By Gwen Clayton
Pumpkin spice, gingerbread, maple and chocolate are famous flavors in autumn’s kitchen and bakery, but most locals know those delights are equally at home in the taphouse and coffee bar as part of everyone’s favorite seasonal brews.
The holiday brew season kicks off with Allegro Coffee Roasters on Tennyson Street where roastmaster Nathan Fulton and his team are preparing specialty drinks such as ginger snap lattés and Galapagos La Tortuga special roast. Allegro makes their own flavored syrups and roasts beans onsite. One of the most popular requests every year at this time is the maple cold brew. Allegro adds pure maple syrup to the single-origin java sundahejo as the coffee is being kegged.
“Cold brewing is perfectly made for the winter,” Fulton said, explaining that the drink’s origins trace back to Nordic communities where people took coarsely ground coffee and let it extract in cold water over a period of 12 to 24 hours, a process that decreases the coffee’s acidity.
“There's still some of the acids in there, but they’re not going to be as bright in the flavor,” Fulton said. “That slower process brings out a cleaner cup in the end.”
The addition of maple gives the cold brew a seasonal touch, and the darker roast adds a bold flavor and body. The low acidity minimizes the stomach problems often resulting from the holiday season’s hustle and bustle.
Beer lovers can head down a little ways to Joyride Brewing Company in Edgewater. The brewery’s So Fresh and So Cream is a blueberry-flavored American style cream ale that has a little bit of maize in it for texture as well as to dry it out.
“By itself, it’s a very nice lawnmower beer,” said Joyride’s brewmaster and co-owner Dave Bergen. “And then we add a little more than 400 pounds of blueberry puree, so it has a beautiful purple hue to it with pink foam.”
The beer also serves as a fundraiser for Pints for Prostates. One dollar from each pint sold will be donated to fight prostate cancer. Bergen’s mother is a breast cancer survivor, and his father survived prostate cancer. The October and November seasonal beers have a special meaning for him.
“Pints for Prostates is an awesome organization that combines everyone’s love of beer with making sure we’re taking care of men’s health," Bergen said. “We recently just finished off our batch of Breast in Show Saison, which is our breast cancer benefit beer. November is National Men’s Health Month, so we chose to do Pints for Prostate.”
Other seasonal brews at Joyride include a Belgian dubbel that pairs well with the traditional turkey meal with all the fixings. This year’s batch of dubbel will feature 400 pounds of black currants. It’s scheduled to be released the week before Thanksgiving. Further on in December, Bergen and his crew will be coming out with their annual Naughty and Nice holiday porter releases. Naughty is brewed with cherries and chocolate, while Nice features vanilla and oak.
“I always look forward to when they bring back Naughty and Nice,” said Meghan Logue, a regular Joyrider. “It’s the perfect holiday beer with all of the right flavors.”
Over in Wheat Ridge, the new Discovery Tap House has opened its doors just in time for the holiday season. Karen Carpio-Thomas started the business in August of this year with her husband, Gary. They currently have two seasonal milk stouts on tap: Left Hand Milk Stout out of Longmont, and Factotum Slogger Sweet Stout from Denver. Their other seasonal tap includes a Peach Habanero Imperial Red Ale from Crabtree Brewing Company out of Greeley.
“We don't have set beers,” Karen said. “Taps rotate. They’re replaced with new beer and new breweries. There’s always something new.”
Karen said when she and Gary are selecting a beer, they look for uniqueness, variety and a Colorado locale.
“We want a style that we haven't had on the tap wall before,” she said. “Our goal is to bring small breweries that were a little further out.”
Discovery Tap House is located at 4990 Kipling St., Suite 7, in Wheat Ridge. Joyride Brewing Company’s address is 2501 Sheridan Blvd., in Edgewater. Readers can find Allegro Coffee Roasters at 4040 Tennyson St., in Denver.