There is something magical about the great American Midwest. Sure, driving across it can seem like an endless sea of flatland constantly unfolding before the horizon. Flying over doesn’t make it any more romantic — large geometrical plots of field corn, wheat and soybeans as far as the eye can see. No wonder the inhabitants of Los Angeles and New York call these “the fly-over states.” But consider all who came from this fertile land: T.S. Eliot, Stan Brakhage, Roger Ebert, Walt Disney, Abraham Lincoln, Warren Buffett and Kurt Vonnegut, to name a few. Poets, filmmakers, writers, storytellers, presidents, economists — hell, the Midwest has them all. Granted, many of them left for fame and fortune along the more densely populated coasts, but when they went, they carried with them the heart of America and the spark of ingenuity.
That heart and spark hit me with my first sip of Old School Pale Ale (5.1 percent ABV) on a recent visit to the Crystal Springs Brewing Company in Louisville. The taste wasn’t as sharp as other pale ales, but the citrus flavor continued to build as I ventured further down the glass. There was something about it I had not experienced in a beer before, but once I saw the tasting sheet describe the Old School as “South Dakota style,” I knew exactly what it was. The Midwest had come to Colorado.
The man behind Crystal Springs, Tom Horst, hails from Hudson, South Dakota — just 120 miles south, southeast from my family’s hometown of Mitchell — and teaches music at Boulder High. He started brewing beer out of his garage in 1988 at the suggestion of his son. Around about the turn of the century, Horst’s wife, Kristy, started suggesting that he open a brewery, and on May 13, 2010, the Crystal Springs Brewing Company opened its doors.
Much like a Midwest home, Crystal Springs’s Louisville pub is an inviting place to go and drink. Thirteen stools surround the bar, but easy chairs and benches caught my associate’s attention and that is where we made our home. While I quaffed the Naughty Marilyn (8.2 percent), a blond Belgian strong with plenty of citrus, fruit and spice, she dove into the delightfully tart Cherry Saison (5.7 percent) and considered moving her monthly book club meetings to Crystal Springs.
And there’s a beer for all those avid readers with brews like Blood Orange Kölsch (4.9 percent), a easy drinker that tastes a little like an orange gummy bear; Solano (6 percent), made with roasted hatch green chiles that give the beer its pepper and smoke; and their New England imperial dark Mexican lager, Garage Brew (7 percent), which has a deliciously roasted, malty taste. Heck, I might even have to join them. I might not be of much help in their discussions, but I can certainly keep pace with them beer-wise. We all have our talents and as long as Horst continues to use his to brew that beer, I’ll use mine to drink it. Must be the Midwestern in us.
On tap: Crystal Springs Brewing Company. 657 S. Taylor Ave., Unit E, Louisville, 303-665-8888, crystalspringsbrewing.com