Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Brewpub Crawl In Colorado

This is part one of a two part guest post by Brady Umfleet.

My wife and I planned a trip to Boulder and Denver in conjunction with our friend’s birthday celebration in Salida. Since we are craft beer lovers we decided to hit as many breweries as possible because we wanted to make sure my wife visited her 100th brewery during our trip. We were also interested in exploring the happening craft beer scene is CO. We also love baseball and have always wanted to visit Coors Field for a ball game. We were two weeks or so too early to watch our Cardinals play at Coors Field however we did watch the Phillies and the Rockies. As a result of my pre trip research and our visit I believe the CO is the craft beer epicenter. Sorry San Diego, this is not only because of the constant opening of breweries, but also because of the extent of craft beer penetration in the state.
Brady enjoys a pint
Stop #1
Twisted Pine
TP is located off one of the main drags of Boulder. Walking in on a rainy Saturday night it was buzzing with a full crowd of locals. There were about 12 beers on tap and my wife and I tried the Hoppy Girl (released that night, Hoppy Boy with jasmine and hibiscus added), Hoppy Boy IPA, Ghost Face Killah (the Billy’s Chilies beer with Ghost Pepper added), Big Easy Off Beat Brown Ale (with wasabi, horseradish and honey), and a cream stout. The stand outs were the Hoppy Girl, Hoppy Boy, and the Big Easy. Overall the beer was solid and if we lived in Boulder this could be our local. The atmosphere is nice and basic and is mos’ def a locals place filled with bicyclists and townies.

Stop #2
Avery Brewing

Even though our GPS sent us on a long roundabout path to Avery Brewing it is actually located on a road that cuts through Boulder. Needless to say this beer destination was busy on a rainy Saturday night. My wife and I were able to score one of the few tables in the barrel room which was a wonderful, intimate, and sedate area of the brewery.
Our server was great and helped us to pick out a mega sampler. I recall we tasted the following brews; 19 Anniversary Ale (Belgian Triple), IPA, Buddha’s Hand (a stand out Belgian Pale Ale), Collaboration not Litigation Ale (Belgian String Dark, again a stand out), Ellie’s Brown Ale, Hog Heaven Barley Wine (a solid sedate BW), Maharaja (Double IPA, had another pint of this), Salvation, The Reverend, and a sour beer along the line of Rodenbach (of which we had the last glass, ever). Being able to sit among the barrels with my wife was a very good experience as we were able to carry on a great conversation away from the hustle and bustle of the main bar area. If you are in Boulder you really do need to make this a destination.


This brewery is located about 12 miles north of Boulder on the Diagonal Highway in Longmont. About 10 years ago I visited the original location in Lyons and was looking forward to checking out another Oskar Blues location with my wife, especially since they began to can and widely distribute their beers. Frankly, I haven’t cared for their canned beer because they have often been flat, but I do recall enjoying their beers during my visit to Lyons. As you drive to this location, don’t be tempted to stop at the large free standing building with Oskar Blues logo plastered on giant faux grain silos this is, I am not kidding, two blocks from the actual brewery. This is their restaurant, pass this location and hang a left and you will find the production brewery and tap room. Walking up the steps you will find a large tap room with tables and long bar. We had a sampler paddle that included; Dale’s Pale Ale, Old Chub (Scottish Ale), G’Knight Imperial Red, Mama’s Little Yella Pils, Ten Fidy (Imperial Stout), Gubna (Imperial Red), Deviant Dales’ (IPA). The stand outs were the Dale’s Pale ale, Deviant Dales’, and the Ten Fidy. There were other additional seasonals and one offs but we had pints of the Deviant and the Dales’. I must say that the cans do not do this beer justice, as the freshness and drinkability of the beer was amazing. The vibe is laid back with dogs on the patio, cyclists hanging out, beer travelers, and locals. Thankfully I don’t live close to OB because it is an excellent place to hang out over a couple of pints and I might never leave.

Stop #4
 Upslope Brewing
The final stop on the Boulder/Longmont brewery tour was Upslope brewing which is located just outside downtown Boulder. Walking into the tap room the first thing you notice is that this is a small place. We ordered a sampler and grabbed a stool. The sampler included; Pale Ale, IPA, Craft Lager, Brown Ale, Maibock, Dopplebock, Belgian style Pale Ale, and one I can’t remember. The real treats here were the IPA, Craft Lager, and the Dopplebock. The tap room is very basic; a few tables, stools, and some games. There was nothing like having a beer and playing Connect Four. This is a good place to have a few brews, all of which were solid, and highly drinkable. This was a pleasant beer farewell to Boulder. Newsflash from the Fermentedly Challenged blog:
"Upslope will be building new brew house in Boulder to expand production. The new location will also have a tap room while the old location will be for experimental brews and they will keep the tasting room."

Driving from Boulder to the Salida area my wife suggested a more scenic route than our GPS planned out. Thankfully, I also had my copy of Mountain Brew: A Guide to Colorado's Breweries by Ed Sealover and a map. We decided to hit up Tommyknocker in Idaho Springs. This brewpub is located in the old mining town of Idaho Springs. This is a quaint small mining town that is located off of Interstate 70. Tommyknocker is a term used by Cornish miners for small troll like beings that live in mines. The bar is a magnificent wooden work of art and the draft handles are mounted in an old mining car. On tap were 12 different brews and we had a sampler of all of them, but didn’t finish them as is our practice when confronted with a massive selection and a long drive ahead. The standouts were the Maple Nut Porter, Imperial Nut Brown Ale, and Black IPA. These were three excellent brews that we really enjoyed. We purchased 6 packs of the Maple Nut and the Black IPA to share with our friends. Interesting note for you brewers out there, when you visit the restrooms you will notice that the brewery is completely open-no glass, walls, nothing between the brewery and the rest of the pub/restaurant.
As you head west on Interstate 70 you will eventually run into the ski areas such as Dillon, Frisco, etc. Located in Dillon not far off of I-70 is Dillon Dam Brewing. You can’t miss the extra large green grain silo that marks the brewpub. Let’s face it this is a ski town, though it doesn’t do much for me, the aesthetic is nice. We opted to sit on the patio. We didn’t try a sampler but did have a pint of the ESB and the Pils (German). We enjoyed both beers as we thought they were on style. If you do visit this brewery take the very short self-guided tour of the brewery. Walk up the stairs near the entrance and follow the signage. It is a nice change of pace to get an eagle eye view of a brewery.

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