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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Lulu's Downstairs grand opens with style in Manitou Springs

Posted By on Wed, Jul 10, 2019 at 5:04 PM

Musician, producer and now Lulu's founder and owner, Marc Benning. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Musician, producer and now Lulu's founder and owner, Marc Benning.

Lulu’s Downstairs (107 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs) celebrates its grand opening on Thursday, July 11, from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. (the hours it plans to be open year-round). The following night, Sasami plays the venue, along with Inaiah Lujan.

The venue already has concerts listed out to October, with more shows surely to be added. But don’t file it in your mind as just a music spot; it’s an earnest bar as well.

Owner Marc Benning — who most recently helped launch The Side Door venue south of downtown as well as co-start Ivywild Music’s program prior to that, and has run Hideaway Studios for the last 25 years and toured as a musician for 15 years — says “I want to have a great bar that even if there’s no show, it’s still a bar people want to go to.”
A revamped stage with new sound dampening in the overhead ceiling, for optimal acoustics. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A revamped stage with new sound dampening in the overhead ceiling, for optimal acoustics.
Benning says he’s seeking more of “events” than trying to pack out his calendar: “I’m opposed to being a place where we put a band in the corner and they play but there’s nobody there to see them, where they’re underpaid and undervalued.”
That said, he envisions some free shows, and he’s strategically walled-off the bar area from the concert area — mind you we’re talking about the former Castaways, most recently Vibes spot — so folks at the bar will be able to socialize without having to scream in each others’ ears.

“I’m focusing on the bar,” he says, “that’s what will keep the lights on.”
Fine spirits are on hand for those seeking a sophisticated cocktail, though there will be well drinks too. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Fine spirits are on hand for those seeking a sophisticated cocktail, though there will be well drinks too.

What that focus looks like, aside from ‘70s lounge inspiration? Firstly, hiring seasoned bartenders to design an original menu. Principal’s Office alumni are well represented; familiar faces like Ashton Longwell (also of the Wild Goose Meeting House, serving as lead bartender here), and Camille Stellar and Brandon Allen, both of Chiba Bar as well. Benning says they’ll create a “nice approachable cocktail bar that’s affordable, with some higher end options.” He clarifies he doesn’t wish for Lulu’s to become a “drinking person’s bar, looking for $2 shots,” and that he’s “not going to serve gut-rot — our well is solid.”

  • Matthew Schniper
  • Sexy booths.
He envisions drinks averaging $6-$10, featuring “smaller brands and newer companies — Jameson my be our only big-name booze.” And for beers, expect 15 canned offerings at a given time, “just good beers from all over the world — we aren’t focusing on being a Colorado craft brew bar.”
A random, less-typical selection of beers. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A random, less-typical selection of beers.

For eats, since the restaurant space above remains vacant, Benning has planned to serve simple items like grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, plus corn dogs and appetizers, with vegan options too, with a blue plate special from 4-6 p.m. at some point soon.
“If you want to have dinner we’ll have options that’ll fill you up,” he promises. “But our motto is: ‘We’re not a restaurant.’”

Here's a few more early looks at Lulu's — named for Benning's daughter — ahead of the opening:
From the opening cocktail menu, the fresh Sunray mixes Four Roses Bourbon with Lustau Vermut Blanco and Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, plus OJ. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • From the opening cocktail menu, the fresh Sunray mixes Four Roses Bourbon with Lustau Vermut Blanco and Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, plus OJ.

70s decor everywhere. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • 70s decor everywhere.
A wall of oddities. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A wall of oddities.
When there's no show, Benning hopes the bar will still "keep the lights on." - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • When there's no show, Benning hopes the bar will still "keep the lights on."
Cool hand-painted walls. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Cool hand-painted walls.
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Monday, May 13, 2019

Phantom Canyon hosts Game of Thrones finale watch party, with banquet

Posted By on Mon, May 13, 2019 at 5:14 PM

  • IMDB
No this is not another blog unpacking the latest Game of Thrones episode, fat with spoilers.

But the reality for all devoted fans: There's only one episode to go, on Sunday, May 19, before the epic TV show comes to an end after eight seasons.

Phantom Canyon is in on the action, for their part, hosting a finale watch dinner that begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail hour and buffet. (Tickets, $50 including gratuity and two drinks, here, 21+ only.) Costumes are encouraged, and prizes will be awarded for the best.

