I finally made it over to Casey Brewing & Blending a few weeks back for their monthly-ish release party. It's been on my list almost since they opened, but for one reason or another, the logistics had never worked out. Right after New Years', @marla and I happened to be up that way anyway for a race, and I managed to snag the last ticket for a to-go case. Seemed like a good reason to make the trip!
The whole operation is super impressive. They're wedged in a narrow warehouse in Glenwood Springs, cantilevered over the Roaring Fork river with an impressive view downvalley from the front door. I neglected to grab a shot of the inside but the entire warehouse is chock full of aging barrels, with a small amount of space at the front for a bar and along the side for seating.
For background - Casey's beers are all barrel aged, and produced in limited quantities. For that reason, they don't have any sort of regular hours at the taproom, or really even much distribution to speak of. Instead, once a month (or two, depending), they open their taproom for an all-day release party. If you want to buy bottles to go, you can purchase a ticket which entitles you to buy up to a full case of what's available that month. Otherwise, you can just come and hang out at the bar to sample the same selections, no ticket required. Most folks, myself included, seem to elect a combination of the two. Interestingly enough, the quantities are so small that none of their beers are ever on tap - even in the taproom everything is served directly from the bottle.
January's offerings included:
- Grape Fruit Stand aged in Cabernet Franc barrels
- Grape Fruit Stand aged in Riesling barrels
- Grape Fruit Stand aged in Chardonnay barrels
- Grape Casey Family Preserves
- "The Low End" Wet Hop Session Saison
- Saison (despite it having a plain name, this was no ordinary saison!)
- Leaner (a peach saison collaboration with Side Project Brewing out of Missouri)
At the taproom, I sampled both the Leaner and the Cab Franc Fruit Stand. Holy shit. Both easily in the top beers I've ever had, second only (maybe) to Crooked Stave's Leopold Brothers Nightmare on Brett. The thing that seems to set Casey's beers apart is their very delicate balance of sweet fruit with sour tart. There's a subtlety to both the Fruit Stand and the Leaner, where the fruit flavor is very present but not overly intense or cloyingly sweet, and the sourness is very apparent without being overwhelming.
Since then I've also opened a bottle of the Low End, which was fantastically good in its own right. Still an understated tart finish, but with a slightly more pronounced bitter hoppiness on the frontend to balance it out. Very drinkable.
I can't wait to taste my way through the rest of the case and will definitely be back for more release parties in the future!