained a nationwide reputation as one of the premier craft beer destinations in the country.
“My main focus is having really special beers that most bars are not going to get,” Black told FOX31.
During the annual Great American Beer Festival, Falling Rock is one of the places brew masters go to see what’s on tap. It is a pre-game ritual for many Rockies fans.
The pandemic changed all of that.
“It is really, unbelievably quiet,” Black said.
He says they’ve had about three-dozen regular customers visiting each week and are trying to rely on to-go food and drinks as much as possible. However, with their specialty selection of brews meant to be slowly sipped, they just don’t travel very well.
“We weren’t going to make it if we just kept on doing what we were doing,” Black said.
Luckily, for the past 23 years, Black and his team have been slowly amassing a nest egg.
“We have just probably a couple thousand bottles of beer that are vintage,” Black said.
The collection contains very rare, highly sought-after beers from big-name breweries around Denver and the US.
The most prized item is a 750ml bottle of a collaboration blended sour beer made in 2008 by The Lost Abbey Brewing Company called “Isabelle Proximus.” When the Cellar Sale list was posted, the lone bottle sold in one second for $400.
Other notable beers in the collection include imperial stouts, barrel aged sours and barley wines from Great Divide, Avery, Firestone Walker, Russian River and breweries from England and Belgium, too.
“Yeah, it is sad to see some of them go,” Black said. But, “it’s not doing as much good as this place being open.”
Since Tuesday, Falling Rock has sold about 500 bottles of rare beer.
“What we’ve sold so far will give us at least six more weeks of life and if we can sell the whole collection off, that’ll probably give us closer to four or five months where we can hopefully survive through this thing,” Black said.
You can purchase bottles from Falling Rock’s Cellar Sale on their website. Purchases must be picked up locally and are not available to be shipped.
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Does Oskar Blues Still Own Oskar Blues? Brewery Would Rather Focus on the Beer
Oskar Blues Opening Restaurant, Beer Hall and Music Venue in LoDo
Beer Calendar: A New Brewery, a New Brewery Name and Burning Can
&ldquoWe were their very first handle outside of the Lyons and Boulder area in 1998 or 1999. We had them on here forever,&rdquo Black tells Westword. &ldquoTheir company has been successful, and they got that way with the help of a lot of people in Denver. That&rsquos why I feel like a sucker now,&rdquo he adds.
Although Oskar Blues was very much a part of the beer community in the early days, Black says that has changed over the past few years, most recently when Oskar Blues stopped being a member of the Colorado Brewers Guild, which represents the interests of many of the state&rsquos craft breweries in the legislature and elsewhere. Guild spokesman Steve Kurowski confirmed that Oskar Blues is no longer a member the brewery has likewise declined to become a member of the guilds in North Carolina and Texas, where it also has significant brewing operations.
&ldquoSome people say this industry should just be about the beer,&rdquo Black says. &ldquoBut, I say, &lsquoNo, it shouldn&rsquot.&rsquo The industry and the community matters. We&rsquove tried over the last thirty years to create something different. And it is important to know who owns what, and what decisions are made. I have a lot of passion for this. You know things are going to change &mdash they have to. But you still can still keep some things the same.&rdquo
Oskar Blues spokesman Chad Melis says the brewery is actually in the Texas guild and that it dropped out of the Colorado Brewers Guild both because of the cost and because of the organization's direction. He points out that Oskar Blues was one of the Guild's biggest supporters in the past and that it first created its signature event, Burning Can, which takes place next month, as a fundraiser for the group.
But he refuted the notion that Oskar Blues doesn't support the industry or other breweries, saying that the company has always been responsive and helpful, and that it supports the scene with its restaurants.
"Chris has been an early adopter for Oskar Blues, and we want to thank him for playing the role that he did," Melis says. "We will continue to do the things we do. Opening restaurants and matching live music with craft beer is something [Oskar Blues Fooderies] likes to do and is in our DNA."
An open letter to Dale Katechis & Oskar Blues Brewing:
OK, I guess I should elaborate on that even though if I just left it at that, you&rsquod know what I was saying & why I was saying it. But since this is not the first time these subjects have come up in the industry, I&rsquom just going to rip off the band-aid, say it out loud & let people know about the issues.
First off, to brewers (whether Brewpub or Production), I fully support a Brewers right to a Tap Room. I think it is a vital part of building your brewery & its brand. Another vital part of your business if you have aspirations of growth outside your brewery&rsquos building are Tap Handles & Bottles/Cans in the marketplace.
As the industry has evolved & grown, various breweries have come up with differing methods of financing their growth. Whether by taking on increasing amounts of traditional debt (& the perils that entails), Selling out to the Industrobrewers, Selling out to another Brewer, going public, employee ownership, or allowing Private Equity investment, choices abound. Which way is best, which way(s) is/are still &ldquoCraft&rdquo? Well we DEFINITELY know one choice, selling to the Industrobrewers, isn&rsquot Craft. If you choose that route, congratulations on being successful, but don&rsquot give me the &ldquonothing&rsquos changed&rdquo crap, yes it has, you knew it before hand, no one changed the rules mid-stream. Deal with it. The other ways in the list, I think we have to play a wait-and-see game. I think actions speak louder than Press Releases, it&rsquos pretty much the only method we have at looking under the tent of the new entity.