Here's the fantasy/period appropriate menu:
Pistachio kielbasa stuffed suckling pig (The South)
Parsnip mash (The South)
Beef + bacon pie (The North)
Cod cakes (The North)
Chilled fruit soup shooters
Smoked rattlesnake + rabbit sausage with fiery mustard (Dorne)
Flatbread, Naan, Olives (Dorne)
Blue cheese stuffed elk meatballs (King's Landing)
Melon and tea eggs (Across the Narrow Sea)
Assorted petite desserts from across the different regions (Sansa's Lemon Cakes, etc)

Now, you're probably asking, "What, no burnt toast?" to honor the second-to-last episode on May 12. ... Oh crap ... does that count as a spoiler after all?
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Friday, December 28, 2018

Sierra Nevada entrusts local breweries to produce Resilience IPA charity beer

Posted By on Fri, Dec 28, 2018 at 4:37 PM

  • Courtesy Sierra Nevada
In November, the Camp Fire devastated northern California, becoming the sixth deadliest fire in U.S. history. It burned over 153,000 acres and destroyed more than 18,000 buildings.

In its wake, Chico, California brewery Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has put out the call for aid to every craft brewery in America, asking them to take part by brewing batches of Resilience Butte County Proud IPA, getting their suppliers to donate malt, yeast and hops to 1,400 volunteer breweries across the country who have agreed to pitch time and staff hours. All sales proceeds will go to Sierra Nevada's Camp Fire Relief Fund, which the brewery has set up to help fund long-term rebuilding and support efforts in Butte County, where the fire took place.

As it happens, five Springs-area breweries agreed to take part and brew the beer for locals to enjoy. Atrevida Beer Company has already run out of their supply, but Cerberus Brewing Company, Gold Camp Brewing Company, JAKs Brewing Company, and Local Relic still have their batches on tap.

“We heard about it through social media, and it’s immediately something we were drawn to," says Local Relic co-owner Jeff Zearfoss. "As a brewery and a community that was affected directly by wildfire, with employees who were directly affected by wildfire, it was hard for us not to get involved... We are super-excited to be a part of the cause, and we encourage people to come and try not just ours, but all of the breweries in town that have made this.”

Some breweries' versions will make it to liquor stores as part of the effort. Homebrewers can also try their hand at making this beer and show solidarity — Sierra Nevada has released a homebrew recipe for the beer.
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Thursday, December 20, 2018

Phantom Canyon Brewing Company splits with longtime brewers

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2018 at 4:25 PM

Taps at the bar at Phantom Canyon Brewing Company. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Taps at the bar at Phantom Canyon Brewing Company.
As of mid-December, longtime Phantom Canyon Brewing Company brewers Alan Stiles and Troy Johnson no longer work at the Breckenridge-Wynkoop Holdings-owned spot. The duo brewed at Phantom Canyon for 10 and 5 years, respectively.

“They both have been tremendous brewers for us here at Phantom Canyon," says Noah Kaufman, Phantom Canyon's general manager. “I can’t speak enough positive things about them."

Kaufman declined to say whether the two resigned or were fired. His only comment on the circumstances is that “It came to a point where they were ready to do their own thing.”

Kaufman did, however, identify their replacements. Charles McManus, former lead brewer at Denver-based sister company Wynkoop Brewing Company, has taken the job of head brewer. He'll be assisted by brewer Ryan Emily, who's been training under Stiles and Johnson for the past year and has previous experience with Tallgrass Brewing Company of Manhattan, Kansas.

The Indy spoke with Johnson, but he declined to comment at this time.
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Saturday, August 4, 2018

1876 Ale Works plans September opening, pays homage to German bar tradition

Posted By on Sat, Aug 4, 2018 at 9:15 AM

1876 Ale Works is set to open in early September. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • 1876 Ale Works is set to open in early September.
1876 Ale Works (3352 Templeton Gap Road) is currently under construction, and co-owner Kevin McCarthy’s excitement is unmistakable. He and co-owner/brewer Steve Bannon (not that one) have been working on the steampunk-themed brewery for over a year now and, at long last, plan on opening in early September.

“Every piece [of the interior] is either being handmade or hand-selected by me,” he says. “The tables, the bar — the locomotive steel plates they used in the boilers I’m using as part of my bar — all of this stuff. It’s a little intricate.”

