Quick Looks: Field House Brewing & Iron Bird Brewing, Colorado Springs CO

20140823 122148 Quick Looks: Field House Brewing & Iron Bird Brewing, Colorado Springs CO

 

 

This past weekend while on our way to go camping at beautiful Mt. Princeton, we took a short side-trip through Colorado Springs to hit up two of the newest additions to that town’s increasingly impressive brewery scene. And yes, that was a run-on sentence – I’m allowed to violate the rules of proper grammar occasionally (or always, depending on who you ask).

Anyway…we made a couple super-quick stops at two breweries that are, quite literally, a stone’s throw away from each other: Field House Brewing and Iron Bird Brewing.

20140823 122237 Quick Looks: Field House Brewing & Iron Bird Brewing, Colorado Springs CO

 

We caught Field House right as they opened their doors for the day and were treated to friendly service in the empty and somewhat dimly-lit taproom. It had a cozy feel not dissimilar to a neighborhood tavern, only with nicer furnishings and less urine odor (none, in fact!). It struck us as the sort of place you could kill a few hours in the darkness before stumbling outside into the the blinding sunlight (again, not dissimilar to a blue collar watering hole). Something about the long, narrow floor plan and lack of fluorescent lighting lent it that vibe, even though it was 1000% nicer than any dive bar I’ve ever frequented. Suffice to say, the ambiance was right up my alley. What’s more, they were cool enough to open the rear service door so that our dog could hang out with us while we imbibed a pint or two. Very cool.

While I was impressed by their subtle, relatively-low IBU IPA, both I and my girlfriend settled upon the honey infused lager. In the pantheon of tasty honey flavored beers, theirs ranked neck-and-neck against my personal favorite from St. Patrick’s Artisanal Lagers in Denver. Nearly mead-like in its flavor, the amount of honey used in this brew had to be massive. For honey lovers, it’s a must-try.

Although the visit was brief, we’d definitely recommend giving Field House a shot.

 

20140823 130007 Quick Looks: Field House Brewing & Iron Bird Brewing, Colorado Springs CO

 

 

Next up was Iron Bird Brewing which lies about 100 yards away in the same downtown neighborhood. This visit was cut incredibly short due to the fact that our dog, while being the sweetest thing on four legs when it concerns humans, isn’t well-behaved in the company of other canine beasts. As can be inferred from that statement, Iron Bird Brewing is dog friendly, which is a great thing when your own dog isn’t a punk.

20140823 130424 Quick Looks: Field House Brewing & Iron Bird Brewing, Colorado Springs CO

 

 

Despite our furry companion’s behavior, we did manage to split a pint of their English style ale, which was rather wonderful. The malt-forward flavor gave it an authenticity we both heartily enjoyed, and we felt it was every bit as good as the English styles one might have at Hog’s Head brewery, a taproom in Denver that is staffed by Anglophile brewers. If British styles are your proverbial cup-of-tea, Iron Bird may very well be worth your time.

 

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Review: Liquid Mechanics Brewing Company. Lafayette, CO

20140816 173333 Review: Liquid Mechanics Brewing Company. Lafayette, CO

Opening days at breweries can be tough. A successful grand opening means huge crowds and long lines, thereby making a relaxing experience considerably more difficult to achieve. It also prevents one from having cool conversations with brewers and staff or an ability to get insight on their brewing process or future plans.

So, it’s with this caveat that I say that Liquid Mechanics Brewery was OK. The taproom was large enough to accommodate sizable crowds and the beer garden was nicely shaded by a giant cottonwood tree. And given its prime location at a busy intersection in a quickly developing neighborhood, I’d imagine business will be massive and rent will be astronomical…which could help explain why the beer was rather pricey. A 4 oz taster of many of their beers ran $2.75 and a 10 oz was $5.50. Granted, we had what I believe was a limited run beer, but it wasn’t barrel-aged or a style one would typically associate with a high price tag.

