With my breakfast, I threw back a surprisingly hoppy and subtly spiced saison that I probably won't ever taste again. Their brown ale was also quite good. In Cleveland, we are never far from Breckendridge's oatmeal stout, Avalanche amber, and vanilla porter. It was cool to sample some different non-flagship beers from the 'ridge.
Another thing I respect about the Breckenridge brew pub is that they are a barbecue restaurant. Most of the brewpubs we visited (if not all of them) offered the same mix of ethnic sausage platters, pizzas, beer cheese soup, and burgers. Seeing a pub that specializes in something different different was refreshing.
After our Breck tour, we somehow ended up getting a private tour of Great Divide outside of regular business hours.
Great Divide's pub is tiny. Our group of 30 stifled all natural movement and filled the place with hot breath and noise. It wasn't until our group split in half for tours that I noticed the cool handmade wooden boxes filled with found objects hanging on the walls. I instantly fell in love with the Hoss, a rye lager branded with a label like a Woolrich jacket. My smoked baltic porter was also a treat.
The tour was brisk, but interesting. The guide, like the others, assumed that we were already familiar with the brewing process and instead concentrated on the history of the brewery and pub, which was once a milk bottling plant. He explained how Great Divide received a grant to build their brewpub in this vacant and somewhat depressed area, as they promised jobs, environmental stewardship, and tourism. For as much as these smaller breweries teased New Belgium for its in-your-face touchy-feely mission statements, they all kind of do the same, with just a little more subtlety and a healthy dose of self-awareness.
On our last day of organized brewery touring, James and I scored two tickets to the would-be sellout Rockies/Giants game at Coors Field. Sated by a coal-fired veggie pizza, we hiked up the steps to our seats, located above the purple row of seats that marks a mile above sea level.
On that night, the Rockies were still playoff contenders, though their hopes have pretty much been dashed since. Early in the game a foul ball sliced into the stands and the stadium heaved a collective gasp. I laughed and noted to James that this was a pretty dramatic, reactive crowd before realizing that it has been so long since I attended a sold-out baseball game. The last Indians game I attended had only 6,000 other attendants. In a crowd like that, you don't get that grand reaction. You hear individual conversations float lazily over rows of empty seats. From the right spots you can hear the guys in the press box announcing for radio.
It was in that moment of sonic unity that I became invested in this game. The stakes were tangible. I rose excitedly for every base hit. I slammed my fist against the armrest when the starting pitcher got lit up in his first few innings. I high-fived the big dude next to me who was kind enough to share his giant bag of peanuts, so long as we agree to tolerate his newlywed jokes.
We watched the rest of the game after the fifth from various walkways throughout Coors Field and happily stayed to holler and high-five when the game came down to a thrilling play at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the tenth. This kind of win in the cold thin September air always takes me back to the golden years at Jacobs field. October baseball felt close again at Coors Field. It broke my heart to think of returning home to the losing team I call mine, but for that one night I got to hang my hopes on somebody else's hometeam. I hope it wasn't my Clevelander aura that jinxed them when we packed up and left town after that big win, four games behind in the wildcard race.