Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Colorado 2013: Day 3 - Downtown

Day three of our beer adventure found us starting with lunch at Phantom Canyon Brewing in downtown Colorado Springs. This was another of the places we'd visited ten years ago and after a brief look inside and settling on a patio table I found it to be much the same as I remembered. The tap list consisted of six year round beers and an additional five specialty brews. I can't say that any of them sounded overly exciting so I played it safe, starting with The Streamliner IPA. While it was malty, enough of the hop profile from the four varieties used stood out to make it a solid IPA in my book. Two of my cohorts opted for pale ales, one with Kakapo, a New Zealand Pale Ale and one with Two Moons Pale Ale. The Kakapo utilized Pacific Jade hops which I don't think I've had previously and provided a mid-tongue pepperiness. Two Moons went with Summit and Apollo hops and came across as more heavily bodied and malty, which I preferred. While none of the beers we tried were particularly thrilling, none of them were bad or off, most likely anyone could find something on their beer menu that would work.

Once finished with our beers and lunch we sauntered across the street to Judge Baldwin, situated within a Hilton. As we settled into chairs and took a look at the beer menu we were surprised not to see any of their beers on tap. To be sure that we weren't missing something we asked the waiter and he confirmed that they were no longer brewing (even though the brew house still appeared to be intact behind the bar). They had discontinued brewing operations a year prior and although their tap list was better than one would find in most hotels we decided to move on.

Just a few blocks away was Il Vicino, a third place we'd previously been to, that was primarily a wood fired pizza restaurant. At this point I figured there was a 50/50 chance they would still be brewing. Luckily we found out they were and with three options available we readily ordered up a pint of each plus one of Bristol's Laughing Lab (that hadn't been available at the brewery). The Pig Tail Blonde Ale was very carbonated and although much sweeter than I would have expected for the style, it was a pleasant honey sweetness that wasn't bad. The Slow Down Brown was roasty without being too sweet, something that was a concern after the Blonde. The final of the three was Wet Mountain IPA and while either the amount of hops or possibly the use of German Northern Brewer hops wasn't something that appealed to me, at least one of my cohorts found it pleasant.

As we were drinking our beers the manager explained that while they no longer brewed on this site for their Colorado locations, their New Mexico locations did still brew. Apparently in 2007, after the opening of two Denver locations, the Colorado Springs location could no longer keep up with demand and they contracted Bristol to brew their recipes (which explained the presence of Laughing Lab on tap).

Not being in the mood to linger we concluded our time in downtown Colorado Springs and headed east in search of a couple newer breweries, praying to the beer gods for better luck in the latter half of the day. Check back tomorrow to read all about it.

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