Keg of knowledge, the Guru and seasonals

by Chris Aaland

Durango beer lovers, rejoice! There’s a blog just for you. Shortly after adding three pale ales (the weak and strangely un-hoppy Full Sail variety, a robust and pleasantly hoppy Deschutes Mirror Pond and the always elegant Bass) and a macro-produced Belgian wit bier disguised as micro to my 12th Falconburgh’s beer card, I sat down on my exercise ball to sort through e-mails and start writing this week’s Top Shelf. Some 65 e-mails had arrived since my last log-in. Several announced upcoming concerts. Most, though, were social networking friend requests, status updates and other trivial information.

One Facebook-generated e-mail was an epiphany of sorts. A local scribe who works for that other paper has launched Beer at 6512, a cyber nirvana for fans of Durango’s four breweries. What is it about journalism that brings out the drunk in the best of us? Maybe it’s because Hemingway and Hunter S. were world-class winos. Since most of us are sheep, too scared to stray from our flock, we simply follow suit. Or maybe we just aren’t that clever or original.

Regardless, this blog is something special. Want to know about upcoming releases from Ska, Steamworks, Carvers and Durango Brewing? Have a favorite beer story to tell? Know where the cheapest happy hour pints live? Share your pony keg of knowledge with the world. So far, four of us are registered. Blogs include “Beers for Inauguration Day,” “Oregon Beers” and “Santa Fe Brewing Company,” plus reviews of Ska’s Royal Embalming Fluid and New Belgium’s La Folie. Visit to get your virtual buzz on.

And kudos, Señor Chuck, for taking the initiative.

Guru, the hip-hop legend of Gang Starr and Jazzmatazz fame, performs in an all-ages show at the Abbey Theatre tonight (Thursday). Along with his partner, DJ Premier, Guru formed the influential Gang Starr, which drew acclaim for fusing hip-hop with New York swing jazz and placed several albums and singles on the charts. His Jazzmatazz series continued down that path by featuring such collaborators as jazz legends Donald Byrd, Ramsey Lewis and Branford Marsalis. His current tour features a seven-piece backing band (the Grand 7 Players), a backing MC (Solar) and a DJ (DJ Doo Wop). Opening acts include Distrakt from Denver (a Fat Beats recording artist) and a Durango favorite, DJ Vajra of Boulder (on of the top-five ranked DJs in the nation).

The Summit has a busy week in store for you. Denver’s Rowdy Shade House Funk Band plays tonight; Idaho’s experimental rock and pop outfit, Equaleyes, takes the stage Friday; J Wail, a club/funk performer from Denver appears with local acts Peter Robot and C. Bryant on Saturday; and The Good Neighbors kick off Snowdown with a dance party on Wednesday.

Albuquerque’s Carlos Zetella plays funky house music at Steamworks tonight, with an opening set by Spark Madden starting at 10 p.m. Local punk/rock/indie band Jaki & the Joysticks comes to Steamworks on Saturday.

Alternative/noise/folk/pop artist Cyle Talley hosts a free CD release party on Friday night in the College Union Ballroom at Fort Lewis College. Singer-songwriter Colin Rooney opens at 7 p.m., with Talley and company to follow at 8. Talley’s album “Little Victories” will be available for $10 at the show.

Jack Ellis & Larry Carver are back at the 8th Ave. Tavern at 8 p.m. Friday with their blend of blues, folk and rock.

Guru plays an all-ages hip hop show at the Abbey Theatre on Jan. 22

Cellos in Gem Village are no small feat. Formula 151 returns to the Billy Goat Saloon at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Get happy at the Starlight Lounge as The Sweats play FAC this Friday, while Sam and Kat perform from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday.

Snowdown in Da Nile gets going in earnest on Wednesday, with such annual favorites as the Bartender Contest at Moe’s, the Polar Beer Plunge at Carver’s, Lunacy at Lady Falconburgh’s, the Magical Musical Mystery Tour at the Lost Dog and the Jokedown at whatever Farquahrts is currently called. New highlights to Wednesday’s schedule include a burp-off at Ska and Jeopardy at the Diamond Belle Saloon. Get a complete schedule, updates and more knowledge at or pick up a Snowdown brochure – they’re all over town.

Tickets went on sale last week for the Charlie Daniels Band, the latest installment in Fort Lewis College’s Concerts for Scholarships series. Daniels, best known for his mega-hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” will perform in Whalen Gymnasium at 7:30 p.m. on March 25. He’s a genuinely nice guy who was influential in fusing Southern rock with country and Western swing in the ‘70s. In recent years, he’s ventured into gospel and bluegrass. Tickets range in price from $40-80 through Feb. 7, at which point they’ll increase by $5.

In honor of Beer at 6512, here are some local seasonals and special releases to keep your eye out for:

• Ska’s Royal Embalming Fluid: This year’s commemorative Snowdown offering is a honey lager brewed with dates and figs. You can buy bombers at local liquor stores, but they’ll likely be gone by the time Snowdown wraps up as collectors snatch up the souvenir bottles. It’s also on tap in Ska’s tasting room and will be featured at Lady Falconburgh’s during Snowdown festivities.

• Steamworks’ Spruce Goose: Here’s one of those word problems you used to hate in math class: The Vikings drank spruce beer prior to battle to bring out their animal instincts. I have Norwegian flags painted on my 11 bricks at Lady F’s. Do I like Spruce Goose? Let’s just say I’m circling Jan. 31 on my calendar, which is the last day I can stock the beer fridge before the Goose hibernates for the year.

• Durango Winter Ale: Featuring both domestic and imported hops and malts, it’s a robust addition to DBC’s lineup.

• Carvers’ Cascade Canyon IPA: Cask conditioned, heavily hopped and full bodied, this seasonal release is naturally carbonated at cellar temperature to emphasize its grapefruit esters and malt character.

• Ska’s DIFF Belgian Style Wit: Save the date - Ska hosts the DIFF release party benefitting the Durango Independent Film Festival from 5-8 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 4. This marks the third year Ska has brewed DIFF to honor our local film festival. •

All you need is a 10 and a fiver, a car and a key and a sober driver? E-mail me at



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January 26, 2024
Paper chase

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January 11, 2024
High and dry

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