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Ska brews a ‘Love Potion’ for Snowdown

This year’s festival beer features hibiscus, apples and cucumber
Ska Brewing Co. brewed an apple, hibiscus and cucumber tart beer called Love Potion 43 for this year’s 43rd Snowdown. (Nicholas A. Johnson/Durango Herald)

Ska Brewing Co. is keeping tradition alive with the release of its limited edition Snowdown beer, Love Potion 43.

This new festival brew is tart with features of apple, cucumber and hibiscus.

“We were looking to make something kind of new and fun for Snowdown,” said Ska brewer Gage Pritchard.

Breaking down the Love Potion’s flavors, he said the hibiscus gives it a nice color and light aroma, while the cucumber is added after the fermenting process to cut some of the tartness.

“We wanted something that could round out the hibiscus, and also mellow out the sweetness from the apple,” he said. “That’s what the cucumber does for it.”

Ska’s research and development first focuses on the Snowdown theme when thinking up what kind of beer to make for the festival. With the theme this year being “Magical Mystical Snowdown, We Put a Spell on You,” thoughts went to a beverage known as Ent-Draught in the Lord of the Rings books.

In “Two Towers,” the drink healed two hobbits’ wounds, made them feel refreshed and made them 3 inches taller than the other hobbits, according to the Feast of Straight website, which offers a recipe for Ent-Draught.

After looking into fan-made recipes to make Ent-Draught, Ska brewers got to work making a new brew that’s all their own.

Pritchard said it was exciting to work on a specialty beer, and it allows the brewers to get creative.

“We love making these beers because it’s not the eight to 10 normal beers we make,” he said. “It’s just a fun awesome thing we get to do.”

When discussing a new beer, Pritchard said the brewers have roundtable discussions about how to get the flavors they want in the final product. With the Love Potion, he said his contribution to the brewing discussion was to go easy on the cucumber.

“The main thing I said was let’s not go too heavy on the cucumber,” Pritchard said. “Let’s make it an accent.”

Kristen Muraro, Ska’s sales and marketing director, said the brewery had been hoping to do a clear label for a while, and she felt the Snowdown logo this year fit perfectly. She said the brewery worked with local artist Shan Wells, who drew this year’s Snowdown logo, to switch out the wizard’s wand for a bottle of brew.

Muraro said Wells came up with the name “Love Potion” for the beer.

Muraro said Ska brewed a 60-barrel batch.

Since Love Potion 43 was brewed for Snowdown, it is available only in Durango. Residents can find it at local stores, on tap at Ska and a few other bars around town.

Muraro said Ska has been brewing a Snowdown beer for over 20 years.

“I want to say it’s been 26 years minus last year due to COVID-19 that we’ve brewed a Snowdown beer,” she said. “We’re like the official beer of Snowdown.”


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