Powder Keg Brewing: An Emerging Colorado Favorite for Sours

In Colorado, we’re lucky to have so many breweries that make excellent sours, and you’re probably familiar with the prominent ones – Avery Brewing, Casey Brewing and Blending, Crooked Stave, New Belgium and Trinity Brewing – just to name a few. Colorado is a great beercation destination for sour beer lovers, and you can’t go wrong with any of the aforementioned breweries. But if you find yourself in Colorado looking for a good sour, I recommend you add Powder Keg Brewing in Niwot to your list. Powder Keg opened less than two years ago, but it has quickly made a name for itself among Colorado craft beer lovers.

Last weekend, Powder Keg released Palisade Reunion, a blonde sour aged on 700 pounds of peaches in 6.3 barrels. Peach is my favorite fruit, so whenever I see a beer with added peach, I have to try it. This isn’t a tart bomb like some sours; the acidity is on the moderate side, but this helps the peach shine. The lactic acid and peach complement each other rather than overpower the fruit. I do love a good tart bomb, but for me, delicate fruit flavors sometimes disappear when a beer’s acidity is overly aggressive.

Powder Keg BrewingAlong with Palisade Reunion, Powder Keg had several sours on tap and in bottles, including Premiere Blanc, which is the first sour Powder Keg brewed. This beer made me miss patio drinking. Premiere Blanc was aged with three brett stains in Champagne barrels, which seems appropriate because it drinks a lot like crisp, dry bubbly with a tart kick.

While Powder Keg brews some delicious sours, it also offers a variety of other styles. My favorite of the night was Vietnamese Brunch, an imperial milk stout brewed with Madagascar vanilla and a coffee blend from Boxcar Roasters, which happens to be my favorite local coffee shop. Vietnamese Brunch is full bodied, sweet and creamy up front, but the coffee provides a nice bitter contrast on the end. This beer would make any coffee lover happy.

In addition to its own beer, Powder Keg has a great rotating tap list of visiting breweries. Several delicious offerings made the list, so I had to drink a few that called to me.

  • Hill Farmstead Dorothy: Hill Farmstead just started distributing kegs to Colorado last week, so I was excited to finally get my hands on this. Dorothy starts with a mild level of brett funk and finishes with lots of citrus-like hops and a hint of spice.
  • Elevation Beer Co. Oil Man: As a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, Oil Man is one of my favorite local releases. In my opinion, this year’s batch is better than the previous version. Don’t get me wrong. Last year’s Oil Man was still tasty, but the bourbon seems smoother in this batch.
  • Off Color Brewing Dino S’mores: Whenever I see this imperial stout on tap, I have to order it. I love how the touch of smoke plays into the sweet vanilla and chocolate flavors. This is campfire beer at its finest.
  • Crooked Stave Nightmare on Brett With Cherry: Crooked Stave makes a lot of phenomenal sours, but this is easily one of my favorites. Nightmare on Brett is a dark wild ale aged in Leopold Bros. whiskey barrels. This beer has a thicker, heavier mouthfeel than most sours with prominent oak and whiskey. The cherry adds a slightly sweet pop that melds together well with the other flavors.

Most of the breweries around here serve food via food trucks, but Powder Keg has a kitchen and offers a few appetizers, small plates and sandwiches. My husband and I decided on the warm pretzel with whole-grain mustard and a charcuterie board. Cheese is one of my many food weaknesses, so anytime a charcuterie board is on the menu, you can bet I’m eating it. The cheese selection varies by day but always comes from Cheese Importers, based in neighboring Longmont, Colorado.

Besides Powder Keg, Niwot is also home to Bootstrap Brewing and Vindication Brewing, and it’s only about 20 minutes northwest of Boulder. The next time you find yourself in Boulder, make time for a side trip to Niwot for some brewery hopping. You won’t regret it.

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