at Falling Rock Tap House
Its name refers to the pace required to dispense it. But Slow Pour Pilsner’s backstory is equally patient.
Made by Denver’s Bierstadt Lagerhaus, its inventor, Bill Eye, with Ashleigh Carter the brewery’s co-founder, wrote the beer’s recipe in 2003 and has been perfecting it ever since. That pursuit of perfection stretched across a couple breweries that employed him, and a couple he founded – including Bierstadt, for which he traveled to Germany, deconstructed a vintage brewhouse, crated and shipped it to Denver, and reconstructed it on site. Those deliberate movements consumed over three not-yet-brewing years of Eye’s life, all to make a centuries-old beer that’s ploddingly conjured in a 24-hour brew day and 8 weeks from start to finish.
Slow enough for you?
That painstaking effort has led me and others to drop their once-proud pronouncement: “I’m not a big pilsner fan.” Since Bierstadt opened in August of 2016, I’ve become a proud pilsner proponent — even if my change in beer style is generally limited to the version created by Eye and Carter. Want a Slow Pour? It’s found only in Denver at the brewery’s adjoining pub and a couple dozen carefully chosen beer spots, where it is always served in Bierstadt’s proprietary glass.
The beer’s namesake dispensing method is certainly unhurried. A brief initial pour releases the beer’s CO2 and builds a couple of inches of foam in the straight-sided 12-ounce glass, at which time your bartender moves on to pour other beers. A second splash lifts a snow cone of white just above the glass’s lip, and more time is allowed to pass. After other beers are poured and customers served, the glass gets one more hit to create the proper amount of liquid gold with a cottony crown of white above, a cylindrical tower of foam that may morph into a snow-capped mountain peak before it reaches you.
Its topping can’t top its taste. A faint mineral note meets the delicate thrill of pale grains and husk, joined by a whispered hop bitterness and more light grains. That restrained elegance segues into a slow, dry fade of gentle hops and a crisp, glorious finale of…nothing. A wonderful nothing. Like the tingling silence between the hoots of a distant owl, or the breath-holding pauses between a song’s closing chords. Valuable time to savor the marvel in front of you, before tilting the glass again.
Today I’m getting my Slow ride at Denver’s rightfully revered – for 23 years! – beer heaven, the Falling Rock Taphouse. The first spot to carry Slow Pour outside of the brewery, the Rock has kept the beer flowing since it landed here in 2016.
It shares tap space with about 90 other exceptional (and frequently rotating) draft beers from around the US and the globe, and a similarly sprawling assortment in bottles and cans. In the corner of the new menu, there’s a fresh mention of Falling Rock landing another “best taphouse” accolade.
It’s a life-list place for enjoying craft beer, but the walls tell tales of changing times. They’re covered with dusty bottles and tap handles for beers that have come and gone. How many different beers have flowed through the Falling Rock? A staggering number. How many of this day’s menu of classic and newly minted beer styles will join the graveyard overhead? Hard to say. (Okay, the strawberry rhubarb sour and peanut butter milk stout are safe bets for future wallflower status.)
But among all of this changing, racing, dizzying variety, Slow Pour is staying ahead of the pack. “It’s in my top four year-round,” Falling Rock founder Chris Black tells me. “During the GABF it’s my number two seller, right behind Pliny. Brewers from around the country come here to get it.” Can’t blame ‘em. Slow Pour Pilsner delivers shivers and a sparkling tribute — love that point of nucleation — to the wonders of time and tradition and care, and the rare wizards able to combine them in a beer glass.
From the house speakers, a leisurely take on an American classic drifts in: “Summertime……… and the living is easy.” That’s not Lana Del Ray, but the great Sam Cooke, timelessly crooning. Outside of Falling Rock, it’s 23 degrees. The sky is gray and there’s snow on the ground. Inside, sunshine shimmers in a Bierstadt glass.
Flagship beers were chosen by the individual writers with no input from the #FlagshipFebruary partners or sponsor breweries.