Monday, April 19, 2010

Hey everyone,

Jenn and Beer has officially moved! Check out the new digs at


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Native? Really?

Here’s the thing about being native to Colorado. You have to be born here. If you were born somewhere else, you’re not a native. Exceptions can be considered for people who move to Colorado by the age of five. But we Coloradans, we’re pretty picky about the use of the word “native” and its application to our state.

So, when AC Golden Brewing released their Colorado Native lager, I was ready to judge.

Now the premise of this beer is that 99.8% of the ingredients come from Colorado: hops grown at employees’ homes, bottles from Rocky Mountain Bottling Co. in Wheat Ridge, barley from the San Luis Valley, even cardboard packaging from Temple-Island in Wheat Ridge.

I, of course, support the idea of locally grown ingredients – the premise behind it is to lower the carbon footprint of the beer. And Colorado Native is only available in, well, Colorado. So there’s a fun level of exclusivity when it comes to the beer distribution.

But here’s where I have an issue with the beer. In their promotion, the concept of the “Colorado native” is completely ignored by AC Golden. At the release party, there was a large sign describing the beer that asked “Are you a Colorado Native?” and then started its response with: “Being a Colorado Native isn’t really about where you were born; it’s more a state of mind.”

Lies, damned lies all around

Actually, being a Colorado Native is about where you were born. I’ll accept that being a Coloradan isn’t about where you were born; but as an actual, honest to God, native, I know how picky we natives are about using the term “Colorado native.” In most cases, we welcome new people to our state (unless you’re a Lakers fans. And with two days to go until the playoffs start, I’m really going to need the Lakers fans to get out. Now.), but that doesn’t make you a native.

The idea of a completely Colorado based beer appeals to me, a lot. As exciting as it is watching our breweries start distributing throughout the country, it’s nice to have something that’s meant to be exclusively for us back home.

But given how much attention AC Golden Brewing is putting towards its promotion -- much of the press its received has related to the concept and advertising of Colorado Native, rather than the beer itself, the failure in messaging really bothers me. Call it Coloradan Lager, something, anything, just not Colorado Native.

Now about the beer

The beer itself is a flavorful beer pong beer: better than Coors Light, but you wouldn’t mind throwing a dirty ping pong ball into it, then chugging it down without stopping to taste it. Quite frankly, my friends out of state aren’t missing much.

And has anyone else noticed how the packaging of the beer is remarkably similar to Breckenridge’s Avalanche?

Coors, I’m trying to get over my negative feelings towards you, but this Colorado Native thing isn’t helping your cause. Great idea, terrible execution.

If you want something more than just my "Colorado Native" rantings, here are links to a few articles that are more about the production of the beer:

Denver Business Journal


Denver Post

I hope this doesn't make it snow

Top Five Patios:

With spring peaking its head out in Colorado, and then getting smothered by another winter-that-just-won’t-quit, it’s time to think about warm weather drinking. And that means beer on patios.

One of my absolute favorite things to do is spend a warm summer evening enjoying beers on a patio with good company and, preferably, my dog. I obsess over it. When the weather starts to improve I neurotically check the forecast trying to determine when I can partake in this activity.

The criteria are as follows:

beer choice

atmosphere of patio


is Sasha welcome?



Keep in mind, the descriptions and criteria highlight where this place stands out. If the patio doesn’t receive the “service” shout out, it doesn’t mean the service is bad, just not noteworthy.

So here are, in no particular order, my favorite patios around Denver:

1) Vine Street Pub

Good food (with good vegetarian options), great beer on a crowded, but not too crowded street. What more could you want? Oh that’s right, Sasha’s welcome there too, as long as she stays on the other side of the fence.

This is the first place my mind visits when the sun starts to shine. It might be a bit strong on the Grateful Dead/Phish theme, but I’ve never heard anyone criticize it for such, and that includes the friends of mine who shudder at the word “Boulder”.

The one drawback of Vine Street is I’m not the only person who thinks it’s the bees’ knees. I don’t remember the last time I went there and didn’t have to wait at least half an hour for a table. And when the weather improves, the wait only grows. Still, when I eventually get my patio seating, I’ve never regretted losing the time it’s taken to get there.

