This story originally ran in The Denver Post on April 24, 2012.
There’s no denying it: Locally made beer is one of the many things that make living in Colorado so great. And brewpubs are the best places to enjoy it.
During a recent unseasonably warm spring day, I sat at the bar at the Denver Beer Co., slurping on a cold one. It was the ideal way to spend the afternoon, relaxing with a friend in an old-Denver, brick-building neighborhood talking about nothing and everything all at once.
Colorado’s beer industry continues to grow as more people take note of the goods. We’re now fourth per capita in the nation for breweries.
Everyone else wants a piece of what we’ve got — that’s why New Belgium is opening up shop in North Carolina, why Oskar Blues is expanding and why the neighborhood brewhouses are popular.
It’s because our beer is just plain better.
Take another Denver brewhouse, Copper Kettle Brewing, as an example. Homebrewer Jeremy Gobien moved from North Carolina to Colorado because of the beer. And only four months after opening, he is the proud owner of a Great American Beer Festival gold medal for his Mexican Chocolate Stout.
As popular as beer is in Colorado, it turns out Gobien isn’t making a living off the brewery. As a matter of fact, he says he’s not even making one dime. His wife, Kristen Kozik, has continued to work as a nurse to support them while also managing the Copper Kettle’s daily operations.
But they’re doing what they love and doing a darn good job of it.
Normally, I don’t care for stouts or other dark beers. Even in the winter months, I still look for a glass filled with a nice, crisp wheat or pilsner beer. But I have to admit that Gobien had me thinking otherwise.
Copper Kettle Brewing’s Mexican Chocolate Stout — derived from a Mexican hot-chocolate treat — was different. The chocolate certainly made it sweet, but the peppers also gave it an edge that made me reach for the lip balm to stop my lips from burning.
Innovations like this, the only permanent beer on Copper Kettle’s tap list, help make Colorado beer so special.
And it’s not available just anywhere. I can’t grab a Mexican Chocolate Stout out of the fridge at my local liquor store. No, sir. It’s available only at their brewhouse, a kind of a local “Cheers” where everyone knows your name.
It’s that way with Copper Kettle Brewing too. As I drained my glass, I could hear Gobien and Kozik greeting half the customers by their first names, waving to them as they walked in from their nearby homes to hang out with friends over a pint.