The Rise of Craft Beer in Colorado Springs at Great American Beer Festival

Colorado Springs is beginning to make it’s presence known as a serious contender in Colorado’s competitive craft beer market with two recent wins at Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Local spots Goat Patch Brewing Company and Cogstone Brewing Company both earn bronze medals at the GABF awards ceremony on Saturday, September 22, inside of the bustling Colorado Convention Center.

RMFR sits down with the two beaming breweries to find out the specifics of their stellar beers, how the craft beer scene in Colorado Springs continues to progress and how satisfying it feels to wear those coveted metallic markers around their necks.

“We’re so proud to stand in the craft beer scene in Colorado,” says Johannah Murphy, director of operations at Goat Patch Brewing Co., who radiates surprise and gratitude for the unexpected honor as she pens congratulatory cards to all of their fellow award-winning Colorado breweries.

The Goat Patch tribe. Left to right: Johannah Murphy, and brewers, Darren Baze & Dylan Houghton

Goat Patch brings home a shiny medal in the Scottish ale category for one of their flagship beers, “It Takes a Tribe Red Ale” that donates a quarter from every pint sold to one of two chosen non-profits the brewery highlights in 2018: Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center and Realm of Caring.

“It’s a community beer so it’s a big win for us all around,” says Murphy.

Buy a beer, earn a token that benefits local non-profit organizations.

Darren Baze, head brewer at Goat Patch Brewing Co. acknowledges that “it’s pretty cool to get two awards from our town” and describes his philanthropic, ruby hued brew as a “really malty red ale with a lot of caramel malts in it for sweetness.”

In the red.

Cogstone Brewing Company experiences an ongoing epic year with a bronze in the experimental category for their unrivaled “Chips & Salsa Ale” just a few months after winning another bronze at World Beer Cup in the field category for their earthy “Beet It Cream Ale.”

Robert Hemphill, co-owner of Cogstone Brewing Co. and brewer, tells us that the chips and salsa beer began as a home brew recipe that he chose to release in the taproom over the past few years to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. The seasonal beer sources it’s familiar profiles from a high corn content base cream ale (49-percent compared to the typical 10-percent) and the addition of salsa verde, a combination of green tomatillos, cilantro, lime, salt, garlic and onion.

“There’s huge difference in the amount of corn I use because I want that chip flavor to really come through,” says Hemphill. “The chile for the heat and the salsa verde for the flavor.”

Cogstone Brewing Co. co-owners. Left to right: Marc Malenfant and Robert Hemphill

Hemphill says although he is a fan of chile beers he doesn’t prefer “just green chile or hot chile” citing that they can translate as simply “one dimensional.”

“I wanted something more complex,” says Hemphill. “That’s what gave me the idea of putting salsa verde, chile and corn in to make it a well-rounded, unique beer.”

The Mexi inspired cerveza is stock-piled at Cogstone but Hemphill tells us that once it’s gone you’ll have to wait until the spring holiday reappears in 2019 to snag a taste of this creative liquid version of the popular snack.

The “Chips & Salsa Ale” packs an approachable kick.

As Colorado Springs still soaks in the glow of GABF nods it speaks to the growth, upward trajectory and improvements that the local craft beer industry embraces going forward. As exciting as it is to see new businesses open, it’s far more rewarding to watch passionate, worthy commitments to great processes come to fruition. That consideration for consistency and care results in desirable products that both judges and patrons alike all want to sip on.

“I feel like Colorado Springs was not on the map at all as far as craft breweries, but I feel like we’re really starting to turn that around,” says Murphy. “Not only by the amount of breweries that we’re beginning to have, but the amount of quality beer we’re starting to put out.”

To find the complete list of GABF winners click here.


*Header image courtesy of REN Creativ