I'm feeling a bit knacked, but need to get before 9:30 for breakfast. As it's free and includes bacon, no way I'm missing out on that. Fed, I go back to bed for another couple of hours kip. Why make life hard for yourself?
Todd messages me that he can't get away from work until later - can I meet him I Hogshead at 4 pm? No problem. I'm sure I can amuse myself for a few hours. What to do in Denver? I consult Google Maps and BeerAdvocate, then remember Falling Rock. It was mentioned last nigh as the town's top beer bar. And I'd spotted it from my airport taxi. Not that far away, lots of beer - a total no-brainer.
I notice something when I leave my hotel. It's effing freezing. It feels like it's about to start snowing. I though the cold weather wasn't due to sweep in until after I'd left. Evidently not. Wind, there's lots of that, too. I'm starting to wish I'd listened to Dolores and brought warmer clothing.
What's that hitting my face? Snow. It's bloody snowing! Brilliant. When I arrive at Falling Rock, I'm frozen.
"Hello, Ron." Someone says as I walk through the door. Which is slightly disconcerting. It's the owner. He was at my talk yesterday. Thankfully. Not some random crazy.
I settle into a seat at the bar and we chat a little. He notices me looking admiringly at a Hammonds Ales sign.
"It's one of only two in the US." He tells me. "Michael Jackson was impressed when he was here. He used to drink Hammonds beer when he was starting out as a reporter. He recorded an interview here and insisted on having the sign in the background."
It's a cosy enough bar. The bar counter runs the whole length of one wall and the rest of the space is filled with booths. Breweriana is everywhere. Mostly in the form of bottles and tap handles, but there are also sign, mirrors and trays. I can never get enough of that stuff.
Some random dudes wander in and order beers.
"What about some shots?"
"Yeah, why not?"
Why not, indeed? It is effing snowing outside. I'd join you, but I left my crazy head back in the hotel. I'm stuck with the vaguely sensible head.
For once on this trip, I'm taking notes. Here goes:
A classic US IPA - citrus, lemon zest, lemon, grapefruit. Slips down very easily for 7% ABV.
Comrades Super Power IPA
Similar flavours to the Odell's, but bitterer and just 7.6% ABV. Bit more grapefruity.
Boulder Shake Porter
Looks like it's on nitro. It really does taste like a chocolate milkshake, as the barman said. Slightly weird, but drinkable.
This stuff is effing black The head is pretty dark, too. A stack of roast going on - fairly acrid. Some hops going on, too, but the bitterness mostly seems to come from the malt.
After a couple of beers, I need some food. I'm split between the buffalo burger and the Texas burger on a bed of jualapenos. In the end I go for the buffalo burger and ask for it with a bed of jualapenos. They're happy to oblige.
My favourite item on the menu is the Elvis Presley Memorial Combo.
"Two 1/2 pound patties cooked rare, topped with bacon, American cheese, 1/3 pound of pastrami, grilled onions, Swiss cheese, a fried egg guacamole & mayo on a big-ass bun. Served with onion rings, fries and a defribillator. Price overinflated, just like Elvis. $46.40."
After a few hours, I head back to my hotel. It's now snowing way harder than is pleasant. More like specks of ice. Whipped by the wind makes them prick my face like needles. Lovely. I'm not used to this sort of weather. It didn't freeze last winter in Amsterdam. Which is why there were so many bloody mosquitoes this year.
It takes ages to get a taxi to go to Hogshead. Probably the change in the weather. It's caught a few people unawares. I see someone on a bike wearing shorts and another strolling down the street in a tee-shirt. Must be a random Geordie.
Todd, Steve and I share a few pints of cask beer. They sold two firkins of the Lovibond Mild yesterday. Not bad at all considering the size of the pub and the fact that they were selling several other cask beers. We get talking with a young baker. She's here because of her name, which is the same as one of the beers they brew: Julie Brown. We chat a while about the dreadfulness of American factory bread. She tells me of the revival in bakeries making proper bread. There are many parallels with the beer scene.
After a couple of hours Steve heads home and me and Todd drop by Lucky Pie for dinner. It's a combined pizzeria and beer joint. That sort of odd combination doesn't seem odd anymore in the US. Good beer is popping up all over the place. Like Copenhagen.
My hotel is within walking distance. But frostbite is nibbling at my grillox when I get there. I warm up in the hotel bar which, of course, also has plenty of beer options.
Tomorrow is just a travelling day, with Portland as my destination. Can't wait.
This is the reason I was in the US: to sell my book.
The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.
Falling Rock Tap House
1919 Blake St,
Denver, CO 80202.
Phone: +1 303-293-8338
4460 W 29th Ave,
Denver, CO 80212.
Lucky Pie Pizza and Taphouse
1610 16th Street Mall,
Denver, CO 80202.
Phone: +1 303-825-10