Durango’s microbreweries have concocted a new microbrew to commemorate the Gold King Mine spill that even those lacking Gov. John Hickenlooper’s strong gastronomical constitution shouldn’t be afraid to try.
“I guarantee he’ll say it’s safe to drink,” Ska Brewing co-founder Dave Thibodeau joked. The city’s six breweries, which operate under the moniker Durango Bootleggers Society when working together for charitable causes, will debut their newest beer on Friday: the Heavy Metal Extra Pale Ale. Or … the Heavy Metal EPA.
Thibodeau, pleased with the clever wordplay, said through a burst of mischievous laughter that even the beer’s color was made to replicate that of the orange plume that rushed through town Aug. 5.
The brewers experimented at Ska to capture the yellowish-orange tinge that sent the Animas River to the top of national and international headlines, and ended up adding strains of yeast to make the beer extra cloudy and hazy. “And that’s all intentional,” Thibodeau added, still short of breath with laughter.
All joking aside, Thibodeau said the real reason for the beer is to raise money for the Community Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), which donates to those directly financially impacted by the spill.
“Right off the bat we started thinking we need to do whatever we can to support the community on this,” he said. “Even before it hit town, you could tell it was a crushing blow to the river that’s basically the lifeblood of the town.”
Brewers at Ska then created the new draft that will be sold at all local breweries, excluding Durango Brewing Co., whose taproom is closed because of renovations. All proceeds will go to the CERF, which has raised $18,000 since the spill. In that time, the organization has helped more than 45 individuals, almost exclusively in the river-rafting industry. Recently, Steamworks Brewing Co. and El Moro Spirits and Tavern donated 10 percent of all revenues generated on Sept. 2 to the CERF. That effort raised a total of $1,600.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say that all kinds of thoughts entered our minds on angles to take with this, but at the end of the day, the real purpose is to help out,” Thibodeau said. “But it’s not a light-hearted subject in Durango, so we thought we could brew beer and use those proceeds to help the people more directly affected by the Gold King spill.”
Thibodeau said 60 kegs of Heavy Metal are brewed, and it’ll probably be a one-time thing. They are trying to get the beer in a few restaurants and possibly in Denver.