We all have that friend. You know, the one that wears the mismatched socks, and only listens to Motown because “it’s the only decent music out there.” Checkerboard Vans and thrifted sweater vests? Of course. Ironic facial hair? Sure, but first, they’re going to cut their hair into an intricate mess featuring a sturdy undercut. Their rooms are adorned with the knick-knacks and kitsch that belong in Wes Anderson films. That’s right: they’re the person that needs to be quirky. They need to be a character out of Anderson’s classics. Now, mind you, this is different from someone who is just naturally quirky. No, this person actively tries to pour on the quirk, because hey, whatever it takes to be interesting.
I would say that I’ve seen a similar trend in breweries as of late. They’re not all that interesting, but boy do they try. Give your beer a provocative name, throw in some adjuncts that are rarely used, rinse and repeat. I mean, I get it. With nearly 300 different craft taprooms in Colorado alone, a brewery has to stand out. As you might have guessed, my trip to Something Brewery, the only real craft brewery in Brighton, Colorado, reminded me of the quirky guy who’d be so much cooler if he would just be himself.
The taproom itself is not all that unusual, save for the counters adorned with some astroturf. Otherwise, the space is rather charming. The room is dominated by a massive wooden bar. The taproom is narrow – the bar taking up the majority of the viable sitting room. Beyond that, you have many of your Colorado taproom cliches: Colorado flags, local art, string lights, and a chalkboard menu. Now, their menu is actually rather interesting. Something Brewery’s niche is adding tea as an adjunct to their beers, the different types of which are proudly displayed by the taps. I’ve had chai beer quite often, so the idea of adding tea to beer wasn’t entirely foreign to me. However, the majority of the twelve beers they had on tap involved tea in some way. It’s unique, but does it work? Let’s get it in.
Fresh Tea Death
- Style: Blonde Ale (with tea adjuncts)
- ABV: 5.3%
- IBUs: 25
When I stumbled into Something Brewery, it was the middle of the day, and that Colorado sun was particularly harsh. The Fresh Tea Death immediately caught my attention, the brewery billing it as an Arnold Palmer Blonde Ale. Indeed, the beer is infused with black tea leaves and Lemon Monin. As my bartending friends will tell you, Monin is a syrup that is commonly used to infuse cocktails with a sweet, lemony flavor. And boy, you could definitely smell its presence in the Fresh Tea Death. The beer smelled strongly of sweet lemon candy, and very faintly of crystal malts. I suppose using fresh lemons would have given the beer too much of a sour taste, but the Monin was intense. The flavor, however, was a completely different story. The tea adjunct makes this beer incredibly bitter and one dimensional. The Monin gives a slight syrupy lemon, which cuts into the beer’s intense bitterness, but not much. If I tried very hard, I could taste some mild maltiness, which you might expect from a traditional blonde ale, but saying those flavors were prominent would be a massive stretch. This beer, while a fantastic idea for a summer beer, fell flat on its face.
Savory Vanilla Bourbon IPA
- Style: IPA (with tea adjuncts)
- ABV: 6.6%
- IBUs: 80
“What do you have that’s totally different from that first one?” I asked, desperately sipping my water to cleanse my palate. My bartender quickly pointed to the Savory, which, according to its description, sounds delicious! Whenever I hear “bourbon” in a beer description, I automatically assume it’s going to be barrel aged. Whenever I hear “vanilla” in a beer description, I automatically assume it’s going to have vanilla bean in it. Unfortunately, I was wrong on both counts. Once again, Something Brewery opted to instead add in some bourbon vanilla blend tea to the beer. Okay, no barrel aged beer for me. On the nose, this beer smells a bit like caramel, with a hint of bourbon and cigar tobacco. The beer itself is a clear copper with a bubbly cream colored head. Its flavor is a little better than the Fresh Tea Death, but not much. Again, the tea adjunct gives the beer a very monochromatic bitterness that I cannot describe as anything beyond, well, bitter. Underneath the strong tea bitterness, I got a little bit of piney hops bitterness that I so desperately craved. As for the vanilla and bourbon flavors advertised, not so much. Thankful I only ordered a taster, I finished this one quickly, and you know what? I bet this and the previous beer I sampled would be so much better without the tea adjuncts.
- Style: Milk Stout (with vanilla bean and cookie adjuncts)
- ABV: 5.6%
- IBUs: 25
“What do you recommend that doesn’t have tea in it?” I inquired again, draining my recently refilled water. My bartender could sense my disappointment, and pointed me towards the Cookie Monster. This is a spin-off of Something Brewery’s popular Cool Beans – their vanilla bean milk stout. Cookie Monster builds on this original recipe, but the brewers add some seven pounds of Oreo cookies into the boil. Curious, I sampled the Cool Beans first, and I was honestly shocked by how good it was. The beer was balanced, creamy, and delicious with the added vanilla beans (I made sure they were actual vanilla beans, and not that tea bullshit). Next came the Cookie Monster, and to top it off, my bartender liberally sprinkled crushed up Oreos onto the head of my beer. I must have given the man a look, because he piped, “For the aromatics.” Look dude, if you have to sprinkle cookies onto the beer to help remind me that there are indeed Oreos in it, you don’t have a very aromatic beer. Beyond that, the oil in the cookie crumbs, with the oil from the cookies in the mash dissipated the head quickly. On my sip, my heart sank. This was just not as good as the Cool Beans. Yes, it had a bready Oreo flavor, but the oily cookies gave the beer a weird mouthfeel that was filling and offputting. Frankly, the cookies disctracted from the solid, roasty backbone that this beer was built on. I feel real bad for the brewing assistant that was tasked with peeling the cream off the cookies prior to brewing this. They honestly should have left Cool Beans alone.
I found the most telling issue with Something Brewery in overhearing a conversation between the bartender and a customer in from out of town. “Everyone has had a regular old IPA,” claimed the bartender, gesturing proudly to his collection of teas by the tap handles. And I think that’s my biggest issue with them. In the quest to stand out, Something Brewery produces beers that I bet would be delicious, but turn out to be well below average in my book.
Despite the flaws in the beer, I think Something Brewery has a lot going for it. First of all, it’s the only place to get anything beyond a domestic anywhere near Brighton. Secondly, I am certain that many of these beers are built off of solid recipes. I tasted it with the Cool Beans, and I had glimmers of it with the blonde and IPA. However, I feel like this is just another tragic example of what happens when that kid tries too damn hard to be unique and quirky: very quickly, you just get sick and tired of their bullshit.
- Address: 117 N Main St, Brighton, CO 80601
- Phone: (720) 639-7505