Tour de brew: BRU handbuilt ales & eats

Drinking up the spirit of things

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Ian Clark, founder/owner of Bru, displays a flight of BRU beer.
Susan France

The story of America is the story of rebels, from the revolutionaries who conceived this nation out of the bones of the Enlightenment to the artisans, politicians and leaders who continue to strive for progress in every interpretation and permutation of the word. Sometimes that rebellion is the signature on a piece of paper that bestows rights to an otherwise marginalized group of people, sometimes it’s the angry and obscene rants of a stand-up comic exposing the hypocrisy of decency. Hell, sometimes it’s even in a glass of beer and in the food on your plate. Rebellion comes in all forms, no matter how slight it may seem.

That is the main thrust of Stan Hieronymus’ latest book, Brewing Local: American-Grown Beer. This is the fourth book penned by Hieronymus for Brewers Publications — I have not yet read the other three — but Brewing Local’s attention to America brewers who eschew the Reinheitsgebot (the German Beer Purity Law dating from 1516 that states that beer can only be made with three ingredients: water, hops and barley) and his acceptance of the locavore movement immediately grabbed my attention. Boulder is a town that loves a local movement, and some of the best breweries around town are the ones that play fast and loose with their ingredients. Boulder is an odd collection of people; the beer ought to reflect that.

And it does, in the many breweries that have been covered previously in this column and it does at BRU handbuilt ales & eats. In Brewing Local, Hieronymus singles out 22 American breweries, featuring one beer each. These succinct write-ups explain the backstory and recipe behind the brew in hopes of inspiring future rebels. Of all the Colorado breweries to choose from, Hieronymus zeroed in on BRU and D.A.M’s Bloom BRU Kölsch (5% ABV), a beer that BRU’s brewer and chef, Ian Clark, whipped up for the Denver Art Museum’s 2015 In Bloom exhibit, which featured impressionistic floral paintings.

Unfortunately, the Kölsch is not currently available but a glance at the recipe reveals both Belgian wheat and Belgian aromatics, which should give an indication of what BRU excels at. And excel they do with the Beezel Golden Strong Ale (9.3%). This Belgian pale ale drinks like a dream. On its own, the ale would be grand, but it is the addition of the bitter orange and black pepper that makes BRU worth the trip. Same for the Post-BRU Collaboration (7.4%), a fresh and aromatic thyme saison that has no business being this good when it’s this cold out.

BRU features 12 more rotating taps, not all Belgian-inspired, but all have an identity. For example, the OBITUS Brown Ale (7.8%) packs a sweetness that comes courtesy of caramelized sugar and dates.

As the name suggests, BRU is also a place to dine, but the kitchen was having a day off the afternoon I visited. Thankfully, beer is liquid bread and BRU features some tasty loaves. Guess this means I’ll have to head outside the Centennial State to sample the 21 other brew Hieronymus features in Brewing Local. I’ll call it my Rebellion Tour.