If you go
What: Dan Rabin will sign copies of his book "Colorado Breweries" The 11th volume in the "Breweries Series" by publisher Stackpole Books, "Colorado Breweries" is available at many locations locally and online.
When/where: 4 p.m. Friday, May 16, Crystal Springs Brewing Co., 657 S. Taylor Ave., Unit E, Louisville; 4 p.m. Saturday, May 17, Left Hand Brewing Co., 1265 Boston Ave., Longmont; 2 p.m. Saturday, May 24, Oskar Blues' Tasty Weasel Taproom, 1800 Pike Road, Unit B, Longmont; noon Sunday, May 25, FATE Brewing Co., 1600 38th St., Boulder; 4 p.m. Saturday, May 31, Burning Can Beer Fest, Bohn Park, 219 2nd Ave., Lyons; 4 p.m. Friday, June 6, Bootstrap Brewing, 6778 N. 79th St., Niwot
"What's your favorite Colorado brewery?"
It's a question author Dan Rabin fielded so often while visiting more than 150 Colorado breweries and brewpubs for his new book, "Colorado Breweries," that he opens the book's introduction with it. And on a recent afternoon, while Rabin has a couple of beers in the Avery Brewing Co. taproom, at least one gentleman asks him the same thing after spotting a copy of Colorado Breweries on the bar and learning Rabin is the author.
Rabin's usual response is some version of, "Well, what are you looking for?"
There are Colorado breweries that excel at making really big, challenging beers; at making a few core styles very well, and at making specific categories of beers, such as lagers, saisons or sours. There are large breweries known by beer lovers all over the country; midsized breweries poised to be the next big thing, and small, tucked-away brewpubs that feel like a perpetual house party with friends and neighbors.
In short, Colorado's breweries offer something for everyone.
About 120 breweries were in operation statewide when Rabin started researching the book more than two years ago, and that number has since swelled to more than 200. Rabin includes 149 breweries and brewpubs in the book, organized into six geographic regions, all of which opened before April 2013 and all of which he has personally visited.
Each succinct, two-page description reads more like a well-reported profile than your typical guidebook-style write-up. Rabin includes nearby points of interest, essential information and his pick for beers not to miss, and he also captures the unique flavor and backstory of each establishment in such a way that readers will have an informed sense of what to expect before even walking through the door.
"It's as much a travel book as it is a beer book," Rabin said, adding that he hopes the book will inspire locals and visitors alike to seek out parts of the state they've yet to explore and breweries they've never tried to get a taste for what's out there.
Along the Front Range, for example, with its "adventurous, knowledge and opinionated" customer base, Rabin said, breweries are focused on furthering the brewer's art with challenging brews that often redefine perceptions about what a beer can be.
And on the Western Slope and in Southwestern Colorado, smaller breweries are less focused on "the next big thing" and serve more as a community gathering place where people can get together and enjoy a couple of pints.
"That's the beauty of visiting small breweries in general," Rabin said. "They're just so friendly and people tend to be outgoing and love to talk about beer. It's a very democratic environment. If you have a love of beer in common, you tend to overlook your other differences."
Rabin became infatuated with beer shortly after moving to Denver in 1986 for a job in the tech industry after he finished graduate school. He moved to Boulder two years later, where he has lived ever since, and took up homebrewing. He won a gold medal at the National Homebrew Competition in the mid-1990s with a spiced holiday ale.
Rather than parlay his love of beer and brewing into opening his own brewery — as is the case with the majority of owners and brewers Rabin interviewed for his book, he said — Rabin took a different route. He began contributing articles about beer and travel for a variety of publications, and today he's the Rocky Mountain columnist for "Celebrator Beer News," as well as co-author of the "Dictionary of Beer and Brewing" and a contributor to the "Oxford Companion to Beer."
Rabin remains active in his local homebrew club, Hop, Barley and the Alers, of which he's a longtime member, and still brews beer when his travels allow. Most recently, he's been teaching a University of Colorado graduate student how to homebrew beer. The pair devised an all-grain Milk Stout recipe that recently won a homebrew competition at The Post Brewing Co.
They brewed a different beer with Post brewmaster Bryan Selders — a Belgian-style Golden ale flavored with green tea and honey, which is currently on tap at the restaurant.
Rabin soon plans to revisit several of the breweries included in "Colorado Breweries" — this time on a statewide book-release tour — where he'll no doubt enjoy visiting with like-minded beer lovers over a pint or two.
And about the guy at Avery who struck up a conversation after spotting the book on the bar?
He took home a signed copy, which surely will help in finding his next new favorite Colorado brewery.
Get Down with Upslope
Upslope Brewing Co. is throwing a bash from 2 p.m. until midnight Saturday at its Flatiron Park location. Funk super-group Euforquestra will headline the 'Upslope Get Down' event, which features continuous live music on two stages; food available for purchase from Blackbelly Catering, Heirloom and Taco del Norte, and plenty of core and specialty Upslope beers on tap — including its newest Limited Release, a Thai Style White IPA spiced with Thai basil, ginger, lemongrass and coriander.
Admission is free, but a ticketed VIP option ($65 in advance, $90 day of the event) also includes a commemorative pint glass and beer, a special viewing area and tent and more. Visit upslopebrewing.com/getdown for more information.
Contact Tom Wilmes at email@example.com.