On a recent trip to Colorado for work, I traveled fully prepared – half-empty suitcase, and plenty of bubble wrap for purchases. When we reached Colorado Springs, my coworkers asked what we should all do for the evening – I immediately mentioned that I had mapped out the nearest beer stores. Off I strode to a recommended spot, Downtown Fine Wine & Spirits. Having done my research ahead of time, I knew that they had a decent selection, and also sold make-your-own six packs. Once I explained to the owner that I was from VA and trying to find some great options that I wouldn’t be able to get at home, he sprung into action. In a generous mood, he broke apart a pre-made sampler back from Pikes Peak Brewing Co, which allowed me to select two of their offerings. Upon my return home, I first broke open the Devils Head Red. A dark caramel color, I was automatically expecting a hoppy red. However, this one was far more mellow.
My first reaction was a bit of disappointment, but once I adjusted my expectations, I could look at it a bit differently and began enjoying it more. It was very sweetly malty in both aroma and taste. It didn’t have as rich a body as a dubbel, but was almost dubbel-lite in flavor. As it continued to warm up, the hops came out more, and the bitter became more pronounced. Overall, it was definitely drinkable and I’d be more than willing to buy a pint on future trips – I think I just prefer the closer-to-room temperature with the hoppier finish version.
After the Devils Head Red, I popped the Elephant Rock IPA. In the glass, I got a huge aroma of Cascades. I could definitely taste the malt, but the body felt lighter than I would have expected from the flavor. It had that chewy hop finish (you know, where it tastes like you’ve got a mouthful of hops), but wasn’t overly bitter. Like the Devils Head, this was one I’d be perfectly happy to drink again, but it didn’t blow me away – it could serve as one of those “go-to” American IPAs that you order when you don’t like/are unsure about the other offerings and want something you know you won’t be unhappy with.