Ratio Brewing Company – Denver Colorado

Ratio was recommended to us by a friend saying that they have good clean traditional beers. They are smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood that resembles many different beer hipster neighborhoods around the country. Immediately on arrival we saw 15 electric scooters out front and at least 5 bicycles. They have a nice spacious taproom with a large outdoor seating area with plenty of shade and seating.
I started with a pint of their saison because I was craving the style after not having any similar options at previous breweries over the past couple of days. The saison had notes of banana and hay with mild orange peel and a crisp dry finish. While described as a French style saison, it seemed to have similarities to a Belgian style wit as came through with the banana character. I enjoyed the outdoor seating and the other beers my friends had were also solid.
Ratio is close to Epic Brewing’s taphouse and also super close to Our Mutual Friend and Bierstadt Lagerhaus. So if you are ubering around the city, this would be a great way to visit multiple spots. I wanted to visit Our Mutual Friend during my visit as well but with limited time I went next to Black Project instead.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Odd 13 Revisited and Primitive Brewing Company – Denver Area Colorado

Odd 13

Odd 13 is located in Lafayette Colorado, Northwest of Denver. I previously visited Odd 13 a few years back and enjoyed their beers. The tasting room is largely the same and they still focus on hazy IPAs with a few sour options. I was glad to see the addition of lower ABV beers as well. During this particular trip I was trying to focus on lower ABV beers so I ordered their session ale and hazy pale ale.
Intergalactic Jimmy, the session ale was crisp and dry with notes of pineapple. The hop notes were mild enough that someone who is trying to avoid heavy hops would still enjoy it if they otherwise like the flavor. Coach was only slightly more hoppy with notes of tropical fruit, citrus, and gooseberry. The beer presented a lovely example of Nelson hops. If I come out again during the Summer I would gladly enjoy either of these beers at the Summer BBQ.

Primitive

Primitive was also recommended by a list of exciting Colorado breweries. Primitive is located in Longmont, even further Northwest of Denver. They have a good sized tasting room though most of the space is taken up by the many barrels aging beer. Primitive brews in their American version of the Belgian lambic tradition. Their beers are spontaneously fermented; they are not force carbonated so most of them are served on casks. In a move I haven’t seen anywhere in the US you can buy to-go beers in a box typically used for boxed wine. They appeared to have some bottles conditioning (carbonating) and based on their web site many of these bottles currently go to their members.
Since I am already fairly familiar with base spontaneous beer I focused on the two fruity options. They had one with cherry and one with peach, both common flavors in lambic inspired beer. The cherry had a lovely base funk with mild cherry notes and a good dry finish. On cask the beers had a lovely soft body to them and were easy-drinking. The peach beer was similarly dry with nice prominent peach notes and mild acidity. While it is too early to say if the bottled beers coming out of Primitive are fantastic, the two beers I tried were impressive and suggest their house bugs are on point.
I was close to buying a few boxes to-go after my visit but decided to save room in my bags for other things. If you are a fan of Belgian lambic-inspired beers, you should make a point of visiting Primitive to taste for yourself how well they nail the style. I hope to visit them again in a year or two as more beer is available to non-members. I’ve visited a lot of new American breweries making Belgian lambic-inspired beers and Primitive is one of the most promising.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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New Image and New Terrain Breweries – Arvada and Golden Colorado

