Before Pikes Peak Brewing Co. opened in May 2011, Erik Heikkenen, president of the Cheyenne Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited, strolled into the unfinished building. Hoping to marry two of his passions — beer and the threatened fish in Bear Creek — he had a proposal for owner Chris Wright: brew a special beer to raise awareness of the fish.
Convincing him turned out to be easy.
"He said, 'Man, you're into this,'" Heikkenen remembers, with a laugh. "'You have sold me. I had no idea that this fish was up in Bear Creek.'"
In late summer, Heikkenen and Wright hiked to the creek to gather a gallon of water to add to the boiling brew for Bear Creek Porter.
"While we were getting the water," Heikkenen remembers, "one of those fish came swimming by. And they were like children, Chris and the other guy that was with us, they were so excited to see those fish. And it all kind of clicked with them. They were like, 'Yeah, we got to see it, we got to see the greenback!'"
On this year's hike, the beer buddies also collected wild hops from Bear Creek's edge to add to the brew. Wright says the beer, which has a 6.9 percent alcohol content, is "a dark, roastier beer, not quite as a heavy as a stout" that features "a caramel rye that imparts some sweeter notes."
Since only 20 kegs are made each year, Wright expects this year's brew will be gone within the next couple weeks. (It was released Sept. 29.) It's available only at the brewery, located at 1756 Lake Woodmoor Drive in Monument. Wright gives 10 percent of his revenues from the beer to Trout Unlimited, to be used for Bear Creek's restoration.
"The trout give us a gallon of water," Wright says, "and we give back to the trout."