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Breckenridge Brewery serves up Autumn Ale, Vanilla Porter and, yes, the Peachfork is back.

By Dave Buchanan

We expect mid-September to bring a change in weather, but with a week or more of summer officially remaining, it's unlikely anyone expects to see a forecast for up to 6 inches of snow for the higher mountains of Colorado.

We won’t see the white stuff down here ( although we may see it from here) but it reminds us that as the seasons change, so do our diets and the way we drink.

Salads and light meals aren’t discarded but they become less frequent as more substantial fare – coq au vin, soups, stews and the like – take center plate. Gone, too, are the lighter wines and beers, particularly the light-bodied and mostly tasteless beers that kept us cool and hydrated but unsatisfied on those sweltering summer afternoons.

Breckenridge Brewery (the Ale House, to those beer lovers in Grand Junction) recently released two seasonal-oriented brews, the Autumn Ale and the gold-medal winning Vanilla Porter, and re-released (relax, it’s a new batch) of the delightful Peachfork Ale, made with Palisade peaches.

The Autumn Ale, said brewery spokesperson Terry Usry, “was inspired by brewmaster Todd Usry’s memories of fall in Virginia where he grew up.”

The ale has some fall-like aromas of smoke, roasty and earthy tones reminiscent of fall afternoons. There’s a comfortable mouthfeel and heft (derived in part, from the ale’s 6.7 percent alcohol) that makes drinking this a pleasure. Available in draft and 12-ounce bottles.

Try it with braised short ribs, a side of acorn squash, and a medley of root vegetables. Think Oktoberfest & sausages with sauerkraut.

This is the first time we’ve had the Vanilla Porter outside the original brewery in Breckenridge where the porter was concocted by brewer Trevor Potter. Apparently, it took some convincing to get Breckenridge brewmaster Usry to take a chance on a vanilla-flavored porter.

“They kept asking, ‘When are you going to make Vanilla Porter down here (at the Denver production brewery)?’’ And I kept saying, ‘Never,’” Usry said. He eventually relented but warned his staff, “Fine. I’ll make it and you’ll see. People really don’t want vanilla in their beer. Well, I was completely wrong.”

Now, the Vanilla Porter is the second-best seller behind Avalanche Ale. Oh, yes. The pleasant hint of vanilla comes from steeping whole-bean New Guinea vanilla for 45 minutes just prior to fermentation.

The brew was awarded the gold medal for the flavored/specialty beer category at the 2011 Denver International Beer Competition (note that Agave Wheat and 72 Imperial also won awards).

So while this really isn’t a seasonal brew, it’s a perfect fit with the segue from summer to fall and early winter. Pair it with fall menu items including roasted or smoked foods, barbecue, sausages, or blackened fish, or in Vanilla Porter milkshakes.

And, yes, there is a new batch of Peachfork Wheat, featuring the peaches from Peachfork Orchard and Vineyards on East Orchard Mesa. This release, one of Breckenridge’s “Field to Fermenter” series, is a tribute to the Colorado harvest season, said Scott Thibault, director of marketing for Breckenridge Brewery.

“We really like partnering with small and local providers where possible,” Thibault said. “Our relationship with the Peachfork is a personal one; one of our employees is the granddaughter of the owners and recently left us to join the family farm. We’re excited to bring Peachfork Wheat around again, and this year we’ve doubled up on the peaches."

Last year, this beer caught our attention with its bright flavor and arresting nose carrying a hint of fresh peaches. There’s not really a lot of peach in the mouth, but more a refreshing flirtation of fresh fruit that lifts this ale above the ordinary. It will be available in draft by early October.



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