Day 3 – Aspen Brewing Company – Independence Pass Ale

Beer 3 - Aspen Brewing Company - Independence Pass Ale

Every morning when I wake up I am hit with a little twinge of excitement to see what new brew I will find today. This calendar is really something that brings a lot of joy to this craft beer lover’s morning.  This morning was a little bit more frustrating given that the particular beer had shifted and was rather stuck.  After about 10 minutes of shifting, opening the top of the box (my wife did so I wouldn’t peek) and shifting things around, we managed to remove the beer from it’s precarious position.

The third beer of the craft beer advent calendar is Aspen Brewing Company’s Independence Pass Ale.

Aspen Brewing Company was founded in 2008 by Duncan Clauss.  He had recently graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder and wanted to bring craft beer back to Aspen.  Previously Aspen had been home to Flying Dog Brewing Co. When Flying Dog moved all of it’s production to Frederick Maryland in 2006, it left a gap in the craft beer market in Aspen. Duncan and his crew of five, including head brewer PJ Goudreault, filled this gap and has been producing beers that represent the outdoor lifestyle of Aspen for the past 7 years.

Aspen Brewing Company focuses a lot of it’s profits and beer on the local community putting philanthropy and community support as one of it’s primary tasks.  They’ve supported dozens of local community ventures and take applications every year from those non-profits seeking support.  Aspen is also committed to the environment being one of three breweries to sign the Clean Water Act with environment Colorado and the US Environmental protection agency.  They’ve also signed onto the Brewers for climate change declaration.  They also practice a number of efficiency measures to keep their carbon foot print as low as possible.  Check out what they do for the environment here.

Aspen brews a number of beers divided into three “series” of beers.  The first is their Silver Queen Series.  The beer we have today comes from this series and it is their year round series of beers.  They also have a series of Seasonal beers as well as a Temerity Series of barrel aged beers.   The beer we have from them, the Independence Pass Ale, is a super-hopped IPA.  The beer is named Aspen’s eastern boundary and 12,095ft high elevation pass.  It comes in a 7% abv (alcohol by volume) and 62 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

IPAs or India Pale Ale, have a storied history. The first known use of the term comes from the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser in 1829.  At this time, they were also referred to as a “pale ale as prepared for India”, “East India pale ale”, and “Export India Pale Ale”.  These types of IPAs were widely popular amongst the East India company and, while considered very hoppy, they were not much stronger than other beers brewed at this time. If you’re curious about IPAs check out Wikipedia or IPA Beer.

While these beers are part of the pale ale family, they are strongly hopped and often showcase the variety of flavours and complexities that can come from the simple ingredients used to brew beer.  Many will say the IPAs are an acquired taste, and they are rather unique, the bitterness brought by the use of a large quantity of hops is not for everyone. Now, onto this specific beer.

Appearance – Pours hazy, medium copper colour with about an inch of white head.
Smell – Passionfruit and blood orange on the nose.  Very fruity nose.
Taste – Very sweet for an IPA. Passionfruit comes through on the taste and is really balanced with a subtle bitterness that doesn’t denote the 62 IBUs this beer contains.
Mouth feel – smooth mouthfeel that lingers slightly with sweetness.
Overall – Pretty good IPA.  Not over the moon about it. The balance of the sweetness and the bitterness makes it a good IPA for someone who isn’t really into bitter IPAs and might be a good launching pad for those folks.
Do I like it?
– I think it is okay. I’m not going to go out and seek this particular IPA, there are so many really strong ones, but if I was at a friends and they had it I’d be happy to drink it.


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