If I told you that I love lagers, you might think I’m talking about that yellow fizzy stuff that comes out of giant factories in St. Louis, Missouri or down in Golden, Colorado. Not that I would ever knock them or their products — some of my closest friends gulp it down by the bucket — but those mass market lagers have turned suspicious craft drinkers against an otherwise sturdy and reliable beverage. There is simple elegance in a glass of finely crafted lager, and if you need further proof, head out to Longmont and give Wibby Brewing its due.
Located just two blocks from Downtown Longmont, and recently celebrating its paper anniversary, Wibby Brewing is a giant stack of concrete and stainless steel, an austere space that immediately warms when the sunshine streams through large roll-up doors. The train tracks aren’t far, and there is a definite industrial feel, but the décor fits what’s in the glass. There is a sense that everything has been thought through, and what matters here is function not flash.
Wibby’s beers, crafted by brewmaster Ryan Wibby, are produced using traditional German brewing methods, but aren’t beholden to the same Germany Purity Law enforced in Deutschland. This allows Wibby to put a signature spin on its beers, and the results are memorable. The Lightshine Helles (5.5% ABV) has that familiar yellow color and just the right amount of alcohol and bite — neither lacking nor overpowering. A glass of Lightshine will disappear fast, allowing you to move on to Moondoor Dunkle (5.5%), a velvety chocolate delivery, and Wibby IPL (7%), IPA’s smooth older brother with pungent citrus and a subdued bite. All three are Wibby’s workhorses and all three contain a tameness that is positively charming.
There is a little more adventure in the seasonal selection, from the Lightshine Raddler, a helles with raspberry lemonade — how unfortunate that I discovered summertime heaven after Labor Day — to Wibtoberfest (5.36%), a warm märzen with a nice amber color and a little more wheat. For those looking for a touch of punch with sweetness to follow, Ted IPL (10%) is a double of the Wibby IPL and named after the company’s main man. Downtown Hop (7.25%) is a hoppy helles bock that is surprisingly smooth. But none of them can hold a candle to the No Dos Vienna Lager (5.5%). With its lovely shade of cola, No Dos Vienna Lager is malt forward, slightly hopped and absolutely delicious.
According to the Beer Drinker’s Guide to Colorado, brewmaster Ryan Wibby studied his craft in Germany for nearly a year and the results show. Thanks to a leisurely cold fermentation process, Wibby produces mellow beers that offer much without bludgeoning the drinker into submission. IPAs and Pale Ales certainly have their champions, but not every beer needs to be a wallop of hops and alcohol. For those days, we have Wibby.