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The Limited Release Series Continues . . .

April 27, 2012


Foreign Style Stout is Upslope Brewing’s First Limited Release

February 9, 2012

We’re excited to announce the first in a series of very limited release beers.

Just as upslope storms summon snow to the Front Range, so does the craft beer enthusiast’s desire for a dark and wintry brew. It’s stout time in Colorado!

Matt Cutter, Founder of Upslope Brewing Company, tells the story behind this new release:

“We’ve always wanted to can one of the specialty beers that we brew as a limited release, and finally have built the capacity to do so. Our Foreign Style Stout has been a tap room favorite since it was originally brewed as our first anniversary beer two years ago. With only 200 barrels of this beer being brewed in January and February, it truly deserves its ‘limited release’ status“.

Sometimes called an export stout, our take on a traditional Irish style is roasty but corduroy smooth and well-balanced both in malt character and hop bitterness.

Upslope Brewing Company, a microbrewery located in Boulder, Colorado, taps into the beer enthusiast’s active lifestyle by offering superior quality hand-crafted ales in cans. The teaming of fine ales in cans allows Upslope’s products to be fresh, portable, and delicious.

Shirt Off My Back: Black Shirt Brewing Company

October 19, 2011

The 15 Barrel "Loaner" at Upslope Brewing Company

The highest highs and the lowest lows . . . it’s what makes life worth living.

The industry continues to blow me away with good souls, believing in their craft, a craft that lost its way in this country a century ago. However, all is not lost. The good news is that there are passionate people out there recovering the course. So sit down, grab a pint, and I’ll tell you a tale.

It’s July 2011. The beer gods had smiled down upon us and the expansion we put in place last March proves to be inadequate. More capacity is once again needed and the next fermenter is 3 months out. I’m in a sales meeting and Luke casually mentions, “I talked to Chad at Black Shirt, and he said that we could borrow one of his tanks if we want.” I had briefly met Branden from Black Shirt, but never Chad, so I called him up. Chad says, “Yeah, we’re still renovating our space and our tanks have already arrived. You’re welcome to them.” On Saturday morning I hooked up the trailer that we borrow from Phil, the welder in #14,  to my 2001 Jeep Cherokee and headed down to 38th and Downing in Denver. As I rolled down I-25, the Jeep gnashed out a sound under the hood that resembled a metallic maraca. The smell wasn’t too bad, so I tried to ignore it.

Chad and Branden Miller and some very good friends emerged with white faces powdered with concrete dust. They were cutting trench drains in the 4000 square foot former tavern and brothel (can you say, good karma?) that will one day soon emerge as Black Shirt Brewing Company. Passion for what they are creating seeps from their pores, and long hard days are fueled by it.

The 15 barrel fermenter was already sitting on the forklift, ready to go . . . as if these guys had nothing better to do. I described the Jeep’s mechanical challenges. Chad informed me that the clutch from the A/C was “grenaded” and that really bad things could happen if I continued. Without a second thought, he hooked up his pickup truck to the trailer as my Jeep was hauled off to the shop. Truly realizing the situation as I was driving north to Boulder, I called my wife. “Would you believe that I am driving a borrowed pickup truck, towing a borrowed trailer that is loaded with a borrowed 15 barrel fermenter to the brewery right now?”

I asked Chad if I could pay him rent and he declined. We have been continuously brewing into the fermenter since the day it arrived.

Down this crooked path of life, if you pay attention, doors open and people surprise you. Black Shirt Brewing Company is carving out a space to bring artisan craft beer to Coloradans seeking what beer has the capacity to be. The Red Ale Project is truly unique in its scope and purpose. Support these guys, because they represent all that craft beer used to, and what it has the potential to be.

Upslope Pumpkin Ale: Good as Gold

October 8, 2011

Upslope Craft Lager Honors It’s Upstream Roots

June 22, 2011

Introducing No. 3: Upslope Brown Ale

November 22, 2010

From homebrew adventure to third can, here is the story of how Upslope Brewing’s newcomer evolved from concept to reality.

It’s September 2009. Tap Room Manager and avid homebrewer, Chad Pieper, brought in a bottle of one of his latest concoctions. It was his first attempt at a brown ale. He wanted something a little non-traditional.

Sure the British introduced the Brown Ale way back in 17th century. It was light brown and sweet, and brewed exclusively with brown malt. Chad decided that this was a good foundation, but as Americans do, the style needed to be Americanized. It needed to be roasted, and malty, and it needed to be a little more bitter than the style that was an English second cousin to the mild ale.

