So this year I got onto the AC Golden Brewing media/marketing list, and they’ve sent me two beers so far to sample: Colorado Native IPL and 100% Whole Wheat Bock. AC Golden is a specialty arm of MillerCoors, and as such their beers are for the most part generally only found in and around the Denver market. That’s a bit of a shame because—despite their parent-macro origins—these are some fine beers that would do well in other markets. And if you’re comparing against other macro specialty lines, like AB’s Shock Top, I think these are the best I’ve had so far.
AC Golden/Coors claims these are brewed with 100% Colorado ingredients, and they even go so far as to use bottles and cans manufactured in the state. There might be some quibble about this claim (I very much doubt the lager yeast ultimately has its origins in Colorado, for instance…) but I like the position and niche they are claiming. This IPL is their lager answer to an IPA, 6.1% abv, bittered with Chinook hops and finished with Centennial, Cascade, Nugget, Chinook and Crystal hops. They then dry hop with that same blend. The first thing I noticed about that is—hops! More than I would expect any macro brewer, specialty or otherwise, to use. And they are there in the beer.
Appearance: Clear and golden colored, with a lacy white head.
Smell: Spicy and earthy hops—zesty in a spicy-floral way. Very nice aromas here, not the American citrusy hops found in west coast IPAs but strong, solid spiciness that makes me think Noble hops, or Saaz.
Taste: Clean malty backbone with smooth lager presentation. Hops are spicy bitter, really well-balanced and crisp, and definitely take the front seat as the name implies. Spot on for flavor.
Mouthfeel: Lightly medium-bodied, very clean and smooth with nice hoppy aftertaste.
Overall: Really good, surprisingly so considering the macro origins (and revealing my own bias)—I like when they defy expectations.
100% Whole Wheat Bock
In my opinion, this particular beer is much more interesting than the IPL. It’s their new seasonal, again only really available in the Denver area, and is 7.5% abv. The really interesting part is that, as the name implies, this beer is made entirely with wheat malt, red wheat ground and malted in Bamberg, Germany. I don’t know that I’ve tried an all-wheat beer before, let alone a bock-styled one.
Besides the malt bill, the paperwork indicates it was aged three months before bottling, and then aged again for an additional year in the bottles. The bottle I received is actually a 750ml bottle, and has an addition I’ve not seen before on a beer: a nutritional label.
This caught me off guard, and I can’t help but be fascinated by the information given on the label, especially the vitamin A (probably because you always hear about vitamin B). Yes, this is something you can look up online. But I didn’t know if a beer is all wheat it had to have the label.
Appearance: Dark-brown to black, off-white head that fell quickly to a minimal skiff, but it’s persistent and has nice legs.
Smell: Some chocolate, dark fruits, a touch of bready wheat. Very pleasant, dark rye bread comes out, appetizing aroma like bread dough rising.
Taste: A dark rye-like spiciniess, lightly roasty, the body is thinner than you’d expect from the wheat which is interesting—it’s light, and the dark fruit and berry notes give it a faux-tart quality that has some complexity. A bit of black malt flavor at the back. A tart and complex red wine strongly comes to mind.
Mouthfeel: Thin for what I’d expect for a bock, but I suspect it’s the wheat that thins it out. Smooth, clean, finishes roasty.
Overall: This is a nice, unique beer—I wasn’t entirely sure how to describe it until the “red wine” notion came to me.
Both of these beers are surprising, but worth seeking out if you are in the Denver area. Yes, they are brewed by a megabrewer—but good beer is good beer and worth trying.