In your case, some of your Brewery&rsquos recent actions point towards a brewery that I feel ISN&rsquoT Craft & therefore I wish to have nothing to do with. In the Craft Beer Industry, it&rsquos either you are WITH it, or you are AGAINST it, there really is no in-between. Starting this year, you have left the Colorado Brewers Guild. This leaves a large hole in the budget of an organization that has helped & fought for your ability to get to where you are today. You don&rsquot belong to the North Carolina Brewers Guild, you informed the Texas Brewers Guild you won&rsquot be joining their organization (the latter was the subject of a recent Austin Chronicle article). I wonder what will happen in Florida. I hear you saying it&rsquos &ldquoCraft Buying Craft&rdquo. I&rsquod be willing to suspend my disbelief if it weren&rsquot for your actions. That&rsquos not Craft. Yes, I know that not every brewery belongs to the Local and National Trade Organizations, just the ones that care about progressing the industry, want to protect it from the Industrobrewers, & want to be able to protect the small brewer&rsquos access to market.
Another action is your announced Music Venue/Beer Hall in Downtown Denver. With 43 taps. Seriously? 4 years (almost to the day) ago you announced a &ldquoletter of intent&rdquo on a building in Boulder to open up another Home Made Liquids & Solids. We had an emotional (& very civil) discussion about my opinion on this subject`. When you want to sell your own products, I am a huge supporter, when your primary goal is to sell other people&rsquos beers, I&rsquom not so much in favor. That&rsquos kinda the job for the accounts out in the marketplace. As you might have noticed, there are over 4300 breweries in the US, 300+ in Colorado alone, I have LOTS of choices, & I choose to spend my money on beers brewed by brewers that don&rsquot actively & directly compete with me. Oh, I understand it&rsquos &lsquolegal&rsquo for you to carry other people&rsquos beers, that doesn&rsquot make it right, or the right thing to do for your brand. You seem to want to be considered a Brewpub when it suits you, and a Brewery when see an advantage in that. Funny, I was always under the impression that there were laws against that here in Colorado (laws designed to keep things from being taken over by the Industrobrewers), but I must be mistaken.
Your actions shout.
Have a terrific life driving your warehouse full of exotic cars.
I was your first account outside of your immediate area of Lyons. I&rsquove been a loyal supporter & account ever since. I feel like such a sucker.
Falling Rock Tap House
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Monday, September 30th
5pm - Our 22nd Annual unOfficial Kick Off to GABF! 20 Beers go on tap when the countdown clock gets to Zero, including Beers from our cellar, beers we collaborated on just for this event, & a few special treats sent in. Look for Cannonball Creek Brewing Company, Horse & Dragon Brewing Company and Upslope Brewing Company to name a few
Tuesday, October 1st
4pm – Deschutes Brewery is bringing a 3-year vertical of Double Black Butte Porter!
4-6pm in the Parking Lot – Roadhouse Brewing Co. with their vintage VW bus
5pm – New Image Brewing Company Expect Delays, the triple IPA Chris brewed with them. If you've driven through Colorado, you've noticed our signs on the roadsides, with all of the construction and traffic in our state, you've also seen a lot of the mobile signs also with the ending phrase "Expect Delays"
Wednesday, October 2nd
3pm - Westbound & Down Brewing Company/Pizza Port Collaboration Tapping
4pm – Great Divide Brewing Co.
4:30-8:30pm in the Basement – Brewers Resource Group
5pm – Bristol Brewing Company Celebrating their 25th Anniversary
9pm – CSA Distributing Showcase with Lawson's Finest Liquids, Toppling Goliath , 3 Floyds Brewpub, Fremont Brewing, La Cumbre Brewing Co., Half Acre Beer Company, Two Roads Brewing Company, Breakside Brewery, and more…
9:30pm in the Parking Lot – Melvin Presents the IPA Throwdown, 21 Special IPA's from all over the country including Forbidden Root, Singlecut Beersmiths, Smog City Brewing, Maine Beer Company, Pure Project, Humble Sea Brewing Co., Toppling Goliath, Pinthouse Pizza, Three Floyds, Beachwood Brewing, and More!
10pm – Crooked Stave’s Cali Night with Societe Brewing Company, Almanac Beer Co, Moonraker and Highwater.
Thursday, October 3rd
Noon – Boulevard Brewing Company/ Ommegang
1pm – Boulder Beer Co. featuring their 40th Anniversary Beer
2pm – Anchor Brewing Company Christmas Preview
3pm – Unibroue
9:30pm in the Parking Lot – Sour Showcase, 21 Sour Beers from all over. Some of the breweries include Alesong, Springdale, Creature Comforts, Jester King Brewery, The Rare Barrel and D9.