 

20140816 173404 Review: Liquid Mechanics Brewing Company. Lafayette, CO

 

We had the Chipotle Lime Lager and it was damn good, so much so that the inflated price tag was nearly forgotten. With a light pepper flavor rounded out by lime it was an exceptionally drinkable warm weather beer with a slow heat build you only really noticed after downing an entire glass. Unfortunately, it was only served in 10 oz sizes, so the ease of consumption made for a glass that emptied especially quick.

In addition to the aforementioned beer, we also had a taster of the Peach Saison, that while not terribly peachy was acceptable enough. Nothing too memorable, but in full disclosure I’m not a huge fan of Saisons and farmhouse ales to begin with, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt.

20140816 173409 Review: Liquid Mechanics Brewing Company. Lafayette, CO

 

Again, due to the throng of opening day guests we couldn’t quite get a feel for the service, but what service we got was as friendly and fast as could be hoped for. Meanwhile, the music playing overhead wasn’t overly loud while we were there, but a band was preparing to perform in the small “stage” area inside the taproom, so chances are it was probably difficult to hold a conversation inside (making the beer garden a pleasant escape). The overall atmosphere was fairly par-for-the-course for a somewhat upscale taproom — it’s not a warehouse environment, so it shares more of a vibe with a suburban restaurant than anything else. It’s perfectly fine for what it is.

 

20140816 174251 Review: Liquid Mechanics Brewing Company. Lafayette, CO

 

 

Overall, although our experience was limited and we didn’t taste the full menu, it feels safe to say that Liquid Mechanics are off to a good start and should not only do brisk business but also be on the radar for folks seeking a few adventurous beer styles. The Chipotle Lime Lager was genuinely delicious, so hopefully they’ll continue the trend with other unique flavors. If you’re in the Lafayette area I’d recommend trying them out once the crowds die down a bit.

Our First Annual “Drifties” Awards! The Awards For Things You Didn’t Know Needed Awards!

maroon bells w wildflowers Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

 

Now that we’ve surpassed a new milestone of 200 breweries visited in the state of Colorado, it seemed like the ideal time to make up some random, arbitrary awards to present. And since this isn’t your typical beer blog, we’re not gonna bother with traditional accolades — no, The Drifties will be a tad more esoteric. How esoteric, you say? Read on!

Editor’s Note: Please bear in mind that some of these are jokes, so kindly refrain from sending me envelopes filled with anthrax. It’s all in good fun, kids!

 

Best Place To Catch A Buzz in Church: Revolution Brewing Company, Paonia, CO

Revolution Brewing Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

Revolution Brewing is literally inside an old church up in the mountains of Paonia. Thanks to this loophole in the space-time continuum, you can now tell your parents that you’re going to church, even when the reality is you’re just throwing down a few pints.

 

Best Place to Chuckle Like Beavis and/or Butthead As You Read The Obscene Beer Names: Big Beaver Brewing Company, Loveland, CO

Big Beaver Brewing Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

There’s absolutely nothing subtle about the parade of double-entendres present at Big Beaver Brewing Company. From “Bust-A-Nut Brown Ale” to the ever-so-tasteful “Whiskey Dick Stout”, the beers here make it clear that this isn’t the place you should bring your grandparents when they visit from Colorado Springs. Also, the brewery logo is a horrifying chimera of an ass, a beaver and a strip of pubic hair.

 

Best Taproom For Drinking Out of Glasses That’ll Make You Feel Like You’re Trying To Solve a Trigonometry Equation: Black Shirt Brewing, Denver CO

Black Shirt Brewing Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

Photo credit lillysuesbitesandbrews.com

I’m not a complete troglodyte. I get that certain beers need special glasses to bring out the aroma and flavor. That being said, these glasses require more brain power than I’m willing to invest while getting my booze on. Yes, if I have to contemplate for even 1/4 of a second which side to drink out of, it’s still too cerebral for my lazy synapses. OK, maybe I’m a troglodyte.

 

Best Brewery For Patrons Who Like To Indulge In A Little Casual Satan Worship From Time To Time: Trve Brewing, Denver, CO

Trve Brewing Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

Alright, these guys probably aren’t bowing down to the Dark Lord while they brew, but they probably do know a few things about Norwegian Black Metal (you know, those fellows that burned down churches in the 90′s). So if you’re into goat sacrifice or think Countess Bathory was a good gal, then you’ll likely enjoy the tinnitus-inducing vibe in here.

