Tour de Brew: Twisted Pine Brewing Co.

Jean-Francois Lalonde, Ale House manager at Twisted Pine Brewing Co.
Susan France

Twisted Pine Brewery features some of the best beers in town. From their award-winning Big Shot (6.0% ABV), a robust espresso stout that should be served with a warm buttered croissant; to Billy’s Chilies (5.2%), a wheat ale featuring the potent expressions of five peppers: Anaheim, Fresno, Serrano, jalapeño and habanero; to seasonal specialties like the cucumber cream ale Homeslice (5.6%), cucumbers never tasted so good; and the ghoulish Ghost Face Killah (5.2%), a beer so spicy I had to walk away from it and wait for my courage, and taste buds, to recover. Twisted Pine has 24 beers on tap for the adventurous and the conservative drinkers alike. The only caveat: You have to come here to try them. As of June 1, 2016, Twisted Pine Brewing ceased distribution.

According to Amy Russell — Twisted Pine’s director of possibilities — the discussion around discontinuing distribution started 12 months ago. While this would mean a blow to the clientele outside of the Centennial state, it would offer a plethora of opportunities for Twisted Pine to engage more with the Boulder County community. On the company’s blog, Head Brewer Kay Witkiewicz points out that this change  gives Twisted Pine a chance to embrace who they really are: “[P]roud brewers who want to serve our Boulder community one pint at a time.”

Gordon Knight founded Twisted Pine in 1995 and then sold it to Bob Baile of Peak to Peak Brewing a years later. In 2003, Twisted Pine moved to its current location on Walnut Street and added the Ale House. Three more expansions brought the facility to what it is today, which includes a full kitchen serving lunch and dinner. There is no doubt that distribution helped Twisted Pine build their brand and draw attention to the Ale House, but with so much of the focus on the product and the place, why worry about how the beer is performing on someone else’s shelves?

“To me, brewing is about control, creativity, and pride,” Witkiewicz’s post continues. “We control our brewing parameters as tightly as possible to craft the best beers possible. Packaging and distribution rob us brewers of control because we don’t know if our beers are being cared for the way we cared for them in the brewhouse and in the cellar.”

Precise control allows Twisted Pine to pour a perfect pint of Raspberry Rising (5.2%) — like drinking raspberry-flavored Cheerios, if such a thing existed — but it also allows them the opportunity to engage with the community on a more personable level.

“In a recent survey conducted by Confluence,” Russell wrote in an email exchange with Boulder Weekly, “we determined three-quarters of our ale house customers are from Colorado’s Front Range with the majority having an active interest in a company’s community involvement, corporate social responsibility and local support.”

And Twisted Pine’s contribution to community support and local involvement — Pints with a Purpose and Party with a Purpose — “Raised over $30,000 for local nonprofits in 2015,” Russell added.

In other words, head to Twisted Pine, enjoy a pint and get involved in the local beer community. It’s the sensible thing to do.

On tap: Twisted Pine Brewing Co. 3201 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-786-9270.