May 21, 2012

Recap: 2011 Hike #1 with Justin Carpenter

The first of seven hikes for the Beers Made By Walking program happened a couple weeks ago. The hike, threatened by very dark and ominous storm clouds, ended up being quite dry and very pleasant with the changing chromatic skyline. The hike took place at Garden of the Gods, was led by the naturalist Kimberly Banzhaf from Mueller State Park and the homebrewer on board was Justin Carpenter. Justin and his wife Michael wrote the recent article about La Cumbre Brewing in New Mexico. Each hike in this summer program is open to the public, although many of them are full. This one had 16 people. The goal of the hike is simply to get out doors, enjoy the Colorado landscape, and then identify edible plants along the way that could go into a beer. The beer will be made at Rocky Mountain Brewing on the east side of town with the help of their head brewer Nick Hilborn. Then the beers will be availabe twice throughout the summer at Brewer's Republic. Justin's beer will be available on August 27th from 4-8pm, but don't show up late, it could disappear quickly.
Here's an image of Kimberly pointing out some Pennycress. It has some toxic properties but is edible and has some bitter qualities to it. We were stopped about 10 times on our hike to
look at the plants along the path. This was the only example of Pennycress on the whole hike. Our friend Zenia Brink was also on the hike and did a nice write up on the Drinker's Guide website. Go here, and scroll down to the entry on 7/1/2011.
In addition to the plants, we stopped to enjoy the scenery.
The president of the Friends of the Garden of the Gods, John Demmon, stopped to tell us about the park, the recorded history and the geological history of the place so that we could have a richer understanding of the area we were walking through.
This is Lou, he's a regular at Rocky Mountain Brewing, I first met him at the Big Brew Day, where all the homebrewers made beer together at RMB. Kimberly had us sniff the bark of the Ponderosa Pine, explaining that it has a very distinct smell. I'd say it smelled exactly like butterscotch. The needles from the tree and the tips from the growth in the late spring can also be eaten, although they dried out my mouth and were really sticky. Could be fun to use in a beer.
Here we are in front of the Siamese Twins rock formation talking about Mountain Mahogany, a plant that has edible parts but isn't entirely tasty. The hike eventually came to an end just as the sun was setting over the mountains. We headed to Brewer's Republic and talked about the hike over a few pints of beer.
Justin soon decided he'd make a prickly pear cactus wheat beer. He headed over to the brewery and made the base, then invited some of his friends over and they peeled and juiced fifteen pounds of the fruit of the cactus. The fruit tastes very similar to pomegranate and is full of little tiny seeds. The color is this brilliant red that we hope will really affect the final color of the beer.
So, if you want to try this beer and three other beers from this program you need to head over to Brewer's Republic on Saturday, August 27th at 4pm. If you miss that, the next tasting will be on Saturday October 29th at 4pm, however this tasting will have four new beers.

Beers Made By Walking hiking information and sign ups.

Beers Made By Walking Tastings
Brewed at Rocky Mountain Brewing, sampling at Brewer's Republic
Aug 27th - 4pm - $5 entry
Oct. 29th - 4pm - $5 entry
Brewer's Republic is located at 112 N. Nevada in Colorado Springs