10pm – Brouwerji West
11pm – Culture Beverage Showcase featuring Shelton Brothers Imports and more!
Friday, October 4th
11am – Station 26 Brewing Co. Same Day Hazy Ain’t Lazy IPA Tapping
Noon – Sierra Nevada’s Kill A Keg! See if Chris can beat his record of pouring a half barrel of Beer (1 Keg, 1 Faucet, 1 Person), Last Year's Record Setting Time - 6minutes, 19 Seconds
1pm – Rogue Ales & Spirits
2pm – Surly Brewing Company
3pm – Destihl Brewery including Haze of the Dead Funkengruven IPA glassware giveaway
10pm – Ecliptic Brewing
11pm – The Rare Barrel and Alvarado Street Brewery & Tasting Room
Saturday, October 5th
4pm – Avery Brewing Company, we'll dust off a Vintage "Demons" series Keg
5pm – Casey Brewing and Blending
9pm – Vista Brewing
10pm – Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Vintage Parabola plus the debut of a Barrelworks Collaboration Blend with the PNC Bar Owners Group - Rolling Bones
11pm – New Belgium Brewing Join us for the traditional End of the GABF Week, we will pull out a keg of our 20th Anniversary Blend that was done with Philly's Monk's Café - Falling Monk, Plus a special keg of Love, Oscar Blackberry Whiskey Barrel
Falling Rock Tap House: Grab a Beer - Recipes
When Fritz Maytag, one of the first demigods of the craft beer revolution, became sole owner of Anchor Brewing in 1969, he never thought that, in four years, he would unknowingly mark an eleven-year-old with an indelible impression, one so strong that it would endure into adulthood. Chris Black, now 43 and owner of The Falling Rock Tap House in Denver, Colorado, recalls vivid memories of Anchor Steam, discovered by his dad during frequent business trips to California. Anchor Steam, in his dad’s opinion, was worth the price. He brought home a six-pack, and the young “taster” thought it was… unreal!
During high school, Black had the opportunity to spend five weeks in Salzburg, Austria, where he discovered the same type of impressionable characteristics in Stiegl Bio-Paracelsus Naturtrub, a double bock with flavors of cocoa, coffee and toasted caramel. Such flavors were rare in American beer, but his interest in pursuing good beer was piqued by his exposure to the possibilities.
Within a few short years, Black was earning his degree in Cartography and Remote Sensing [with a minor in German] from the University of Texas in Austin, where he discovered Maggie Mae’s Pub. As his palate took sensory note of world beer styles, his mind stole mental snapshots of Maggie Mae’s – the warmth of the lengthy shotgun bar displays of beer bottles from all over the world, lined up like dominoes above the bar the latest in live music, reaching into his guts with orgasmic revelry. He began his own collection of beer bottles. By the time he graduated in 1986, he had amassed 300 different shapes and sizes, displaying silk-screened images or labels printed with highly creative graphics.
With degree in hand, Chris Black searched for a job in Defense Mapping, but the economy had taken a lean turn and there were no prospects on the horizon. He traveled to Germany and Austria, and found himself, once again, at Stiegl, Austria’s largest private brewery. The Stiegl “Brauwelt” is Europe’s largest exhibition of beer, displaying original documents of historical importance, beer curiosities, processes, and beer lore. Once again, the mental camera activated images in his subconscious archive.
He admits that his enthusiasm for beer seduced him into looking for an ever-growing selection of distinctive brews. As a distributor and importer of Paulaner in the Houston area, he discovered The Ginger Man and Monkey Duck. His enthusiasm was infectious, and he began conducting beer tastings on Saturdays, introducing local beer lovers to the higher sophistication of palatable flavors.
In 1995, his dad approached him with an opportunity. Many investors would have asked for a business plan, complete with Powerpoint presentation, financial analysis, a list of assets and your first-born child. Black’s dad, however, asked only for “A Goal.” Chris’s thoughts were clear.
“I want to have one of the best beer bars in the U.S. in 5 years.”
Waves of mental notes poured into his brain. Images of his favorite beer bars beer flavors found in Schlenkerla Rauchbier, Paulaner Salvator, and Fuller’s Golden Pride his growing collection of breweriana a wall of tap handles to boggle the mind of the greatest beer connoisseur music and laughter so intense it could wake the dead.
The best place to do this would be in Denver, Colorado – center of the annual Great American Beer Festival city ranked number-one for beer production per capita in the United States the locale, teeming with successful breweries the area dubbed “Napa Valley of Beer.”
Said Black, “If you want to make a splash in a hurry, that’s where you do it.”
Falling Rock Tap House, 1919 Blake Street, Denver, Colorado, USA, opened in June, 1997. His younger brother Alan managed the bar routine and an impressive list of 69 beers on tap. During the Great American Beer Festival that year, Chris Black handed out 1,200 business cards at the Thursday and Friday sessions. “The Rock” drew such a sizeable crowd, a passing tourist would have thought they were handing out bags of money.