New Image

We went to New Image based on their inclusion in a recent list of standout Colorado breweries. After verifying on their instagram that they had a number of cans available, we chose to stop by and try for ourselves. They have a full food menu and most people around us were ordering food with their beer. The tasting room is fairly standard size and I could see it getting packed during peak times. Thankfully we visited early on a holiday Friday and it was nice and chill.
Though they had a number of IPAs on tap, I immediately ordered a blackberry, raspberry, and plum sour. The beer had a nice dark red color and tons of berry acidity. It is on the tart side of a fruity kettle sour but balanced nicely with prominent berry notes. Thankfully one of my friends wanted to share a four pack because I preferred to have one or two cans instead of 4.
Because I brew kombucha at home I had to try their kombucha inspired ale. They blend kombucha with beer for an interesting take on a kettle sour. I tried the base version of this beer and found it fairly similar to a base gose without fruit. The beer was lightly tart and salty. I didn’t taste any obvious kombucha notes in the beer though.
Before leaving, I tried a few tastes of my friend’s beers. One had their “Vermont Style IPA” and it nicely nailed the creamy mouthfeel and juicy hop flavors that I would expect from the style. Another friend had their single hopped mosaic pale. It was excellently done. The beer was crisp and easy drinking while presenting subtle fruity notes from the mosaic hops.
I would recommend stopping by New Image to try some of their beer and also going nearby to New Terrain either before or after. The two breweries make a great side-by-side experience contrasting the standard indoor brewery with air conditioning of New Image with the rustic open tasting room at New Terrain.

New Terrain

New Terrain is immediately impressive when you get close to the parking lot. Their small lot fills up quickly but there is plenty of street parking in the area. There aren’t many other businesses or buildings nearby. This is a perfect start if you want to go hiking before a few pints because there are numerous hiking and biking trails that start from the brewery. According to my friend who brought us there, half of the people in the parking lot are there for hiking. It is quite the gorgeous spot with a spacious seating area mixed between indoor and outdoor. The indoor area is so open that the transition is almost seamless except for the difference in volume.
New Terrain has a lovely unique way of serving flights; their holders hold beers vertically instead of the typical side-to-side arrangement. This makes it easier to move around glasses without breaking them. I ordered a half pour of the two beers that interested me most, the kolsch and blackcurrant sour. The kolsch was crisp and light with notes of hay. My only complaint is that the beer could be under 5% to be more true to style but it was still quite good.
I was also quite satisfied by the blackcurrent sour. It was much less tart than the New Image beer I had earlier, but delicious in its own way. The beer was dry with prominent jam notes and a light tart finish. While the line to order can sometimes get a little long, it is lovely to hang out on the patio of New Terrain. I have not been to many breweries that as beautifully blend nature and brewery. Be prepared that you will encounter dogs and children while sitting out in nature as well.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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The Proper Way to Count your Drinks

If you are like me you heard most of your adult life the recommendations for how many drinks a person should have a week. It is hard to calculate drinks though when you are drinking higher ABV beers like the commonly available 8.5% Double IPA sold in 16oz cans, which is the equivalent of two drinks. I wanted to find an easier way to calculate this for myself and inspire others to do the same. I found the best alternative measurement is to count grams of alcohol in your drink. This method was inspired by a post from my fellow blogger, Craft Beer in San Diego.
This post includes some analysis of findings in a scientific study and discussion of recommended amounts an adult should consume of alcohol in a week. To be clear, I am not a scientist nor am I a doctor or a nutritionist. These suggestions are purely practical hacks based on my experience. Though some of them are echoed in some of the studies I reviewed preparing for this blog.

How this works in practice

To calculate grams of alcohol per drink you need access to a chart, but to simplify things I calculated the grams of alcohol in the most common serving sizes I consume. It isn’t always exact but I try to be as close as possible. For example, a 12oz pour of 5% beer is 14g while a 16oz pour of 5% beer is 19g. The list of common amounts is included near the end of this article. While calculating tasters and smaller pours, I find it is easier to group together four pours and average the ABV because this is more a rough estimate than anything that needs to be exact.
Depending on how you read the studies, some would suggest you have less than 100g in a week. Official US government recommendations are between 98g and 196g per week. The way I read the studies, I decided to aim for the range of between 200 and 350g per week. Many weeks even with that in mind I ended up around 350g, sometimes higher, sometimes lower. This is above the recommended maximum of just under 200g per week but I am working on finding a level I am happy with. So why am I talking about drinking within the range of 200-350g per week when it is over the recommended range? That is where my drinking has been lately by my own calculations.

For reference, the study I am referring to concluded a few things.

