Yesterday's 4/20 celebrations had at least one cannabis-related event for those who chose not to smoke. We headed up to Ute Pass Brewing Company
in Woodland Park to check out their selection of five hemp beers and hemp-added snacks.
Largely, the beers were good, though nothing astonishing and world-changing. Their hemp porter was the most successful, rich and toasty with a hint of creaminess. Said toasty flavor also showed up in the amber ale, which tasted darker than it looked and had a pleasant balance overall. But the amber also left a slight fatty or oily feeling in the back of our mouths, a sensation which was stronger with the wild hop ale. On the upside, said ale was brewed with wild-harvested hops from Manitou and several ghost towns in the area, according to our server, and that's super cool. But the ale needed a touch more hop to balance the oily quality from the hemp seed. As for the lightest beer, the honey nut blonde had a mighty honey quality and a hint of wheat — a little sweet, but pleasant.
Our server warned us, though, that the ESB was the most hemp-forward beer, and he was not lying. It tasted quite singular, with powerful grassy and vegetal notes overwhelming, finishing with nutty hints — good — under an oxidized-greens funk — not so good. Make no mistake, though, this beer was an interesting experiment, and I'm interested in seeing the next version.
Food fared a little better, though. It's possible to mess up a plate of green chile fries ($5), but it takes some doing. A little hemp seed in the chile added protein and little flavor to a respectable plate of Southwestern goodness. And the gluten-free vegan hemp tamale (a little steep at $6.50) had a pleasant warmth in the filling, though the masa wasn't the most fork-friendly. While the "hempanero" chicken wings ($8.50 for 7) were cooked beautifully under their sticky sauce, there was no spice to speak of. A shame; the clean sweetness would have benefit from a little kick.
Ute Pass Brewing Co. did something adventurous and laudable with the 4/20 holiday, and they packed the dining room full doing it.