Nothing Verboten About This Loveland Brand

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The insiders at Loveland’s Verboten Brewing knew what they were doing when they chose the German word for forbidden for their moniker

What is it about the word “forbidden” that makes things so … alluring? Forbidden fruit. Forbidden books. Forbidden Planet -- ok, maybe not the last one. Attaching the word forbidden to almost anything instantly makes it a lot cooler, more mysterious. The forbidden requires an invite or a backstage pass or a rite of initiation. When you’re on the wrong (or right?) side of the line that marks out forbidden territory, you’re on the … inside. Dig?

The insiders at Loveland’s Verboten Brewing knew what they were doing when they chose the German word for forbidden for their moniker. “It’s a reference to the kinds and styles of beers that you couldn’t make, by law, in Germany, under the Reinheitsgebot,” says Angie Grenz, co-owner and marketing director at Verboten.

Reinheitsgebot? It’s ok -- I had to look it up, too. It’s the German Beer Purity Act of 1516 that decreed all Bavarian beers could only contain three ingredients: water, barley, and hops – and that’s it. Langwelig, as the Germans say.

Grenz says the playful reference is part and parcel of Verboten’s identity. “We can make whatever we want, do whatever we want. Experiment with all different kinds of styles and flavors. It’s all part of the creative process.”

Verboten, though, is just part of their larger identity. They’ve recently suffixed their name with the words “Barrel Project.” “When we moved to downtown Loveland,” Grenz says, “we gained a lot of space. A lot more room. And we resolved to focus on wood and beer and the barrel-aging process to create wood-aged, beers. Bigger beers.” Monthly, Verboten’s Barrel Project releases a special release in the tap room only – something the regulars look forward to with relish, and that justifies a visit for non-regulars. Almost every Friday there is a new experimental beer on tap.

Though they’ve won awards for their barrel-aged offerings and will, perhaps, be associated with wood-accented beers, Verboten is not afraid to blaze new trails in other styles. They are among the first Colorado-brewers to embrace goses, and, in fact, will modify their annual summer strawberry rhubarb beer to be in that style.

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“We were the first in Colorado to brew a Brut IPA,” Grenz says of their “Somebody to Love” ale, now available in cans. “We beat all the other brewers by a week or two.”

Their motto “Beer for All” broadcasts to beer enthusiasts that there is something for everyone to enjoy at Verboten, and beer lovers of all stripes and types will find one that seems especially created for your palate.

Currently distributed along the northern Front Range, Verboten beers are easy to spot. Packaged in bright white cans that jump off the shelves, the artwork features equally bright and colorful imagery. The names themselves are references to sometimes throwaway lines from favorite comedies. My personal favorite, Anybody Want a Peanut comes from the film The Princess Bride (RIP Andre the Giant). But the art itself is of a steampunk adventurer in top hat and goggles, as drawn by Loveland artist Dion Weichers. “That artwork was based on actual photos of the gauges and hardware in the brewery,” says Angie’s husband Josh Grenz, Verboten co-owner and head brewer.

Fans of Dumb and Dumber may get the reference to Killer Boots. And the aforementioned Somebody to Love? That’s a shout-out to the Blues Brothers, the can art featuring a hop cone in classic skinny tie, short snapbrim fedora, and shades.

With a few exceptions, most of the art work for the cans comes from designer Brookes Ubersox whose journey to Verboten’s graphic artist was a short one. Very short, in fact.

“I was working at Verboten as a beertender,” Ubersox says, “but my background is in design. And Grenz was looking for help with an ad. I mentioned my background, did the ad, and convinced her I knew what I was talking about,” she adds, laughing.

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Her first efforts were the Thinking of Something Orange and the Killer Boots labels. “For me to do my best work, I need to find someone passionate about what they do. Verboten is very committed. I loved, too, the fact that they took their names from movies,” Ubersox says. She cites Killer Boots as a personal favorite.

The art was so popular Verboten ended up showcasing it in the brewery and selling prints of the label art. “People really love the label art,” Grenz says. “Putting it up on the walls creates a real connection with the brand.”

So now that you know what to look for, and where to find it, take your own journey into the forbidden realm. Do a little healthy nose-thumbing at the Reinheitsgebot, you scofflaw, you. The good people and delicious, singular brews at Verboten will be there to point the way.

Kyle Kirves drinks beer, plays guitar, runs trails, and manages projects – all with varying degrees of success. While not a craftsman himself, he is quite content writing about the Colorado artisans who create such wonderful things and memorable experiences.