Rocky Mountain Brewing News April/May 2013 : Page 1
CROSSING PATHS: Laughing Dog Brewing is IN THE DOG HOUSE. Patrons hoist pints at the Laughing Dog Brewing Tap Room in Sandpoint, Idaho. PHOTOS COURTESY OF LAUGHING DOG By John Campbell crossed over Lake Pend Oreille on Route 95 in Idaho, rounded the corner just past the bridge, pulled off the highway and parked at the Texaco for a pit stop and coffee to go. I was headed for home, pulling my ﬁ fth wheel trailer heavy with brewery supplies. Shortly, I was back in the truck with coffee in hand and about to ﬁ re up the engine, when a knock on the passenger window got my attention. A smiling face appeared from the other side looking neither threatening nor that of a homeless person, so I rolled down the window and gave him my best inquisitive stare. “Hi, my name is Fred Colby,” the voice said. “I saw your logo; I am a fan of your beer. I wanted to meet you because I’m going to be starting a brewery here in Sandpoint soon myself.” I told him he was crazy – or something like that. We talked on for several minutes; I wished him luck and continued on my journey home. Grand Opening August 27, 2005 Sometime later I was on another hauling trip about to go through Sandpoint when I thought of Fred. I had heard -or read -that a new brewery had opened in town. It was early afternoon so I decided to check it out. I got directions at the Texaco, and after several wrong turns, found the brewery. I parked the rig, got out and walked through the front door into a spotless tasting room where tables and chairs were spread around waiting for customers. A shiny wooden bar stretched across the back wall with three taps standing at attention. Baskets of beer munchies sat ready for the evening. There was no one in the tasting room but I could hear sounds of activity coming from the brewery on the other side of the wall. I walked through a door into the brewery and asked the ﬁ rst guy I saw if Fred was around. My contact returned soon with Fred, who remembered me and welcomed me with the same smiling face I saw months before, but this time sweat was dripping off his brow. He was excited and obviously proud of his new ILLUSTRATION BY: HANS GRANHEIM Craft Brew and the Great Outdoors By Amy Moses T wo sub-cultures permeate the Rocky Mountains – craft beer and the great, expansive, gorgeous outdoors. It seems as though many who are enthusiasts of the former are also enthusiasts of the latter. Camped out in Big Sky Country, seemingly touching the sky on the sum-mit of one of Colorado’s 14ers, fueling up during break from singletrack Utah’s red rocks, or celebrating after a long run, craft brews and the great out-doors go hand-in-hand. See Paths p 4 See Laughing Dog p 3 Calender....................2 Homebrew.................7 Beer Directory.....10-12 Utah.................5 Idaho...............6 Montana..........8 Wyoming.........9 Upper Front Range.........13 Central Peaks..................14 Western Slope.................15 Denver..............................16 Lower Front Range.........17 Four Corners...................18 Colorado Fred & Michelle Colby, owners of Laughing Dog Brewing, pose with their medal at the GABF in Denver, CO.
Two sub-cultures permeate the Rocky Mountains – craft beer and the great, expansive, gorgeous outdoors. It seems as though many who are enthusiasts of the former are also enthusiasts of the latter. Camped out in Big Sky Country, seemingly touching the sky on the summit of one of Colorado’s 14ers, fueling up during break from singletrack Utah’s red rocks, or celebrating after a long run, craft brews and the great outdoors go hand-in-hand.
Maybe more so here in the Rocky Mountain states than anywhere else in our great nation, craft beer drinkers combine their loves of awesome beer with playing outside. Joe Osborne, Marketing Director for Avery Brewing, describes common traits of the two tribes. He states they both have “a sense of exploration and curiosity, a passion for real handson experiences, and sometimes (definitely with us, a desire to push boundaries).” Craft breweries are bursting at the seams to share with us the ways that they encourage, promote, and live out this phenomenal lifestyle.
