Black Bottle Brewery | Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Black Bottle Brewery

"Just give me a minute, I need to glue the horn in this unicorn" came the opening gambit from Sean "Captain" Nook, founder of and brewer for Black Bottle Brewery (BBB), Fort Collins, Colorado. And so the scene was set for an absolute blast of an afternoon.

Like many of the breweries in Fort Collins, BBB have a tasting room which has become an absolute main stay of the community... In the hours we spent there, university students, young parents and retirees all came in to sample some of the 40 different draft beers in the midst of good music and chilled vibes. Almost all were warmly received as regulars by the bar staff. However, unlike most of the bars in town, BBB is clad with taxidermied squirrels posed in various throes of death/murder/partytime, along with a variety of other similarly interesting paraphernalia.


The 8 barrel brew kit sat in a basement below the avant-garde rodents is a veritable mishmash of gear, with a copper kettle next to an unmatched combi-mash-lautertun. The kit was previously owned by Shirts Brewing, Michigan, who themselves are expanding to export further afield. The space for the fermentation and conditioning is limited but the production works well for the capacity, as it's small enough to brew some ridiculous one offs as well as having the space to regularly brew the beers that are the mainstay of the business. Pushing further back through the basement, we reached the barrel store, holding a mix of barrel ageing and souring in various stages of development, definitely stuff to watch out for in the future.


Sean told us over a glass or two of Scuba Steve, a fantastically juicy classic US IPA (6.3%), that the brewery gained infamy for its range of beers that were 'dry-hopped' with cereal, "Cerealiously", to the point of being offered funding to open a brewery only making these beers... a result of the crave for craft beer always looking for something new or a gimmick. Whilst we're sure this would have produced tons of fun beer, the team decided to continue full steam ahead with their wider-ranging, all-encompassing plans for the FoCo brewery... very fortuitously for us it turned out, as we sat at the bar faced with an incredible selection of fonts. 22 of the beers brewed on site were available, along with another 20 guests.

We managed to make our way through most of the menu during the afternoon and a repeat visit later in the week, and can honestly say that every single beer was excellent, with our experience massively enhanced by friendly and knowledgeable staff headed up by Sean himself. Here's a quick look at a few of our highlights...
Tele-Porter, described simply as a Nutella porter, did exactly what it set out to do. So many beers trying to emulate a very specific flavour disappoint, but this was quite the exception. Featuring hazelnut and malted chocolate, this was a 5.1% glass of utter joy.
Carlos - a 7.5% American Brown - was served from a tap made of a dead squirrel (not kidding). Sweet and malty with a good hoppiness upfront, the flavour lived up to the novelty pour.
Bark Twice If You're In Milwaukee - now we have no idea what's behind this name, but it was a bloody delicious American style barley wine, weighing in at a mighty 10.4%. With a much more hop-forward character than it's English counterparts, this still retained a distinctive sweetness and a long-lasting finish.
Laura also had a Scuba Steve Mai Tai... the aforementioned IPA mixed with Ballast Point 3 Sheets barrel aged rum, Myers rum, grenadine, pineapple and orange juice. A tropical, ingenuitive delight.


With development on the horizon, such as a silo being installed just outside the brewery, and a liquor license for a second property, it's clear that any expansion will be sure to stay on Black Bottle's terms whilst always keeping ingenuity, the community, and a little bit of bonkers-ness at the very heart of their beer production.

Massive thanks to Sean and the team for making us Brits so welcome!


Cheers,

J&L

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