Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
It barely seems like five minutes since I last boarded a plane from Denver International Airport back to my home in London but now I'm sat on an American Airlines flight to Denver (Via Dallas/Forth Worth International or as I now like to call it 'The Third Circle of Hell') attempting to pour a frozen solid can of Newcastle Brown Ale into a plastic cup. I was surprised, not pleasantly surprised but surprised none the less to see Newcastle Brown Ale on an international flight operated by an American airline. I shouldn't be because Americans can't seem to get enough of the stuff but it's an excellent example of how times are a changin' and that people want more than just a tasteless adjunct lager on their long haul flight, even if it is a Newcastle Brown Ale slush puppy which yes, I drank anyway.
Be careful with that glass, Lugene
I was soon at my Dad's place in Fort Collins, Colorado and was pleased to see he had stocked his fridge with a few gems to get my holiday (or vacation, for my American readers) started. A bomber of Stone Cali-Belgique IPA was first up, it's mixture of pithy grapefruit and funky Belgian yeast esters got the party in my mouth started, the bottle didn't last long. While Dad cooked me a t-bone steak the size of a mans forearm I tried a bottle of Odell Brewing's new Imperial Milk Stout 'Lugene' named after the Farmer that takes away the Odell spent grain and feeds it to his cattle. The branding on the bottle, as with all Odell beers, is simply stunning and the beer's pretty good to boot. Delicious notes of cacao nibs, caramel and roasted coffee hide the 8.5% ABV immaculately and I find myself enjoying this a lot more than most milk stouts which are generally too sweet for my tastes.
I like to pair strong tasting red meats such as steak with big, hoppy beers as I find that the bitter, citrus flavours cut through the fat better than a darker beer does so I choked back Lugene and cracked open another Stone bomber, this time their hop monster, Ruination. I've had mixed experiences with Stone beers as some of you may know but both the Cali-Belgique and the Ruination were super fresh and in perfect condition. When I've drank Ruination in the UK sure it's been hoppy but it's not been the bitter palate stripper advertised on the bottle. This time though that Gargoyle on the label might as well have leapt off the bottle and started attacking my mouth with a scouring pad. It was supremely bitter, a proper belter of a hop bomb with massive waves of grapefruit and pine being rained on my palate as if from a B-52 bomber, wonderful. Stone beers have trickled back into the UK this month and sure, I'll try them again, now I've tried them this fresh I'm finally convinced they know what they're doing.
Next up was bed, jet lag and thinking about a day of taking it easy in Fort Collins before flying out to Portland, Oregon and getting my first taste of the Pacific Northwest... but I'm on vacation, in beer paradise Colorado, so how the hell am I going to take it easy?