McCarthy was born and raised in Germany, the son of an Air Force service member. Currently, he’s an officer in the Army, also boasting eight years in the restaurant and hospitality industries as both a chef and manager. Bannon’s an avid homebrewer of 10 years, turned on to craft beer by friends who worked at New Belgium Brewing Company. He’s also a former personal trainer — he met McCarthy while helping McCarthy’s wife recover from a traffic collision. Bannon had a vision, and McCarthy wanted to get back into hospitality management after retiring from his military career. Currently, they’ve announced eight beers they plan to offer. And despite McCarthy’s kitchen background, the space they’re using has ruled out in-house food, so they’re partnering with various food trucks around town.

“I want to set food trucks up to help facilitate who’s going to be there,” says McCarthy. “A run club isn’t going to want to eat soft tacos all night. Geeks Who Drink may.”

There's another unique feature McCarthy plans to include at 1876, a nod to a German bar tradition. In a corner, there will be a table that looks different from the rest, a Stammtisch, or standing table. It's a special table reserved for either a town's big decision makers or friends and family of the staff, depending on the bar. But wherever it is, the stammtisch doesn't get opened up for regular customer seating.

“I would be at the alt [old bar] in Rammstein… it would be three people deep at the bar, and if you looked at the stammtisch, it’s two guys with beers smoking cigars, and the rest of the chairs are empty,” he says. He and Bannon have yet to decide who will be on the list for the stammtisch — McCarthy suggested family members or brewery supporters as options.

Of note, the brewery also has a Kickstarter running to help finance the last stretch before opening. For more information, click here.
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Friday, August 3, 2018

International Beer Day proves the perfect way to wrap up a week

Posted By on Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 1:40 PM

The first Friday in August is International Beer Day, and it's a perfect day for a pint.

Celebrating the passing of another work week with friends? Grab a beer. Trying to forget the nightmare that is our political situation? Beer. Want to check out all the great new breweries in town — and there are more than a few this year? Oh yeah — it's beer time.

Atrevida Beer Company’s a vision anchored in brewing skill. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Atrevida Beer Company’s a vision anchored in brewing skill.

Take, for example, Atrevida Beer Company, which has filled the former Great Storm Brewing Company with killer fusions of Latin flavors and European brewing techniques. It's something different and, frankly, awesome.
There is of course always the call to the newest breweries in town, and at the moment, that's Metric.
From left to right: Mom Jeans raspberry kölsch, Helios west coast IPA with sunflower seeds, No Pulp hazy IPA, Catalina Wine Mixer white grape must saison. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • From left to right: Mom Jeans raspberry kölsch, Helios west coast IPA with sunflower seeds, No Pulp hazy IPA, Catalina Wine Mixer white grape must saison.

This brewery's brand-spankin'-new — it's been open for just about two weeks. Those who prefer their pints with a little FOMO can still beat their buddies to try out these beers. And since it's a no-flagships brewery, there's always something new on tap.
Of course, there's more to beer than just drinking it. Brewing one's own beer opens up a whole world of experimentation. We at the Indy talked to Gary Lee of Old West Homebrewing about the basics, and I shared one of my personal recipes for an ESB.
And to celebrate, we put together a brief playlist of beer and beer-drinking songs. Enjoy responsibly!

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Rogue Ales' honey kölsch sips dry, refreshing, interesting

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2018 at 9:57 AM

Rogue's award-winning honey kölsch is a choice lawnmower beer with nuance. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Rogue's award-winning honey kölsch is a choice lawnmower beer with nuance.
When the county's flooding and the president won't stop attacking the news media, sometimes our only solace is the occasional free beer that shows up in the Indy mailbox.

Recently, Newport, Oregon's Rogue Ales sent us a few cans of its honey kölsch. It's available year-round. And the brew's picked up a handful of prestigious awards over the last two years, including a platinum award at the 2018 World Beverage Competition and best in show at the 2016 Honey Beer Competition. Here's our take.

The 5.2 percent ABV beer's a beautiful thing to behold in its striking orange can or fizzy and orange-gold in a glass that's for sure. On the nose, it's sweet with mild honey notes and a little acidity, nothing unexpected. It sips drier than most kölsches, thanks to the honey, still presenting a clean lager-like finish with the body of most ales. There's a depth to its boozy dryness, though, which is nice, as the style-typical pear notes are absent. All the same, it's a refreshing beer we'd be happy to sip all summer.

