24 September 2009

GABF 2009 Road Trip: Estes Park

While making our trek out of Rocky Mountain National Park we stopped in Estes Park for a brief foray into the world of true Rocky Mountain brews at Estes Park Brewing Company. Nestled in the foothills of the Rockies, this two story brewery also boasts a second story scenic deck for panoramic views of the mountains. We sampled several of their delicious beers before purchasing a mix six pack and heading back down from the mountains to Longmont and Boulder. It turned out our timing was impeccable as Estes Park received a healthy dose of snow the following day.

Renegade IPA

This pours out with a nice copper color that is cloudy in appearance boasting an unfiltered IPA offering. The nose is very balanced for an IPA and offers up lots of malty sweetness to balance out the piney hops. Tastes very sessionable for an IPA and doesn't beat the drinker over the head with hop flavor. Clocks in at just 5.8% ABV which for an IPA could make it a "lawnmower beer". I would order this again if looking for a more balanced IPA.

As far as IPAs go, I would put this up against British IPAs instead of American IPAs. The aroma is lightly hopped with a prominent honey and malt sweetness. The bitterness is similar to that of a stronger pale ale. The hop flavor contains both pine and grapefruit and is balanced by a caramel and orange sweetness. This is an incredibly balanced IPA. A nice dry finish encourages successive drinks.

Sampson Stout

First off I think it's really cool that a portion of the proceeds from the Sampson Stout are donated to help apprehend and prosecute poachers in and around the Rockies. There was a lot of press up at the brewery about this program and I think it's really a great cause! If that wasn't enough to get you to try the Sampson, it pours very thick and black. Not a lot of light escapes the beer and it has very little head retention. The nose is filled with dark chocolate and roasted notes. When you take the first sip it's mostly chocolate and then subsequent tastes bring out the oatmeal stout flavors and just a hint of that bourbon sweetness without the alcohol burn. This beer brings you back for more and has a dry finish as to not overload the palate.

From the aroma of this beer, you would expect it to be a coffee stout. Dark chocolate, coffee and roasted malts are all easily found in the nose. This is a very sweet stout with flavors of sweet cream, cocoa, brown sugar, vanilla and a hint of coffee. This beer tastes much richer than you might expect with an ABV of 5%. This is a very nice sweet stout.

Estes Park is home to the famous Stanley Hotel, or as it is known in The Shining, "The Overlook Hotel." While exploring the famous hotel, we took notice of a few beers that were exclusive to the hotel. It turns out that Estes Park Brewing Company brews two special beers specifically for The Stanley. Redrum Ale and 217 Ale. These weren't available in the Brewery for take-out which was too bad!


  1. I thought they might brew a "Here's Johnny" Red Ale. Or possibly a "Danny's Not Here Mrs. Torrance" IPA.