Tour de brew: Backcountry Pizza & Tap House

Ring in GABF with Annual Sour Sunday

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Ray Sawhill/Wikimedia Commons

There are more than 6,300 breweries in the U.S., according to the Brewers Association, a nonprofit that counts and supports craft breweries. And while we’d like to sample the brews at every single one, that’s simply not possible. For that, we welcome with open arms well-curated tap houses and the always-exciting Great American Beer Festival.

Inspired by the Great British Beer Festival (established in 1977 and held every August), GABF was founded in 1982 by Boulder’s biggest beer champion, Charlie Papazian. Twenty-four breweries attended the inaugural event at Harvest House Hotel, a proverbial drop in the bucket compared to this year’s total of over 800 breweries pouring 3,800-plus beers at the Denver Convention Center.

That popularity has spread into an entire week of GABF goodies with just about every brewery and bar getting in on the fun. Special releases, theme days and deep discounts abound. And for Boulder County drinkers, the only place to start is at Backcountry Pizza & Tap House.

With over 60 beers on draught and 300 more in the bottle, Backcountry is already the premiere tap house in the area. But on Sunday, Sept. 16, Backcountry ups the ante with their Annual Sour Sunday.

Starting at 11 a.m., Backcountry will tap over 40 sour beers, most of them impossible to find on draught. From California’s Russian River Brewing Company, the brewery behind Pliny the Elder, to Texas’s Jester King Brewery, the Lone Star State’s answer to Belgium lambics; from a Berliner Weisse by Stone Brewing in Escondido, California, to a Berliner Weisse by August Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm, Minnesota.

The Centennial state is also well represented in this embarrassment of riches, and if you’ve never tried a brew from Casey Brewing and Blending, here is your chance.

Located in Glenwood Springs and founded by Troy Casey (no relation) in 2013, Casey Brewing and Blending focuses on Old World techniques in a New World setting. The ingredients are almost entirely local, fermented and aged in oak barrels and completely bottle conditioned. At last year’s Annual Sour Sunday, Backcountry poured the Funky Blender Saison Side A and Side B. These two Farmhouse variants showed off the range of the brewery’s blending technique, with Side A having a tarter, Champagne-like yeasty quality while Side B favored the grain bill in the blend.

Apart, each beer was delicious; side-by-side, they were remarkable. And with Backcountry offering short pours, you can easily taste your way through a slew of sours you won’t find anywhere else. That includes Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Aunt Sally (a dry-hopped sweet tart sour mash ale) barrel-aged with Gewürztraminer grapes (an off-dry white wine grape that can exhibit a good deal of spice).

There are plenty of boring beers in the world, but you won’t find them here. Let the festivities begin.

On tap: Backcountry Pizza & Tap House. 2319 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, 303-449-4285, backcountrypizzaandtaphouse.info