Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Beer and Space

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Oct. 24, 2012

Today, I am free.

The bad news is that the weather isn’t cooperating, so my plans to grab a sandwich, head up into the mountains and go for a hike have been thwarted. 

The good news, however, is that I am still free to enjoy Colorado.  It’s funny how when the threat of work isn’t directly hanging over your head, the bad news doesn’t impact you so much.  Anyhow, the new plan is to find a new brewery – one that I have never been to before – and go check it out.  Of course, here in Boulder, I have pretty much covered everything.  Same goes for Ft. Collins.  And as for Denver, well, I’m just not feeling Denver today (although there are certainly plenty of days when I do).

Anyhow, during my search for a new brewery, I came across some reviews for Dostal Alley in Central City, Colorado.  The reviews are not all that positive.  The beer seems to get average scores, but a common thread running through the reviews is that the place is simply too small and cluttered to actually enjoy your beer.  One reviewer mentioned that if you “can ignore the casino games built into the bartop” it is actually a pretty cool place.  Another complained that what disappointed him most was the fact that there was “no room to relax and have a beer.”

Now I really want to go to Founders in Grand Rapids, MI
This got me thinking…just as the freedom of time can impact someone’s outlook, how much does the freedom of the space that you are in impact your enjoyment of a good beer?  And as I began thinking about it, I realized that I do need a good deal of room to spread out in order to get the most out of my beer. 

Now, I have had some amazing tasting experiences in crowded places.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of GABF last week, I have had plenty of great beers at Avery’s Taproom during a crowded happy hour and of course, the few too many Uncle Jacob’s Stouts I threw down at Avery’s 19th Anniversary Party were amazing, if not consumed with dozens of elbows constantly threatening to spill my beer.  With that said, I believe that I would have enjoyed all of these scenarios a lot more had I been given some more elbow room…and more time for that matter. 

As I think back on it, most of my truly great beer tasting experiences have been in non-rushed, quieter situations where I have had the physical space that I sometimes feel is necessary to think.  Maybe I’m just claustrophobic and haven’t quite come to terms with that yet, but I don’t freak out when I’m jammed in a tiny elevator with a bunch of other people and, as I mentioned above, I have actually enjoyed a lot of tightly squeezed drinking experiences.  So is enough physical space truly a key piece of the equation in drinking a good beer?

I think it might be.

Thinking back on some of my favorite beer moments – a quiet night at Steamworks Brewpub in downtown Durango, a bright, sunny afternoon in Ska’s spacious and very open-feeling tap room, a cold, but sunny winter afternoon in which Emily and I were the only two people in Three Floyds’ tasting room.  There are dozens of others I could mention here, but I do think space matters.

So, now that I have the time to do it, I think the only thing to do is to go and find out for sure...ya know, for science.  A beer at two different breweries with a strong focus on my surroundings should give me some more of an idea.  Of course the quality of the brew is likely to differ drastically, but the point is to go out and truly focus on how much my physical surroundings actually impact my enjoyment of the beer.  And on that note, I’ll be back soon…

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