Monday, March 25, 2013

Arvada Beer Co.

Arvada Beer Co. is one of the tons of little Denver-area breweries that have popped up in the past couple of years. Shamefully, I had not visited them until this past weekend when I had to drop of my 2013 National Homebrew Competition entries*.

According to Google Maps, Arvada Beer Co is located a mere 12.6 miles straight North of my house, which is less than a half hour drive. Heck, I should be able to ride my bike there in around an hour.

5600 Olde Wadsworth Boulevard
Arvada, CO 80002

I had never been there, but I felt sort of like I knew Cary and Kelly Floyd, because I hear them about once a month on my pod-casts of the Colorado Craft Beer Show, which I listen to every week. Turk and the Gubna currently broadcast once a month from Arvada Beer Co.

Both Kelly and Cary were extremely successful home-brewers before starting their dream business back in October 2011. According to the website, they have won 400 awards in the last 7 years. I know from listening to them that most of these (all of them?) were while they were home-brewers. They are a typical small local neighborhood brewery in that they serve most of their beer right from the tasting room of the brewery, which is located in an awesomely beautiful building right in the heart of Historic Olde Town Arvada.

Again, it is downright shameful that I have not made my way up there until now.

I made the trek up to Arvada on Sunday. I gave the tap-room bartender my home-brews and then ordered a flight of everything they had on tap. All the beers were wonderful. I got to talk a bit to Cary Floyd while sampling their beers. He is a nice guy, and I had fun talking to him. He does not look anything like I pictured from the Colorado Craft Beer Show, but I did recognize his voice from the radio.

I started out with their Water Tower Wheat, which is a nice Bavarian Hefeweizen. There was a bit of banana and clove in the beer, but I thought very much in the background. This is how I think all Hefeweizen should taste. It was about 5.2% ABV and lists 12 IBUs. According to Cary, this is probably their 2nd best seller, but it is a very close 2nd.

The 2nd beer I had was Ralston’s Golden Ale. It is a 5.2% ABV beer with 25 IBU’s. It is a crisp refreshing easy drinking malt oriented beer. I knew that this would be my wife's favorite. I asked Cary what style he would call it, and he said he has entered it as a blonde. Very good.

Next was Goldline IPA. This was my favorite of the flight. It is 6.2% ABV and says it is 70 IBU's. It is exactly what I like in an American IPA. Not too bitter with lots of hop flavor. This won the Bronze medal Colorado State Fair 2011.

And then I had the Olde Town Brown Ale. It is a nice session Brown at 4.3% ABV and around 15 IBU. It is nice and biscuity with a fair amount of chocolate malt flavor. Personally, I would have liked this beer with more American hop character, but it was wonderful non-the-less.

Next was the O'Harrow's Irish Stout on Nitro. This was also pretty low in ABV at 3.8%. It was nicely balanced, and I think a great example of what an Irish Dry Stout would be.

The Engine 1 Pale Ale was next. I thought this was a great Pale Ale. It is around 5.2%ABV. I did not note the bitterness, but I will say that it was perfectly balanced.

I also had their Lemon Shandy, which is their Water Tower Wheat mixed with fresh lemonade. This is the Best Lemon Shandy I have ever had. I am still not a fan of Shandies, but I didn't really mind this one that much.

I had their Flannagan's Irish Red, which was also on Nitro. It is listed at 4% ABV and 16 IBU. I think I would have preferred this carbonated rather than on Nitro, but I certainly have no complaints about this beer.

Their Milk Stout was my least favorite beer. I thought it tasted too sweet, although I am sure it is probably right as it should be. Not their fault that I don't really like sweet beers.

The final beer of the flight was a 5600 Dark Ale, which was freshly tapped. I had the honor of being the first on untappd to check into this beer. The tap-room bartender described it as like New Belgium 1554, but I disagree with him. It is very much like the NB Grand Cru that I had on the tour in June of 2011. I thought this was a very nice beer.

After sampling all the beers, I got a growler of the Ralston’s Golden Ale to bring home to my wife. She was disappointed that she could not come with me, so I promised to bring her back something, and this was what I thought she would enjoy the most. At some point I will be sure to bring her along to Arvada Beer Company.

Such a nice neighborhood brewery.

*In case you were wondering, the beers I dropped off for the NHC were:
This is only my second competition, and my first as big as NHC. I know my batch of Snowball's Chance is severely under-carbonated. I expect Khazad-dûm might be a bit young to do well as a Schwarzbier. I am also wondering if it is also under-carbonated. Category 23 is wide-open, so I sort of think QLC is not extreme enough to do well in that category. I think Sasquatch Hunter will do well as a Northern Alt, but probably not top 3 in the whole Denver area.

In short, I don't think I have anything that will advance to the 2nd round. This competition is more about getting score sheets as feedback. We'll see how it goes.


  1. good article.
    Greetings from Bosnia, we home brew here too :)

  2. Good to hear from you, Anonymous. Home-brewing is an international past-time. That is awesome.