 

Best Evil, Corporate-Bastard Brewery That Has A Shockingly Good Taproom Even Though Their Bottled Beers Are Crap: Blue Moon Brewing At The Sandlot, Denver, CO

Sandlot Brewing Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

To paraphrase Homer Simpson: “In baseball it isn’t about who wins or loses, but how drunk you get”. And if you’re gonna drink at a ballgame it might as well be something better than a $9 plastic cup of Coors Light. So, believe it or not, the taproom-only exclusives at the Sandlot are exceptional — and not just by comparison to the shit beer alternatives. The beers they pour are downright excellent, so why they can’t be bothered to bottle this stuff is beyond my comprehension (because the Blue Moon most of us are familiar with is liquid garbage).

 

Best Brewery In A Hideous Stripmall: Brewery Rickoli, Wheat Ridge, CO

Rickoli Brewery Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

OK, so this particular strip mall isn’t the ugliest one in town (although it is a far cry from anything resembling “pretty”), but Rickoli’s IS the best brewery you’re gonna find in such an aesthetically unpleasant location. By the time you pull up a bar stool and start getting served by this wonderfully friendly and talented family you will have long forgotten what the outside of the building looks like. You’ll be hard-pressed to find more sincerely amiable folks than these, and their beers are better than 90% of the breweries in existence. If you don’t find something to love at Rickoli’s then you are indeed dead inside.

 

Best Place To Meet A Brewmaster Who’s Nicer Than Your Own Dad: Buckhorn Brewers, Loveland, CO

Buckhorn Brewers Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

Pardon the blurriness of the photo, but I think it’s because brewmaster Dave Currie is an angel. Honestly, if this guy was any nicer they’d be granting him sainthood at the Vatican.

 

Best Brewery That Went Out Of Business Before Anyone Could Find Their Taproom: Del Norte Brewing Company, Denver, CO

Del Norte Brewery Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

Photo credit: beerincolorado.blogspot.com

The above image was the only one I could dig up online (because I visited Del Norte before starting this blog). What’s amazing is that picture makes it look easier to find the brewery than it actually was (due to the garage door being open so you could see the equipment inside). But believe me, locating Del Norte was a ridiculous task — and it was quite literally walking distance from my own home. It couldn’t be found on GPS, no one ever answered their phone, it was in a completely anonymous industrial park without signage and it was only open a few hours a week. Finally, about a month before they shut down a large sign was placed out near Evans Avenue that let people know that yes, the brewery actually existed. By then it was too late and a totally decent brewery had gone out of business.

 

Best Place To Experience An Incredible Tap Selection Without Having To Go To The Absurdly Over-Rated Falling Rock Tap House In “Bro-Do”: Colorado Plus Brew Pub, Wheat Ridge, CO

Colorado Plus Brewpub Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

Colorado Plus has over 50 rotating taps at all times, and the beers they choose to provide are typically excellent. Maybe Falling Rock Tap House has a bigger menu, but it’s also wildly inconvenient for anyone that doesn’t live downtown (the parking sucks), it’s always over-crowded, the service is forgettable and it’s typically packed with frat boys. So despite the fact that Falling Rock is routinely voted as one of the best tap houses in the country, I’m still gonna say that Colorado Plus kicks its ass. The service at Colorado Plus is phenomenal, the food is great and parking is free and easy. There really isn’t any competition — it’s just better all around.

 

 

Best Craft Brewery Moonlighting As A Disreputable Dive Bar: Creede Brewing, Denver, CO

20140801 212059 Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

We just reviewed these guys. Go read it.

 

Best Brewery In A Town You’ve Never Heard of And Probably Would Never Visit Unless You Could Use It As An Excuse To Get Drunk: Dolores River Brewery, Dolores, CO

Dolores River Brewery Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

Photo credit: beerat6512.blogspot.com

The town is cute, the taproom is neat and the beer garden is beautiful. Dolores River Brewery is a really good reason why you should stop by this town next time you head out toward Durango.