As the bottle of homebrew was emptied into small glasses, the brewers took notice. Chad brewed another batch. The sampling continued. The brewers scaled the recipe up to a 4 barrel batch. The tap room starts to serve it. More brown is brewed and it starts to generate interest at local restaurants and taverns. It goes on tap for the ski season at Eldora Mountain Resort. Over several months, the brown becomes a mainstay in the tap room. 

It didn’t stop there. We continued to tweak the recipe; switch up the specialty malts, bring out new flavors and finishes with different yeast strains, and combine American hops with the English hops. In time, we gathered feedback from our customers in the tap room and wherever it gathered a following in local restaurants and taverns.

As the brewery expanded in March, the potential for a third can gained interest. Summer came to the Front Range and the new fermenters were brimming with ale intended for rusty red and indigo blue cans. The idea is shelved.

With yet another expansion in the works, ideas bubbled up again. Is it finally time? Which style would it be? Looking toward the history we had with our beloved brown ale, and our customer’s call of “Do you have anything darker in cans?”, the wheels are set in motion.

What color should the can be for a brown ale? Well . . . green, of course.

Design, label approvals with the TTB, coordinating with our can supplier for dies and plates and production slots, and the inevitable pilgrimage to Worland, Wyoming by Henry Wood to approve the perfect production details, the cans are manufactured and roll their way seven hours south to Boulder. In anticipation, a few days earlier the final recipe of  the brown ale is brewed into the 30 barrel fermenters for the first time. Packaging is planned.

Not because of carefully planned schedules and marketing hype, Upslope Brown Ale is loaded onto our vans and pickup trucks and delivered to our retailers . . . two years to the day that our first two cans were first delivered from a little known brewery in North Boulder. The Monday before Thanksgiving just seems to be a good day for us.

From the adapted kegs of a homebrew system that’s still missing one of it’s wheels, and the creativity and ingenuity of a certain homebrewer, Upslope celebrates it’s homebrewing roots with this third offering. We humbly ask you to give it a try, celebrate it’s malt character and roasted flavor, and raise a can to Chad!

Two Years and Counting

November 4, 2010

It’s been quite a year.

On November 6th, we mark our second year. Let’s recap some of the highlights:

December 2009: One of Matt’s first homebrew recipes makes it to the production system. The kettle boils orange peel and juniper berries for the first time. Upslope Christmas Ale is born.

January: Killer cold snap. Luke is delivering beer in Denver and it freezes in the back of the van while he’s delivering! Protecting our fans, the beer comes back and is “liberated”. At their request, we ship a case of beer to Maxim Magazine. They think our Pale Ale is the bomb and deems it “Best Pale Ale”.  We buy a bunch of issues . . . for the articles, of course.

February: Our first profitable month ever, by a few hundred bucks. Matt starts sleeping again. Brewer Alex talks Matt into brewing a Belgian Quadrupel Ale which finally mellows out in August.

March: Our first 30 barrel fermeters and brite tank arrive, doubling our capacity. By some twist of fate, we end up not dropping them as we attempt to get them vertical with a forklift and straps.  There is much rejoicing. It becomes difficult/impossible to move full fermeters out of the way for the new arrivals. Production takes a hit while the brewery is “rearranged”.

April: Picking up the pieces from March. Director of Sales Henry and Sales Associate Luke sell so much beer that the van is sent to the shop limping.

May: With the plan for the third can in the works, Head Brewer Dany says, “Maybe we should see how the summer goes with the Pale and IPA first.” Henry and Matt contain their excitement and go with the flow. Summer unfolds and Dany is proven correct.

June: Beer festivals, beer festivals, beer festivals. We buy a second jockey box to handle the conflict with 2 festivals/one day. Top Rope Mexican Style Craft Lager, brewed by Upslope, debuts at Big Red F restaurants. People seem to like it.

July: The ill-fated voyage of the Upslope crew on bikes to several breweries in town is attempted. We’ll call it “team building”. Fellow brewers take very good care of us and Tap Room Manager Chad proves that sitting in a lawnchair on a bike trailer is not necessarily a safe mode of transportation. 

August: We roll out new 12-pack boxes and trays from North Star Packaging that are Sustainable Forest Initiative certified and made of 100% recycled content. The planet gives us a wink.

September: Baby bear pumpkins from Munson Farms make their way to the employee’s ovens. Alex brews 7 barrels of a killer pumpkin ale. Chad and Henry roshambo over who gets the majority of kegs. Henry wins, but Chad gets to shine with 9News during the GABF.

