Reviews: Nano 108 Brewery (Colorado Springs) & Manitou Brewery

20140330 145757 resized Reviews: Nano 108 Brewery (Colorado Springs) & Manitou Brewery

 

This weekend we journeyed to the Colorado Springs area to visit both Nano 108 Brewery and Manitou Brewery. While Manitou had just opened this month, Nano had been the itch we couldn’t scratch since it opened last Fall — but with these visits we are now back to merely one un-visited brewery in the state (3 Hermits Brewery up in Eagle, CO, a 3+ hour trek that may have to wait until this summer).  Anyway, that brings us to 179 breweries visited here in Colorado for those counting.

 

So, Nano 108 is a nice little quiet taproom. Somewhat isolated on the far-side of town and with tremendous views of Pikes Peak, it certainly is a relaxing place to check out if you aren’t in the mood for shoulder-to-shoulder crowds at a beer hall like Denver Brewing Company or Epic.

20140330 145646 resized Reviews: Nano 108 Brewery (Colorado Springs) & Manitou Brewery

 

 

While the building itself is just another non-descript industrial space, it’s easily found thanks to a cool old pick-up truck out front that doubles as a “BEER” sign.

 

20140330 145635 resized Reviews: Nano 108 Brewery (Colorado Springs) & Manitou Brewery

 

The inside is pleasant and somewhat more refined than the average concrete-floors-and-picnic-table ambiance found in most warehouse environs. It’s the sort of place you’d meet up with old friends and have a nice afternoon chat without having to shout over hoards of intoxicated college kids.

 

I had their Imperial IPA, a 10.5% monster that just about knocked me on my ass due to consuming it on an empty stomach. Despite the intense hops and alcohol content, the sharp edges of this pint are softly rounded off with a light maltiness on the back-end. For a beer of this magnitude it ranks among the best I’ve had. Highly recommended.

 

20140330 173626 resized Reviews: Nano 108 Brewery (Colorado Springs) & Manitou Brewery

 

20140330 173727 resized Reviews: Nano 108 Brewery (Colorado Springs) & Manitou Brewery

 

About 20 minutes to the west and nestled into the canyons of Manitou Springs, their eponymous debut brewery is a beautiful little location worthy of a weekend road trip.

20140330 173743 resized Reviews: Nano 108 Brewery (Colorado Springs) & Manitou Brewery

Attractively designed both inside and out (and offering gorgeous mountain views outside), Manitou Brewery is one of the most aesthetically pleasing in this corner of the state. The beer, meanwhile is subtle and sessionable, and the service and atmosphere are both exemplary.  This is a great little out-of-the-way brewery owned and operated by three people who were lucky enough to procure a gorgeous business space and utilize it to its fullest potential. Although the town itself may scream “tourist trap”, this brewery is anything but. If you’ve been searching for a reason to come to town, this is absolutely a valid excuse to make it happen.

Reviews: 1933 Brewing Company and Broken Plow Brewery

20140318 132939 Reviews: 1933 Brewing Company and Broken Plow Brewery

 

Sporting a theme celebrating the end of prohibition, Fort Collin’s 1933 Brewing Company partially succeeds at recreating the atmosphere of the Depression-era (ragtime music on the radio, paintings depicting the 30′s, art-deco fonts and a bar lovingly constructed from wood reclaimed from an almost century-old boxcar), but fails to follow through enough on this theme to make the concept truly memorable. Being located in a modern stripmall and otherwise decorated with a distinct sense of minimalism does little to give the taproom any kind of time-transporting vibes. Of course, it’s fair to say that a brewery has no obligation to be akin to a theme restaurant in Disneyland, but it’s a shame they didn’t take the idea to the interesting fruition it could have reached. If they’d chosen a property in an older part of town and perhaps invested in vintage furniture it could have made the atmosphere quite exceptional. In a marketplace as competitive as Colorado, little things like this can help a place stand out. It merely feels like a missed opportunity, and certainly doesn’t detract from the overall experience in any substantial sense.

20140318 133055 Reviews: 1933 Brewing Company and Broken Plow Brewery

The beer, however, is outstanding all around. A line-up of tried-and-true styles are all given respect, with each flavor displaying a loving balance between malt and hops and all having a distinctiveness that sets them apart from the legions available in the northern Colorado area. After drinking tasters of all six varieties, it was genuinely difficult to choose a favorite — a most impressive feat.

Overall, 1933 Brewing Company is off to a very strong start and offers a selection of beers that are more than worthy of your attention. Perhaps this is why I feel like they should have invested just a little more effort into the presentation of the taproom: this place could be a bonafide destination, but for now they are just really, really good at what they do. For most people, that will be enough.