 

 

Most Incredible Scenic View From an Otherwise “meh” Brewery: Three-Way-Tie: Eldo Brewery and Taproom, Crested Butte, CO, Ouray Brewing Company, Ouray, CO and Estes Park Brewery in Estes Park, CO.

Eldo Brewery Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

The title and photo kinda say it all.

 

Best Breweries Where You Feel Like You’re Hanging Out In Someone’s Awesome House That Was Built in The 1800′s: Tie: Golden City Brewing Company, Golden, CO and Riff Raff Brewing in Pagosa Springs, CO

Riff Raff Brewing Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

Who doesn’t want to hang out on the porch of an old house and drink craft beer? I’ll tell ya who: communists and people that hate kittens.

 

Best Place To Meet The Nicest Brewery Owners In The Entire State: Hall Brewing Company, Parker, CO

Hall Brewing Company 2 Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

Hall Brewing Company owners Aubrey, Aubrey Sr. and Sue Hall are the best friends you never knew you had. Head on out to either their brewery or taproom and see why we rate them as the friendliest in the state. (an honorable mention has to go out to the owners of Big Choice Brewing and Brewery Rickoli because they are stupendously kind as well).

 

 

Best Place To Drink A Beer While Buying Your Gardening Supplies: High Hops Brewing Company, Windsor, CO

highhops1 Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

Wanna drink great beer and buy real-live hops plants while you’re at it? High Hops Brewery is where you can do it all in one beerily convenient location. Plus, the view of the mountains from their beer garden is great, even by Colorado standards.

 

Prettiest Carved-Wood Bars, Tables And Chairs in A Taproom: Horse & Dragon Brewing Company, Ft. Collins, CO

horse and dragon brewery Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

Once again, my pitiful cell phone photos fail to do any justice to the subject at hand, but the bar and tables in here are quite stunning. Plus, there are some ornate carvings on a few of these that aren’t visible in the photo.

 

 

Best Collection of Beer Bottles and Memorabilia On Their Walls: Horsefly Brewing, Montrose, CO

horsefly brewing co montrose Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

Horsefly Brewing has enough bottles, cans, coasters and growlers lining their walls to impress any true beer memorabilia collector, and they’ve certainly got the largest quantity of beer-a-phernalia in Colorado. It doesn’t hurt that their beer is excellent as well. And as if that wasn’t enough, they’re practically next door to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the best place in Colorado that few seem to know about.

 

 

Best Place To Sit On The Porch In The Fall and Watch A Small Town Street Like You’re An Old Man Sitting In A Rocking Chair, Clutching A Shotgun: Industrial Revolution Brewing Company, Erie, CO

industrial revolution brewery Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

Sit back and observe small town charm and fall foliage from the tiny, quiet porch at Industrial Revolution Brewing. Being an old man clutching a shotgun is totally optional, but not entirely recommended.

 

Best Place For Weirdo’s That Think Hanging Out At An Old Country Buffet Is A Good Way To Experience Drinking Craft Beer: J. Fargo’s Family Dining And Brewing Company, Cortez, CO

j fargos Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

Imagine this: put a brewery inside a Denny’s. The ambiance and beer at J. Fargo’s live up to that image.

 

Best Place To Go To See A Taproom That Will Never, Ever, Ever Open, Apparently: Lost Highway Brewing Company, Denver, CO

Lost Highway brewery Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

I started this blog in 2012. Lost Highway Brewing Company was “in development” back then, and if I remember correctly, it was scheduled to open in August of that year. ¬†Lots of breweries have had long delays, but few have been as lengthy or as visible as Lost Highway. Hell, the neon sign has been lighting up Colfax (not exactly a quiet thoroughfare) for ages, and the Facebook page hasn’t been updated in 4 months.

This place is becoming legendary without having opened up their doors…..hmmm, maybe they’re on to something.

 

Best Place To Eat a Fancy-Pants Gourmet Pizza With Your Beer: Lowdown Brewery and Kitchen, Denver, CO

lowdown kdvr Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

Seriously, their fancy-pants pizzas are great — no sarcasm implied. Good beer + good pizza + good service = one of the best breweries in the downtown area.