Rogue's honey kölsch is available on taps and in six-packs around town now — go here to find a liquor store or taproom near you. Cheers!
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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Cerberus Brewing Company holds fundraiser for injured brewer

Posted By on Tue, Jul 24, 2018 at 4:00 PM

  • Courtesy Cerberus Brewing Company
On Saturday, July 28, Cerberus Brewing Company will host a benefit for one of its employees. Assistant brewer Taylor Donner was severely injured in a bicycle crash on July 22, breaking his femur.

“I'm just lucky it wasn’t worse," says Donner. “They originally thought both [my femur and pelvis] were broken…They’re expecting that to get the [femur] back to where it needs to be.”

While Donner recovers, he will be unable to perform his job as assistant brewer for at least four to six weeks, according to head brewer/co-owner Joshua Adamski. To help Donner cover costs, Cerberus will be donating a dollar from every pint sold that day, then matching that number with company funds. The benefit will run 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. that day, all of Cerberus’ operating hours.

Donner did not learn about the benefit until late on Monday, July 23rd. He describes his reaction as not so much humbled as shocked.

"I greatly appreciate the fact that people are sharing it and are planning to go," he says. "I just brew, and I've gotten to know a lot of great people... I didn’t know so many people cared.”
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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Payette Brewing Co. expands into Colorado market

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 12:28 PM

We have received an update regarding the availability of Payette Brewing Co. beers in the Springs. The company is shipping beer to Colorado in July, but it's most likely that consumers will see Payette beers in liquor stores starting in early August, with much greater volume appearing in late August.

———————ORIGINAL POST 12:28 P.M. WEDNESDAY, JULY 18, 2018———————
Boise, Idaho's Payette Brewing Company has contracted with Colorado Craft Distributors to put cans on shelves across Colorado, starting in late July. They've been around since 2011 and have repeatedly taken home Boise Weekly's Best Brewery award. So they offered to send a mixed pack of four Payette brews to the Indy mailbox, I did what I always do when there's free beer: I reviewed it.

  • Courtesy Payette Brewing Company
Kicking off their consistent American West-themed branding, Rodeo Citra pale ale's a 4 percent ABV single-hop pale ale. It took home a gold medal in the session beer category at the 2018 Los Angeles International Beer Competition, which is cool. It's my favorite of the four, a mix of citrus and passionfruit with sweet malt on the nose, pouring a crystal clear amber color. Each sip's balanced, with the taste deviating slightly for a sip that's like a caramel candied orange peel. Bravo.

  • Courtesy Payette Brewing Company

Their IPA, Recoil, is hopped with Calypso, Citra, Eureka and Mosaic hops. There's a powerfully citrusy nose, but it sips sharp with a bitter finish, minimal malt backbone for big, hoppy bitterness with citrus peel and a little pine in there. It's all but crystal clear and rich golden in color — a fine choice for fans of west coast IPAs, and not too strong at 6.5 percent ABV.

  • Courtesy Payette Brewing Company

Sour fans can look forward to Payette's Aura, brewed with guava and hibiscus. It's a mild 4 percent ABV. There's fruit and a mild spiciness from yeast on the nose, and it sips round and red, very effervescent with a slightly sticky finish. It's a little cloying, but the fruit's not overwhelming, and there's a mineral finish after a moderate sourness. Not bad.

  • Courtesy Payette Brewing Company

The brewery's North Fork lager goes down easy and quick at 4.4 percent ABV. It's properly clean and crystal clear, the color of straw. The nose is malty with faint honey notes and a little hop greenness. It sips as clean as one expects a lager to do, with biscuity malt notes on the edge and trace hop bitterness on the back end. While far from the most ambitious or adventurous beer out there, it's a properly brewed lager, and that's just fine.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Metric Brewing announces opening day

Posted By on Tue, Jul 17, 2018 at 4:32 PM

Metric Brewing opens for business on Saturday, July 21 - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Metric Brewing opens for business on Saturday, July 21
After nearly a year of work, Metric Brewing is set to open to the public on Saturday, July 21. It's run by owner/brewers Mike Centanne and Chase Perry. Centanne's a former homebrewer, known best for his work as brewer and co-founder at Iron Bird Brewing Company, which he helped start in 2014. Perry's a former yeast propagation tech at the Brewing Science Institute and, most recently, assistant brewer at Bristol Brewing Company.

