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Thursday, March 7,2013

Big beers and food fixes

At Louisville’s Gravity, another clever cuisine workaround

By Steve Weishampel
Photo by Elizabeth Miller

We didn’t have much hope for food in Gravity Brewing’s Louisville warehouse. They’ve got a billion-foot-long bar and pool and pingpong tables, but there’s no sign of dining until we smell someone else’s fries. We grab menus, which we’ve already read carefully. Not a victual in sight.

Then Elizabeth spots the window on the east wall that opens into the neighboring warehouse in the industrial park. It’s the home of the American Legion Post 111, and it’s the kitchen for Gravity’s customers, who queue up and order burgers, fries and pretzels from the Legion’s menu.

This is probably the oddest arrangement we’ve encountered for serving food to brewery patrons, but not by much. Back at Niwot’s Bootstrap, we saw a file organizer full of local restaurants’ menus. At Avery, you order off an Avery menu with an Avery server, who brings you food from Savory Cuisines across the alley. Asher has a steady rotation of food trucks parked just outside the front door.

There are the traditional brewpubs, of course, like Boulder Beer and BJ’s. And places like Shine built their reputations on their food before ever mixing barley and water. But for a good number of Boulder County breweries, feeding the masses involves a workaround or an improvised solution.

Colorado’s regulatory structure is often mentioned as one of the reasons for the craft beer explosion here. State law allows breweries to sell on-site, which many states don’t allow. But there’s still a sizeable labyrinth of state and federal rules, and breweries need to make a decision in their application of whether they’re a “brewpub” or a “brewery” — if they’ll be serving food, which has to account for 15 percent of their sales, or if they don’t want to serve food at all.

“People start brewpubs if they want to start restaurants,” Gravity owner John Frazee tells me by phone after our visit. “People who are just brewers don’t want to have a thing to do with that. It’s just a nightmare.”

Frazee’s workaround allows Gravity to focus strictly on the beer, and that’s a very good thing. Even within the brewery’s high-alcohol concept — it’s not called “Gravity” because they like basic laws of physics — there’s a ton of variety in the offerings here. It’s not all the heavy-handed stuff like imperial stouts.

But let’s start with there, because of course Gravity’s got one. Tsar Bomba, the imperial stout that just returned to the taps, deserves a place among Boulder County’s best. Malty, brownsugary, molasses-y and heavy at 11 percent ABV, the Tsar is an instant classic. Naturally, Gravity also offers a double IPA with an alcohol content just under 10 percent.

But it’s beyond those obvious high-gravity beers that Gravity is most surprising. The double red rye and ESB, two rarely seen styles, are both great examples of their styles, with sharp spice from the rye and a caramel sweetness from the ESB.

The Mendacious Belgian blonde has surprising depth and a mouthfeel best described as slightly chewy. Banana and citrus flavors shine through, as well as some acidity.

In the perfect example of the Gravity philosophy, the menu calls it “highly drinkable” and says it clocks in at 8.1 percent ABV. Call a cab.

Next stops: J Wells, 2516 49th St. #5, Boulder, 5 p.m. March 7; Left Hand, 1265 Boston Ave., Longmont, March 14. Members of the public are welcome.

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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT

Good article and right on the money. The double red rye IPA is one of the best beers I've ever tasted and I'm a functioning acoholic. 

 

It's good to see young guys living their dream and opeingin their own brewery. It's what America is all about! Good luck to them. 

 

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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT

I tried their Mendacious Blonde and loved it. It was served to me by an attractive blond haired guy with a pony tail too, which was nice, if a little '80's. 

 

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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT

I'm originally from Bavaria so I always enter an American brewery with a high level of skepticism.  The typical Yankee knows as much about beer as I do about the myth of global warming.  But the beers here are phenomenal, particularly the Tsar Bomba.  The earthy tones are delicately balanced with hints of flowery notes.  And it's funny the pony tailed bad guy from Die Hard works there.  I thought he was dead?  In any case, if it is him, his career sure has taken a turn for the worse.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT

omg, this place is sooooooo awesome.  discovered it on fb.  beer is good and they don't card! i went their with my gf jill last nite and totally hookd up with pony tail guy.  gave him the digits but wtf, he's not callin! said he was guy from an old movie with bruce willis, whoever that is.  goin back tonite to tell him i have the clap :(

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT

Agree with the good doctor, the beers here are quite tasty.  It's a shame they cut you off after 13 pints but other than that, a very pleasant atmosphere.  My favorite is the ESB which is incredibly smooth like an expertly shorn scrotum.  The staff is very accomodating, even letting me rest my eyes in the urinal.  I laughed when they told me I wasn't in Kentucky.  I had the wrong Louisville!  Classic Mike Easter right there.  Oh and the pony tail guy (Brian?) is not from Die Hard.  He actually played an orchestra conductor in a  movie called Money Pit with Tom Hanks.  Little known fact, Tom can party.  Not Mr. Hanks, my english bulldog Tom.  Put a little peanut butter down your pants and he will go to town!

 

 
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