A Way of Life For canning pioneer Oskar Blues, outdoor activities are a way of life. Marketing Director Chad Melis exclaims, “Everything Oskar Blues has been based on has been inspired by sharing trailside beer with friends.” Oskar Blues encourages combining exercising with drinking their beers in a variety of ways. Melis shares, “We’ve done the Hall Ranch Challenge which offered a free beer after a ride at Hall Ranch at our pub in Lyons and a chance to win free beer for a year if you were the person that logged the most miles during the summer contest period.” They’ve also sponsored a recycle-to-win-abike contest in the past. Recycle 3,501 cans and win a custom Dale’s Pale Ale bike!
More Beers and Bikes Speaking of biking…Oskar Blues also makes their own line of mountain bikes called REEB (hmm…you don’t need a college degree to figure out how the company name originated). Melis proudly states, “REEB was named one of Outside Magazine’s top nine mountain bikes of 2012. We use 100% American made tubing and materials, weld them locally and build them in the brewery.” New Belgium Brewing was a 2012 Founding Partner of USA Pro Challenge professional cycling race, hosts the Tour de Fat bicycle festival in cities across the nation, and throws a bike-in cinema gathering in its parking lot where Fort Collins citizens ride en masse to the brewery and then drink NB brews (the money goes to local charities) and watch a fun flick.
Boulder Beer is also heavily involved in cycling efforts. They host Tuesday night bike rides in the summer that begin and end at the brewery, have a B-Cycle renting site in front of the brewery’s parking lot, and have co-sponsored the Road 2 Victory Bike Rally for four years, supporting and featuring Olympic cyclists Davis Phinney, Connie Carpenter Phinney and Taylor Phinney. In addition, they’re proud to sponsor Boulder’s unique Valmont Bike Park.
Mistress of Marketing Lindey Miller proudly shares, “We also support numerous cycling organizations (BMA, IMBA, Outdoor Divas are a few), as well as sponsor local cycling events (Boulder Roubaix and Boulder Cup of Cyclocross).” One Word: Cans Craft beer in cans makes sense on so many levels – easier to carry, lighter to carry, won’t shatter in your backpack, you can take it places where they don’t allow glass (e.g. tailgating at football stadiums) and cans are more recyclable than bottles. According to craftcans.com (yes, canned beer has its own cult following), there are currently 253 different craft breweries canning their beers (including over 46 in Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho) and at least 25-30 that have plans to begin canning soon.
Kannah Creek Brewing Company’s new production facility is set to open in May and Katlin Lubeley explains, “We’ll start with bottling our beer but plan on expanding to canning our beer as well. This means twice as much equipment and twice as much cost to us, but we feel like our outdoors patrons enjoy the option of having a canned beer.” Even Boston Beer Company recently announced that they’ll be canning their famous Samuel Adams Boston Lager, jumping on the bandwagon started by our very own Rocky Mountain breweries. This new development encourages people nationwide to get outside with a craft brew.
Canned beer also headlines festivals such as the The Lyons Outdoor Games in Lyons, Colo., which features the Burning Can Beer Festival along with biking, kayaking, fishing, dog, and musical events.
SanTan Brewing in Chandler, Ariz., also hosts a festival featuring 150 breweries who celebrate the canned craft beer revolution.
Kicking Asphalt Remember the Garth Brooks song with the lyrics of “B Double E Double R-U-N, beer run, beer run?” Well, we’ll now focus on the literal meaning of the term “beer run.” Runner Tim Cigelske set a goal to run one mile and quaff one pint every day for 365 days to celebrate the last birthday in his 20s. Even though I’m sure all of what he drank wasn’t really good beer (did I read something about him chugging a PBR?), I’m sure at least some of what he drank was craft.
The topic of drinking beer and running have become so popular that even Runner’s World published an article about it in which the author gave up drinking for a month only to find that her performance did not improve! A flavorful brew is often the best way to celebrate a killer workout and runners have fun perfecting the balance of drinking before and/ or after a run.
Events are now being created around the idea of running from brewery to brewery to raise money for charity, test your endurance and stomach, and just to have a jolly good time! At one event in Washington, up to 100 runners will spread out and start at one of three breweries, drink a beer, then run to the other two breweries for more beer. A popular theme is breweries hosting weekly or monthly group runs (and rides) that depart and end at the brewery. There’s also that running and drinking group you may have heard of…the Hashers! With chapters around the globe, they combine drinking with running and have been doing so since 1938.
