17 January 2014

Day trip: beer appreciation day in Colorado

I'm done with posts about healthier eating in 2014 (I think I only managed one, actually).  What I really want is a good beer.  And since I live in Colorado, my only problem is limiting my options into a single day that doesn't result in a black-out!  Wherever you are along the I-25 corridor, there's bound to be something appropriate for your tastes; here is a list of my favorites.

Northern Colorado
Longmont: Left Hand Brewery
1265 Boston Ave, Longmont, CO 80501

A better place to actually try their beers with some great pub grub is The Pumphouse in downtown Longmont, but a trip to the brewery is also worthwhile if you want to learn how things are made.  Good old fashioned American craft beers are done well here, and you'll see a whole lot of bumper stickers expressing appreciation all over Weld and Boulder Counties.

Loveland: Verboten Brewery
1550 Taurus Ct, Loveland, CO 80537

Please, please, please go to this brewery.  The name sounds like you'll be stuck with traditional German flavors, but this is actually one of the most innovative breweries north of Denver.  Killer Boots is a caramelly English-style porter, Angry Banjo is brewed in bourbon barrels from the distillery across the street, and the chicory espresso stout is amazing.  They employ creative combinations not for the sake of being different, but because they are delicious.

Lyons: Oskar Blues Grill & Brew
303 Main St, Lyons, CO 80540

The brewery is actually in Longmont, but the restaurant has everything on tap and some good, junky bar food, along with a run-down Southern vibe that really fits this goofy hippy town.  Visit their website for the calendar of live music; the blues bands, as you can imagine, come from all over and are often incredible. 

Windsor: High Hops Brewery
6461 Colorado 392, Windsor, CO 80550

This quaint little brew pub is located inside the local nursery, where they grow their own hops and other ingredients they use in their beers.  There's a nice variety in range, with something to please everyone, and they're expanding their menu all the time.  The bar keeps tend to be a little douchy and very beer-nerdy, so you'll definitely get a lot of information out of them about the products, be but prepared to be patronized.

Off I-25: Denver Beer Company
1695 Platte Street, Denver, CO 80202

These guys do great, creative flavors.  My favorites are the smoked lager, graham cracker porter, and the keffir lime wheat. There's nothing but beer here, and the atmosphere is relaxed and non-snobby.  Also walking distance from...

Prost Brewing Company
2540 19th Street, Denver, CO 80211

Traditional German-style beers in a pretty authentic (for Colorado) German-style beer hall.  These guys are more recreators than they are creators, but what they brew really tastes like you're in Germany.  And the pretzels and spicy mustard are to die for.

Five Points/Rino 'hoodsGreat Divide Brewery
2201 Arapahoe Street, Denver, CO 80205

The beer here is generally light and refreshing, and the atmosphere is still grubby little start-up, even after a few years of succeeding.  They're like the little engine that could!  The flavors are not terribly inventive, but for a pleasant, palate-cleansing lager, their rice beer is great. 

South of ColfaxBreckenridge Brewing 
471 Kalamath Street and other locations

These guys have been around long enough to be seen as the establishment, but, as a transplant, I can appreciate their delicious beer and very consistent quality. Besides, they're not the establishment just because they've existed for more than 6 months--they're still a Colorado craft brewery, to all the beer snobs who are rolling their eyes right now.  And no, I am not defensive. 

Copper Kettle Brewery
1338 S. Valentia Street, Unit 100, Denver, CO 80247

I love this place.  I think about it for days after I go.  Everything they do is just right, the Bavarian Helles, the Tequila Barrel Imperial Vienna Lager, the rich Mexican Chocolate Stout...it's all fantastic.  It's a bit far from things, but go.  

Strange Brewing Company
1330 Zuni, Unit M, Denver, Colorado 80204

This is another "little guys" brewery with some nice dark beers and a very scrappy, friendly vibe.  And you will get all of the appreciative attention you want from the bar keeps, who are usually also the brewers. 

Now that's the spirit!