On October 6, 1997, Tom Dalldorf, publisher of Celebrator Beer News in Hayward, California, sent Chris Black a letter: “YOUR PLACE IS F___ING AWESOME!” All capital letters.
In 1998, The Falling Rock was on the Celebrator Beer News list of Top Beer Bars in the USA. By 2004, CBN rated The Falling Rock Tap House as “Top Alehouse in the USA.”
Chris Black admits his ideas for The Rock are taken from those beer bars, pubs and alehouses he most admired. The feeling is excitingly eclectic. He points out the “fine Corinthian-leather ceilings” - vinyl creativity at its best. The walls are lined with 2,200 beer bottles – the ones he remembered to bring home. A vintage Hammonds Ale sign from West Yorkshire, England, whispers memories to those patrons from the Bradford or Huddersfield pubs of the 1950’s and 60’s. Breweriana from Fuller, Smith & Turner in Chiswick, England, reflects passing images. A beer lover can get as many as 75 beers on tap most nights, along with an infinite list of bottled beers from all over North America and the globe.
Chris Black thinks so. He is quick to mention his wife Cheryl, the one woman he “loves, likes and lusts after,” the fun of conducting business in a great industry, and the happiness that comes from being surrounded by people he loves and admires.
Photo above: Chris Black, Tom Dalldorf, and Stephen Beaumont celebrate the final night of the 25th Great American Beer Festival 2006 at the Falling Rock Tap House
Content copyright © 2021 by Carolyn Smagalski. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Carolyn Smagalski. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Carolyn Smagalski for details.
Falling Rock Tap House: Grab a Beer - Recipes
National Geographic magazine speaks volumes through photographs. In the 1960s, the publishers featured a multiple-page piece that narrated the unearthing of Pompeii by archaeo-anthropologists. Glossy pages were flush with artifacts and bodies, frozen in ash, as they advanced through their common, everyday activities. These citizens were caught quite by surprise – a hiccup in time that changed the Pompeian society in a heartbeat. Two thousand years later, Vinnie Cirluzo of Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa California was to resurrect this ancient history by honoring Gaius Plinius Secundus, also known as Pliny the Elder, military naval officer in Chauci, botanist of Rome, author of classical Italian life, and philosopher of Pompeii, with the launch of his award-winning Imperial IPA, Pliny the Elder.
The Elder Pliny, a naturalist and historian, is credited with giving the first botanical name to hops as the wolf among scrubs, because of the natural state in which this aromatic plant grew, entwined within the wild beauty of field and forest. Although this classical Latin name, Lupus salictarius, was eventually changed to Humulus lupulus for purposes of categorization into scientific families, Pliny the Elder was superior in his observation and documentation of plant life, and may well be considered the first hophead of the Roman Empire.
Russian River Pliny the Elder rules as a fitting tribute to its namesake. This luminescent Double India Pale Ale won a Gold Medal at the 2006 World Beer Cup, a Gold Medal at the 2005 Great American Beer Festival, and a Bronze Medal at the 2004 Great American Beer Festival. The icing on the cake was Cirluzo’s 2007 win of the Alpha King Challenge, crowning him as “the Hopfather” among worshippers of the mighty IBU. Brewers from across the country will attempt to knock Pliny the Elder from the top spot as hoppiest beer, while retaining the characteristics of balance and the overall quality of easy drinkability. Beers must be at least 60 IBUs, although Barley wines are prohibited from the competition.
The Alpha King Challenge was founded in 1999 as a tribute to Alpha King Pale Ale, crafted by Three Floyds Brewing in Munster, Indiana. That year, Larry Bell of Bell’s Brewery, Galesburg, Michigan reigned as first Hop King with Two Hearted Ale. Hosted by Chris Black at Falling Rock Tap House in Denver, Colorado, The Alpha King Challenge has grown into the most pleasurable hophead event held in Denver during Great American Beer Festival week.
The Tenth Annual Alpha King Challenge is sponsored by Hopunion LLC, Brewing News Publications, White Labs, and Three Floyds Brewing Company. In 2008, the challenge will be held, once again, at the Falling Rock Tap House, 1919 Blake Street, Denver, Colorado, on Friday, October 10th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. For 2008, beers are submitted through David Edgar at Mountain West Brewery Supply, 787 W. Hemlock Circle, Louisville, Colorado 80027 Phone: 303-402-9158.
- 1999 – Two Hearted Ale – Larry Bell, Bell’s Brewery, Galesburg, Michigan
How to Brew Beer
This guide tells you exactly how to make your first batch of brew with just a handful of special equipment and ingredients.
Making beer at home is easier than you think. It requires just a handful of affordable equipment and special ingredients and it&aposs a great way to learn a new skill while impressing your friends!
Unlike cooking recipes which are expected to take a few hours at most, beer recipes have a timeline that is more like four weeks from beginning to end. While the wait may be long, it doesn&apost take very much work to brew your own beer from malt extract. You&aposll need a few special ingredients and pieces of equipment that can all be ordered online or provided by a local homebrew shop.
