Colorado breweries working to honor local Olympians with special beer
Silverthorne snowboarders did well enough at the 2018 Olympic Games that the hometown breweries have taken notice.
Leading the way in Pyeongchang, South Korea, 17-year-old Red Gerard won the goal medal in the men’s slopestyle competition, America’s first gold of the 2018 Olympic Games, on Feb. 11.
Thirteen days later, Gerard’s close friend Kyle Mack scored silver in the men’s Big Air competition, while Chris Corning, a third snowboarder with ties to Silverthorne, also competed in the event, but did not medal. Since then, Corning took second place in slopestyle at last week’s Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championship in Vail.
Caught up in a wave of local pride following the trio’s strong showing, brewers from Angry James and The Bakers’ Brewery in Silverthorne, along with the Dillon Dam Brewery in Dillon, spent much of their day Friday working on a three-brewery collaboration to honor the young athletes.
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Mike Bennett of Dillon Dam was careful to point out the new beer fermenting at Angry James is meant as a tribute to all three snowboarders, not just Gerard, even though it’s going to be a red ale beer, a clear nod to Gerard’s gold-medal run.
“This is our way of expressing how proud we are of those guys bringing home gold and silver to our little community,” said A.J. Brinkerhoff, who recently opened Angry James at the end of January, making this his first time hosting an in-house collaboration.
“I know watching Red win that gold, I was pretty pumped emotionally,” Brinkerhoff recalled, adding later that, “… and all of the sudden on national TV, they’re saying, ‘Silverthorne, Silverthorne, Silverthorne.'”
Obviously, the brewers know none of the three snowboarders is of legal drinking age. The most senior among them, Mack won’t turn 21 until July.
“It’s more a fun thing,” Brinkerhoff said of making a special beer for the local Olympians, even though they won’t be allowed to drink it. “We love our beer in Summit County, and this is how we get together as a community so I don’t think age is the big factor.”
According to Cory Forester, who founded The Bakers’ Brewery, the red ale will be unlike anything the three breweries currently have on tap. Bakers just ran out of a red saison, he said, which despite any similarities in name, is nothing like the red ale they’re working on.
“It’s a little bit of ‘tweener,” Forester said of the red ale, emphasizing that it “doesn’t really fit a category,” and that’s part of the fun.
“When you’re going to do a colab, typically you’re not going to make something run-of-the-mill because we have all that stuff covered already,” he said. “We’re looking to do something new and different — something a little weird.”
At this point, they’re still trying to figure out what to call it. Wanting one that’s as “tasteful” as it is good, they’ll have to take into account, with the explosion of the craft brewing industry, names are getting harder to come by.
“You have to do your research because a lot of the beer names are taken,” Brinkerhoff said. “For every brewery, there are 30 beer names they’ve taken.”
“When I named my last IPA, it took me over an hour to Google one that wasn’t used,” Forester said.
Altogether, they’re making seven barrels of the red ale.
Each barrel produces about two kegs of beer, Brinkerhoff said, and each brewery will end up with about three to four kegs. The red ale will be on tap at all three breweries once it’s ready for consumption, which is expected to take about two to three weeks.
The brewers are also working to release the special beer, or at least a keg or two of it, in conjunction with Silverthorne’s looming parade.
The timing of the two seems just about perfect with the town eyeing a date in late April, after the athletes’ winter competition season has concluded.
Once event planners, who are currently working with the three Olympic athletes to confirm a date, have one set, more information will be forthcoming.
“By the time this beer is done, it’s not going to hurt it to sit around a week if we do decide to tap it (for the parade),” Brinkerhoff said.
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Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel is opening many of its amenities, including an expanded bike park. Arbaney Pool in Basalt will have a limited reopening today on a reservation system.