Photo by Jason Cipriani

Pursuit of Hoppiness: Old Chicago isn’t local, but it feels like it is

I’m going to hear all about how horrible of a human being I am from my friends after they read this article. Or, maybe, if I’m lucky, they won’t read this. I can only hope.

Here’s the deal: One of the best places in Southern Colorado to get a wide assortment of local, independent craft beer is Old Chicago. I know. I know.

I don’t have an excuse to justify talking about OC’s before I feature a local business like Pueblo’s Brues Alehouse or Shamrock Brewing. But here we are. Flame on, trolls.

In the middle of May I went to Old Chicago after finding out they had a collaboration beer from two of my favorite breweries on tap. A collab beer is when two breweries get together, each one bringing his or her expertise to the brew day, and make a one-off beer together.

For the 2xBrett brew, Melvin Brewing used its hop prowess along with Crooked Stave’s dominance of producing beers with Brett yeast, and the end result was one of the best beers I’ve had in recent memory.

The abundance of hops mixed with the funky flavor Brett produces blended together for an IPA unlike I’ve had before it, and will never have again. 2xBrett was made specifically for Old Chicago, and was only available until the tap ran dry.

Forget my love letter to Melvin and Crooked Stave for a second, and take a look at the tap list the next time you visit Old Chicago.

Indeed, there are a lot of AB In-Bev-owned breweries on the list, but if you look at the featured taps and bottles, most of them are locally owned and operated breweries.

Red Leg Brewing and Trinity Brewing from Colorado Springs are commonplace, as is Eddyline Brewing from Buena Vista, and La Cumbre out of Albuquerque. Just a couple of month’s ago Walter’s Brewing was on tap in Pueblo and Colorado Springs. How awesome is that?

Each brewery offers its own style of beer. Each one is worthy of being served far and wide, and OC’s is giving them a seat at the bar.

Don’t get me wrong, I love sitting down at Shamrock and having a pint of PAPA with some wings. Or going to Brues, marveling at the huge fermentors, dreaming of brewing on a system like that, and sipping on a pint of whatever new beer is on tap.

Local breweries are the heartbeat of the craft beer scene in Southeast Colorado these days and nothing is going to take that away.

Places like Walter’s or Bristol with their approachable, yet flavorful beers are where many have sipped their first beer that doesn’t start with Bud or Coors.

That’s not going to change because of the tap list at Old Chicago. In fact, I’d argue the exposure to craft beer at a corporate establishment like OC’s is going to push customers to seek local craft beer — and damn it if we don’t have some amazing options.

If you want to expand your pallet and be exposed to craft beer you normally don’t find on tap then Old Chicago is your place.

As for local breweries, I recently spoke with Brad Schooland, owner and head brewer at PDub Brewing, and he reminded me the breweries 1 year anniversary is this month on June 17. In addition to celebrating keep the suds flowing for year, Schooland tells me they are actively working on a dog-friendly patio at P Dub’s. You can find more information about the anniversary party as well as keep tabs on the doggie patio on the company’s Facebook page (PDub Brewing). Congratulations to Brad and his staffed on a hard earned first year. Here’s to many more!

Over at Brues Alehouse, in partnership with Studio Share, they are holding Yoga on the Rooftop every Tuesday now through September. There are two session times, 5:30 pm or 7 pm. Cost is $5 for just yoga, or $8 for yoga and a beer. Early risers on Saturday can also take part in a yoga session at 8:30 am.

On Tap: As your browse coolers stocked to the brim with craft beer, you may come across a Session beer or three. Session beers, such as, say, a Session IPA are designed to have the same flavor profile of a standard IPA, but with a fraction of the ABV. For example, a Session IPA is usually under 5%.

The term Session simply means the beer is low alcohol, meaning you can have more than one in the same drinking “session” without getting (too) drunk.

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