Man, did we eat some good things while driving from New York to San Francisco. Here are the delicious highlights from a 10 day trip from that took us through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.
'Colorado' on Serious Eats
The Cherry Cricket is strictly a build-your-own burger place, with over 30 cheeses, toppings, and sauces—and exactly zero pre-designed kitchen creations to choose from. You'll find plenty of the usual suspects here, but also oddball options like cucumber slices, corned beef, and...grape jelly.
What actually sets one cut of meat above another depends on at least two industries, and often many, many more, from livestock producers to feedlots, transportation companies, packing plants, buyers, distributors, markets, and all the way to home kitchens and restaurant tables. On a recent trip to Colorado, I had the opportunity to follow the trail from ranch to market and see what the chain of production looks like to one local community in the mountains of Southwestern Colorado.
Between the Denver Rare Beer Tasting, Crooked Stave's What the Funk!? Festival, and GABF itself, we tried a plethora of outstanding brews, including some of the rarest beers on earth. Here's the rundown on our six favorites.
It was day five of their cross-country road trip when Kerry and David Nelson rolled into Salida, Colorado. They'd just taken a year off from their life in Philly to travel the country, and finding a place in the Southwest where they could eventually lay down roots wasn't far from their minds. It turned out to be an easier process than they could've imagined—for the Nelsons, Salida had it all: a thriving, receptive community, an active arts scene, and a stunning mountain vista.
Fortunately, I did a much better job of planning my return trip to Colorado than I did my first visit to the state. But I couldn't resist over-booking, aiming to travel through Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Aurora for stops at six different breweries in a mere 48 hours. Allowing time for sleeping, eating, and a whole lotta peeing, I was left with a total of twelve business hours to cover some serious drinking ground.
My first ever trip to Colorado was a whirlwind: I still can't remember many of the details because of how overwhelmed I was by the plethora of renowned craft beer...Or maybe that was just because I was drinking so much. But I do know this: on my hectic maiden journey I fell in love with the Rockies. (The mountains, not the baseball team. Only a mother could love them after last season.)
Autumn in Colorado is just about as wacky a season as you can find, with temperatures fluctuating between the 20s and the 70s...occasionally on the same day. So you'll need a variety of beer styles in your fridge. While you may crave a robust porter when it's approaching the freezing point, a nice fresh IPA is more palatable on a surprise sunny afternoon. Here are five local brews we've been enjoying, whatever Fall's weather brings.
Malt is undeniably more important to beer production than hops—it not only provides the foundation for beer's flavor, but it also imparts the essential sugars necessary for fermentation. Without malting, there is no beer. But ask a homebrewer about his malt, and you'll probably get blank stares.
Celebrating its 26th year, the Great American Beer Festival took place in Denver, Colorado this past week to honor the best American beers and their respective brewers. Some 49,000 people attended the event to sample over 2,700 beers from 578 craft breweries across the United States. Although there was no way for us to sample anywhere close to all of them, we had a great time sipping beer and chatting with brewers.
If you're planning on visiting the Mile High City during the Great American Beer Festival this year, you may notice that a lot has changed since your last visit. Eight new breweries have opened up within Denver city limits in the last year (bringing the grand total to 22), not including the dozen or so that have begun pouring outside the metro area. The product of favorable liquor laws and an atmosphere that cultivates and encourages young breweries, Denver—and Colorado as a whole—is quickly becoming an epicenter for craft beer in the United States.
Easily one of the most sought-after beer festivals in the state, SourFest sold out in under 2 minutes. This year, 27 breweries from across the country came to pour 59 different sour and funky beers.
Each year Odell breaks out new beers, along with some annual repeats, to test on the thousands of visitors mingling throughout the brewery grounds. There wasn't a bad beer to be had at this epic event.
The 3rd Annual Colorado Beer Week was held May 12-19 across the city of Denver, offering a plethora of choices for craft beer fans. Piggy-backing off of American Craft Beer Week, the goal of Colorado Beer Week is to "host events that bring you great beer and educate everyone on the versatility of this tasty beverage", says founder Scott Kerkmans. Here are a few of the highlights.
Early every Friday night all summer, both locations of Marczyk Fine Foods—Denver's premier gourmet food shop and deli—give their respective neighborhoods a little burger gift. Much more "elevated backyard cookout" than "fancy-pants burger" offering, it's a tradition the people of Denver are lucky to have.
On April 14, TRiNiTY Brewing Company held their 4th Annual Saison and Farmhouse Ale Festival at their newly remodeled brewery in in Colorado Springs. One of the most highly specialized beer festivals in the state, Saison Fest draws a large and diverse crowd to enjoy close to 30 different variations on the classic beer style, offered by 16 different breweries.
Yesterday former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich started his 14-year prison sentence in Littleton, Colorado, but not before grabbing a final meal at burger chain Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers. From Chicago Tribune: "He ordered a double patty melt, fries and a soda but didn't finish the meal."
The Breckenridge Brewery story begins in 1990, when homebrewer Richard Squire opened the third (!) craft brewery in Colorado in the popular ski town of Breckenridge. The beers the small brewery served to locals and skiers were an immediate hit and in 1992 Breckenridge expanded into the Denver market, opening a bottling facility in a then-neglected part of downtown. A few years later, Coors Field baseball stadium was built on an adjacent lot, and the neighborhood's fortunes began to change for the better.
In 2003, Jeff Crabtree started dabbling in homebrewing. Shortly after, the Union Colony Brewery—the only brewery in the industrial farm community of Greeley, Colorado—went out of business. Bitten by the brewing bug, Jeff got a loan and snapped up Union's brewing equipment. But Jeff hedged his bets and took a job in the corporate world, and started Crabtree Brewing as a side project in a gritty corner of Greeley. For the first few years he focused on brewing the beers he thought the local community would want. Progress was slow, and some frustration followed. The tipping point came when Jeff decided to work full time at the brewery, and brew only the beers that he wanted to.
Park Burger became a Denver institution almost immediately after opening its doors less than three years ago. Based on my visit, I'd have to say it definitely lives up to the hype.