Once a year, Max and I drive down to Colorado Springs to take in the sights (how many mega churches can YOU spot?!) and visit my family. When we’re ready to return to the bright lights and ideological diversity of Denver, we drive up through the mountains, with an inevitable stop at Paradox Beer Company. Located in Divide, Colorado, Paradox sits on top of a hill, overlooking a rolling, mountainous landscape. It’s windy, bright, and absolutely perfect. The interior is almost reminiscent of a tattoo shop, with artisanal, wooden signs, exposed beams, and more than a few skulls. There’s food, a newly added fire pit, and a small stage for musicians. Their beer is well-known amongst sour aficionados, so it’s unsurprising that their clientele consists of locals and pilgrims alike: the last time we were there, a couple had traveled all the way from Kansas to drink there.
These are the objective details that define Paradox Beer Company, but for me, they’re so much more than innovative brewers with a great tap room: Paradox is the brewery that taught me to like beer. Their daring, thoughtfully created sour beers made me realize how complex beer can be, and their staff were the first people to give me a tour and teach me a little more about the brewing process. Their Tart Noir is one of my all-time favorite beers (seriously, if you find a bottle, buy it for me and I’ll give you my first born) and I’ve yet to be disappointed by any of their other creations. There’s no other way to put it: they brew damn good beer. Most recently, I tried the “High Biscus” Skully Barrel No. 49, the “Alchemy Stone” Skully Barrel No. 52, and the “Passion of the Fruit” Skully Barrel No. 51, and they were all nothing short of delicious.
“High Biscus” Skully Barrel No. 49
- Style: Wild Sour Golden Ale
- ABV: 7.5%
Hibiscus holds a very special place in my heart: when I was seventeen, I went to Egypt, and I brokered my bride price with a group of Egyptian men while smoking hookah and drinking scalding hot hibiscus tea (side note: I am worth 100 camels, three cars, a boat, and a fair amount of property on Banana Island, which apparently is not an innuendo). It’s unsurprising, then, that I’ll drink almost anything with hibiscus in the name, particularly if it’s a sour beer. To my delight, the “High Biscus” was delicious. It’s opaque, with an almost cherry red color. There’s a light, ever-so-slightly floral scent on the nose; the hibiscus is apparent, without being overpowering. Its taste is similar to its scent, although the hibiscus definitely comes through a little bit more when you actually drink it. It’s surprisingly effervescent for a sour beer, and has a little bit more of a bite than I was anticipating. I have a bottle of it stashed away, and I’m genuinely looking forward seeing how it ages.
“Alchemy Stone” Skully Barrel No. 52
- Style: Wild Sour Golden Ale (with fruit adjuncts)
- ABV: 8.4%
When I first started drinking beer, I came across a lot of beers that described themselves as, “subtle but complex.” Too often, I’d taste them, and immediately think, am I missing something? I’d sip my beer quietly, feeling an intense level of FOMO, hoping that I’d magically understand what made the basic stout I was drinking more complex than I was apparently able to recognize. “Alchemy Stone” is the exact opposite: it doesn’t brag about its subtly, but it was hands down one of the best beers I’ve ever tasted. It’s a wine barrel-aged wild sour golden ale, with just enough sweetness to balance out the funk, and although nectarines and apricots are present, the beer doesn’t translate as being overwhelmingly fruity. “Alchemy Stone” had the highest ABV available on tap, but you honestly wouldn’t be able to guess it by drinking the beer; I’d describe it as sessionable, but with such a high alcohol content, ‘dangerous’ is the more applicable word. If you ever need a gift for the beer-drinker in your life, I’d highly recommend checking this one out.
“Passion of the Fruit” Skully Barrel No. 51
- Style: Wild Sour Golden Ale (with fruit adjuncts)
- ABV: 7.7%
You know the smell of a Snapple? That’s exactly what you get on the nose from “Passion of the Fruit”. It’s fresh, fruity, and juicy, and with a gorgeous golden color, it’s nothing short of irresistible. When you first taste it, you’re immediately struck by how much the taste and smell correlate: it tastes like a bubbly, sour Snapple, in the best conceivable way. Barrel aged in wine barrels with passionfruit, this beer is incredibly refreshing, without lacking in flavor. Much like “Alchemy Stone” the high ABV is nowhere to be found while you’re drinking it, making it an excellent pairing for food. It was my last beer of the night, and I’m happy to say it was a great beer to finish with.
There honestly aren’t enough words in the English language to describe just how much I love Paradox Beer Company. They brew amazing beer, but beyond that, they’ve created a space within their community where locals can eat delicious pizza, drink fantastic beer, and catch up with each other, without making out-of-town visitors feel like they’re excluded. Everyone that works there is wonderful (seriously, they have the nicest staff of any brewery I’ve ever been to) and it’s abundantly clear that they believe in what they’re creating. It’s a fantastic brewery, and if you ever happen to be down south, you should absolutely stop by their tap room, drink a few of their incredible beers, and chat with their staff. Or, if you’re like me, drive two hours just to visit Paradox- I promise you, it’s worth it.
The one and only thing I would change? They removed their homemade potato chips from the food menu. Paradox, if you ever happen to read this, please bring the chips back, because they are awesome.
- Address: 10 Buffalo Ct, Divide, CO 80814
- Phone: (719) 686-8081