This content was originally published by the Longmont Observer and is licensed under a Creative Commons license.
Grossen Bart, German for “big beard,” is a place to enjoy diverse beers in an intriguing taproom. The proprietor and the brewer in this establishment have little reservations when it comes to delivering on draught selection. A visit to Grossen Bart at 1025 Delaware Avenue in Longmont will show you why.
After discovering and exploring different craft beers and breweries, in 2012, Taylor Wise and Shad Chancy had the idea of starting one of their own. Taylor remembered, “it was just a love for going to the breweries and the scene.” He offered the business background and Shad, the brewing knowledge, and after a year of planning, they started brewing in a garage in Frederick and distributing kegs. After doing this for a bit, they started working on the Delaware Avenue location that would become their brewery today.
They made some of their first sales from their current location in October 2014, and had a soft opening in November, followed by their grand opening in December. In that time, they also brought on Walter Bourque from Fort Collins as their brewmaster.
The reason that got Walter into brewing, which most of us can relate to, was not having the budget for good beer. He recalled taking advantage of a $3 craft beer night and discovered Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA, “from there it became a passion, a love.”
Hosting the Austin Beard and Mustache Club on their first big night Taylor recalled, “we had about 40 to 60 bearded dudes in here, we didn’t know what the heck we were doing. We were trying to pour beers, work the POS (point of sales), it was a nightmare essentially, but it was fun.” The only beer they had when they finally opened their doors was their Fu Manchu, a Foreign Export Stout on tap, “It was funny seeing 20ish people here with all black beers.” Shortly after they started rolling out the rest of their brews.
Grossen Bart has four full time beers on tap, Anker Beard Amber, Strip Teaser Pale Ale, Chin Curtain IPA, and the most recent Stubble Kolsch. The Anker Beard and the Strip Teaser were recipes that they were brewing prior to opening, and Walter brought in the Chin Curtain IPA. Later they added the Stubble Kolsch permanently after Walter decided to make small batches of it, which kept selling out.
The Anker Beard is an award winning red ale whose style comes from the use of caramel and toasted malts, giving it its reddish hue. The Strip Teaser gives a drinkable light bodied beer with a hoppy backbone and their Chin Curtain is a nicely hopped bitter IPA with notes of citrus. Kolsch has its roots in Cologne, Germany, and in Grossen Bart’s Stubble, you enjoy the light, smooth and dry characteristics you would expect from the style.
They currently operate as a ten-barrel brewhouse that allows them to experiment with intriguing recipes, the more interesting of which is the Bearded Clam Oyster Stout, which is brewed with clams and oysters. In many ways it is not what you expect, but the seafood additions give it a more robust or full-bodied mouthfeel than oceanic flavor. In discussing what inspired him to brew this, and also what motivated some of his other recipes, Walter related, “So when I don’t want to make a beer, Taylor will say ‘I challenge you to make a beer,’ and I’m like oooh, alright, you said those words.”
Taylor and Walter also rotate barley wines, high alcohol content beers that can be hop forward or malty depending on whether American or English, that we sampled and discussed. First, we had their three-year-old English barley wine. It was brewed when they started three years ago in a ten-barrel batch with half set aside for aging. This brew poured a sherry-like hue and had dark fruit flavors, think prunes or raisins, with a nutty character.
Next, we tried their Smashed Oat Wine brewed with 54% oats that drinks easy but can hit hard at 11.5% ABV. They also poured their Handlebarley Wheat Wine, which Walter talked about using “all the wheat, so every style of wheat commercially available,” referring to all the ways wheat can be treated before added to the beer. This included flaked, unmalted, malted, crystal, etc. with each imparting its own characteristics on a wheat beer from sharp wheat flavors, to a more malty sweetness or adding more body like a stout. Walter said it has some more aging to do to round out some of its flavors but at it’s current state, pours thick and dark like an imperial stout, very fruity and sweet, with a scent that can only be described as distinctly appealing and a complexity imparted from using “all the wheat.”
Finally, we finished with their Smashed American Barley Wine which, as an American variety, is a heavily hopped beer that results in a bitterness that helps cut through the malty sweetness.
Grossen Bart showcases the diversity one can find in the current craft beer industry in one location. They host events throughout the year from music to charity fundraisers, so if you're looking to enjoy some craft beers or explore some of what Longmont has to offers, then you need to check this place out, cheers!