Brian Lutz  has tapped into his brewing experience to create the beers at West Flanders Brewing Co.
Brian Lutz has tapped into his brewing experience to create the beers at West Flanders Brewing Co. (Mark Leffingwell/Daily Camera)
If you go

What: West Flanders Brewing Co.

When: 11 a.m.--1 a.m. daily

Where 1125 Pearl St., Boulder

Info: (303) 447-2739; wfbrews.com

For Chris and Mark Heinritz, the newly opened West Flanders Brewing Co. is a venture more than 15 years in the making.

The Heinritz brothers have owned The Sink restaurant since 1992 and were founders of the popular Redfish New Orleans Brewhouse in 1996. The latter centered around flavorful, handcrafted beers and food that went beyond typical pub fare, and while it helped lead the way among Boulder's nascent brewpub scene, Chris concedes the beers were probably a little bit ahead of their time.

"People were just being weaned off of pilsners and being introduced to Fat Tire, and (head brewer Brian Lutz) was really throwing curveballs," Chris Heinritz says, "but I think people are more than ready for his beers now."

Lutz, a longtime homebrewer who has also worked as a brewmaster at Left Hand Brewing Co. and Oskar Blues, rejoined the Heinritz brothers along with operating partner Barry Wolfman to open West Flanders in the former BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse location on the Pearl Street Mall.

For the Heinritz brothers, it marks a return to and an evolution of the elevated beer- and food-forward concept they originally aspired to with Redfish.


Advertisement

At West Flanders, chef Jamie Lucas tastes the brews as they're being developed and works to create dishes that bring out the subtle flavors and different characteristics of the beers.

The result is an eclectic and inventive menu that ranges from your typical chicken wings and pub pretzels -- albeit served with sauces made from the brewery's beer -- to a "Deconstructed Poutine" and charcuterie plate, gourmet burgers and sandwiches with a twist, and tender pork chops basted in a barbecue sauce made from Lutz's Angry Monk beer.

And the beer is literally front and center, as Lutz brews on a 10-barrel copper system located directly behind the bar. He's currently offering a tasty selection of ales that include the crisp and hoppy Third Kingdom IPA, the extremely well-balanced Canniption Pale Ale and the malty, sweet St. Mark's Dubbel. He'll unveil his "Trippel Lutz" Belgian-style Trippel to coincide with the Great American Beer Festival this weekend.

Rather than brew strictly to style, Lutz says he's more inspired by crafting flavorful and interesting beers that are driven by the specific properties of the yeast strains that he uses.

"When you have the yeast, you have the keys to kingdom," he says.

For example, he uses a specific yeast strain to craft both his Daisy Cutter Belgian-style strong ale and Angry Monk.

Lutz created a stir with Angry Monk when he first brewed it for Redfish for more than just its flavorful character. He originally labeled the beer as a "Trappist-style ale," in homage to the Trappist breweries of Belgium that inspired the beer, but he received a cease-and-desist letter ordering him not to use the tightly controlled designation. He quickly changed the name, but national news outlets soon picked up the story.

Regardless of the name, Angry Monk remains a strong yet remarkably balanced beer with caramel undertones and a pleasant hint of light fruit and spice from the yeast.

"It will likely be our flagship beer," says Chris Heinritz, "and that really speaks to how great a beer it was 15 years ago."

And, as the beer-drinking public has become more receptive to a much broader spectrum of craft beers, Lutz's outside-the-style-guidelines approach feels right at home at West Flanders.

Contact Tom Wilmes at

boulderbeerguy@gmail.com