New Ter­rain Brew­ing is mak­ing its pitch for a claim to the style of beer

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By John Frank

GOLDEN» Colorado wants to stake its own claim when it comes to the most pop­u­lar craft beer style in Amer­ica: the In­dia pale ale.

The IPAs from the West Coast are known for their hoppy bit­ter­ness. The East Coast ver­sions show­case fruit fla­vors ex­tracted from the hops — es­pe­cially the juice­like New Eng­land IPAs burst­ing onto the scene.

The “Colorado IPA,” said Josh Rob­bins, the co-founder and brew­mas­ter at New Ter­rain Brew­ing in Golden, is an amal­ga­ma­tion: golden in color with a fruity aroma and fla­vor paired with a bit of bit­ter­ness to balance the medium body and dry fin­ish.

“To me, this is sort of in the mid­dle,” he said of his IPA, dubbed “Lost.” “It is a balance of fruit and a bit of dank to come up with a great IPA.”

The de­scrip­tion, as Rob­bins ac­knowl­edged, ap­plies to plenty of IPAs from brew­ers seek­ing to balance the fla­vor and bit­ter­ness de­rived from hops with ce­real and sweet­ness qual­i­ties from the grain. “I don’t think we were think­ing it’s a new style that’s out­ra­geously dif­fer­ent than any­thing else,” he said.

But his wife and co-founder, Kaylee Rob­bins, is more bold: “I think we are try­ing to make it a style,” she said.

Whether New Ter­rain’s beer rep­re­sents a new style, a mar­ket­ing trick or merely state pride, the urge to make a Colorado-cen­tric style is part of the larger trend to iden­tify beers by their lo­ca­tion to sep­a­rate them from the grow­ing craft beer herd.

And it’s about time Colorado planted a flag. The state ranks No. 2 in the na­tion in the num­ber of craft brew­eries, serves as home to the Great Amer­i­can Beer Fes­ti­val, and holds a name that is gen­er­ally syn­ony­mous with beer.

But un­like other states and re­gions, Colorado is not known for a par­tic­u­lar style of beer — one that ex­em­pli­fies its great­ness. When you visit, there is not

one brew­ery or type of beer you must drink, for bet­ter or worse.

In­stead, Colorado is ap­pre­ci­ated for its qual­ity and va­ri­ety of beer, with niche brew­eries that lead their class and gen­er­al­ists that spread the state’s brand na­tion­wide. Most brew­ers see this as a strength, not a weak­ness.

“What I ad­mire about Colorado craft beer in gen­eral is the out­stand­ing qual­ity and will­ing­ness of in­de­pen­dent craft brew­ers in the state to make a wide va­ri­ety of beers ex­cep­tion­ally well with a lo­cal twist,” said Dave Cole, the co-founder of Epic Brew­ing.

When it comes to IPAs, it’s a sim­i­lar story. “I am not sure if there re­ally is a sin­gu­lar Colorado-style IPA,” Cole said. “So many great IPAs are brewed here now.”

Epic Brew­ing’s Es­cape to Colorado IPA is one of a hand­ful of beers that bear the state’s name or in­voke a lo­ca­tion-spe­cific qual­ity. The name rep­re­sents a story of the brew­ery’s move from Utah to Den­ver.

Breck­en­ridge Brew­ery launched a new IPA in 2015, be­fore be­ing bought by beer gi­ant An­heuserBusch, that it dubbed a “Colorado-style IPA” — which the brew­ery de- scribed as “de­light­fully hoppy with sat­is­fy­ing body.”

The beer that claims the name “Colorado IPA” is made by Den­ver’s River North Brew­ery.

Pa­trick Annesty at River North said the team spent six months mak­ing test batches to try to find “a more unique fla­vor pro­file, some­thing re­ally ex­pres­sive.”

“We knew we wanted some­thing West Coast-ish with a nou­veau flo­ral as­pect,” he said.

Still, he doesn’t see it as a unique IPA style. “I don’t think we can boast that we cre­ated some­thing mon­u­men­tal for the state here,” Amnesty said. “Colorado makes many dif­fer­ent great IPAs.”

This is what makes Colorado beer dif­fi­cult to cat­e­go­rize. The brew­ers are rec­og­nized for forg­ing their own paths, rather than build­ing an iden­tity from one type of beer.

Even as he puts the state seal on one beer style, Josh Rob­bins ap­pre­ci­ates the va­ri­ety.

Less than a year old, New Ter­rain of­fers plenty of dif­fer­ent hop-cen­tric beers, in­clud­ing a New Eng­land-style IPA next to its Colorado ver­sion — the most pop­u­lar of an ev­er­chang­ing list of taps at the bar.

Rob­bins, who pre­vi­ously worked at Moun­tain Toad Brew­ing in Golden, raises his hands to his ears and shrugs his shoul­ders when asked what de­fines Colorado’s beer scene.

If any­thing, he said, it’s the brew­ing all-stars that call the state home, such as New Bel­gium, Avery and Great Di­vide.

“The tra­di­tional brew­eries had a wide va­ri­ety of beers that didn’t match. They weren’t all do­ing the same thing,” he said.

And, come to think of it, he said, “Maybe that’s part of the suc­cess, too.”

A beer sam­pler at New Ter­rain Brew­ing in Golden. Pho­tos by John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

Brew­mas­ter Josh Rob­bins of New Ter­rain pours a Colorado IPA last week at the Golden brew­ery.

Pho­tos by John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

Keane Dufresne of New Ter­rain Brew­ing helps get the brew­ery ready for busi­ness last Wed­nes­day.

Brew­mas­ter Josh Rob­bins checks a vat of Colorado IPA at New Ter­rain Brew­ing in Golden.

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