The 10 Best Beers at Telluride Blues & Brews 2012

Drink Lists

A beer festival is always a good thing (at least when you don’t completely overdo it). An opportunity to taste beers that might not be available in your neck of the woods, a new taste at every booth. But when you add great live music and unbelievable views of the Rocky Mountains, you have something truly special. The second day of The Telluride Blues & Brews Festival is a day I won’t soon forget. Here are 10 of the best reasons why.

10. Deviant Dale’s IPA
Brewery: Oskar Blues
City: Longmont, Colo.
ABV: 8%
It’s nice to drink an beloved brewery in its home state. I just wish they were pouring my absolute favorite. Alas, no Ten Fidy today.

9. Samurai
Brewery: Great Divide
City: Denver
Style: Rice beer
ABV: 5.1%
This low-gravity offering from Great Divide did nothing to tarnish the brewery’s reputation. Another beer that transcended a style I might normally ignore.

8. Imperial Red Ale
Brewery: Marble
City: Albuquerque, N.M.
Style: Irish Red
ABV: 9%
Tasting this blind, I might have guessed that it was an Imperial IPA. Plenty hoppy and rich malts make for a complex beer with lots of kick.

7. Imperial Java Stout
Brewery: The Santa Fe Brewing Co.
City: Santa Fe, N.M.
Style: Imperial Coffee Stout
ABV: 8%
The coffee flavor comes through strong in Santa Fe’s tasty Imperial Java Stout.

6. Nitro
Brewery: Left Hand
City: Longmont, Colo.
Style: Milk Stout
ABV: 6%
A lot of hype has gone into Left Hand’s Nitro packaging, bringing draught taste to bottles. But the bottom line is that it’s just a well-made beer to begin with.

5. French-Style Saison
Brewery: Sierra Nevada
City: San Francisco
Style: Saison
ABV: 8%
As a sponsor, Sierra Nevada was available all weekend, and backstage they were pouring their brand-new Saison, which quickly became my new favorite Sierra Nevada.

4. Delilah
Brewery: Stronghold
City: Denver
Style: Mexican Chocolate State
ABV: 7.5%
Stronghold might be a brand-new beer company, but they more than held their own with a chocolate stout that had just enough of a kick to stand out.

3. Saison du Buff
Brewery: Stone (with Victory & Dogfish Head)
City: San Diego
Style: Spiced Saison
ABV: 6.8%
Brewed with Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme, it went perfectly with the music-festival atmosphere.

2. La Bruit Du Diable
Brewery: Strange
City: Denver, Colo.
Style: Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 8.3%
Yeasty farmhouse ale from a Denver local was sweet and tangy and refreshing on an unusually warm September day in the Rockies.

1. Reserve Ale 2012
Brewery: Marble
City: Albuquerque, N.M.
Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 9%
I’d not had a beer from Marble before, but the New Mexico brewery wowed me with a boozy strong ale aged in whiskey barrels. Great malt flavors, a slight hoppy kick and the taste of fine Bourbon.

Honorable Mention
Ghost Face Killah
Brewery: Twisted Pine
City: Boulder, Colo.
Style: Pepper beer?
ABV: 5%
Ghost Face Killah might not be the best beer of the fest, but it was certainly the most unique. They call it the hottest beer this side of hell, and that might just be an understatement. Brewed with peppers, it’s the opposite of thirst quenching, and I’m just not sure that works for a beer.

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