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Tuesday, June 18,2013

Crafty crafting

Quality — and quiet — are top values at Kettle & Stone

By Steve Weishampel
Photo by Steve Weishampel
Marty Lettow, Sanjiv Patel and Eric Huber, owners

It’s kind of surprising that Eric Huber and Marty Lettow poured me samples straight from the fermenting tanks.

Lettow and Huber, two of the three owners of the soon-to-open Gunbarrel brewery The Kettle & Stone Brewing Company, were clearly excited about the beers they’ve got fermenting for the brewery’s opening, a summer solstice celebration June 21 followed by an official opening June 26.

From that angle, it’s no surprise the two wanted to share their beer. But when you consider just how often they mention “quality,” “craft,” “precision,” “obsession” — the whole vocabulary of people who are fully invested and committed to making beer they love — it’s a bit of a shock they let me try a product before it was finished.

“If you’re gonna do it, you do it right,” Huber says at one point in the tour of the brewery. It’s a theme that Kettle & Stone seems dedicated to.

Huber, who has a long brewing resume that includes home brewing and working at Mountain Sun and Oskar Blues, says he’s determined to make Kettle & Stone’s beers as high-quality as possible.

“We’re not gonna shave tank time” in order to turn out more beer, he says.

“We’re trying to showcase Eric’s obsession for quality,” Lettow says as he meets me in the immaculate tasting room, which features taps hand-carved by Huber’s father and a massive bar built by Huber and Lettow from pinebeetle kill — and, Lettow says, the best view anywhere of Longs Peak at sunset.

“I obsess over the details of quality beer,” Huber tells me. Lettow says that’s a refrain the two developed as they built the Kettle & Stone taproom by hand.

And while Huber obsesses over quality, Lettow is nearly bouncing off the walls with anticipation for the vari ous things he wants to do with Kettle & Stone. The Lutheran pastor foresees brewery weddings and beer dinners, porches and greater brewing capacity, free brewery tours and — one day down the road, he and Huber say — an IPA and a stout available in cans.

He says one of the first orders of business for Kettle & Stone is bringing in the 9-to-5 crowd from neighboring offices and industrial parks along Winchester Circle, just east of Diagonal Highway.

“There’s a lot of thirsty people out here,” he says, gazing out the brewery’s front windows.

The two have ready answers for two of the biggest questions about the Kettle & Stone: The name refers to “the basic elements of brewing,” Lettow says, the brewing kettle and mill stone. And you haven’t heard of them because they haven’t been talking about themselves.

“You can only tell people you’re going to make great beer for half a second,” he says, before they lose interest. “Our angle is, we’re here, we’re open.”

When the brewery opens June 26, it’ll tap three beers: Opening Day IPA, Summer Solstice Wheat and Freedom Stout. The IPA — which Huber calls a “summer” and a “session” IPA because it’s “not gonna kick you in the head” — is a simple, smooth beer with hops taking the lead over malt. The stout, a little drier than most, leads with a strong chocolate aroma and finishes smooth, without a hint of alcohol taste. But the real stunner was the wheat, brewed with orange peels using a hopback, a tank intended to let beers soak up hop flavor that can be used for other flavorings as well. A dark orange color, the wheat puts citrus at the forefront. It’s yet another fantastic summer beer.

Located at 6880 Winchester Circle Unit F in Boulder, Kettle & Stone will hold its opening at 2 p.m. June 26. More information is available at their Facebook page.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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