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December 3, 2013
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Ale at Altitude column: Inspired views and brews

Having grown up here in Colorado, I have been witness to a great many events that have shaped our beautiful state. One of the most exciting has been the emergence, or re-emergence, of craft brewing in a state that has such a colorful and storied brewing history. We are truly blessed to have the complementary combination of spectacular vistas and so many great new breweries to sample from and visit.

Those of us at AC Golden wanted to create a brew that captured the essence and spirit of Colorado, as well as challenge the idea that our brewing ingredients could not be sustainable from indigenous sources. We were able to garner the malts needed for our brew fairly easily, as barley for brewing has been readily available here in Colorado for well more than 60 years. Hops, on the other hand, were a different story. Since we are at the lower end of the latitude, we receive the length of daylight necessary for vigorous hop growth, but Colorado’s diverse climate can be a bit daunting for hop yields.

We brewers and some friends decided to build our own hop yard in the San Luis Valley to see if the varieties we had selected for our beer, Colorado Native Amber Lager, would do well in our state. Of the eight varieties we planted, the three we had designed our recipe around did do well, and after a year or two, we were able to encourage local farmers to grow enough local hops for Native to have 100 percent all Colorado ingredients year-round. We still use the hops from our little yard for fresh hop brews in the fall, and we also provide hop rhizomes each spring to folks who would like to try their hand at being a local hop farmer; they are used in a few special Native brews if the growers choose to share their harvest with us. It’s a great way to share the experience of growing such an essential and unique brewing ingredient with our friends.

The power of local is not only attainable; it is sustainable ... and a bit magic. Wherever you visit in Colorado, please take time to think local and enjoy the many fine breweries and other establishments our great state has to offer. Colorado Native is a lager brewed with Rocky Mountain water, Colorado-grown hops, Colorado-grown barley from the San Luis Valley and the oldest strain of brewer’s yeast in Colorado. Native and all of our beers at ACG are brewed and sold locally only, by choice.

Steve Fletcher has been a brewer with AC Golden since its inception in 2007. Hearing stories from his grandmother about her German immigrant father brewing “wonderful” beer on the farm during Prohibition inspired his start in brewing over 30 years ago. It’s his great fellow brewers at AC Golden and around the state that inspire him today.

Those of us at AC Golden wanted to create a brew that captured the essence and spirit of Colorado.


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The VailDaily Updated Dec 3, 2013 05:29PM Published Dec 3, 2013 12:21PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.