Breckenridge Brewery Brew Review
While visiting Colorado over the winter holidays, I picked up a sampler 12-pack from Breckenridge Brewery. One of the larger CO craft brewers that doesn’t get much distribution out east (with a new recent appearance at RFD), I thought it would make a good break from a lot of what I’ve been drinking recently, and a good opportunity to review some beers rarely seen on the East Coast. Breckenridge is actually really widely drunk in Colorado, largely due to their staple beer: Avalanche Ale. In addition to the Avalanche, this mixed case contained the Oatmeal Stout, Lucky U IPA, and Christmas Ale. I was lazy and mainly drank these straight out of the bottle, so the reviews are only going to mention the taste.
A good dark toasted malt taste, but without much Christmas/Holdiay spice from what I got at first. The caramel in the notes is hands down the biggest flavour. However, I noticed as the beer continued to warm (it had been in the fridge for a solid 4 hours), that the notes of cinnamon and nutmeg started to come through more. I’d recommend storing and saving this beer at cellar temperatures. A reasonable Christmas effort.
An entirely disappointing effort. In the folly of my youth, I used to really like this beer, and it shows how much better my taste has gotten over time. It’s bitter, far more than I’d expect from an Oatmeal Stout that is neither big (<5% ABV) nor particularly flavourful. Mingled chocolate and coffee notes only bring through more bitterness, without much sweetness on the other end. It also drank very light: I never felt like I was quite drinking a REAL oatmeal stout. Some people might like that, I didn’t. In general, I’d avoid this beer.
Lucky U IPA
A nice dry, run-of-the-mill American IPA. Good floral hoppiness doesn’t taste nearly as bitter as you’d expect, and it balanced the dry maltiness with a nice crisp finish. The definition of a sessionable IPA.
Breck’s bread and butter. This one I did pour into a glass and it gave a solid copper colour, with a very generous head. Very weak floral and bready notes on the nose. Tasting it, I remembered why so many people in Colorado drink this: not much is going on, at all. Yes, up front you get a very little bit of those bready malts but they are boring. Some really mild fruity sweetness (hints of apple and pear) at the back end, but again, it’s boring. It is incredibly easy drinking (on par with a macro-Light lager), but with maybe 3x the flavour. If you have the choice between pounding Avalanche or Coors Light, always pick Avalanche. But if you want a good beer to drink, pick something else.
Despite the bottling and distribution, I still think of Breckenridge’s efforts as more fitting of their brew-pub roots than real great craft efforts. Everything they make is sessionable, with clear up front flavours, and no horrible lingering tastes or hoppiness. If you are looking for a reasonable beer to casually drink and forget, or need something to order your non-craft brew drinking friend at a bar, Breckenridge does offer a number of solid options. As long as you understand it in that context, I think you’ll walk away happy.