Casey Brewing Company in Glenwood Springs Colorado is one of the sour breweries that is so well regarded that people make the nearly three hour drive, on windy mountain roads, from Denver to get the beer. Though I had just been in Denver 2 months ago, I wanted to make a special trip where I planned enough time to drive out to Casey Brewing. Since I was staying in Longmont area, my strive was slightly over 3 hours each Direction. On the way exiting Denver, we had quite a bit of traffic as people were heading to Breckenridge.
When we got to the brewery, we drove right past it because it is in a fairly nondescript building. It was only because we turned around and saw the signs indicating where to park that we confirmed the correct building. The brewery itself is down the hill from the parking area in a slightly Underground building where they store all the barrels aging beer. Traditionally you had to book a tour of the brewery in order to try any of their beers, mostly due to limited Supply. Now they have opened a Tap Room in downtown Glenwood Springs but if you want bottles of the best stuff, you still should consider doing a tour. You will also meet the most die-hard fans sharing their favorite bottles with people around them.
During my visit at the brewery, the two favorite beers that I had were an apricot sour, called Apricot Diversion, made with 4 lb of apricots per gallon of beer and a BlackBerry raspberry Cherry sour. All the beers are poured from a bottle because they are bottle conditioned, carbonating in the bottle as opposed to forcing CO2 into the beer. Apricot Diversion had a tart finish but was also very juicy and bursting with soft apricot flavor with a lovely silky mouth feel reminiscent of a East Coast style hazy IPA. The Blackberry raspberry Cherry beer was loaded with berry flavors and mildly tart.
The tour is basically 3 pours of beer and a short explanation of how they make their beer and how fermenting in barrels it’s different from using a traditional stainless steel fermenter. They also now make some of their beers by putting them in a koelship. By fermenting in an open container like this, the yeast is collected from the air as opposed to being intentionally added. It gives the beer a unique flavor reminiscent of the Lambic style in Belgium. They do add some yeast later in fermentation to keep certain unwanted flavors from developing. If you can’t make it out to the brewery itself, you can occasionally find bottles of one or two beers around town in Denver either at bottle shops or at bars that cellar a few bottles.
Once you have had the beer though, it is worth the long drive to pick up a case or two of beer. Nearby is bonfire brewery, the place that originally supplied wort to Casey for the first few years. Casey is a small operation and by keeping small they have kept the quality consistent over the years. While some Beers may not be as fruit forward as others, all the beers are well made and high-quality. Their barrel aged saison has set the standard by which I judge the style for American breweries.
Come to Casey for their barrel aged sour and funky beers. Many are Spontaneously fermented.