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For this week's Craft Brewery of the Week, I decided to write up what has been my favorite craft brewery for a couple of years: Dry Dock Brewing Company. I have been a fan and loyal customer of Dry Dock Brewing since well before they actually started making and selling beer. Dry Dock Brewing started back in the mid- to late 1990s as a simple homebrew store in Aurora, Colorado. As the years passed and owners Kevin and Michelle DeLange saw the growing interest in homebrewing and craft brewing, they decided to open their very own brewery. Officially opening in October 2005, they leased a very small space adjacent to their homebrew store. I remember back in late fall 2005, drinking many a beer at their tiny bar the week before Thanksgiving with my brother. After tasting many of their beers, I was convinced they were well on their way to being a significant craft brewery. As you will be figure out, they have a very strong nautical theme, both in their beer names as well as the d??cor of the brewery and tasting room.

Their first award on the national or international beer scene occurred in 2006 when they took home a gold medal for their HMS Victory ESB (now renamed Amber Ale) at the World Beer Cup. After many more local medals and a few more national ones, they finally hit the big time when they were named Small Brewery of the Year at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival.

Their business model and excellent beers have allowed them to expand 3 times in the last 4 years. Once in 2009 and again in 2011 into larger space near their original location. Then in January 2013 they opened a 30,000 square foot $4.5 million expansion including a 40 barrel brewhouse and canning line. Their plan for the near future it to expand distribution throughout Colorado before expanding distribution to the rest of the USA by late 2014 or early 2015. Four of their "Home Fleet" beers are available in cans and many of their specialty and rarer beers can be found in 22 ounce bomber bottles.

Their beers consist of a group of 8 "Home Fleet" available year round, no less than 5 seasonal beers on tap at any given time, and special Friday events called Firkin Fridays, where they take one of their traditional beers and give it a serious twist out towards left field. The home fleet consists of:

Dry Dock Amber Ale (5.8%, 49 IBU), a rich, malty bitter English -style session beer.

Dry Dock Hefeweizen (4.3%, 12 IBU) a banana and clove scented fizzy wheat beer.

Breakwater Pale Ale (5.8%, 40 IBU) a citrusy, piney light pale ale.

Dry Dock Vanilla Porter (5.4%, 33 IBU) a full-bodied, chocolatey, bold vanilla dark porter.

USS Enterprise IPA (6.4%, 69 IBU) a very floral, intensely hopped ale

Dry Dock Double IPA (9.0%, 90 IBU) tropical, grapefruit, pine, malt, intense.

Dry Dock Apricot Blonde (5.1%, 17 IBU) very intense apricot flavor, crisp, light

Hop Abomination (6.5%, 70 IBU) hoppy, hoppy, hoppy, hoppy,...

 

Currently on tap in their seasonal selections include:

HMS Bounty Old Ale, SS Minnow Mile Ale, (Easy Like a) Sunday Morning Golden Ale, Citrus Summer Wheat, Saison 101, Coffee Mile Stout, Whale Tail Wit, HMS Frolic English Summer Pale

Also, throughout the year they have a variety of special events. Two of my favorites are the Docktoberfest celebration at the end of September and the Ho, Ho, Ho Slapdown the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The Docktoberfest is a huge celebration with lederhosen- and dirndl-clad staff, polka music, yodeling, and dancing. Their Docktoberfest beer is one of their finest creations (6.8%, 22 IBU). Last year I finished off three and a half liters of this beer and ended up stumbling home. The Docktoberfest celebration is one I clear my schedule for every year.

The Ho, Ho, Ho Slapdown pits each one of the brewers into fierce competition for fan loyalty and accolades. Each brewer is responsible for making a special beer that is sold to and judged by the public after the craze of Black Friday shopping. Some past favorites include a malted milk stout, a Belgian quadruppel, a bourbon barrel-aged Imperial stout, and a plethora of Thanksgiving- and Christmas-themed flavored ales. It is definitely another event worth drinking at.

Lately, I have been a bit disappointed with some of the product at the brewery. I am chalking it up to the growing pains associated with the most recent and largest expansion. Issues such as poor clarification of beer, sediment in a pint of Amber Ale, off flavors in a couple of seasonal beers have made me question if they grew too big too fast. I hope that as they settle into new space and bring new brewers up to speed that these issues will be resolved.

 

Hopefully by the time Dry Dock Brewing becomes available nationally they are still putting out quality beer and gaining fans around the country.

 

On to NFL news:

Couple of major hits have hurt the Green Bay Packers chances of winning the Super Bowl. Starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga is lost for the year to a torn ACL, wide receiver Jordy Nelson had his knee scoped to "clear up" a nerve issue, and they recently signed quarterback Vince Young. Replacing Bulaga with David Bakhtiari, a fourth-rounder out of Colorado, is pretty much the only move they could make since last years left tackle Marshall Newhouse is a backfield magnet for defensive ends and 3rd-year pro Derek Sherrod has been on the IR or PUP ever since the 2011 season when his leg was broken in multiple places. Could be a long year for #12 scrambling to evade the defensive rush!

This week's preview is the NFC West:

Arizona Cardinals continue to be a quarterback carousel. Off the carousel are a bunch of wastes of oxygen and on the 2013 carousel is Carson Palmer. At least Larry Fitzgerald now has a name throwing the ball to him. Too bad that name means very little in the league and stat sheets anymore. Not much else has changed in Arizona. Should be another "stellar" year for the desert birds.

St. Louis Rams finally have the weapons for quarterback Sam Bradford to throw to. That's nice and all but will the offensive line protect him long enough to be able to throw to those weapons. Also, will there be a significant running back to replace Stephen Jackson? I know Jackson was getting long in the tooth, but he was still a decent running back that provided defenses with matchup challenges and kept them honest in defensive packages. Bradford has been around long enough that it is time for him to step up and shine or begin the fade to obscurity.

The San Francisco 49ers put together an amazing run last year culminating in an appearance in the Super Bowl. Will they be able to repeat at NFC Champions or will they come back down to earth. The 49er defense should be nearly as good as they were last year. The questions there are: Will they continue to ride the defensive front until they are so worn out they get freak injuries (Justin Smith, torn tricep 2012), and will Dashon Goldson's exit and 3rd cornerback Chris Culliver's torn ACL cause a significant decrease in overall productivity in the defensive backfield. On the offensive side, Colin Kaepernick was a monster last year in the playoffs. Will he be able to continue running the ball at free will or will defenses have figured out a way to stop the read-option quarterback? With the addition of Anquan Boldin at wide receiver and the potential for Vernon Davis to play some wide receiver, the fire power is there. Will Kaepernick stay healthy to use them? 49ers still the team to beat in the NFC West.

The Seattle Seahawks are to the Minnesota Vikings as the Vikings are to the Green Bay Packers. They are loading up the team with former players: Wide receiver Percy Harvin and safety Antoine Winfield. I think we will see a slight decline in quarterback Russell Wilson's overall production. Call it a sophomore slump or maybe his lack of height finally catches up to him. Either way, this team is going to have to continue to rely on its defense to win them games. The additions of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett on the defensive line make this unit one of the scariest in football. Will the defensive backs and linebackers play clean enough to not blow games due to penalties or will their hotheaded nature be their detriment? They are cocky, to the point of being too much. I still think they have a bit more to go to match and pass the 49ers.

 

2013 NFC West prediction:

San Francisco 49ers 12-4 (Win division)

Seattle Seahawks 10-6 (Wild Card)

St. Louis Rams 8-9

Arizona Cardinals 3-13 (Palmer off the carousel by 2014 training camp)

 

Just my opinion... 

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