Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Beer Post: Striving to be a truely "native beer"

The Denver Post recently ran a story about the AC Golden Brewery asking fans of Colorado Native Lager to help them make the brew truly "native."  Since damn-near all of the hops grown in America are from the Pacific Northwest, it can be very difficult to find large Colorado suppliers of the tasty little buds.  Asking consumers of the product to help in its creation is an ingenious marketing solution to a frustrating problem. 

(The beer in question)

They require 6,000 pounds of pelletized hops each year to brew Colorado Native, and current Colorado hop production is not quite up to producing even that relatively minor amount.  While the back-yard hops will only contribute a tiny percentage of the 6,000 pounds, it's a fun way for local consumers to take ownership of a product they enjoy.

I've always had my misgivings about AC Golden brewery.  Behemoth's like Coors trying to sneak in a steal some business from legitimate independent craft breweries give me the willies.  This guy, however gave them a tentative thumbs up, so I give them a pass.  Besides, as a typically-Boulder localvore, the mention of 100% local anything gets my heart-rate up.  This is a cool initiative, and one that will give me a greater interest in how the end product comes out; especially because conditions in random dude #1's back-yard will be different than random dude #2's.  How will the flavors of the hops come out?  Will the diversity of growing locales tweak the flavor in any meaningful way?  I doubt it, but it's a fun question to ponder.

While I'm on the subject of Colorado hop production, with total crop acreage greatly decreasing this year in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, maybe it's time for growers on the Western Slope to up their yield. With a sag in the US market, and an ever growing demand for hops world-wide, it's an interesting area for agricultural expansion.  Not only would it be good for a beer crazy state like Colorado to have a larger supply of home-grown ingredients, but it would also help AC Coors from having to turn to back-yard hops to get 100% native.


Rico said...

It's fascinating how terroir influences hop flavor as supposed to variety. English Kent Goldings that grow in New Zealand pick up an almost American-like citrus flavor from the volcanic soil there. Colorado-grown Cascade and Amarillo hops tend to be less resinous/citrus and more floral like Czech Saaz hops.

By the way, those people at AC Golden are some of the nicest people ever. Their president, Glenn 'Knip' Knippenberg, is a good ol' boy from Tennessee. When I took a tour, they were so happy I was there. You can tell they're proud of what they do. Craft breweries tend to stay away from lagers, but that's all what these folks do and they do it well.

That Native lager is damn tasty too

RumblinBuff said...

Ooooo, 'terroir', that's a 5-point Bourdain word. I guess my only question is, how much backyard-tweaked hops does it take to throw off the flavor of the whole batch?

I know you're down the the mini-Coors boys, but I just can't get past the monolith standing behind them. Sure, from a brewing perspective, having all the money in the world would help make a great product, and, from a personal perspective, they're great guys, but I get real queasy talking about them. Honestly, I'd rather MillerCoors and Budweiser just stuck to what they do best, and the craft guys stick to what they do best.