Words such as Weissbier, Dunkel, Koelsch, Altbier or Helles and Pils are part of the general education in the State of Colorado. So much German has to be, after all, Colorado is the declared “State of Craft Beer” – the US state of microbreweries. There are so many of them that even a map was printed in which they are all drawn. You can not do more for a drink.
The beer culture here goes back to a German brewer and is very much alive thanks to an American geologist. 142 years ago the German Adolph Hermann Josef Kohrs followed the prospectors to Colorado. The fact that miners like to drink beer is a cliché. That’s why Golden – just north of Denver – was the perfect place to start a brewery. From here, the prospectors moved into the mountains of Colorado, after they had drunk plenty of “Coors”. So wrote Kohrs, because the Americans had problems with the pronunciation of his German name. Coors became one of the most famous beer brands in the USA.
The geologist who made the beer a cult drink in Colorado is John Hickenlooper. He gave up his learned profession to focus on his hobby. He set up his “Wynkoop Brewing Company Brewpub” in an old warehouse on Wynkoop Street in Denver, across from Union Station, one of North America’s major railroad junctions. That was in 1988. Back then, this part of Denver was very run down. You did not go here. But Hickenlooper fought for his “LoDo” (Lower Downtown) and did the almost impossible: The old city center revived, restaurants and hip shops settled here. The Hickenlooper beer helped. Denver has become one of the most optimistic and fun-loving cities in the United States. For that, the city’s residents thanked John Hickenlooper and voted him the mayor of Denver. In 2011, he won the governorship election in Colorado. “He understands a lot about beer,” praise the visitors to the breweries in and around Denver. Wherever it suited, young people followed suit and transformed old workshops or warehouses into microbreweries with a taproom.
Drinking beer is hardly a problem in Denver. You leave the car at home. On the 16th Street, from which the most popular pubs are easy to reach, busses run every minute. “All free,” says the driver, the ride costs nothing, and the bus stops at every street corner. The fact that the line ends in the station district was part of the concept of the successful revitalization of the capital of Colorado. That was the school, little Breweries were founded all over Colorado. There are now 312 breweries – as of 2016. There is nothing more in any other US state.
That Coloradiens – the citizens of Colorado – have come to the beer taste, is easy to understand. Not only does it look like Bavarian beer in many places, but it also counts: one lives here at an altitude of 2 073 meters on average above the sea. At such heights the air is very dry and dry air makes you thirsty. It was like that before. Colorado itself seems to have originated in a beer mood. When it came to the state borders around 1876, the geographers resorted to the ruler. One straight line along the 37th and 41st degrees of latitude and along the longitudes 102 West and 109, finished the “quadrilateral”, 612 kilometers long and 451 kilometers wide. The square became 1876 the state number 38 of the union.
Colorado was fortunate enough to be on the borderline, the most beautiful part of the Rocky Mountains and much prairie land before that was attributed to the state. 53 of the Rocky Mountains here are 4,000 or more feet high – there are ski resorts that can be used well into the summer. Also the 4 402 meter high Mount Elbert – the highest mountain in the Rocky Mountains in total – is a Colorado summit.
The 4 301-meter-high Pikes Peak, which seems to be growing straight out of the prairie at Colorado Springs, is among them the most famous summit. He owes this to the teacher Katherine Lee Bates, who became so enthusiastic about him in 1893 that she wrote the laurel poem “America, The Beautiful” in her notebook. This patriotic anthem is sung in America at least as often as the national anthem itself. Since then, Pikes Peak has become a magnet for visitors, also because the world’s highest cogwheel railway travels to this mountain. Along the way, every passenger experiences their very own “America The Beautiful” feeling, even if hardly anyone wants to stay longer at the summit station. It’s very cold up here and it’s hard to breathe. That there is no brewery on the summit is logical – around the valley station and in Colorado Springs are waiting 20 brewery restaurants for their guests.
In Colorado, the next tap is never far. Whether in Durango in the southwestern corner of Colorado or a train ride later through a narrow canyon in Silverton, in Denver with more than 50 breweries or in Fort Collins in northern Colorado not far from the entrance to the Rocky Mountains National Park, everywhere the brewmasters assure they brewed “Beer German Style” – of course with German ingredients. The brewery restaurants have names such as “The Rhine House”, “Forbidden” (beer is only available to over-21s) or “Two”, because two brothers brew beer here. A Denver brewery is called “Cheers” – a better name for beer can hardly exist, not even in America.
“We are especially German,” say waiters Tim Bock and Brewmaster Colin Ford. “Our brewery was brought here bit by bit from Breitengüßbach near Bamberg. When the Hümmer family closed their brewery in Germany, we bought them. “The old billboard” What do we drink? Hümmer beer! “Was screwed back to the wall in Denver, after all, only German-style beer is produced here.
As for the beer, Hickenlooper is again required. Old laws prevent ordinary beer – as well as wine – from being sold in supermarkets. Only liquor shops have a license for this. That beer is generally available “as in Germany” and in other US states, the politicians work on it. The brewers Colorado are optimistic, after all, in their state, a man with proven beer skills at the top.
If you are in America visit the capital of craft beer. Share your experience in the comment box below – cheers.