Why bother burying the lead: Wild Woods’ Nectarine Thyme Saison (5.9% ABV) is one of the best beers I’ve ever had. Full stop. It’s been three days since visiting Wild Woods’ unassuming East Boulder digs, but I can still taste the delicious tart of the drupe play against the subtle herb of the thyme. And it’s a saison to boot, which brings a fair amount of yeast with a hint of pepper into this glass of rustic heaven. It’s a full-fledged meal, one that transported me to the picnic table outside of my grandparent’s farmhouse. The early evening summer light was slipping behind the trees while the cicadas droned on. All was right with the world.
That sense of the outdoors is precisely what Wild Woods is going for, though its aim is a little more mountainous than my family’s Midwestern vegetable farm. Located one block off of Arapahoe and Conestoga, Wild Woods’ tasting room is on the smaller side — roughly 10 seats at the bar, 16 at the tables and another couple of dozen out on the patio — but it’s as intimate and open as a garage can get. The ponderosa green paint and cabin wood paneling help, but not nearly as much as what comes out of the taps.
As the name might denote, Wild Woods’ décor matches owners Jake and Erin Evans’ passions. Originally from Wisconsin — his background is engineering, hers is nursing — the two found their way to Boulder eight years ago where they encountered a plethora of beer and camping, their two loves. A few years later, the idea of Wild Woods was conceived around a campfire in Crested Butte. That campfire is still burning brightly in their Smores Stout (4.9%), which is a delicious harmony of graham cracker, chocolate and slightly charred marshmallows. The owners may love the outdoors, but this is the kind of campfire I prefer.
The Smores Stout achieves its unique characteristics thanks to roasted barley, biscuit and chocolate malts plus some complex sugars which are then aged on rich cacao nibs. Wild Woods’ other taps feature similar specialty ingredients that bring drinkers outside the confines of Boulder and transport them to the wide-open spaces of the outdoors. The Banana Nut Hefeweizen (6%) is certainly an eye-catching beer on the page and the glass delivers on the promise. The Wildflower Pale Ale (5.6%) is fresh and floral with a hit of soft jasmine, the Berry Patch Wheat (5.5%) is standard American wheat with a bright berry puree — it’s like raiding a ripe berry bush — and the Ponderosa Pine (5.6%) has a pleasant and toasted quality with vanilla undertones.
Wild Woods opened its doors in September 2012 as a two-barrel nanobrewery. They have since expanded to a perfectly sized neighborhood seven-barrel brewhouse that has a strong sense of identity. They know what they like at Wild Woods and they are happy to share that with Boulder. I just hope they don’t share too much of that Nectarine Thyme Saison, I’ll be back for more.
On Tap: Wild Woods Brewery. 5460 Conestoga Court, Boulder, 303–484–1465.