Tag Archives: boulder


“You don’t get both,” I said to my girlfriend, as she held up a stout and a Train Wreck from Butte Creek, a barleywine, comparing them with a critical eye, sniffing from each glass deeply. She ponders and chooses the barleywine, leaving me Boulder‘s oak aged oatmeal stout. I can live with this.

She takes a sip and makes a face. It’s not hoppy enough, she says and though I’m not sure that a hoppy barleywine is to style, I am not in a position to argue. Something seems strange about it, that’s for sure. I can’t place it but the beer doesn’t finish with that kind of smooth maltiness I would expect nor a hop-like bitter note. Instead there is a sour note to it which suggests that there’s something else going on. What, I just don’t know.

She tries some of my stout and makes another face: “Something like burnt rubber in there” and crazily enough, she doesn’t like that. I don’t get those flavors but I do get s a touch of antiseptic, as if this ale was too clean. It’s also not the way I would expect a stout to taste. Something isn’t right and I can’t put my finger on what.

Some nights, there are misses.

But only insofar as the beer is concerned. The bar is still a bit on the low key side (I think the cold is still keeping people away) but it also seems more boisterous than last week. There is a vibe in the air, as though people are resisting the dark nights more. Maybe I’m just imagining it and the music is louder but it feels like people are snarling at the cold, reminding winter that it can’t keep us indoors. I’ve got great company, so the beer can take a backseat for once.

7pm Jimmy

I am sipping on Boulder’s Killer Penguin barley wine. Which is such a great name, I don’t even know what to tell you. If you don’t like it, I’m not sure how we are friendly. I’m uncertain if I’m fond of this ale, though; the warm, caramel notes I would expect don’t pop up, so I sit and wait for the beer to warm up a little. Barley wines often shift a bit with some warmth; I might as well give this a little space to breathe and see what happens.

It’s a little quieter than usual this evening, just one reason it is a pleasure to run into Geoff (the owner) tonight. We get a chance to talk, which, given the mild rarity of this event, I always appreciate. The window into the business of slinging suds holds almost as much interest as brewing for me, because both are inexorably tied with people and people still fascinate me.

The barley wine is starting to shift now, tasting like a caramel dipped tangerine. If that doesn’t convince you to give this a shot, I don’t think I can persuade you any other way. Is the Killer Penguin great? Noooo, but it’s worth your time to have some and see what you think, I say.

I ask Geoff about his new(ish( decor and he tells me what he was hoping for there. I like it: informational, classy, something to read, what more could I ask for?

It’s at this point he notices one of the staff playing with a top, bought from the dollar store.

“That reminds me,” he says, “I always meant to get a twenty sided die for this place.”

I can’t help myself: “Do you need some? I can pick them up at PAX or hell, even now: I have a bunch.” I’m here, dude, Party on. Let’s go. 20 sided? 6 sided? Tokens? I got it all…

“No,” he says, “I need one now so people can roll for beer.”

I dip into my bag; “This one (white with black print) or this one (red with white print)?” I pick those dice because they will be easy to read under the bar lights and because I have no fear of replacing them if I have to.

He holds them up, unsure. He turns to one of the barkeepers, Scott, who I know is a geek, “Which one?” It’s a setup and I know it, even if nobody else does. Scott is going to choose the red with white because that the style of die that came with the D&D game in The 80s .

Which he does. I suggest that they give the die a name, like Jimmy or Darla, so that when someone asks, ‘What should I have?’ the barkeep can tell them, “Well, Jimmy says, (quietly rolling die) this beer!” Another bartender picks up on Jimmy almost immediately, so I suppose that’s what will stick.

Who is Jimmy? The oracle at Delphi. Sort of. But ,with beer.

And that is my contribution to this pub. Which is nice, because my writing is online and thus, ephemeral. Nobody can hold an essay I wrote about being here and read it while drinking here. But they can roll a die and let a random chance decide their fate…a random chance I held in my hand. Pretty sweet.