Being a dedicated beer lover and Boulder-ite has its advantages. There are plenty of outstanding breweries on my doorstep, just waiting to tickle my fancy with their latest concoctions. Boulder Beer, the elder statesmen of the Boulder brewing community, has been dishing up some great brews since 1979. Avery (a strong favorite of mine) has been pushing palette limits with their "big beers" since the early '90s. Just up the road in Longmont, Lefthand Brewery holds its own with their Boulder County brethren. It seems as if there is an endless supply of great local brews and breweries to keep my attention.
Considering this, it is no small feat when a newcomer makes me sit-up and applause. For over a year now, Upslope Brewing Company has been been making quite a name for itself. Proud to be "Boulder's newest brewery," Upslope is tucked into a small shopping center/office park in No-Bo (North Boulder). Currently they only produce 2 beer varieties for market (an IPA, and the magnificent Pale Ale, which I'll discuss in a bit), but if you swing into their tap room, they typically have other varieties on tap.
Breaking with the craft brewing industry standard, they can all of their beers. While I find this weird, just for comparative reasons, it fits with their stated goal of taping into, and catering to, Boulder's active lifestyles. Canned beers are easier (and lighter) to pack in and pack out on hiking and camping trips. While I am usually never seen on any hiking or camping trips, I do appreciate their catering to this massive section of the local market.
This past weekend, on a beer-induced whim, a friend and I ventured over to Upslope's rather unassuming taproom. Wonderfully simple, the tap room has about enough space for 25 standing people, with a nice collection of beer magazines and books. There's even a corn-hole game outside, to help you pass the time.
While there, I sampled their stout, which as of yet is only available at the brewery. It was wonderful. I usually avoid stouts, because I find they can either taste watered down, or become overblown by the roasted malt flavor. That was not the case with Upslope's version. There's a wondrous full character to the beer. A pleasant floral hop character dances in the background of the excellent roasted malt flavor. Not too strong, or too weak, this beer gets it right. I found it to be a stellar brew.
Before I left, I also purchased a 6-pack of Upslope's signature pale ale. I really love this beer; it's so well crafted. There is a nice "twang" to the hops up top, and then the beer settles in on the palette, delivering a smooth malty finish. Pale ales are what I consider "staple beers." It's like a smooth jumper in basketball; if you can do that well, you find playing time, regardless of your other abilities. In brewing, if you can make a good version of a pale ale, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt on everything going forward.
Really, Upslope is everything I want in a brewery. They're small, unobtrusive, intelligent, and they don't forget who they're brewing for. Sometimes, I feel that breweries get caught up in the process, in the engineering challenge of beer, rather than focusing on why people drink beer in the first place: flavor and fun. Outlandish brewing is fun, sure, but I'll come back if the beer tastes good. I love the concepts of brews that test the boundaries of a brewers ability (see the bottle of Sink the Bismarck! that's making its way to my doorstep), and I love to sample them, but I will come back to buy 6-packs of basic pale ales. It's no small point. I highly expect Upslope to do well, because of that.
I highly suggest, if you haven't already, that you take a trip up to No-Bo to visit Upslope. It's worth your time.