 

Best Brewery That Shares a Name With The Most Insane 70′s Movie Starring Burgess Meredith And That Features An Indian Growing Out Of A Cyst On a Person’s Back And a Climactic Topless Laser Battle in Outer-Space: Manitou Brewing, Manitou Springs, CO

the manitou Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

There’s not a whole lot I can add to this. Just watch the movie and prepare to have your universe obliterated.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077904/

 

Best Brewery To Go To If You Only Carry Cash And Have Never Heard of A Debit Card: Mountain Sun Brewing, Boulder, CO

mountain sun brewery Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

Mountain Sun, Southern Sun and Vine Street Pub are all owned by the same people. And all three establishments are cash only.

I’d just like to remind these businesses that not only is it 2014, but anyone can accept a credit card with a just cell phone, a card-swiping dongle and an app. If a drug dealer can take credit, a large-scale business with multiple locations can as well.

 

 

Best Brewery Where You Can Hang Out With Hipsters That Are Actually Amazing People And Will Make You Feel Bad For Having Ever Said Anything Mean About Hipsters: Our Mutual Friend Malt and Brew, Denver, CO

Our mutual friend porch drinking Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

photo credit: porchdrinking.com

I already feel bad for using the word “hipsters” in the description as its become quite the pejorative statement…but these guys are somehow too-cool-for-school AND awesome people to hang out with. They can play all the Pitchfork.com “Best New Music’¬†albums on vinyl and STILL not make you wanna smack ‘em upside the head. That’s good stuff.

 

Best Brewery That Is Open At Completely Random Hours and Is Staffed By One Dude That’ll Make You Laugh Until You Pee Yourself: Ourayle House Brewery, Ouray, CO

Ourayle House Brewery durangobeernbikes Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

photo credit: durangobeernbikes.com

Hutch (last name unknown) is the funniest brewer in Colorado. Hell, he may be the funniest person in Colorado. Go to Ourayle House for the beer, stay for the impromptu comedy.

 

Best Brewery Where You Can Drink In What Is Essentially A Grove Of Pine Trees And You’ll Probably Enjoy Yourself Even Though The Service Is Kinda Lousy: Pagosa Brewing Company, Pagosa Springs, CO

Pagosa Brewing Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

Service is kinda slow and the atmosphere is a bit frat-house-y, but the environment can’t be beat. Beer in the forest without any of the pesky camping!

 

Best Brewery That Has A Name That Is Confusingly Similar To Another Local Brewery That Sucks, But This One Is Actually Great: Rocky Mountain Brewery, Colorado Springs, CO

Not to be confused with Colorado Mountain Brewery. They suck.

 

 

Best Brewery In A Town You Would Never, Ever Visit Intentionally Otherwise: San Luis Valley Brewing Company, Alamosa, CO

san luis valley Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

I’m prepared for the hate-mail from Alamosa residents. The rest of you know this place as that-town-you-drive-through-quickly-when you’re-on-your-way-to Great Sand Dunes National Park.

It’s true, though, Alamosa folk. Your town sucks (Colorado can’t be all perfect, so thanks for supplying that side of the bell curve)….but your beer is transcendent! So you got that going for you!

 

Best Brewery In An Old Fire Station: Station 26 Brewing Company, Denver, CO

station 26 brewing Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

It’s in an old fire station. That’s cool.

 

Best Brewery In A Post-Apocalyptic Industrial Setting That Would Make Mad Max Feel At Home: Strange Craft Beer Company, Denver, CO

strange brewing company porch drinking Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

photo credit: porchdrinking.com

Strange Craft Beer Company rocks. The Cherry Kriek is among the greatest beers on Planet Earth. And guess what? The brewery itself is awesome despite being nestled between train tracks, freeways and an industrial zone that looks like it had its best years in the 1950′s. Miraculously, this place has cool ambiance and personality to spare. I have no idea how they did that, but thank the maker that they did.

