Eat. Drink. Denver.

In a rare moment of freedom during Philly Beer Week, I figure that, since I don’t have an actual beer in my hand (an odd feeling during this most holy of beer weeks) I should write a post about…. all those other beers I drank.

Lemme rewinds a bit: Upon realizing I would, in fact, graduate and have gainful employment, my first thought was I SHOULD TAKE A HUGE ENORMOUS TRIP TO CELEBRATE!! Then, I remembered I gave all my money to Penn for that fancy degree, so perhaps the better move would be a smaller, equally exciting trip that might not break the bank. Enter: Denver!

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What better place to visit than the first spot I vacationed DURING my grad school career? You might recall I headed out to Denver in October 2012 for Great American Beer Festival, arguably the coolest beer event I’ve ever been a part of since falling in love with suds… But this weekend, I wanted a little bit more relaxation. A little bit less scheduled events. And probably the same amount of delicious beer.

No surprise: Denver delivered.

Highlights included:

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Great Divide Brewing Company: Located in the heart of Denver, this was one of those spots you enter and you immediately feel at home. The speakers were blasting “We Built This City“, the bartenders were singing and dancing along with it, and the taproom was full of all types of folks. Bachelor parties, gal groups, older couples, there were even a few little ones scampering around (don’t worry, they were carded and forbidden to booze.) Friday afternoon was an excellent opportunity for a little brewery tour and happy hour of our own, so Melissa and I enjoyed a tasting flight of 6 beers before entering the touring area.

Spoiler alert: if you’re wearing flip flops, and don’t have glasses on, you’re in for a treat.

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That’s right. Jordan Maura Price rocking…. Crocs. *Shudders* Hopefully, never again. But, I get it…. safety first. Style: last.

The tour itself was pretty basic, very little new knowledge to the seasoned brewery tour vet like myself…. but the beer at the end (and at the beginning): woo, baby! Their Rumble IPA toed the line between hoppy, sweet, and complex. An IPA aged in oak? I can get behind this stylistic trend. Up next…

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Crooked Stave – An artisanal brewery/taproom located at The Source, this space was gorgeous. The pickins, unfortunately, were a little slim for us, but their sour ale/kombucha blends were refreshing and interesting and, when it came to a more classic sour style, tartness was brought by Between the Staves, a wild ale aged in cognac barrels. A nice boozy bite, I, clearly, was a fan.

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I shared SOME with Melissa…. but honestly, I get selfish around sours. SORRY NOT THAT SORRY!

Oh yeah, we also ate some stuff.

ImageJust an INSANE banh mi from D’Deli, Golden, CO’s premiere deli sandwichery, is a hop/skip/jump away from the Coors Brewing Factory. Which really didn’t mean a lot to me, since we didn’t go there, but it’s ALSO right around Mount Falcon and Red Rocks, where we enjoyed a casual 6 mile hike featuring a run-in with a rattlesnake and playing “dodge the mountain biker”. It involved drenching myself in sweat and caking my body in dirt. LOVE NATURE (I’m only 80% sarcastic right now.)

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After all that hiking, we really felt as though we earned those sammies. And as sloppy delicious as they were…. they really paled in comparison to the true (non-alcoholic) treat of the trip.

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OMG OMG OMG VOODOO DOUGHNUTS! Clockwise from the top right: Old Dirty Bastard (Raised yeast doughnut with chocolate frosting, Oreo’s™ and peanut butter!), blueberry cake doughnut (blueberry dough with a glaze), and the coup de grace, the Memphis Mafia (Fried dough with banana chunks and cinnamon covered in a glaze with chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate chips on top!)

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Me, for scale. That bad boy was about the size of my head…. and tasted far better than I imagine my head would taste.

I got back to Philly around 1 a.m. Sunday night (err… Monday morning technically?) and crashed the hardest. But not too hard… See, there’s this little Philly Beer Week thing with like, a thousand events, and I couldn’t very well miss that.

Cheers, Denver. You were good to the last drop/bite. I can’t wait to head back!

 

Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs

I’m a lover of many things.

The University of North Carolina. Sour beers. Sleeping in. Philly soft pretzels. Hot dogs. Chilly mornings. Swimming in salt water. Learning. Jellyfish. Fancy cheese parties. Melissa.

You know, the best things in life.

On Friday, after waking up at an ungodly hour on Friday morning (equivalent to 2 a.m. Denver time), walking to the train station, training to the airport, and flying off to the Mile High City, I was greeted not just by one of those things (my hostess, MELISSA!) but, shortly after, 3 more of them.

I thought I’d be a zombie after traveling all day but, considering I slept about 2/3 of the 4 hour plane ride, I was surprisingly refreshed. When offered the chance to nap or to nibble, guess what I chose?

Not just ANY hot dogs

Biker Jim’s, according to the internet and the Colorado natives, is a Denver staple. These charred and grilled dogs are not your standard summer BBQ fare. Instead, the casing is filled with exotic meats like reindeer, wild boar, rattlesnake, elk, and buffalo.  Knowing that we had much beer ahead of us, we knew that we needed to fill our bellies to fuel our day/night.

I was initially a bit overwhelmed with the choices.

Too many options

While my North Carolina aching heart was initially distracted by the options of fried mac and cheese, fried green tomatoes and the side salad (HA, no, not even a little), Melissa reminded me of my real goal. The dogs.

After much deliberation, we decided to split two. Elk Jalapeño Cheddar and a Linguisa (Portuguese style  pork with paprika and red wine). When asked for a suggestion of what to top them with, the answer was nearly immediate:

[get them] torpedoed with Coca-Cola soaked grilled onions and a swizzle of cream cheese unloaded from the front end of a caulking gun.

Well, who am I to say no to the wisdom of the natives?

And, as I waited for my brats to cook, I watched the restaurant gradually get filled with a Friday lunch rush. You do NOT wanna stop in any time shortly after noon if you’re in a rush.

Quite the hood

And then, they were ready.

Stop drooling

The verdict?

Admittedly, the Linguisa was a little lacking with flavor. It was slightly sweeter than I like my dogs to be.  Luckily, I had my jalapeño cheddar half waiting for me in the wings.

It was juicy, it was full of flavor, and those onions should top any and all of my future meals.

Paired with some house-made potato chips which were crunchy (and also great with the onions), this food was the ideal energy boost for a LONG day of beer consumption.  And that’s what awaited us…

But I’ve got school to learn. So thanks, Biker Jim’s, for filling our bellies with the best brats Denver’s got!

Let’s DO THIS!

More GABF next post. Or, at least some sort of beer-related post.

 

GABF Teaser

Just in case y’all were wondering, I made it back from Denver in one piece (though my three pieces of luggage on the flight home may have suggested otherwise). And, though I’m cranking out a paper right now, I couldn’t resist posting a few pictures as a taste of the trip. That, and procrastination is the best way to recover post-GABF. I read that somewhere. In a book.

The Welcome Wagon was ALL over Denver! This was pre-tasty hot dogs at Biker Jim’s.

Who’s that peeking out of the corkscrew slide?

Making sure I fit in some learning with all that drinking

Beer and pretzels? My heart melts.

Recognize that phrase, anyone?

Ultimate in Craft Beer Couture

I was rocking on the haute hops attire courtesy of my buddy, Robin, who is the QUEEN of beer fashion (THANKS, ROBIN!!)

Ok, ok, ok.

I GUESS this whole graduate program is a LITTLE more important than gushing over GABF some more.

But only a little.