There are three major phases in the brewing process: wort making, fermentation, and packaging. Wort making is the step that requires the most work from the brewer, as you make a perfect solution for brewer&aposs yeast to turn into tasty beer. During wort making fermentable sugars from malt are combined with the flavor and antioxidant properties of hops. The next step is fermentation, the time when special yeast bred to ferment wort converts sugar into carbon dioxide (CO2) and ethyl alcohol (ethanol) to make beer. While fermentation happens there is no action required by the brewer because yeast are doing all the work! The final step of brewing is packaging. In most cases homemade beer will go into bottles but it can also go into large bottles called growlers or kegs for serving on draft. A small amount of sugar is added to the beer before it goes into individual bottles. This sugar acts as food for the yeast in the beer which they turn into the CO2 we expect in beer! Yes, all those bubbles in your final brew are from a yeast snack.
What You'll Need: The Key Ingredients
Before beginning the brewing process, you must first understand the four key ingredients necessary to brew a batch of beer: water, fermentable sugar, hops, and yeast. Each ingredient is integral to the recipe and must be cooked in a certain way to yield a successful batch of brew. Understanding their basic qualities and how each ingredient is meant to react with the others is an important aspect of beer brewing.
Water: Water makes up 90 percent of the brew, so using tasty water makes a big difference. If the tap water at your house tastes good to you, then it is fine to use for beer brewing. If you don&apost like the way your tap water tastes, then you can use bottled or distilled water instead. If you use tap water, boil it first to evaporate the chlorine and other chemicals that may interfere with the brewing process. Let the water cool before using.
Fermented Sugar: Malted barley is the ingredient commonly used to fill the sugar quota in a home brew recipe. Some brewers will substitute a percentage of corn, rice, wheat, or other grains to add a lighter flavor to the beer. Beginning brewers should purchase a ready-to-use form of malted barley called malt syrup or malt extract, rather than attempting to malt the grain from scratch, as it is a very complex and touchy process. Using a malt extract will guarantee the fermented sugar is prepared in just the right manner and will act as it needs to throughout the beer brewing process.
Hops: Hops are cone-like flowers found on a hop vine. They lend the bitter flavor to beer that balances out sweetness. Hops also inhibit spoilage and help keep the "head" (the frothy top when a beer is poured) around longer.
Yeast: First things first: Do not use bread yeast for beer brewing! Beer yeast is cultivated especially for use in brewing. Beer brewing boils down to mixing a mash of malted grain (often barley) with hops and then fermenting it with lager or ale yeasts. There are two broad categories of beer yeast: ale and lager.
The yeast you choose helps determine the brew you end up with. Lagers are light, crisp and golden ales, darker and more alcoholic.
Ale yeasts are top-fermenting, which means they tend to hang out at the top of the carboy while fermenting and rest at the bottom after the majority of fermenting has occurred. Ale yeasts will not actively ferment below 50 degrees F (20 degrees C). Lager yeasts are bottom-fermenters and are best used at a temperature ranging from 55 degrees F (25 degrees C) down to 32 degrees F (0 degrees C). As their names suggest, the type of yeast used plays an important part in influencing the type of beer that will be made. Do not rely on the yeast to define the beer, however, as all of the ingredients play a part in the taste and type of beer you will create.
Sanitized for Your Protection
Before you begin brewing, you&aposll need to clean and sanitize your equipment and work area to prevent spoilage and avoid foul tastes in the beer. The saddest situation for a beer brewer is to wait weeks for fermentation only to find the beer&aposs spoiled.
For every step of the brewing process you&aposll need two types of cleaner: one to clean dirt and grime and one cleaner to sanitize surfaces. It is easy for beer to become infected by microbes in the air or left over in kitchen equipment. These microbes can make beer taste like vinegar or sour butter so it&aposs important everything is very clean to avoid those nasty flavors.
Dedicated food-grade sanitizer like Star San
Kettle (at least 4 gallons, but the bigger the better)
For this very simple ale recipe the basic ingredients are available from any homebrew supplier. Read about the hop pellet profiles to pick one that has flavor notes that are appealing to you. Your kettle can be a large stock pot or a specialty kettle ordered from a homebrew supplier.
3 gallons cool water (plus more for sanitizing)
Any 5 gallon vessel with a lid can be a fermenter, but it is important there is a way for CO2 to escape without letting air (containing harmful microbes) into the beer. Most fermenters will use an airlock for this. Some fermenters have the airlock included while others require it to be purchased separately, be sure to read product details.
Baker&aposs yeast will not work to ferment beer. You can find dry brewer&aposs yeast online for less than $5 a pack. An American ale yeast is a good starter yeast because it has a clean flavor and can withstand higher temperatures so the beer doesn&apost need to be in a cooled fermentation chamber.