October: The new canning line brought to us from our next door neighbors, Alexis and Jeff at Wild Good Engineering, starts to do what we had always hoped it would do. We are mesmerized at the idea of something actually being semi-automated in our brewery.

November 6th: Upslope Brewing Company celebrates two years of officially being on the planet with bands, and BBQ, and 17 (that’s right . . . 17!) different Upslope brews that Chad has been hoarding for this very event. He likes to put on a good show.

The road has been hard, but true. We are wiser, but also just a few steps from the trailhead. Your belief and support has brought us this far. Your reaffirming comments and stories feed us as we continue to strive to brew the best beer that we know how. We’d be honored for you to celebrate with us. Join us, if you can, to raise a pint.

Upslope IPA and Chili-Rubbed Steak: Like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire

August 23, 2010

Since as long as I’ve known, a few times a day, you decide the meal that your appetite and taste buds desire and take the necessary means to make it happen. The next thought, instigated from an equally primitive part of the brain, is that you might get thirsty as you enjoy that meal. What beverage would go well with my meal? Let me present the idea that perhaps we’ve been backwards all along.

The liquid portion of our meals have forever been treated as an assessory. It’s become the pattern of the tie or the size of the hoop to complement the the jacket, the dress, the main event.  Lately, on the rare occasion that I find myself out and about enjoying a meal at a restaurant, I search my palate for the ale or lager that will put me where I need to be. Then comes the grub that fits it.

If you have yet to attend a dinner that pairs different beers with courses of a meal, consider yourself behind the times. This is not just the pursuit of beer geeks seeking out an excuse, but rather an acknowledgement of the ability of this combination of ingredients to create a flavor that uniquely blends with certain culinary creations. While wine absolutely has its place in food pairings, grapes and yeast do not have the variety of knobs and levers (read: water, malt, wheat, barley, hops, spices, yeast, etc.) available to a brewer.

Upslope India Pale Ale is completely unique within the IPA category, with its complex malt character, traditional copper color,  and well-balanced hops. I accidentally discovered the perfect food to be paired with our IPA. Hands-down it’s chili-rubbed steak. While we’ll take care of the IPA part, your job is to create the pairing:

Chili-Rubbed Steak

2    12-ounce beef rib eye or new york strip steaks

1     tablespoon chili powder

1     tablespoon olive oil

1  1/2  teaspoons dried oregano, crushed

1/2  teaspoon salt

1/2  teaspoon ground cumin

Trim fat from steaks. Place steaks in a shallow dish. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Spoon spice mixture over steaks and rub all that goodness in with your fingers. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.  Grill the steaks for 12 to 15 mins depending on your tastes, flipping halfway through. Cut steaks into serving size pieces and crack an Upslope IPA for each steak served.

Brewing Beer and Making Music

July 22, 2010

Fellow brewers at Upslope Brewing finishing up "Key Note Wit" (left to right: Matt Cutter, Kyle Hollingsworth, Chad Pieper)

Once in a while, as a result of following your passion, your path will cross with another, following a different passion. Because you are both, obviously passionate, a mutual respect is shared no matter what each has come to pursue. This is a story about what happens when passions collide.

I fell into a unique opportunity to homebrew with a rock star. My introduction to the world of jam bands was not with the Grateful Dead or Phish, it was with the String Cheese Incident. When the music is right, and the audience and band are sharing this undescribable vibe, a temporary experience, in this case an “incident”, erupts and transforms you to a hightened state of emotion. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, then go experience it for yourself.

Kyle Hollingsworth has been homebrewing since his brother passed on his homebrewing kit when he was 18. At first, it was all about making beer when you couldn’t buy it, but over the years it became a passion that would ebb and flow with the desires and demands of his music. But just like setting aside that guitar when life got hectic and picking it up again when the time was right, it never left him.

Until Kyle came to the Upslope Tap Room one morning and shared his thoughts and experiences, I never really considered the parallels between brewing beer and making music. We set a course for a recipe. What should we brew? What could we create that would be worthy of Kyle’s Brew Fest?

As we were creating this “not your father’s Oldsmobile” Belgian Wit, the ideas started flowing. What kind of yeast? Let’s talk spices. What kind of flavors would elderberry give? What if we introduced a different spice at every part of the process? Let’s create a base malt and a separate adjuct malt that we would blend mid-mash. Chad threw a little history at us about how the Belgians would often blend mashes 1/3rd at a time. It’s old world, but worthy.