1) Among current drinkers, the threshold for lowest risk of all-cause mortality was about 100 g per week
2) Men consuming between 200g and 350g per week of alcohol have a shorter life expectancy of 1-2 years.
3) Men consuming over 350g per week have a shorter life expectancy of 4-5 years.
This image is “Figure 4” from this article in The Lancet (April 2018). It shows the correlation between increased weekly alcohol consumption and decreased life expectancy.

Some things I have learned since starting this experiment.

1) If I know I have had quite a bit in the past week, over my goals, then that helps me adjust and take a few days off at the beginning of the week. This mirrors recommendations by various studies. Taking one or two days off each week is recommended in the January 2016 guidelines from the UK Chief Medical Officers cited in the study linked above.
2) If I think about the goal of eventually going below 200g per week, that usually means keeping daily consumption under 30g and taking two days off each week. Practically speaking that means no more than one pint most days and maybe one day of two pints.
Example: the standard glass of wine is approximately 16g so two glasses of wine in one night would be 32g. A pint of 7.5% beer is 28g while a pint of 5 percent beer is 19g.
3) It is a good reminder to think about a single can of 8.5% DIPA as equivalent to drinking half a bottle of wine, and two in one night to drinking a whole bottle. This is part of why I purchase IPAs that land in the 6-7% range when possible. Those double IPAs are potent. It is also why I am starting to drink more wine.
One criticism I have of these various studies is that they include in reduced life expectancy various injuries that studies have shown are more likely with higher consumption of alcohol. Some of these include injuries related to driving while intoxicated, which I would hope most of my readers do not engage in especially now that Uber is prevalent. They also link drinking over 5 UK units (less than 3 glasses of wine) in a single evening to aggression and violence. While certain types of people get violent after drinking, I have never seen a fight break out at a beer festival where many present are consuming much more than that.

Suggestions for the Beer Industry

I also echo the conclusion of Craft Beer in San Diego that the beer industry as a whole should work on making available more low ABV beers, specifically those less than 5%. In San Diego encountering anything under 5% is a rarity. It is only when beers reach 4% that a full pint is equal to a glass of wine. And the difference between 4% beer and 5% beer is more than 25% according to an article in DRAFT Magazine. The industry should also put some efforts into educating people about the amounts of these high ABV beers that an individual should safely consume in a single outing. This should also mean not serving more than 8oz of a single DIPA at a time and reducing the sizes of these cans. If not that, some sort of public education campaign should be sponsored by the various brewers associations to consider the realities.

Most common pours in grams

5oz – 9% – 10.5g, 10% – 11.7g, 11% – 12.8g, 12% – 14g
8oz – 9% –  16.8g – 10% – 18.7g, 11% – 20.5g, 12% – 22.4g, 13% – 24.3g
12oz – 5% – 14g, 6% – 17g, 7% – 20g, 8% – 22.4g, 9% – 25.2g
16oz – 5% – 18.7g, 6% – 22.4g, 7% – 26.1g, 8% – 29.9g, 9% – 33.6g
You can find the full chart at the Craft Beer in San Diego post linked above.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Helia Brewing Company – Vista California

Helia is in that middle ground that sits right on the border of Carlsbad and Vista and is not far from where Toolbox brewery used to be. Helia stands out among the many breweries in the area with their unique feel that perfectly encapsulates the beach vibe even though being fairly inland. This is most obvious in their choice of seating, which has a nice laid-back vibe to it.
Beer wise, I was glad to see that they have simple pricing across the board of $2 per taster, $4 per half pour, and $6 per pint. I started with a half pour of their amber ale, the stronger of the two. It was crisp and dry with notes of milk chocolate and minimal bitterness. My husband enjoyed this as well. Next I tried their pilsner, made with Dos Desperados brewery. It was soft and easy-drinking with light floral hop notes and a light sweetness on the finish.
My husband had a taster of the porter while there and really liked it. I had a few sips of it and was impressed as well. The beer has notes of burnt toffee on the nose. Flavors are a nice mix of marshmallow and caramel with mild roast on the finish. After a few IPA filled days, I wasn’t in the mood to try their IPAs this visit. Helia stands out with their relaxing vibe and hopefully will find their niche and be around for some time.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Exploring San Diego's Craft Breweries