2) My Brother’s Bar

I’ve only sat on their patio once, but every time that I visit the bar in the winter, I inevitably mumble something about how I wish I could be sitting on the patio.

There are a series of wooden benches that blend naturally into the fence and environment of the stone paved patio. Vines wind over the walls, creating a more intimate atmosphere. The surroundings are like the perfect backyard for a neighborhood party.

The beer selection’s not amazing. I can always find something worth drinking, but it’s a destination I would choose for the atmosphere rather than to educate someone about beer. As for the food, well, all I can say is, this place makes me miss eating meat.

3) Max Gill & Grill

Another backyard type patio. Only this one feels like it should be in Louisiana or Florida. The décor is what you would expect if a Coloradan moved down south and opened up a bar on the waterfront: fairy lights, a few knickknacks without becoming kitschy, beat-up wooden fence and some special element that makes you feel like you’re on the bayou.

The food here is fantastic; it’s by far my favorite non-sushi place to go for seafood. In fact, I know that if I mention their lobster stew, I’ll get an angry “why’d you have to bring that up? Do you have any idea how much I miss it?!” message from a particular friend of mine currently residing in Iowa.

The drawback of Max as a summer beer-drinking patio is that it’s a restaurant. You can’t just sit and drink -- meals need to be ordered, tables need to be overturned. I’ve never been rushed out of the place, but it’s not like Great Divide where you can sit back, relax and drink for a few hours.

Which brings me to…

4) Great Divide

It goes without saying that great beer is drunk on this patio.

Now the environment isn’t the best – Great Divide isn’t in the best part of Denver, which means homeless people wandering past isn’t unheard of, but it’s not enough of an issue that it should deter anyone from going. And I’m fairly certain, though not positive, that Sasha would be allowed to visit Great Divide’s patio with me.

Its location is central enough that it’s a great place to grab a drink after work, but not in the heart of the city so you won’t find every other 9-5er there. Plus, the service is great – Jenny and Collin will get a little overwhelmed when there’s a rush and they don’t have additional help, but spend an hour or so there when the place is empty and they’ll make a point of saying hello the next time you come back.

5) The Meadowlark

I’m kind of cheating here. Their patio isn’t just a patio, it’s a venue. In fact, it was the 2009 Westword's Best Outdoor Stage. But considering the amount of time that I have spent at the Meadowlark this winter, I know this will be my most frequently visited patio this summer.

The patio is essentially the back yard (spend enough time there and you’ll run into at least one of the people who lives there), with a large wooden stage, sandstone tiles covering the ground (a common fixture in Colorado home patios).

In addition to that, the Meadowlark crowd is fantastic. The people are friendly and willing to chat – within a few visits, you start to feel a part of the scene.

The beer is better than I expect at venues, and there are rumors of beer being brewed on site in the future. But, obviously, the selection is nothing special. And considering the crowd of starving musicians that frequent the joint, I’d guess that more PBR is ordered in a night than any other beer is ordered in a week.

Honorable mention:


-good beer selection, great people watching, good food

The Thin Man

-good beer selection, similar atmosphere to Vine Street, but without the food, Sasha’s allowed

-only drawback is the proximity to East and running into everyone I knew growing up when I go there.

The Freeman porch

-great environment, good company, usually good beer selection (menu changes), service could use improvement

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Random thought about Fat Tire

At the game last night I came up with what, in my opinion, is the perfect analogy for Fat Tire:

Fat Tire is to Nuggets games what hot dogs are to baseball games. Yes, there are better options out there; yes, it’s not the most tasty thing ever; but, in those particular circumstances, it’s the only thing that’s right.

In other news

Apologies, once again, for the lack of posts. Life has been getting in the way of me writing. But don’t fret; there will be so much beer blogging in the weeks to come you will miss the days of no-posts.

In fact, next Monday, I, with the help of Greggers, will be launching the Jenn and Beer website. The site will have all you could ever want to know about beer and if it doesn’t, let me know and I’ll find a way to change that.

So spread the word and help support your favorite beer blogger, as she starts this new phase of beer blogging.