Ingredients Let’s change tunes here for a second and consider another aspect of the outdoors. Water, one of the primary ingredients in beer, can give the same recipe a different taste, even if all other factors are the same. Rocky Mountain breweries pride themselves on their water. Ken Jones, brewer at Glenwood Canyon states, “Like most breweries on the Western Slope, we depend on clean sources of surface water for our beer. Our local water comes from No Name Creek and Grizzly Creek, which both flow into Glenwood Canyon.” Boulder’s Wild Woods Brewing owners Jake and Erin Evans obtain all the ideas for their beers from the outdoors – a little something they call “nature-infused beers.” Sometimes just the concept works its way into a beer – such as their Silence Lager (apparently they couldn’t find a way to add silence itself to the beer so they just named it after the peace and quiet) – but others use their favorite outdoor ingredients, such as Berry Patch Wheat, which features raspberries and/ or strawberries - two of the owners’ favorite berries to pick in the woods.
Have you ever went on a little jaunt and selected some ingredients for your homebrew?
If not, give it a whirl! This practice is put into play and has been dubbed Beers Made by Walking.
The Beers Made By Walking program started in 2011 and invites brewers to make beer inspired by nature hikes and urban walks, and takes place in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Brewers don’t have a pre-conceived idea of the types of ingredients they’ll find. Eric Steen, who heads up the program, states that he asks brewers to go with an open mind. Steen reports, “On one hike we found over twenty different edible plants. These might include things like wild hops but usually we find more non-traditional ingredients such as rose hips, pine needles, chokecherry, sunflower, dandelion, pineapple weed, amaranth, mustard, wild strawberry, wild plum, wild sage and juniper.
Pikes Peak Brewing in Monument, Colo., engaged their homebrewers in this concept – a big group took a walk, gathered ingredients and brewed the beers. Then Chris Wright of Pikes Peak selected the winner, whose reward was to brew a commercial batch at his brewery!
Giving Back Oskar Blues sponsors a lot of trail work days in Colorado and other parts of the country. And Joe Osborne of Avery shares, “We offer LOTS of support to non-profits related to the outdoors, like Volunteer Outdoors Colorado, Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance, International Mountain Bike Association, the Access Fund, American Rivers...the list is insanely long.” Avery hosts the Four on the Fourth 4k on July 4th every year and Odell Brewing sponsors the Sharin O' the Green St. Patrick's Day race and has sponsored Ride the Rockies the past three years. It’s always a great bonus, when at the end of a race – be it a 5K or a marathon, you’re rewarded with a local craft beer alongside your bagels and oranges. The alternative could be no beer at all, or it could be seeing the big ol’ Michelob Ultra tent. You can choose which one you’d rather have. Personally, I peruse race brochures and websites to see if a craft brewery is sponsoring the event.
Paths continued from cover On the other hand, Ken Jones of Glenwood Canyon Brewpub explains that the Glenwood Springs economy is driven by tourists seeking outdoor activities such as rafting, kayaking, and fishing, so in a sense, the brewery thrives because of the outdoors.
I’m sure many other Colorado breweries would agree.
Proud Partnerships Oskar Blues has a partnership with Icelantic Skis, as they’ve brewed a beer with them and have custom Oskar Blues Icelantic Skis made. Kannah Creek is joining forces with Mountain Racing Products, a company in Glenwood Springs that makes mountain bike parts and who considers themselves a craft company in their own right. This spring, Kannah Creek is partnering with them on a product launch and anticipates both companies benefiting from joint marketing efforts because their customers are closely linked.
What’s in a Name?
