For the better part of the last decade, the craft beer world has been fascinated with developing the most innovative trends, finding the most unique and bizarre ingredients, and employing the newest techniques that would further push the boundaries of beer. From Pastry Stouts, to Cold IPAs, cryo hops to hop thiols, the obsession over that “new new” has been a driving force behind the resurgence in beer fanaticism.
However, as history is often found to be cyclical, what’s old can often become trendy and new again. Such is the case with the practice of “beer poking”, which dates back approximately 400 years to German beer drinkers looking to find a way to enjoy warm beer in the frigid winter months. These enterprising Bavarians developed a practice called Bierstacheln, which involved heating a metal rod to a glowing amber hue at around 600°C and dipping the rod into their beers to not only heat their beverages, but also add impart a smokey, caramelized profile to malt-forward beers. Beer poking would become closely associated with “Bock” season in the spring, but in modern applications has been more closely tied to Stouts, Porters, and higher gravity beers like Belgian Quads, and Barleywines.
This modern adaptation of a historic beer practice has already begun catching on here in Colorado. Longmont’s Primitive Beer hosted a series of four “Hot Beer” events spanning from the end of 2022 through 2023 featuring several guest beers from breweries across Colorado as well as a few historic styles of their own.
Meanwhile, those who wish to experience a more holistic beer poking experience can immerse themselves in a glamping getaway combining just enough of an escape from the grind of city life, while also enjoying some of the finer amenities. Collective Vail, located just a two-hour drive from Denver in Wolcott, CO (right outside of Vail) at 4 Eagle Ranch treats guests to an immersive western experience, offering everything from horseback riding, fly fishing excursions, mountain biking trips, and stunning views of the vast star dotted night sky, to beer poking, campfire side smores, and a stiff cup of cowboy coffee in the morning.
And while roughing it can do wonders for reconnecting with nature, sleeping on a rocky dirt floor while getting bitten by mosquitos isn’t exactly the most enjoyable part of camping. Luckily Collective Vail offers luxury summit tents outfitted with king-sized beds, hot showers, and private bathrooms.
But most importantly, it wouldn’t be a truly authentic Colorado getaway without a solid lineup of local beers paired with an equally impressive culinary program. Collective Vail serves up an incredible Chef’s Tasting Menu onsite at its Three Peaks Lodge which features seasonal dishes in a dazzling lineup that could go toe-to-toe with any high-end restaurant in Denver. The current 5-course menu showcases lighter fare to match the warm weather with highlights like a bright lemon vinegarette salad dotted with gooseberries, as well as perfectly executed chamoy carrots over an apricot spread, a main course featuring a beautifully delicate braised cornish hen.
To close out the evening guests are treated to fireside s’mores, but the true standout was the opportunity to add a beer poking experience to cap off this rusticly pampered experience. The Collective Vail staff gathered as a team to experiment with several beer options that would perfectly capture the caramelizing effect of beer poking and eventually landed off Denver Beer Company’s Graham Cracker Porter, Avery’s Latte on My Mind Espresso Stout, and Avery’s The Reverend Belgian Quad.
Guests are encouraged to enjoy a taste of the beer before the poking to fully understand the subtleties involved when incorporating the heated poking experience. In the end, Avery’s Espresso on My Minded ended up being the standout as the coffee-forward profile of the beer melded perfectly with the added smokiness imparted by the hot poker.
In a world where the new new can often fade into a sea of noise, it’s brilliantly refreshing to return to a simpler, more analog way of living. The Collective Vail experience is one that blends the best of both worlds, offering the best parts of getting out in nature, while also considering some of the finer aspects of living.
Book your stay with Collective Vail while still in season!