 

Best Place To Go Eat Deep South Comfort Food Along With Your Beer Without Having To Shame Yourself By Eating At A Cracker Barrel: The Post Brewing Company, Lafayette, CO

the post brewing company Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

The Post Brewing Company serves farm-fresh, free range, antibiotic-free Chicken and biscuits that’ll make your arteries harden with joy. You don’t need to debase yourself at that Cracker Barrel off of the interstate — this is infinitely better. Plus — BEER.

 

Best Brewery That’s The Size Of Your Walk-In Closet: Three Barrel Brewing Company, Del Norte, CO

three barrel brewing Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

If you live in Highlands Ranch your closet is bigger than Three Barrel Brewing’s taproom…. and the crazy part is they also serve brick-oven pizza cooked on premises. Through some kind of otherworldly Feng-Shui they manage to make this tiny space more than adequate for good fun and great company.

 

Best Place To Drop $12 On A Single Bottle Of Beer: Crooked Stave, Denver, CO

crooked stave Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

That’s not snark. If you’ve gotta drop $12 on a beer, it had damn well better be from Crooked Stave ’cause few other breweries are worth that kinda cash. They are.

 

 

Best Place To Rationalize Your Alcoholism Because They Give Part Of Their Profits To Charity: Two22 Brew, Centennial, CO

two22 ratebeer Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

photo credit: ratebeer.com

$2 of every $10 worth of profit goes to local charities. This means that if you abandon your family on a Sunday afternoon to go watch a Bronco’s game and spend $80 on beer, you’ll have given up to $3,000 to charity (or something like that, I’m not a mathemologist). No one can argue with that kind of feel-good story.

 

Best Place To Buy A Beer That Is Named After An Obscure Line Of Dialog From Weird Al’s “UHF” Movie: Verboten Brewing, Loveland, CO

Verboten Brewing Our First Annual Drifties Awards! The Awards For Things You Didnt Know Needed Awards!

 

I’ll buy a beer for the first person that figures out which beer I’m referring to*.

 

(Void where prohibited by my checking account)

 

Reviews: Berthoud Brewing Company (Berthoud, CO) & Freedom’s Edge Brewing (Ft. Collins, CO)

20140802 144408 Reviews: Berthoud Brewing Company (Berthoud, CO) & Freedoms Edge Brewing (Ft. Collins, CO)

 

Berthoud is the cutest small town you never visit.

But now that they’ve got two great little breweries, perhaps all that will change. We already know and love City Star Brewing, and with the addition of Berthoud Brewing Company you can pretty much walk across town and indulge in all the greatness our tiny neighbor to the north has to offer.

20140802 144506 Reviews: Berthoud Brewing Company (Berthoud, CO) & Freedoms Edge Brewing (Ft. Collins, CO)

 

Once again, there must be something in the water in Berthoud because these breweries know how to create beautiful taprooms out of reclaimed wood, railroad materials and antiques like no one else. This new one in particular has taps made from railroad spikes, ceilings lined with weathered, corrugated steel and enough recycled wood to please Paul Bunyan. It all adds up to a warm, wonderful environment you’d like to make your own home.

20140802 144427 Reviews: Berthoud Brewing Company (Berthoud, CO) & Freedoms Edge Brewing (Ft. Collins, CO)

The owner/head brewer Shawn Fitzgerald is about as friendly and accommodating a guy as you’re apt to meet in this world and he makes sure every guest is treated like an old friend. There’s something about his soft-spoken demeanor that instantly helps even us out-of-towners feel like we’ve been neighbors for years.

As a side-bonus, he’ll even let patrons play vintage Atari games on the big screen TV overhanging the bar while they sip on their pint. Let’s see you get that kind of entertainment for your beer dollar at a Rock Bottom Brewery.

As far as the beer goes, Shawn has little interest in bludgeoning patrons with intense hops, IBUs or high-alcohol brews (he purposely avoids surpassing 50 IBUs or anything over 5% alcohol by volume). The order of the day here is sessionability and accessibility to regular folk off the street. So while he’ll not necessarily be impressing the more demanding palates out there, that’s not really the mission. The goal at Berthoud Brewing is to provide modest and tasty beers for people looking to hang out in a cozy environment and throw back a few without getting too intoxicated. It is on this level that the beers succeed valiantly. But don’t worry that the menu is filled with “fizzy yellow water” like the macro-brews we’ve come to know and loathe — there’s still enough malty goodness on display to make your visit worthwhile.