Katilyn Vannosdall of Big Beaver Brewing in Loveland, Colo., playfully shares, “Whether you believe it or not, our brewery actually is named after the buck tooth rodent whose habitat is the great outdoors!” Owner Peter Villeneuve and his wife were on vacation kayaking down the Green River, below the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, when they saw what appeared to be a small bear. It was, in fact, a huge beaver, which had to be over 100 pounds and 8 feet long from tail to teeth. Vannosdal continues, “The beaver followed them down the river and wanted to hang with them. Peter knew that he was going to open a brewery, and had the beer names picked out, and after that experience it just made sense that he would be naming his brewery Big Beaver.” The Wrap Lest we forget about actually sitting at a brewery and drinking beer, let’s remember all the cozy beer gardens, some with unforgettable views of our favorite scenery, where people play or other backyard games…or simply relax with a pint while breathing in the fresh mountain air. Horsefly Brewing in Montrose promotes the outdoors in the winter with two of their house-produced fire tables and three outdoor heaters.
I hate to wrap it up...this could be be a threepart series as there’s so much to report on this exciting topic. If you’d like some homework from this article, I had a discussion at a tap room one night about what beers pair the best with S’mores. If you already know, give me a shout, or else do some experimenting as you sit around the campfire in our great outdoors this summer. Oh…and another idea… which beers work best when cooking MREs (meals ready to eat)? So much to drink and explore, so little time. Get out there!
Read the full article at http://rmbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Crossing+Paths/1376389/155245/article.html.
I crossed over Lake Pend Oreille on Route 95 in Idaho, rounded the corner just past the bridge, pulled off the highway and parked at the Texaco for a pit stop and coffee to go. I was headed for home, pulling my fifth wheel trailer heavy with brewery supplies. Shortly, I was back in the truck with coffee in hand and about to fire up the engine, when a knock on the passenger window got my attention. A smiling face appeared from the other side looking neither threatening nor that of a homeless person, so I rolled down the window and gave him my best inquisitive stare. “Hi, my name is Fred Colby,” the voice said. “I saw your logo; I am a fan of your beer. I wanted to meet you because I’m going to be starting a brewery here in Sandpoint soon myself.” I told him he was crazy – or something like that. We talked on for several minutes; I wished him luck and continued on my journey home.
Grand Opening August 27, 2005
Sometime later I was on another hauling trip about to go through Sandpoint when I thought of Fred. I had heard - or read - that a new brewery had opened in town. It was early afternoon so I decided to check it out. I got directions at the Texaco, and after several wrong turns, found the brewery. I parked the rig, got out and walked through the front door into a spotless tasting room where tables and chairs were spread around waiting for customers. A shiny wooden bar stretched across the back wall with three taps standing at attention. Baskets of beer munchies sat ready for the evening. There was no one in the tasting room but I could hear sounds of activity coming from the brewery on the other side of the wall. I walked through a door into the brewery and asked the first guy I saw if Fred was around.
My contact returned soon with Fred, who remembered me and welcomed me with the same smiling face I saw months before, but this time sweat was dripping off his brow. He was excited and obviously proud of his new Brewery. He took me for a tour and we discussed brewing, beer and equipment as we walked. I liked his approach to making beer.
From our conversation I gathered he was aggressive when formulating new recipes. Fred obviously had no interest in brewing average beer to please the masses. I asked him why in the world he decided to go into brewing. He said he was tired of the day job and wanted to go into business for himself doing something he enjoyed. He loved brewing and had been doing it for years at home and thought this was something he could do and make a living at. He felt he was good at making beer. He had won a bunch of medals over the years in home brew contests, and his friends all enjoyed his beer. A big plus was that this was something he and his wife, Michelle, could do together and have fun with.
I was anxious to taste his beers and he was anxious for me to try them, so we moved into the tasting room. There were three choices on tap: Crème ale, pale ale and IPA. I tried a taster glass of each. All three were extremely good, well balanced and brewed to style. I was impressed and very relieved at the same time, because there is no good way to tell a fellow brewer that maybe they should keep their day job. Of the three I tasted, IPA was my favorite. I liked the aroma, the color, the slight sweetness at first sip and the long finish that stayed with me for minutes afterward. I would be looking forward to future visits and other brews he would come up with.
