As 2017 came to a close, something special happened at The Denver Hopper. My friend Jeremy who Co-Founded The Hopper and does our web development and I were finally able to coordinate a brewery review. He lives in Arizona like a Gila Monster baking in the god-awful heat and does all the grunt work for the site. He found his way back to Colorado for Christmas and NYE. And soon enough, we were headlong into a great conversation, drinking traditional premium lagers with Ashleigh and Bill from Bierstadt Lagerhaus.
It is the beginning of 2018 as I write this review and the RiNo (River North) neighborhood is still an old industrial community caught in its awkward teen years. There are more buildings under construction than are completed. New and interesting structures are popping up everywhere. Bierstadt Lagerhaus, like many buildings in RiNo, resides in a multiple use edifice where they can save rent and provide more for the customer. Bierstadt shares their space with C Squared Ciders and The Rackhouse Pub. Now you have everything you need.
The taproom sits perched above both the brewery and the cidery like the cozy loft of a well-decorated barn. No farm animals, only patrons quietly enjoying a variety of lagers. As we sit down to talk about how Bierstadt Lagerhaus came to be, I order a Slow Pour Pils. After a while, it comes back with foam shooting just outside the glass like a cumulous cloud. The beer was named the best of 2017 by The Denver Post and I understand after taking the first sip. I don’t know if I have ever had agreeable, crisp and full flavored pilsner.
I asked Jeremy later what he thought of the Slow Pour Pils and drunkenly said, “It’s waiting for a beautiful woman to get ready. It takes some time but it’s goddamn worth it.”
A long and winding road, filled with potholes, trials and tribulations and a love for traditional German beers brought Ashleigh and Bill together to form Bierstadt Lagerhaus. They want to take care of the beer from conception to presentation. From grain to glass. And it all starts with their eloquent and enormous brewing tanks.
The hand-riveted copper tanks that were built in the 1930s stand mammoth and beautiful. Ashleigh and Bill had these magnificent beasts taken apart and shipped to the United States from Germany. Bill tells me that the copper helps brew lagers with less sulfur taste to them. I nod and agree like I understand how this chemical process works because they start using scientific phrases that scare me and my ego is fragile. They know this and say nothing and I appreciate that. But when I taste the beer I begin to understand.
These glorious basins tell a story steeped in the madness that was World War II. Oh if the containers could talk. The shit they have seen and the beer that they have brewed. The pain that said beer helped wipe away. And the pleasure it brings to us now.
The taproom noise hummed along as they showed us where the magic happens. I sip on a Dunkel that is robust yet finishes free and clear. Giant fermentation vessels lumber at every turn. They brew 30 barrels or 60 kegs at a time and then the beer sits for up to 8 weeks. Lager gets better the longer it ages.
Bierstadt Lagerhaus only brews a few select beers but occasionally they drop something like a smoked beer into the mix. But they are far from boring. They are just working to perfect the craft. From beginning to end their beers are formidable. For example, where you can find the Slow Pour Pils on draft, it will only be delivered in their special glass. From cradle to grave it’s their baby.
Ashleigh and Bill left and the sun embarked on its setting. Jeremy and I caught up and discussed the future of The Denver Hopper. And we feel great about it. The work you put in always has value if you partake in the exercise of creation with passion and follow through. It’s the fire in your eyes that sets you apart and takes the scenario to the next level. You see this in all forms of greatness. There are subjective and objective qualities to doing something well. Aesthetics matter. But what are we without our guiding truth? Ashleigh and Bill at Bierstadt Lagerhaus hold their principles at the center of their lagers and their brewery. And as a result, Bierstadt is a fine specimen to show you and it’s a thorough lesson on how to do things right.
The Denver Hopper Notes:
Bierstadt Lagerhaus has a bunch of events that you can find at the website mentioned below or on their Facebook!
Their delicious food service, The Rackhouse, can be found at therackhouse.com
Address: 2875 Blake St, Denver, CO 80205