Eating Wyoming: Complice Beer Company on Track
By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily
Cheyenne is one of the most famous and historic towns in Wyoming – and perhaps the West as a whole.
At the origin of this story is the Union Pacific Railroad, whose arrival in eastern Wyoming in 1867 spurred the development of the city that would become the state capital.
The presence of the railroad was marked by a towering depot standing at one end of Capitol Avenue, facing the Capitol Building at the other end, like two shooters clashing at noon.
The current repository was completed in 1887 and remained the property of Union Pacific until 1993 when it was donated to the town of Cheyenne.
In 134 years of existence, the deposit has had its share of history. The 1903 execution by hanging of notorious Pinkerton detective and agent Tom Horn took place in the shadow of the Depot at the Old Laramie County Courthouse.
The depot saw the rise of automobiles and the 1913 completion of the Lincoln Highway from Times Square in New York to Lincoln Park in San Francisco.
In 1936, the depot hosted President Franklin D. Roosevelt on a whistle-stop campaign tour.
Today, the depot and the plaza it sits in are the heart of Cheyenne and serve as a major entertainment venue. The square hosts concerts, car shows, and a range of other attractions, while the building itself is home to the Depot Museum.
The east end of the depot has housed several restaurants over the years, but what brings me to the depot today is Complice Beer Company.
Owner Rory Sandoval opened Accomplice Beer Company in 2016 and, according to his website, the restaurant “was founded on the belief that great craft beer should be accompanied by great food and great customer service. “.
Rory’s mother, Kathy Sandoval, tells the story of Complice opening in a space where at least three other breweries had opened – then closed.
âWe pulled a garbage semi-trailer out of the building and it was in such a disrepair that it was an overwhelming task,â she said. “Everything came out of the old brewery because it was not usable, so everything is new that was brought in.”
The brewery now serves a number of award-winning beers.
“We have seven base beers on tap and two on rotation,” said general manager Steven Mitchell.
You can come and taste any beer for free, but you won’t want to stop at a sample! Mitchell tells us that his favorite draft beer is the Nue Dogma IPA, a beer described as a âsuper juicy, hoppy, fruity, New England style IPAâ¦â The brewery’s most popular beer, however, is âKrimson King. â, From the proprietary name Sandoval.
Kathy Sandoval tells me with the pride of a mother, âHe’s number one because he’s number one, and his name, Rory, means ‘Red King’ in Gaelic.
âLast year at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Krimson King took second place,â she said.
Kathy’s favorite is the brewery’s Slumber Car Porter, which took home the first place trophy at the Saratoga Springs Beer Festival.
The brewing process at Complice is quite complicated, as one can imagine. I spoke with Brian Gill, brewing veteran and eight-year assistant brewer. Brian enlightened me on the steps of brewing, from empty kettle to full glass.
The first step is the grinding of the grains that will be used. Malt is the most commonly used grain, but depending on the end product, the brewer will also use rye and wheat.
The next step is the mash. At the mash stage, the ground grain is added to very hot water, ranging from 144 degrees to 158 degrees.
âThis is the step that activates the enzymes that convert starches into sugars,â said Gill. âThen we separate the solids from the liquid, and it becomes what we call wort. “
The wort is then boiled with hops and other flavors. Adding hops at different times in the boiling process will give a different flavor to the wort.
âSeasonally, we make a wet hop IPA, made from hops harvested within 24 hours of brewing.â Gill adds, âYou can only do it once a year, right at harvest time. For this reason, we get these hops nearby in Eaton, Colorado. ”
The infused wort is then cooled to around 65 Â° F before adding the brewer’s yeast.
Fermentation takes place over the next four to six days, when the yeast converts the sugars in the wort into alcohol. The wort is now beer. It is again cooled to 30 Â° f, which allows the yeast to settle to the bottom of the fermentation tank for separation.
This clarifies the beer before the next step, racking.
Racking is where the beer is pumped into a “light tank,” where carbonation is added before keging, bottling or canning.
All this talk about beer might make you think that’s all Complice, a brewery. However, regulars like me will tell you that there is a lot more to Complice than just beer. It’s âEat Wyoming,â not âDrink Wyoming,â after all. So, yes, there is a whole range of foods to discuss.
Burgers, pizzas, sliders and sandwiches are all part of the menu. General Manager Mitchell is a fan of the basil pesto pizza, but he also said that “all burgers are great”.
Kathy Sandoval’s favorite menu item is the tuna kale salad. It’s a kale salad, feta cheese, dried cranberries and toasted almonds and a champagne dressing.
âI like to pair it with my favorite beer, the Slumber Car Porter,â she said.
During my visit with several friends, I ordered the ‘Fish San-Which’ which includes fish coated in Complice beer batter, then fried until crisp and served with melted American cheese. . It is served on a toasted harvest moon bun topped with San Complice sauce, a kosher pickle and a seasoned romaine. Absolutely amazing!
The beer batter was not your average fare, and neither was the fish itself. Not overcooked and dry, the fish was moist and flaky. The very thin fries side made it my first choice, but hey, I hadn’t tried everythingâ¦ yet.
Then there was my friend’s black and blue burger. A 7 oz blackened ground Angus burger on a Kaiser bun with blue cheese and fixings.
I’ll be honest here. Didn’t get a picture of this burger as our order arrived while I was talking to assistant brewer Brian Gill. But I was told the burger was perfectly cooked to order and was a delicious capital “D”.
To make up for that, here’s a photo from Complice’s Facebook page. It’s the burger behind the pork chop dinner, which is served over caramelized apples, potatoes, and arugula with an apple cider sauce. I know, it’s hard to focus on the burger, huh?
I highly recommend Complice Beer Company.
If you happen to be near Cheyenne’s depot and you’re thirsty or hungry, go ahead and fill your glass or stomach. While you’re at it, pour me a pint!
Complice is located at 115 W. 15th St. Cheyenne, WY
Their hours are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.
Phone: (307) 632-2337 On the web at complicebeer.com