Look to the moun­tains for the best pair­ings

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By John Frank, The Den­ver Post Here are Dave Thi­bodeau’s picks for 2016: Fa­vorite Colorado beer of the year: My fa­vorite

To pick Colorado’s top craft beers and brew­eries in 2016, The Den­ver Post sur­veyed more than two dozen brew­ers and ex­perts to re­flect on the year in beer and look for­ward to 2017.

The third in­stall­ment in the 6th an­nual Beer in Re­view se­ries fea­tures Dave Thi­bodeau, the pres­i­dent and co-founder of Ska Brew­ing in Du­rango. (See his 2015 picks.)

Ska Brew­ing is a main­stay in the Colorado beer scene and cel­e­brates the le­gal drink­ing age with its 21st an­niver­sary this year. The brew­ery con­tin­ues to re­lease new beers, in­clud­ing its Amer­i­can pil­sner, Pils World, and re­cently the lim­ited-re­lease of De­men­tia, a pale ale aged in bour­bon bar­rels. beers of­ten have to do with the cir­cum­stances in which I’m drink­ing them. I was on an an­nual bike trip from Du­rango to Boul­der with friends from Avery, Great Di­vide, Epic, Left Hand, Boul­der Beer and Ari­zona’s Dark Sky, and the last day was 100plus miles from Breck­en­ridge to Boul­der over Love­land Pass. When we sum­mited Love­land, it was still early in the day and we were pretty wrecked from beers and miles. David Ax­el­rod showed up from Bro­ken Com­pass with growlers of their Co­conut Porter — nor­mally not my fa­vorite style, but it tasted soooo good! A per­fect beer­moun­tain-360-de­gree-Colorado-view pair­ing!

Fa­vorite Colorado brew­ery of the year: I usu­ally stay with my folks when I’m in the Front Range, and they live in Wheat Ridge just off In­ter­state 70. It’s a quick jaunt out to Golden, and I re­al­ized this year what a solid stand-by Can­non­ball Creek is. The beers are al­ways con­sis­tent, and you sim­ply can’t go wrong. Ja­son, Brian (Hutch) and Jonathan are al­ways in­cred­i­bly kind. I love the feather­weight Pale, and Trump Hands IPA still slays me! I will al­ways say “yes, let’s go to Can­non­ball Creek.”

Fa­vorite new Colorado brew­ery: I have an an­swer, but it isn’t very good. I didn’t go to any new Colorado brew­eries this year. There are two rea­sons: 1) I was re­ally busy with travel and didn’t spend as much time in the Front Range as I usu­ally get to (and noth­ing opened in my neck of the woods), and, 2) I hate to say it, but I’ve grown a lit­tle gun-shy due to more qual­ity is­sues than I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore, so I chose the stand-bys with my lim­ited time this year.

Colorado brew­ery to watch in 2017: Let’s go with an­other moun­tain brew­ery! In the early 90s, Rich Tuc­cia­rone moved from Steam­boat to Den­ver and started work­ing for the Breck­en­ridge Brew­ery. He even­tu­ally ended up run­ning the brew­ing op­er­a­tions for Kona Brew­ing in Hawaii. A few years ago he ended up back in Steam­boat where he was our moun­tain rep for one of our malt sup­pli­ers, and that’s when we re­ally got to know and re­spect him. This year, he fi­nally had the op­por­tu­nity to open his own place in Steam­boat, The Moun­tain Tap Brew­ery. I haven’t been there yet, so look out Steam­boat — I’m com­ing ski­ing!

Most no­table craft beer trend in 2016: Since most of my an­swers have been pretty long, I’ll go with the quick, easy one: ket­tle-soured beers.

Craft beer trend to watch in 2017: I def­i­nitely have a con­cern that I hope doesn’t man­i­fest it­self as a trend. A lot of brew­eries with a sim­i­lar busi­ness model as Ska lever­aged them­selves pretty heav­ily these last cou­ple years due to the ro­bust growth the in­dus­try has been hav­ing. And ac­cord­ing to the Brew­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, that growth has slowed dra­mat­i­cally this year. We’ve seen the be­gin­ning of an ad­just­ment with some brew­eries al­ready lay­ing peo­ple off, and that’s what I fear we’re go­ing to see more of. I hope ev­ery­one can con­tinue to di­ver­sify their mod­els and adapt in or­der to pre­serve all of the fan­tas­tic jobs that we’ve col­lec­tively cre­ated over the years.

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