New in brew: Spon and IPA rule the range

Packages from Primitive, Ska, Oskar Blues, Finkle & Garf

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Primitive Beer's ShibbleShabble
Michael J. Casey

When Longmont’s Primitive Beer opened last year, all of its offerings were available either on cask or in a box and bag. In a word: un-carbonated. But with its first bottle release this past October, Primitive Beer has bubbles; among them, its award-winning ShibbleShabble — a 2-year-old spontaneous (spon) ale brewed with 100% locally sourced Colorado ingredients: malted Genie barley, raw Antero wheat and aged Willamette hops.

Packaged in a 25-ounce Champagne bottle with sloping shoulders and kept under a cork and cap, ShibbleShabble pops with effervescence. It pours out a hazy gold and kicks up a saison-like head that quickly settles into a tight sheen of foam. The aroma is resinous, vinous and slightly herbal. The flavor is subtle sourness with a touch of citric acid, lemongrass and a tinge of peppercorn. The hops and malt are secondary to style, which zigs and zags in the glass with a surprise at every turn. It’s like a Spanish Cava, only better.

Primitive makes some of the oddest, funkiest and best beers in Boulder County, even if they’re not the most ubiquitous. Everywhere else, the ever-sturdy IPA still reigns supreme, and Colorado brewers are still pushing the envelope with hop usage and style permutations.

And with Durango’s Ska Brewing Co. slated to join Boulder County in early 2020 — they are partnering with Peach Street Distillers to open Boulder’s first “brewstillery” at the former Fate facility on Arapahoe — now’s the time to acquaint yourself with the brewery’s latest, The Hazy IPA.

Pouring a turbid yellow with a nose loaded with stone fruit, a creamy mouth and popping hops, Ska’s Hazy IPA avoids the common pitfalls of chlorophyll and green yeast for a beer that won’t blow out your palate with saturation.

No stranger to the hazy, Boulder-based Finkel & Garf’s latest collaboration is with Molly’s Spirits in Wheat Ridge: Molly’s IPA, a beer for the modern hop lover. Brewed with Huell Melon, Barbe Rouge and El Dorado, Molly’s IPA pops with papaya, lychee and a touch of honeydew. And at 5.7% alcohol by volume, Molly’s IPA won’t knock you down after two.

Oskar Blues Brewery has a new hazy, this one aimed at lifestyle drinkers: One-y Hazy IPA. Clocking in at 100 calories per can, One-y is fruit-forward hops, light on sweetness and much more palatable than the bitter bombs of some session IPAs. One-y may not replace your go-to IPA, but if you’re looking to cut calories, it’ll do the trick.

And if IPA is your thing, then the most intriguing package hitting shelves at your better liquor stores is CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective’s Coast to Coast IPA Mixed Pack: Expatriate, Three Weavers Brewing Company, California; Can-O-Bliss, Oskar Blues, Colorado; IPA, Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Texas; and Jai Alai, Cigar City Brewing, Florida.

From West Coast bitterness to East Coast juice — with a stopover at pungent and dank — CANarchy’s mixed pack is a beery cross-country journey without leaving your couch.