Definitely give this place a shot.

 

20140802 163949 Reviews: Berthoud Brewing Company (Berthoud, CO) & Freedoms Edge Brewing (Ft. Collins, CO)

 

 

Meanwhile, about 30 minutes further north in Ft. Collins is Freedom’s Edge Brewery, a Wyoming company that has expanded into the Colorado market.

 

20140802 164004 Reviews: Berthoud Brewing Company (Berthoud, CO) & Freedoms Edge Brewing (Ft. Collins, CO)

 

Well…the taproom is located in a great old building that’s on the national register of historic places, and the room itself is pleasantly designed, painted and furnished…but the generic, faux-antique wall hangings might as well have been plundered from a closed TGI Fridays or Jimmy John’s. It’s the kind of corporate-feeling decor that’s trying to be folksy but seems pulled from a catalog for “quirky” franchise establishments.

The decorations are par for the course when it comes to Freedom’s Edge; the staff are friendly enough, but you get the sense they’re employees for someone else’s company (rather than brewers themselves) and the beer itself is pretty devoid of any defining personality.

Maybe I’m way off base — they are a small brewing company (that is apparently family owned, according to their website) and don’t have 1,000 franchises dotting the American landscape, but I couldn’t escape the feeling that maybe that’s what they’re shooting for. When in Ft. Collins, you can do a whole lot better — and within walking distance.



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Review: Creede Brewing Company, Denver CO

20140801 212059 Review: Creede Brewing Company, Denver CO

 

Hell yes.

Creede Brewing Company has finally achieved the one single element that’s been missing from the Colorado craft beer scene: dive bar awesomeness. This isn’t meant as a slight in any way whatsoever. There’s a time and a place for a good old fashioned neighborhood dive bar, and these guys have captured all of the disreputable charm that any self-respecting drinker should admire.

For starters, it was apparent this brewery had very little interest in catering to the usual microbrew crowd by virtue of the fact that their online presence is practically non-existent. Sure, they have a Facebook page, a twitter feed and a website, but none of them have been updated in at least four months (and the website is little more than a static splash screen with hours and a map). It became obvious after just a few minutes in the taproom that Creede is more interested in lubricating the locals than in marketing themselves to the kinds of people that require a stellar Zagat rating before they hit a bar. This is a shady stripmall, shot-and-a-beer kind of establishment with very little concern for aesthetic pleasantries like Ikea lamps or frivolities like, I don’t know, coasters….

 

20140801 212216 Review: Creede Brewing Company, Denver CO

 

….and yes, they do indeed serve shots. Hand-crafted ones, in fact. And despite any amount of modest “we’re just ordinary guys who like to drink” attitude they may convey, the brewers at Creede are damn good at what they do. The Spiced Apple Whiskey Ale is a remarkably refined pint of awesome, the flavored vodkas are fabulous, and their Peanut Butter shot is a “girl drink” you’ll be proud to recommend to all of your guy friends. Additionally, they also serve a spectacular bloody Mary made from vodkas infused with pickles, peperoncinis and a blend of super-secret mix — and it might be the best bloody Mary in the state.

How many breweries can lay claim to that kind of beverage variety? And how many of them serve such delicacies to a tiny crowd of local barflies? This place is an absolute diamond in the rough, a secret hole-in-the-wall of supreme bad-assness that I almost feel bad sharing with the public. Places like this are the kind of thing you want to treasure amongst friends and keep as your own little amazing secret.

Creede Brewing Company kicks ass and doesn’t give a damn what you think. There isn’t an ounce of pretension to be found here, just tasty booze and more “local color” than you’d find in a dozen LoDo breweries combined. What’s not to love?