4 ounces granulated sugar
Silicone beverage tubing (if bottling bucket and ferementer have a spout)
Siphon and racking cane (if bottling bucket and ferementer do not have a spout)
The specialty equipment for this stage is a bottling bucket and beverage line or a siphon and racking cane. If you can find a bottling bucket with a spout it will make the bottling process much easier. If not the classic racking cane and siphon are available at all homebrew shops both in person and online.
Swing topottles don&apost require the purchase of a bottle capper or separate bottle caps. They are good for beginners before deciding to make an investment in homebrewing as a hobby. The bottles must be brown to protect the beer from light. When light interacts with some compounds in beer it can create an undesirable skunky flavor.
The Brewing Process
Follow the steps below, split into the three major stages of brewing, to make your first beer.
Clean your kettle and large spoon very well with an unscented cleaner. Be sure to rinse well.
Bring 2 gallons of water to a boil.
Stir in malt extract adding a little at a time to make sure the syrup does not stick to the bottoms or sides of the kettle. If this happens the syrup can scorch causing burnt and even metallic flavors in the final beer.
Once all the syrup is stirred in, bring the water back to a boil and add ½ ounce of hops. Boil for 55 minutes. Adding the hops will cause the mixture to foam, be prepared to turn down the heat and stir with the metal spoon to avoid boil over.
After 55 minutes add the remaining 1 ½ ounces of hops and boil for 5 minutes. Again, watch for foaming after adding hops.
Fill the sink or another container large enough to hold the kettle with water and ice for an ice bath.
When the wort is finished boiling take the kettle off the stove and put it into your ice bath.
While wort cools in the ice bath, prepare for fermentation.
Sanitize your clean fermentation vessel, funnel, and airlock (if they were not already clean, both clean and sanitize it) ensuring every surface that wort will touch has been sanitized.
Pour the contents of the yeast pack into about 1 cup room temperature water. (If using liquid yeast, read package instructions)
Pour 3 gallons of cool water into the fermenter.
Use the funnel to pour the cooled wort into the fermenter. Shake the fermenter or use a well sanitized spoon to stir the cool water and cool wort together, this will also help aerate the wort which helps the yeast ferment.
"Pitch" the yeast by sprinkling it over the surface of the wort.
Place the lid on the fermenter. Fill the airlock with a sanitizer and water solution and place it in the hole or bung depending on your fermenter. Store your fermenter somewhere dark, and about 65-70ଏ.
After a few hours you will notice bubbling in the airlock. This bubbling will continue for five days to one week and then will calm down. Wait another week after bubbling subsides to package the beer.
Packaging (about 14 days after fermentation began)
Sanitize the bottles by soaking them in the sanitizing solution (make sure to hold them under the solution so the water gets inside of the bottles) for 1 hour. Also sanitize your bottling bucket, and a siphon and racking cane if your bottling bucket and fermenter don&apost have spouts.
Boil one cup of water in a small saucepan. Add sugar and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Pour mixture into the bottling bucket. It is important that you measure your sugar exactly. Too much sugar in this phase could result in too much CO2 in the bottle which can cause bottles to explode.
Place the fermenter full of beer on the kitchen counter and the bottling bucket on the ground below it.
If your fermenter and bottling bucket have spouts:
Make sure the spout on both buckets is sanitized. You can use a paper towel dipped in sanitizer or a spray bottle with a sanitizer solution.
Attach sanitized tubing to the spout on the fermenter and run the wort into the bottling bucket. The beer and the sugar solution will combine at this stage.
Detach the tubing and sanitize it again. Attach the tube to the bottling bucket.
Place the bottling bucket on the counter and the other end of the tube into a sanitized bottle. Run the beer out of the spout into the bottle to fill it to ¾ from the top. Swing the top closed and make sure it is sealed securely.
Repeat on remaining bottles until there is no beer left.
If your fermenter and bottling bucket do not have spouts:
Attach the racking cane to the siphon. Prepare the siphon by filling it with tap water. Pinch both ends of the siphon to prevent the water from running out. Place one end of the racking cane and siphon into a sanitizer solution and one end into an empty jar. When the solution has run into the siphon and expelled all of the water into the jar, pinch both ends and let the sanitizer sit in the siphon for 5 minutes to re-sanitize the siphon. (Resist the temptation to blow into the siphon with your mouth to encourage the flow.)
Place one end of the sanitized siphon into the fermenter and the other end into the jar once the beer has begun flowing through the siphon, transfer the end of the siphon to the bottling bucket. Monitor the speed that the beer transfers into the bottling bucket by pinching and releasing the siphon with your fingers (or use a specialty clamp). The beer should not splash into the bucket it should gently rush into it.
Place the bottling bucket on the counter, attach the siphon and run the other end of the siphon into a bottle. Fill each bottle with beer to 3/4 inch from the top of the bottle. Swing the top closed and make sure it is sealed securely.
Repeat on remaining bottles until there is no beer left.
Allow beer to referment in the bottle in a cool place like a closet for 14 days.
