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A Screaming Sun for a Cloudy Day

A WEEKLY LOOK AT THE VALLEY'S TRAILS + BREWS: "UP A MOUNTAIN, DOWN A BEER"

Article by Amy Kappler

Photography by Amy Kappler

This week's hike is also not in the Grand Valley but is a day trip away if anyone is up for a stunning scenic drive! I was on vacation for two weeks, traveling all over the state and in the 14 days we were gone, we somehow managed to hit some epic hikes and 20 breweries—yikes! I must admit, I'm beered out for the foreseeable future, but I was impressed anew at how many great spots there are in Colorado.

For this week's hike and beer, we went a bit farther away. We drove from the small town of Divide, Colorado, where we went purely for a visit to Paradox Brewery. Having been here once before and enjoying a number of their beers, I was excited to return. Due to the Covid restrictions and limitations on production, the selection was much more limited than our previous visits. Fortunately, I'm a fan of everything they make and found a great one for the hike the next day. When we left Divide, we drove up to Cottonwood Pass, a few hours past Divide and a fairly quick trip from Buena Vista. The drive was absolutely stunning. It had been cloudy and raining all morning, but we were determined to get to the trailhead and scope out the situation. I'm so glad we didn't turn around!

While it was cloudy and sprinkling, it wasn't bad enough to discourage our hike. One thing to mention is that the trailhead isn't marked, so it is very tricky to find (if the name Lost Lake didn't tip you off!) and can be a bit of a challenge. Basically, at some point going up Cottonwood Pass, we saw several cars parked on the sides of the road and what looked like the start of a trail and just went for it. If no cars had been there, I'm not convinced we would have found it! It wasn't necessarily a difficult hike and also not very long, but the payoff was fantastic. I'm a sucker for an alpine lake, and this one was the most lovely teal-green color. I would say this hike would be easy to moderate because it did have some elevation fluctuation and it is at a fairly high elevation to begin with even though it isn't particularly long or technical. We didn't stay and enjoy the lake as long as we would have liked because the rain was beginning to come down harder, but we did, of course, find the time to drink our beverage.

LOST LAKE trail in a nutshell:

Distance: 2.6 miles out and back

Elevation gain: 465 feet (total, but there were ups and downs)

Difficulty rating: Easy/moderate due to altitude

Dog-friendly/Kid-friendly: Yes/Yes

The beer we brought with us today was a sour. Paradox is one of a handful of breweries in Colorado that are absolutely crushing it at the sour game. I personally love sours and tend to be a bit particular about them because I'm spoiled by breweries like Paradox as well as Crooked Stave and Avery. The one for this journey was the Screaming Sun, a wild sour golden ale brewed with grapefruit and citrus peel, aged in oak wine barrels. At first sound, I was excited to try this beer because I love grapefruit and anything aged in a wine barrel. It was good but not exactly what I initially expected. The grapefruit flavor was quite subtle, and the barrel and wine flavors were much more dominant. It was not as tart as I would have liked, either; the beer had a slight bitterness from the grapefruit. It balanced nicely with the barrel flavor and was overall as well done as all their products I've tried—it just wasn't my favorite.

PARADOX SCREAMING SUN in a nutshell:

IBU: n/a

ABV: 7.5%

Tasting Notes: A sort of charred bitterness from the grapefruit, described by the brewers as grapefruit with salt and sugar bruleed on top. This sour also was brewed with hops, so there are notes of a hoppy bitterness not always found in sours. The hop flavor combined with the barrel flavor give it a balance to the grapefruit tang that makes it a much more subtle tartness.

Overall, this was not my favorite sour, but it actually was nice to have a good balanced beer at the end of the trail. The rainy day just made the name that much more ironic and perfect. The hike is a bit of a drive from Grand Junction but doable in a day or weekend trip and is worth it! But again, I always say lovely hikes are worth it.


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