Emilio visited Eagle County this fall to behold the shimmering brilliance of the valley’s rolling aspen groves, glowing gold against a bluebird sky. Climbing into the canopy of gilded leaves, he found the ideal spot to enjoy an apricot blonde and opine on why he hopes the term “leaf peeping” is a passing trend.
According to the group of tourists Emilio and his hiking companions encountered along the trail in Eagle County, the activity in which they were collectively engaged was called “leaf peeping.” Emilio scrunched his face at the term. Leaf peeping? It sounded so wrong. They weren’t lurking in the bushes, snapping illicit photographs of the aspen trees disrobing. They were hiking joyfully through a vivid grove, breathing the fresh autumn air, basking in the brilliant display with which natured had blessed them.
Emilio’s hiking mates, a Colorado native and a long-time Colorado local, agreed. They shared the little-known fact that “leaf peeping” wasn’t traditionally part of Colorado’s vernacular. So where did the term come from? When did it arrive in the state?
According to the annals of history, the term “leaf peeper” first appeared in a Vermont newspaper in 1966. It was likely an inadvertent homophone of the similar-sounding term “leaf peeker,” used by Vermonters in the early 1900s to describe the autumn activity of viewing the changing colors of leaves. Humans are good at bungling language, and boy, was that vocabulary blunder sticky. Decades later, it’s still in regular circulation.
In Colorado, widespread use of the term “leaf peeping” is a more recent phenomenon. Locals often credit this to the influx of transplants from up and down the East Coast over the last handful of years. These are the leaf peepers who engage in leaf peeping. They’re the ones who spread the term “leaf peeping” to transplants from other parts of the country. They even roped locals into saying it too. And it’s a peculiar thing, if you stop and think about it. Scores of Coloradans have adopted a term for appreciating the glory of nature that sounds, well, creepy. In the absence of context, it’s decidedly unwholesome to call oneself a peeper engaged in the act of peeping.
But glomming on to popular terminology is just what humans do. And this isn’t a story about humans. It’s about a beer-loving sloth named Emilio, who joyously soaked up the profound beauty of Colorado’s golden aspen season from high up in the canopy.
Hikers on the trail from which Emilio accessed his lofty perch said he looked precarious up there in the trees. They were right. His can of apricot beer tumbled from the aspen branches several times. But Emilio didn’t let a dented can get in the way of enjoying the palate pleasing Apricot Blonde from Dry Dock Brewing.
There’s a reason Emilio calls it the best apricot beer he’s ever had. The apricot flavors are rich and luxurious, but not in a tart or sugary way. They’re balanced and delightful, just like the blonde beer itself. It’s no surprise Dry Dock Brewing considers Apricot Blonde the most iconic beer in their fleet.
When Dry Dock Brewing launched as Aurora’s first craft brewery in 2005, Apricot Blonde was one of the original beers they offered. It was initially intended to be a summer seasonal. That changed when founder Kevin Delange, who created Apricot Blonde as a homebrew for The Brew Hut years earlier, witnessed the beer’s strong demand and made it a mainstay of their year-round lineup. That was a good call. Apricot Blonde continues to be one of Dry Dock Brewing’s best sellers. It’s an award winner too. Apricot Blonde has scooped up gold, silver, and bronze awards at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup.