As I drove down Highway 24 into Woodland Park, I glanced to my right to see where Paradox Beer Company once stood. I carry on, going and going anxiously on towards Divide, where over Memorial Day, after a 14-month hiatus, Paradox re-opened it’s doors.
Their new location sits at the top of a hill on three acres, and it’s well worth the drive as you come upon a relaxed, gravel patio with picnic tables looking out towards the mountains.
Such a pity we live in such an ugly state, right?
The building itself boasts a chill vibe, formerly serving as a community center with a full basketball court — and, even more convenient for a brewery, as an ice manufacturing facility, meaning lots of refrigerated space to house its unique brews.
Speaking of, Paradox is certainly a horse of another color when it comes to their niche brewing philosophy, one that has captured the attention of craft beer drinkers all around the country. Specializing in barrel-aged sours, the brewery implements seasonal elements at their peak of harvest to make exceptional beers that are often imitated but rarely duplicated.
So when you find something you like, savor the flavor because you’re not likely to find a repeat at Paradox. “For us it’s writing original songs, not covers,” says brewer Jeff Airman, who describes the forward movement as an opportunity. “Instead of chasing repetition, we encourage revolution.”
Sip on a sour aged in a pinot noir barrel: You know you’re drinking beer but your brain is taking you to Napa. And just like winemaking at Paradox, the brewers are in no rush, appreciating that “good beer takes time, sometimes years.”
“We make outsider art,” says Airman. “Our goal has never been to be mainstream and we find our customer base shares our enthusiasm for experimentation and adventure. We love to break rules and challenge conceptions to continue the evolution of beer.”
And a change is a-comin’. We are realizing the subtleties of beer and its place in foodie heaven. (Look for winter chef pairing dinners at Paradox TBA)
“Our beers are all culinary inspired and as such are definitely intended for pairings,” says Airman. “Balanced acid, salt, sugar and tannic features in beer beg to be chased with equally exciting and complex foods.”
Lucky for you, while you’re enjoying a mezcal barrel-aged sour you can also snack at Paradox too, with items like elk bratwurst sliders to compliment and satisfy.
I grabbed a bottle of Pineapple Upside-Down, a sour golden ale brewed with island fruit and aged in rum barrels and the knowledgable bartender who gave me a tour told me she was saving hers to pair with her Thanksgiving ham. (She clearly has more patience than moi … mine disappearing that evening …)
Not surprisingly Paradox has taken pairings a step further, again encroaching on wine and spirits of a darker variety by creating beers intended for cigar pairings. They’re even known to include music or movie suggestions on their labels. A lil’ bluegrass with your Belgian or Coen Brothers flick while you’re enjoying the crowler you took home? Me thinks yes!
Paradox offers crowlers in place of traditional growlers because you can wait weeks instead of just days due to being CO2 purged before being sealed and filled. So grab a tall boy before departing to keep the party going.
The hope for the future of Paradox Beer Co. is passionate and honorable: “Our goal is to push the limits of what beer can be to make the most delicious products possible. We truly respect the craft beer drinker and want to constantly exceed their high expectations,” says Airman.
“We are inspired by hundreds of years of brewing history, yet we don’t have our hands tied by tradition and limited ingredients. Before yeast was understood, all beer had bacteria, and with time would be sour. We want to make American sour beers that pick up where they left off and push the envelope of innovation.”
I’m feeling inspired to drink old beer with new friends, or is it new beer with old friends? Either way. Cheers to embracing the sour side of life and having history repeat itself.
[Images: Dionne Roberts]