There’s just something about Ursula Brewery. This brick and mortar refuge functions like a beacon for lost souls near Peoria and Colfax. As luck would have it, Ursula is the patron of teachers and students, which by association, makes Ursula Brewery the patron saint of the Anschutz Medical Campus. If you’re cool enough to be in the know– you know about these guys and their little place tucked away on the corner of the ever-expanding metropolis that is the University of Colorado. If you’re not in the know, I apologize, but you’re just not doing your weekdays right. Let’s correct that.
This place is standing room only any given Monday through Friday. Ursula is a den of monopoly cheaters that just got off 48-hour shifts at the hospital three buildings south. It’s a happy hour haven for researchers celebrating grants and scientific breakthroughs, or drinking away failures of the same. The locals here are postdocs, grad students, and biotechs. They’re all seeking sanctuary from problematic papers and precarious stacks of textbooks. The whole atmosphere at Ursula is that of relief and thankfulness. Everyone is all too grateful for the good company and even better beer; because when it comes down to it, it’s nice to sit with a room full of people who share your workday struggles and your post work taste in beverage.
The only companion you need is a cold beer and it’s so easy to pick one of those at Ursula Brewery. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. They do small batches of a variety of styles and damned if they don’t do them all so well. I walked in to chat with the owner, Scott, and their head brewer, Dave, over a pint of the Coal Miner’s Delight. This grisette is just that—a delight. It’s bold, balanced, boysenberry (said exactly like Dwight Schrute). She’s a mouthwatering, tangy, saison-like farmhouse with an ABV just under 5%. Saturated with boysenberry, the kicker here is the beautiful deep purple hue. The Coal Miner is also hoppier than one might expect, which makes the DNA signature of this beer profoundly intricate and unique.
Settling into the interview, I quickly found that I had interrupted the back end of brewing day! Perfect timing, if you ask a beer nerd like me. On the heels of Stout Month, I was told that Ursula is planning a release of their Russian Imperial, 180 Gram. I was fortunate enough to snag a sample and this variant stout is a silky smooth java joyride. The Crustless and Merit Badge porters will also have variants making showings on the tap list in April and February respectively.
If you’re hankering for an in-house mainstay, you can’t go wrong with the 11 Ironman. What’s with the name? Scott explained that it’s a double play. This big-time triple IPA is made with 11 malts, 11 hops and boasts an 11% ABV. But all that is by design. Ursula Brewery tips its glass to the 1934 Yale football team and Scott’s granddad. These Bulldogs were the last team to play an entire game without any substitutions. Ironmen of the gridiron, that’s for certain! From a brewing perspective, Dave explained that the challenge with a brawny beer like 11 Ironman is that it’s always going to taste a little different each batch. As one can imagine, this is due to the landscape of so many ingredients coming together in one beer. That’s part of the fun and unpredictability that Dave finds in his work.
When I asked how they’re able to make so many distinctly different styles of delicious beer, Dave muses that beer should reflect the palate of the brewer. If it’s true to the style and taste, then it’s always going to be on point. If you brew it, they will come. Realistically, Ursula Brewery has beer for every taste bud. You’ll always find what you’re looking for in these four walls; and not as guest taps. Each one pour is proprietary.
Their next steps include barrel aging and offering their frequent off-the-shelf-flyers in smaller 16oz cans. They’re not about the festivals, but they always make a resounding showing at GABF, as well as, a handful of other carefully selected events throughout the year. They have no grandstand plans to expand or take over the beer world, a la Pinky and the Brain. They take each day as it comes and that stride fits perfectly next to a hospital filled with patients doing the same. They seek to make the best beer they can and offer it for a window in which taste is perfect. It’s a dedication to the craft side of craft beer. It’s a little artistry and a tremendous amount of work; but they love every minute of what they do… as do the weary patrons of their taproom.
The Denver Hopper Notes:
Ursula Brewery has a ton of events that you can find at the website mentioned below or on their Facebook!
Address: 2101 North Ursula Street, Aurora, CO 80045