This is the second in series of Small Breweries Revive story by Charlie Matzen which appeared in the Winter, 1980 issue of Zymurgy magazine.
The Boulder Brewing Co. is currently producing 12 barrels a week of Boulder Stout, Porter and Bitter. Al Nelson, Stick Ware and Dave Hummer co-own the brewery. Otto Zavatone is brewmaster. Distribution is limited to local area liquor stores and restaurants, though they hope to expand. Boulder Beer is sold in 12 oz. returnable bottles, packaged in wooden cases selling for $19 a case. An accompanying card explains their traditional brewing methods, a brief history of their British-style beers and procedures for de-canting.
The energy-efficient brewery is organized on three levels. The top floor is used for grain storage and grinding. The ground-level floor is for brewing and bottling and the basement is used for fermentation and storage. The floors are connected by a supply elevator.
Specialty grains are used in Boulder Beer—Carastan and Black Patent from Winnipeg, Canada, and pale malt from Coors. Coors also supplies their Cascade hops. After cracking and combining grains, they mash 250 lbs. at a time. The mash is split—half boiled with hops and the other half kept warm in a holding tank. After initial heating with an immersion heater, the wort is kept boiling with a steam generator supplying a steam jacket around the 45-gallon kettle. There are three hoppings. The wort is drained and sparged into a three-barrel primary and yeast is added. The ales spend three weeks in secondaries of plastic-lined 55 gallon drums. After bottling, the ales are aged for an additional three weeks. “Ale is best when served fresh,” according to Dave Hummer.
Bottling presented a problem when county health officials required that everything receive a final rinse of iodine solution. This was solved by the use of an ultraviolet water sterilizer. Sterile water may be used as a rinse after the iodine solution. Incoming air to the brewery is filtered to eliminate wild yeasts and bacteria. When asked whether he was satisfied with their ales, Dave Hummer replied, “Yes, though there’s always room for improvement. It’s difficult to judge a beer or ale on one tasting. It takes many tastings over a period of weeks to adequately judge the quality and flavor balance.”
Dave does feel that the Boulder Brewery is producing better beer than when he was homebrewing—they have all learned much more about the brewing process. A version of Boulder Brewing Co.’s stout won a first place in the First Annual National Homebrew Competition— before the brewery was operating—and the recipe has been improved since then!
Next New Albion, DeBakker and Cartwright Breweries