No Name Nut Brown makes a name for itself
April 17, 2014
Add No Name Nut Brown Ale to the list of award-winning beers for the Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co. and its veteran brew crew.
The popular No Name brew, named for the infamously nameless burg along the Colorado River just upstream from Glenwood Springs, earned a bronze medal in last week's World Beer Cup, considered the "Olympics of Beer Competitions" by brewers worldwide.
It's the eighth medal the team at Glenwood Canyon, headed by longtime brewers Ken Jones and Chip Holland, has brought home from the every-other-year event that moves to different places around the world, but which happened to be in Denver this year.
"The Nut Brown has always been a good beer that fits the style, and we were fortunate to have it on the winner's table this time around," said Holland, who attended the event along with the third member of the Glenwood Canyon brewing team, Tom Schickling.
“I’ve always been a history buff, and I appreciate the long history of brewing beer around the world. Brewing has been around for thousands of years, and I’m happy to be a part of that history.”
Glenwood Canyon Brewpub brewery manager
No Name Nut Brown is one of the standard brews among the more than 20 different beers offered at the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub on a rotating basis throughout the year.
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It took third place out of 49 entries in the English-Style Brown Ale category. Winning that category this year was the Wind Walker Brown from the 51 North Brewery in Lake Orion, Mich., while the Nut Hatchet Brown from Canal Park Brewing in Duluth, Minn., was second.
The World Beer Cup has grown into one of the biggest international beer competitions, and this year included some 5,000 entries in 94 different categories and more than 1,000 participants, Holland said.
Past honors for Glenwood Canyon Brewing have been in the India Pale Ale, Strong Ale, Scotch Ale and Doppelbock categories, which earned medals for several years running from 2002-2008 including two gold, three silver and two bronze medals.
In addition to its success at the Beer Cup, Glenwood Canyon has also won a dozen awards at one of the premier domestic beer competitions, the Great American Beer Festival, which takes place each fall in Denver.
"Most of the people who come in our door are looking for the styles of beer they are familiar with, so that's what we offer," said Jones, who is the founding brew master at Glenwood Canyon, having been there since the mid-1990s.
"We're glad to now be able to offer several award-winning beers year-round," Jones said of the usual line-up of eight different beers that are on tap at any given time.
Deep brewing roots
Jones and Holland both got their start in the business as home brewers, before breaking into the new booming business of small brewing companies and specialty brewpubs in the late 1980s and early '90s.
Jones got his start with Carver Brewing in Durango, which was only the second brewpub to open in Colorado behind Denver's Wynkoop Brewery.
Brothers Jim and Bill Carver are also co-owners of the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub along with Steve and April Carver (no relation), who also own the adjacent Hotel Denver.
Jones recalls his college days seeking out brews that were a step above the standard American lager, which led him to try his own hand at brewing.
"I was an active home brewer living in Arizona, and had won a bunch of contests," Jones said. "But I'd never really thought about doing it for a living until I went to the Great American Beer Fest in 1991 and realized it was possible."
He took some brewer's classes, and Bill Carver gave him his break working at the Durango pub for a few years before tabbing him to be the head brewer at their new venture in Glenwood Springs.
"I didn't really know much about Glenwood Springs at the time, but it has turned out to be a great place to live and work," Jones said.
Holland joined the team a few years later in 1999, but already had 10 years in the business having started at the Breckenridge Brewery in 1989.
"I pretty much got into it the same way, doing home brewing," Holland said. "I had a knack for it and really liked it, so I stuck my nose in there one day and they asked me to come back and help out sometime."
That led to a regular brewing job, and a career working at different brewpubs and breweries around the region, but spending most of the last 14 years at Glenwood Canyon.
Sticking to tradition
"It's a labor of love, but it is a lot of work," Holland said. "A lot of people think we sit around tasting beer all day, but it's pretty labor intensive.
"We're just trying to make a very drinkable product that fits a style," he said.
Jones said he's not out to invent any new styles of beer, and is content to stick with tradition.
"I've always been a history buff, and I appreciate the long history of brewing beer around the world," he said. "Brewing has been around for thousands of years, and I'm happy to be a part of that history."
The one exception to the rule is the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub's popular Grizzly Creek Raspberry Wheat, which becomes a strawberry wheat for one month each year during Glenwood Springs annual Strawberry Days celebration in June.
"That's one of our ways of celebrating the local heritage, and offer something people can't get anywhere else," Jones said.
Glenwood Canyon Brewing consistently produces around 1,000 barrels (31,000 gallons) of beer every year, including a range of seasonal and frequent specialty beers in addition to the standard No Name Nut Brown, Hanging Lake Honey Ale, St. James Irish Red Ale, Vapor Cave India Pale Ale and Grizzly Creek Raspberry Wheat.
Schickling has been part of the local brewery going on three years, after having been involved with the local home brewers groups the High Altitude Mashers for several years.