Drinking! (about 14 days after packaging)
Chill all bottles in the refrigerator and enjoy! Because the swing top bottles can allow in a little oxygen it is best to drink the beer within a month.
Raise a toast to yourself and impressing your friends! Ready to try it? Try these recipes:
20 Not-to-Miss Beer Events In and Around Denver
Whether you couldn’t score tickets to the Great American Beer Festival, don’t want to mingle with 60,000 strangers, or just need as many excuses as possible to drink more brew, Denver Beer Week (September 27–October 6) features 160 beer-tastic events that should satisfy your every desire. Here, 20 of our favorite parties taking place prior to and during the week. (Spoiler alert: You may never want to see lederhosen again.)
Oktoberfest at Denver Milk Market | Now–September 29
Perfect for those averse to big crowds, this is one of the more low-key Oktoberfest shindigs around town. Sip fall-inspired beers on tap at the Stranded Pilgrim and feast on Bavarian bites throughout the market. 1800 Wazee St. 11 a.m.–11 p.m. daily
Denver Oktoberfest | September 27–29
For its 50th year, the city’s biggest Oktoberfest celebration will bring out the, well, big guns. And by that we mean wiener dog racing, brat-eating contests, barmaid challenges, costumes galore, barrel rolling, and accordions. Oh yeah, and lots of beer. Beer tickets start at $20 2100 Larimer St. times vary
Prost Brewing Oktoberfest | September 28 & October 5
It would be a crime if this German-style microbrewery didn’t host an Oktoberfest party. Polka Folka will provide the festive live music, while Prost provides the lagers and ales you expect from a brewery named after the German word for “cheers.” Free admission 2540 19th St. 3–6 p.m.
DOGtoberfest | September 28
River North Brewery is combining your two very favorite things: dogs and beer. There will be pups wearing costumes and pooches available for adoption from Big Bones Canine Rescue. Come hungry (for the food), thirsty (for the beer), and ready to have your heart melted (by the dogs, but also maybe by the heat who knows?). Free admission 6021 Washington St. 12–9 p.m.
West Denver Brewery Bike Loop | September 28
Atone for all the calories you’re drinking by biking and…drinking more calories! The West Denver Brewery Bike Loop pedals between WestFax Brewing Company, Joyride Brewing Company, Hogshead Brewery, Seedstock Brewery, and Oasis Brewing. Your efforts over the approximately 3 1/2-hour excursion earn you $1 off a 10-ounce short pour at each spot. 6733 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood 11:30 a.m. at WestFax Brewing Company
Odell Beer Dinner | October 1
Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen hosts a six-course dinner paired with iconic Odell beers, including 180 Shilling, Woodcut, Mountain Standard, Odell IPA, Brett Golden, and a Euclid/Odell collaboration brew, in honor of the Fort Collins brewery’s 30th year. $70 1317 14th St. 6:30 p.m.
Mini American Beer Festival | October 2
Tivoli Brewing Co. promises shorter lines than you’ll find at GABF for its pint-size beer fest, which features 15 breweries and cideries tapping special brews. Tickets get you eight five-ounce pours. $25 900 Auraria Parkway, Suite 240 6 p.m.
5th Annual Mercantile Invitational | October 2
If you like food as much as beer, this might be your can’t-miss event. Acclaimed Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri will join Alex Seidel and nine other master chefs for a paired beer reception and five-course dinner at Union Station’s Mercantile Dining & Provision. $150 1701 Wynkoop St. 6 p.m.
4th Annual All-Star IPA Throwdown | October 2
This isn’t a competition so much as an excuse to drink lots of limited edition IPAs in one convenient, beer-zealous setting. Falling Rock Tap House hosts what is billed as the “official cool kids kick-off party for GABF.” (Non-cool kids welcome, too.) Ticket prices TBD, entitling you to six 10-ounce pours and a souvenir glass 1919 Blake St. 9 p.m.
Brew and ’Cue GABF Kickoff Party at Liberati | October 2
Liberati Restaurant and Brewery will offer two of its oenobeers (brews made with wine grapes) with bites from Aurora-based H3SH3R BBQ on its massive, fountain-adorned patio. You can also try a Manhattan featuring “beermouth”—a vermouth that’s also an oenobeer—part of a collaboration between Liberati and Spice Trade Brewing. $30 2403 Champa St. 4–9 p.m.
GABF Kickoff/Boulevard Brewing’s 30th Anniversary Party | October 2–6
Smōk chef-owner Bill Espiricueta is opening up his barbecue restaurant to fellow Kansas Citians and all those excited about Boulevard Brewing coming to Denver. Besides discounts on special beers all weekend long, the Thursday night party will feature special tappings and $3 chocolate ale mini floats. Free admission 3330 Brighton Blvd. times vary
Falling Rock Tap House: Grab a Beer - Recipes
With 75 beers on tap and another 130 in bottles, the Falling Rock Tap House is a shrine to serious beer drinkers. We make a point to stop by at least once on every trip to Denver, and the place never gets old. The food is basic pub grub -- good, but nothing that hasn't been done before -- but the draw at this place is the beer and the beer people.