Creating a homebrew from a recipe in a book is one thing. An admirable thing. Taking some basic knowledge and creating a recipe with a myriad of malt, hops, spices, and this crazy old-school mini-mash is a whole different deal. You’re going for broke. You’re either going to be  a hero or  a bum. This exact concept also applies to music. Kyle says that it is so.

Kyle, Chad and I put ourselves out there on this extended musical jam. The resulting  Belgian Wit was spiced 3 times at different points in the brewing process: coriander in the mash, orange peel in the kettle, and chamomile during fermentation. What we ended up with was a light, sun-kissed, flavorful wheat that very gently teases you with light spices throughout the tastebud dance.

Come experience this and other homebrew collaborations with Kyle at Kyle’s Brew Fest, July 22nd at the Great Divide Brewing Company.

Crested Butte to Aspen Pearl Pass Klunker Tour, September 1978

April 14, 2010

Photo courtesy of Wende Cragg, Rolling Dinosaur Archives, copyright 2008. Account below written by Joe Breeze for Upslope Brewing Co.

The ride that made mountain biking epic. Founded in 1976 by Crested Butte Hotshot firefighters, the ride’s goal was to one-up Aspenites who rode motorcycles over Pearl Pass to Crested Butte. The 1978 ride was the first edition to attract outsiders, with six riders making it out from California, including one woman (whose camera captured this image). In contrast to the Buttians, who rode old Schwinn clunkers and did most of their training at the Grubstake Saloon, the Marin riders actually trained on bikes and half of them sported state-of-the-art chrome-moly steel Breezers. They were immediately accused of cheating.

Seen here, are the thirteen survivors at the top of 12,700-foot Pearl Pass. They are, left to right (bike in parenthesis): Wende Cragg, Fairfax, CA (Breezer); the infamous “Neil Murdoch,” Crested Butte, CO (’50s Schwinn); Richard Neilsen, Hotchkiss, CO (’60s Schwinn); Charlie Kelly, San Anselmo, CA (Breezer); Joe Breeze, Mill Valley, CA (Breezer); Jim Cloud, Crested Butte, CO (’50s Schwinn); Bob Starr, Crested Butte, CO (’50s Schwinn); Richard Ullery, Crested Butte, CO (’50s Schwinn); Gary Fisher, San Anselmo, CA (’38 Schwinn); Archie Archiletta, Crested Butte, CO (’50s Schwinn); Chris Carroll, Crested Butte, CO (’50s Schwinn); Albert Maunz, Crested Butte, CO (’50s Schwinn); Michael Castelli, Point Reyes, CA (’30s Schwinn).

This image and the description above hang in a prominent place in the Upslope Tap Room. It epitomizes the idea that all of what we enjoy doing in the outdoors of Colorado didn’t just happen by chance. There were certain crazed and passionate people, remote places, and often some rudimentary technology that bridged concept to reality.

It’s 1978 and Crested Butte has one paved street, 1500 hearty souls, and a wild group of Grubstake Saloon regulars who rode bikes designed for paper boys’ early morning deliveries. The Pearl Pass Tour was in its third year, but this year was different. Avid mountain bike pioneers from both coasts wanted to experience the climb to 12,700 feet that the Buttians had achieved in previous years. Gary Fisher flew in from his Bicycling Magazine gig in NYC for a shot at Pearl Pass. Joe Breeze and friends traveled from Marin County with their modified rides to bridge the ideas and comaraderie that would eventually form the roots of what we know today as mountain biking. That hardtail 29er that you just picked up at the local shop, those endless trails that you seek out every season . . . did it all just kind of happen?

As the California 12-speeds rocketed up the pass, the locals found themselves pushing their single speed Schwinn klunkers all the way up to camp, near the switchbacks around Pearl Pass. There they met up with a supply truck, bringing dinner and well-deserved rehydration, a keg of Coors, provided by the propietor of the Grubstake. After a night out on the pass, the riders descended into Aspen, following a narrow trail through loose rock and boulders.

The road over Pearl Pass, built circa 1884 for mule trains to bring ore from mining camps near Aspen to the railhead at Crested Butte, played an important part in the history of the area. Almost a century later, a group of locals saw that same road as a challenge to do what no one had ever done before and, little did they know, help establish a sport that would change Colorado forever.

There is little question as to why the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame is located in Crested Butte, Colorado. Let’s remember why and celebrate it by clipping in and swooping down those trails just a little bit out of our comfort range.