You're probably thinking that the annual Firkin Rendezvous, held by Bristol Brewing Company, happened on Feb. 18, and a week later is kind of a lame time to recap a small-barrel event that most people have moved on from. And you're probably thinking all this because it's true, and I applaud you for your judgment and clear thinking.
However, situations and life changes and lost notes conspired to keep us from the keyboard, so to hell with it, we're doing it live, as Bill O'Reilly would kind of say. Before we do, though, we just want to offer our condolences to the brewery, which just lost general manager Josh Osterhoudt to cancer.
On to happier thoughts — beer thoughts. (See previous recaps here and here.) First, the Firkin was divided this year into two sessions: an earlier VIP session that cost more ($50), and the general session ($35). (Disclosure: The Indy was comped.) It was an attempt to break up the constant butt-to-crotch action that has usually taken place while waiting in line.
I thought the early entry worked great; even when the regulars joined in, it didn't feel too crowded. This was also due to good planning, with Bristol including the attending brewery's staff in the anticipated total head counts.
So, the best frickin' beer at the Firkin? No question: Odell Brewing Co.'s Coconut Milk Cutthroat Porter. The brewery combined actual coconut juice, and a pound and a half of flakes, with its Cutthroat Porter. It was smooth, intensely accurate to the described flavors, and the talk of the ball.
Other highlights include a weird, but fun, honey-basil brew from Elk Mountain Brewing; a really nice and cider-y organic apple IPA from Three Barrel Brewing Co. that kicked harder than it looked; and a Scotch ale from Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. that not only rocked a kick-ass name — Second-Hand Electric Donkey Bottom Bitter Scotch Ale with Elderberries — but offered an intensity and clarity I don't normally associate with the place.
No need to overly knock locals, but I have to admit to being disappointed with offerings from Black Fox Brewing Co., Kevin Baity Kraft Beers and Pikes Peak Brewing Co. BF's Somnombulance with Raspberries seemed really interesting at first, before an ass-puckering tartness took over; and the other two's brews, an English pale ale and a whiskey stout, respectively, seemed like halfway done products, lacking any punch.
But it was a great event, as always, with more than 20 participating breweries — including food from Front Range Barbeque, McCabe's Tavern and others — so go next year, grab the still-best-commemorative-glass-of-any-festival and help support the Colorado Brewers Guild.