Review: Finkel & Garf Brewing Company, Boulder CO

20140729 152048 Review: Finkel & Garf Brewing Company, Boulder CO

 

How does the (nearly) 40th new brewery to open in Colorado in 2014 — one that is located in yet another non-descript strip-mall — manage to exceed all expectations?

I don’t know, but Finkel & Garf does just that.

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The taproom is gorgeously decorated and somehow manages to put some unique spins on time-honored brewery staples (such as a wall of salty bar snacks — literally), and instead of a pinball machine or Ms. Pac-Man they have a giant Rube Goldberg device.

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Plus, they’ve made a tiny stretch of greenbelt into a surprisingly effective beer garden (complete with stunning mountain views). Suffice to say, it’s a good looking place to drink beer.

What’s more, the service was beyond excellent and the tap selection impressive — having 12 beers available in a three-week-old brewery is quite the feat.

But you’re probably wondering if the beer is any good, aren’t you? Rest assured, it’s fantastic across the board. The head brewer is a veteran of both Fate and Tommyknocker breweries, so the dude knows what he’s doing. The fruity wheat beers — raspberry and peach — were both abundantly flavorful without the disgusting, syrupy overkill so often found in such styles, and the “dark cream” – an oatmeal milk stout – could easily hold its own against the award-winning milk stout from Left Hand Brewing. Additionally, the sessionable lager had the ideal balance between flavor and easy drinkability, avoiding the pitfalls of watery macro-beers and over-compensating micro-beers. It’s a subtle beer with nothing to prove and it succeeds brilliantly.

Across the board, Finkel & Garf pushed all the right buttons, so head on out to Boulder and grab a pint or three.



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Review: Powder Keg Brewing Company, Niwot CO

20140727 185751 Review: Powder Keg Brewing Company, Niwot CO

 

 

Lest we forget, visiting breweries is about a lot more than just sampling new beers. If that were the case, a trip to Applejack, Total Liquors or Argonaut could almost certainly keep your average beer aficionado busy with exotic brews both foreign and domestic.

 

20140727 185852 Review: Powder Keg Brewing Company, Niwot CO

 

No, the focus of our brewery treks around Colorado are as much about the small towns, unique buildings and interesting like-minded beer connoisseurs that we discover along the way. Had we just stuck to browsing the aisles of a liquor store we’d never have discovered the cute, small-town charm of Niwot less than an hour north of Denver up I-25.

20140727 190437 Review: Powder Keg Brewing Company, Niwot CO

 

Less than a few blocks away from Bootstrap Brewing Company is the fortnight-old Powder Keg Brewing, so for anyone holding off from visiting the former (great) brewery now you have double the reason to spend an afternoon in a nearby town that oozes rural American charm.

 

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Nestled in a building constructed in 1911 (note the plaque above), Powder Keg is adorable both inside and out. The taproom itself is certainly one of the more refined and tastefully decorated ones to have opened in recent months and the owners appear to have made a hefty investment in its design. You’ll see no taps jutting out from white stucco walls or sit upon chairs that may or may not have been “re-purposed” from a local yard sale (not that there’s anything wrong with that). And while I have a soft spot for jerry-rigged taprooms that feel like someone’s private garage, there’s something to be said for a new taproom that sports a tasteful amount of polish, especially when it isn’t a large, soul-less chain establishment.

Our service was prompt and amiable on this quiet, late-Sunday afternoon nearing closing time and music was played at a comfortable volume. We helped ourselves to 4 tasters of their signature brews and settled upon the stout on nitro which had a nice, roasted coffee edge to it. The saison was pleasant enough and their pale and IPA were both obviously geared toward hop-heads (especially with the addition of some dry hopping). While not my personal IBU-packed preference, I’m sure many will delight at the intense hoppiness on display.

Overall, our experience was a positive one, and I especially appreciated the fine selection of guest beers on tap (for those of us who weren’t in a hoppy state of mind). Among the more unique choices were a fine saison from Crooked Stave and a lovely tart sour from a Missouri brewery whose name evades me at this time. Furthermore, a small food menu was available, as well as a selection of ciders and wines.

Powder Keg Brewing is worth a look.

 



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