Style: Imperial Blonde Ale
ABV: 7.6% IBU: unknown
Last year, during my year of beer project, I stumbled across this tiny little nano brewery in Aurora called Launch Pad Brewery. Coming from Longmont, it’s a bit of a drive to go for a brewery, but I discovered that it was well worth the effort.
Located near Buckley Air Force Base, Launch Pad finds inspiration from rockets and space, which you can see in the rocket segments decorating the taproom and tap handles designed to look like rockets launching into space. The spacey theme also finds its way into the beer with names such as Milkyway Coffee Milk Stout and Cape Canaveral Key Lime Saison.
It’s a neat little brewery with lots of character. What stood out in my mind, when I visited Launch Pad last year, was not just the great beer I had— and it was good beer, but the passion which the beertender/owner talked about brewing not only awesome beer but also helping to support our military service men and women; many of the employees are veterans. On a wall behind the tap handles you’ll find a large collection of patches from many different branches of the the military, most of them donated, and you could feel a sense of solidarity and pride for the service given to our nation.
Recently, Launch Pad Brewery reappeared on my beer radar after the Hops in the Hanger Beer Fest at Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum on Saturday August 12th. Thirty two Colorado Breweries were in attendance, including two from Longmont, and out of all thirty two breweries, Launch Pad Brewery was voted Favorite Brewery by festival attendees. Seeing this teeny little brewery stand out among some bigger, and more well known, breweries I knew I had to go back and reacquaint myself with their beer.
I selected the Strawberry Shortcake Imperial Blonde Ale. The first thing that caught my eye was the style, I don’t often see Imperial Blonde ales.
Strawberry Shortcake poured a bright golden red color, with a thin white head that left a nice lacing pattern on the glass as I drank. The aroma was tart, with notes of sweet strawberry. On the pallet, it was smooth and creamy, with a strawberry burst of flavor right when the beer hit on the tongue. It was a little sweeter than expected from the aroma, I was thinking it would have a tartness which didn’t come through. The smooth creamy texture, coming from, I would imagine, flaked corn, added a biscuity note that brought the shortcake aspect to the Strawberry Shortcake. There was no discernible hop aroma or flavor, and no bitterness. They didn’t have the IBUs posted, but I would guess that it was no higher than 10 or 15 IBUs. It finished light and clean with a sweet strawberries and cream note that made the Strawberry Shortcake a throughly enjoyable beer to drink from start to finish. Being an Imperial ale, it is a bigger beer in terms of ABV, and with lighter styles you run the risk of having the alcohol flavor overpower the other flavors, but Strawberry Shortcake did not drink like a moderate to high ABV beer.
When I arrived, I was pleased to see that the taproom was quite busy on a Sunday afternoon, despite intermittent rainstorms. The beertenders were too busy to chat up unlike a year ago where I was able to talk at length with the people behind the bar, but it was heartening to see the community interest and support. I think that Launch Pad Brewery will continue to have interesting and tasty beers in its future and worth keeping an eye— and a pint— open.
Mile High Drafts is a weekly column all about Colorado Craft Beer and Brewing. If you have a recommendation for a beer or brewery email email@example.com