We talked about how the new business had been going so far. He said he was encouraged at this point, as response from the locals had been good.
The tasting room was hopping at night and he was starting to get a few keg placements in local bars.
He had been approached by a distributor in Spokane who liked his products and wanted to take the brand on. At this time Michelle walked in and we were introduced. Michelle was a ready and willing partner for Fred, very sharp and very excited about their new business. Her responsibilities included running the office, managing the tasting room and ordering supplies. Fred was in charge of brewery operations and sales.
How Laughing Dog Got its Name Fred and Michelle had been thinking about what to name the brewery, but so far nothing had stuck. One day a bunch of friends were sitting in their living room, drinking Fred’s home brew. Ben, Fred’s yellow Lab, was also enjoying the day, when one of their friends popped up and said, “Your dog is laughing at you, Fred. He’s a real laughing dog.” “Holy beano,” said Fred, “that’s the name for the brewery, LAUGHING DOG.” So that’s how it happened.
A Family Affair Another time I walked into the Laughing Dog tasting room to find a man and woman buried in a mountain of 6-pack carriers, busily gluing labels on blank carriers. The labels had to be glued to the blank carriers to identify what beer was in them. Fred’s mom and dad, like any proud parents wanting to support their son, volunteered to come in and help.
The label gluing project was a team effort with everyone pitching in to get the carriers ready for their first bottling.
Bottling I asked Fred why he decided to bottle. He said a bottling machine came with his original stuff, so he figured he might as well use it. I asked him how the first bottling went.
“Terrible,” was his reply. After being soaked to the skin with beer, sweeping up broken glass, and making multiple adjustments to the equipment, they were finally able to put more beer in the bottles than on the floor.
Over the next several years we crossed paths many times at brewfests. Laughing Dog often was the first brewery to blow a keg - which is a pretty good indicator of what beer is getting the talk amongst the crowd. Laughing Dog has won numerous medals at various beer competitions. Medals are good to show and for the ego, but sales to the public are the true indicators of how people really like your beer. Laughing Dog sales showed reasonable growth in their second and third year, but the next few years the sales exploded.
New Brewery in 2011 No longer able to keep up with demand, a new and larger brewery was completed in 2011. Laughing Dog is now represented in approximately 31 states.
An East Coast distributor picked up the brand and was responsible for nearly doubling sales. The new brewery gave the company room to grow. Seven new 30-barrel fermenters were added which helped in the short term. The following year, four new 60-barrel fermenters were put online. The new tasting room has over 2,000 square feet, and can accommodate close to 200 guests. No food is served by the brewer; however, beer munchies are provided. Guests are welcome to order in pizzas or bring food to the tasting room to enjoy with their beer.
The Beers As you might imagine, the very name, Laughing Dog, throws a hint your way that most of the beer names may reflect some form of colloquial resemblance.
Here we go - 14 Dogs Barley Wine, Alpha Dog Imperial IPA, Anubis Imperial Coffee Porter, Cold Nose Winter Ale, Devil Dog Imperial IPA, Dogzilla Black IPA, Hop Dog Harvest Pale Ale, Laughing Dog Crème Ale, Laughing Dog Huckleberry…you get the Picture.
The brewery tested the market with several fruit beers. Huckleberry was an obvious winner. It took off and has become one of their top selling beers today. In 2006, Laughing Dog introduced a black IPA, a style that has become one of the top emerging styles. In 2008 they launched one of the first rye IPAs, now a popular style. Laughing Dog has also been doing a limited barrel aging program. Dogfather is aged in oak barrels.
Anniversary Party August 27 Each year on August 27, Laughing Dog puts on a huge pork feast at the brewery to celebrate their anniversary. In addition to their regular line of beers, a special anniversary beer is brewed just for the occasion. If you’re traveling anywhere close to Sandpoint, Idaho, it would be well worth your time to stop in, meet Fred and Michelle, their son, Devin, Ben the yellow lab, tasting room manager, Brittney, and all the staff. Wrap your lips around a fine brew and say hello. You will find the tasting room to be a family-friendly environment and a good place to be.