There are many pleasures to discover during Stout Month, but new beers and new breweries are chief among them. For the past four years, Mountain Sun has featured exclusively Colorado beers on their guest tap list and this year, they had no less than 29 stouts from breweries all over the Centennial State.
“We try to mix it up and share the love with as many local breweries as we can,” Mountain Sun’s Director of Brewery Operations John Fiorilli tells Boulder Weekly. “The beers themselves are seldom the same just because everyone’s experimenting and everyone has something new every year.”
Cannonball Creek brewer Brian Hutchinson has been experimenting with one stout in particular ever since the Golden brewery opened its doors in 2013 — the Imperial Almond Chocolate Stout (9.6% ABV).
“I hate having a beer that uses an ingredient in the name that doesn’t taste like it,” Hutchinson says. “I’ve always found working with nuts in beer to be particularly interesting just because they are so subtle most of the time. … It took me a couple of iterations of this beer to really get to a point where it really lived up to its namesake.”
Drinking the Imperial Almond Chocolate Stout is like sinking your teeth into an Almond Joy, which is precisely what Hutchinson had in mind.
A similar approach was taken by Ska Brewing, located in Durango, with their Autumnal Molé Stout (5.8%), a beer brewed with three chili peppers: Ancho, Guajillo and Hatch Green Chiles. Few beers exhibit Colorado’s southwest flavor quite like the Molé Stout and that’s thanks to the chilies, which, as Ska’s Arlo Grammatica says, “It’s on everything here.”
“It’s fun putting a big bag of chilies in the beer,” Grammatica says. “Chilies tend to keep giving, so you really have to watch the timing and how long you keep them in there.”
“I feel like [Mountain Sun’s] tap list grows every year, and they’ve been featuring more unique beers,” Wild Woods Brewery’s Erin Evans says. Boulder’s own Wild Woods has been featured on Mountain Sun’s tap wall the past four Stout Months, and each year Stout Month brings a little more attention to their brewery.
“The Smores Stout, people recognize us for that,” Evans says. “We actually sent them a double chocolate version of our Smores Stout. We specifically brewed a smaller batch of it just to go to Stout Month locations.”
But some stout drinkers are just looking for a proper balance of roasted malts. That is what makes Durango Brewing Co.’s Imperial Stout (8%) so enjoyable, it’s a hearty beer with a lingering malty finish; just the sort of stout people look for during the colder, darker days of the year. It’s one that former Mountain Sun brewery employee, now with Durango Brewing, Nate Watkins takes pride in.
“I love putting the beer we make beside the best beer you can get,” Watkins says.
This sense of camaraderie is what makes Fiorilli’s job at Mountain Sun easier and a heck of a lot more fun.
“Every year it just gets easier and easier to fill the taps with awesome stouts that are within 100 miles of us,” he says.