19 - 23 of 183 reviews
One of the best beer bars in the world! Incredible tap selection and an impressive reserve bottle selection. If you're traveling from out of town, bring some beer from your local breweries to give to the team there.
If you're looking for a beer and some good bar food, you have to check this place out. I'd guess they have 75+ beers on tap. It is within a block or two of the stadium and a great place to have a few cold ones before the game.
Falling Rock Taproom came highly recommended by a craft beer distributor that I know and I wasn't disappointed--they had a huge variety on tap and in bottles and the wait staff was very knowledgeable. The food was pretty good too--I had the Johnny Cash burger cooked just the way I wanted and very filling (it helped soak up some of that beer!) The chips and guacamole appetizer was fresh and tasty too. My husband enjoyed the philly cheesesteak "unlike any I ever had" probably because it was topped with green chili. The vegetarian in our group had the house made veggie burger--and said it was delicious. I would definitely visit again. Oh, and it's very convenient to Coors Field--just a block away from the Center Field gate.
Denver's ten best draft beer lists
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American Craft Beer Week is in full swing here in the Denver, making our ale and lager-focused city even more enthusiastic about hitting the bars and drinking up craft liquids in celebration of the occasion.
In honor of that, we present Denver's ten best draft beer lists.
Star Bar's tap line may be small, but it's mighty. The place usually features a frequently rotated selection of rare craft brews from our state and beyond, and occasionally hosts a tap takeover, devoting all six lines to one brewery. Recently, the spot has given up all of its keg space to Ska Brewing and New Belgium's Lips of Faith series.
Denver's first brewpub may be operating in a more crowded market now that other beer-makers have moved into the Mile High City, but it's still one of our top spots to grab a draft, sampling the ever-changing (and vast) lineup of beers brewed by Wynkoop itself, supplemented by four or five guest taps. And come the end of the month, Breckenridge will start getting some handles, too, thanks to the joint venture between the two places.
Denver's newest beer hall features some of the best patio views in the city, thanks to its deck facing downtown (and overlooking I-25). And you can drink that in while drinking one of the forty craft beers on tap. Selections are heavy with Breckenridge brews -- since that's the brewery that owns the place -- but there are plenty of other offerings to choose from, too.
A bounty of beers pours forth from Vine Street's taps most of them are brewed at the spot's sibling restaurants, Mountain Sun and Southern Sun, in Boulder. But the brewery still gets a best draft list designation because it supplements its own products with rare finds from all over the country -- including stuff like highly coveted Pliny the Younger from Russian River.
If it's Belgian beer you're after, there's really only one place in town to go, and that's the Cheeky Monk. The Belgian beer cafe features 23 lines of Belgian and Belgian-style ales, including Chimay Cinq Cents, Delirium Tremens and the Duchesse de Bourgogne, a personal favorite. It also has ten taps devoted to very rare American craft beers.
Euclid Hall was envisioned as an upscale beer and sausage hall, and it features a massive list of ales and lagers to go with its heavy foodstuffs. Twelve of those are draft selections, which range from a Colorado-brewed kolsch to Boulevard Tank 7 to Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. And there's always the rotating tap, which always features something fun, including one-off brews made just for Euclid Hall.
It's craft alcohol all the way at Rackhouse Pub, which fronts Stranahan's distillery, and the place has put a lot of thought into what it features on its twenty taplines. Nineteen slots go to Colorado brews -- which gives drinkers an idea of the depth of the beer scene in the state -- and the remaining handle is devoted to a rotating out-of-state keg.
Freshcraft nabbed our award for Best Bottle Beer List for its 100+ geek-tastic selections from across the country and around the world. But this spot also features twenty taps-worth of stuff on draft, too, and each handle goes to a highly sought cool keg. Bonus: tomorrow, in honor of American Craft Beer Week, Freshcraft is doing a tap takeover with Avery, featuring fifteen different selections from the Boulder-based brewery.
When Drew and Leah Watson opened Hops and Pie, they elevated the timeless combo of pizza and beer into something special. That's partially thanks to the couple's love of craft beer, which led them to install 22 taps that pour a rotating selection of craft brews. Plus, every first Friday, the eatery brings in a firkin, a small, cask-conditioned one-off. Cheers.
Falling Rock may very well be the epicenter of beer in a very beer-oriented state, a haven for beer geeks before beer geekiness was cool. But even as the craft beer taps have proliferated across our metro area, there's still no place with a set-up that rivals the 75 handles at the bar where it all began. Falling Rock pours quantity and quality the house sometimes offers some of the rarest selections in existence, ones you'll never find elsewhere in the state. And so it's no surprise that Falling Rock won our Best Draft Beer List award in the Best of Denver 2011.
Honorable mentions go to Uptown Brothers Brewing, the Yard House, Mellow Mushroom and Cheba Hut for their massive lineups.
Know of more spots with good draft lists? Tell us about them in the comments.