Metric will open with nine beers on tap, as well as a crowler machine for those who want to take beer home. And given that they're eschewing flagships for a revolving selection with occasional re-brews, canny drinkers with have to take home their favorites when they can. They'll have limited presence in local bars and restaurants — Perry says they want to get a solid footing in their neighborhood before they start trying to expand.
Location Details Metric Brewing
Colorado Springs, CO

When we stopped by for a press preview on Monday, July 16, we found plenty to be excited about. The bar area's vast and cleanly designed, with pristine, white subway tiles behind the bar and a big window into the brewery area. There's plenty of small and communal table seating, plus a more café-like section with couches off to the side. There's no plan for food service, but Metric will be on the food truck circuit quickly.

At the press event, the Metric team had eight beers on tap, mostly with quirky or pop cultural names. Üter, their Belgian dubbel, bears a spot-on yeast flavor. A summer seasonal honey cream ale goes down light and easy. The Dad Belt hazelnut brown ale drinks near-porter-dark and rich. Hipster Speedball coffee milk stout's a great balance between malt and coffee flavors.
From left to right: Üter Belgian dubbel, honey cream ale, Dad Belt hazelnut brown ale, Hipster Speedball coffee milk stout. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • From left to right: Üter Belgian dubbel, honey cream ale, Dad Belt hazelnut brown ale, Hipster Speedball coffee milk stout.
Mom Jeans, a raspberry kölsch, gets a fruity nose and sips crisp and not over-fruity, one of the more popular beers of the event — we go gaga for a mix of that and the Hipster Speedball. West coast-style hop heads will enjoy Helios, an IPA brewed with malted sunflower seeds — Perry says that the vitamin E helps the hop aromas last longer. And No Pulp will please Hazy IPA drinkers with its low to moderate bitterness and huge, fruity nose. Lastly, there's Catalina Wine Mixer, a tart saison brewed with white grape must, which serves as a tribute to the film Step Brothers.
From left to right: Mom Jeans raspberry kölsch, Helios west coast IPA with sunflower seeds, No Pulp hazy IPA, Catalina Wine Mixer white grape must saison. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • From left to right: Mom Jeans raspberry kölsch, Helios west coast IPA with sunflower seeds, No Pulp hazy IPA, Catalina Wine Mixer white grape must saison.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Red Leg Brewing Company announces new, expanded facility near Garden of the Gods

Posted By on Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 3:54 PM

A conceptual rendering of the planned Red Leg Brewing Co. facility. - COURTESY RED LEG BREWING COMPANY
  • Courtesy Red Leg Brewing Company
  • A conceptual rendering of the planned Red Leg Brewing Co. facility.
Red Leg Brewing Company president Todd Baldwin has announced a new headquarters for the brewery, currently in the conceptual phase. It'll be a new structure located at 3210 Arrowswest Drive, near where Garden of the Gods Road meets 30th Street, and Baldwin hopes to open doors in 2019. It's an ambitious facility, not only serving as the new brewery and taproom but hosting an outdoor food hall and market, styled after similar efforts around the country.

The new facility will substantially expand Red Leg's production capacity, numbers pending a final design, and host an expanded tap setup. Red Leg's taproom and brew facility will be in a building designed to resemble an Air Force hangar. It's also bike accessible, located near a trail that leads through Blair Bridge Open Space into Garden of the Gods via the Dakota and Palmer-Mesa trails.

“We’ll actually tie those into the facility," says Baldwin.

The food hall and market will be made from repurposed shipping containers and feature several outdoor walkways and rooftop decks, as well as indoor seating. Baldwin cites the Green Jeans Farmery in Albuquerque as a key inspiration. At this point, he's in the early stages of courting food businesses to open in the facility.

The brewery's current Forge Road location will close, but Baldwin says they won't start decommissioning it until the new facility's ready to take over operations — he's hoping for zero closure in the transition.

In the more immediate term, Baldwin has announced distribution in Oklahoma and parts of Texas, starting Aug. 1, with Red Leg's beers set to appear primarily in military commissaries.

“This will continue to drive home our goal of being the craft beer of the military," he says. 
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