20140318 161728 Reviews: 1933 Brewing Company and Broken Plow Brewery

 

A few minutes down the road in Greeley, Colorado lies Broken Plow Brewery. Since we’d already about reached our limit for how much beer we wanted to consume on this trip, we settled on having just one beer here: the chili wheat — and what a good choice it was. With ample green chili flavor and low-level yet adequate heat, this was one of the strongest entries we’ve had in this category. One could safely mention this beer in the same breath as the wonderful chili beers from San Luis Valley Brewing and Coopersmiths. Highly recommended for aficionados.

20140318 161741 Reviews: 1933 Brewing Company and Broken Plow Brewery

 

What’s more, our service was fantastic. The owners and employees were talkative and friendly, making our brief visit seem unfortunately short: we could have easily passed an afternoon here.

So, today was two-for-two. Both 1933 and Broken Plow are more than worthy of a road trip from Denver residents, and are a no-brainer for Greeley and Fort Collins locals.

 

 

Micro-Review: Former Future Brewing Company

20140316 161240 Micro Review: Former Future Brewing Company

 

This tiny review might feel a little incomplete, which actually is quite fitting because the Former Future Brewing Company taproom feels a little under-cooked itself.

With a make-shift sign out front and a taproom that still feels a bit on the “work in progress” end of things, the brewery isn’t much in terms of aesthetic qualities — and that’s just fine with us. Plenty of the best taprooms around are little more than an industrial space with a few chairs, so being a little rough around the edges is all fine and good…

20140316 161312 Micro Review: Former Future Brewing Company

More problematic, though, is it feels understaffed inside and the beers (at least on this occasion) tasted like they could use a a few more rounds in the test kitchen. All were uniformly bitter, and not in a traditional-hoppy sort of way — more of a this-isn’t-quite-right sorta way. Granted, this is where my one major caveat to this review comes into play: I had just eaten some extraordinarily sweet brownies before entering the brewery, so it may very well be a case of my taste buds being destroyed. That being said, the beers continued to leave me unimpressed even after a few 4-ounce tasters should have remedied the situation.

It may be entirely unfair that I’m reviewing these guys under less than ideal circumstances, so I’ll probably do an addendum at some point. For the moment, though, I can’t say I was terribly thrilled. Here’s hoping I’m wrong because this place is on a stretch of south Broadway that really benefits from a watering hole of this kind.

 

New Reviews (and a slight change in format…)

20140313 192219 New Reviews (and a slight change in format...)

 

After visiting 173 Colorado breweries it’s become, let’s say, a tad repetitive writing “normal” reviews — I’ve found myself repeating lots of descriptive words and phrases to the point that I’m starting to irritate myself.

So, going forward the brewery reviews on this page will be more akin to blurbs than full-on, highly-detailed articles. This way I can keep up with all the new breweries and still provide a quick overview of what we feel are the highlights (and lowlights) of each place we visit.

That being said, here’s a quick peek at two relatively new taprooms we saw this week: 300 Suns in Longmont and Crystal Springs in Louisville.

20140313 201117 New Reviews (and a slight change in format...)

 

300 Suns is a great place, plain and simple. The beers were uniformly excellent (with a strong focus on the maltier varieties; this is not the place for hop-heads), the decor is lovely and little hints of personality are scattered throughout, such as:

20140313 193519 New Reviews (and a slight change in format...)

A charging station for everyone’s Androids and iPhones — why doesn’t EVERY brewery have this feature??

20140313 193511 New Reviews (and a slight change in format...)

 

…and taster flights served in lunchboxes. Who doesn’t love lunchboxes? Serial killers and people that listen to Nickelback. That’s who.

Overall, 300 Suns comes highly recommended.

 

Although we’d been to the actual Crystal Springs brewing “facility” (the garage of a cute house up in the Boulder mountains), we’d never made it to their taproom until this weekend. Unfortunate, because this has got to be the coziest brewery ever:

20140313 204424 New Reviews (and a slight change in format...)

20140313 204443 New Reviews (and a slight change in format...) 20140313 205035 New Reviews (and a slight change in format...)

 

Although pictures do it little justice (especially the lousy ones I take with my cell phone), Crystal Springs is like hanging out in a close friend’s nicely furnished basement, and I don’t mean that as an insult in any way. You know how comfortable and warm it can feel in the home theater room or game room of a familiar house? That’s how you’ll feel while here. Dimmed lights, comfy couches and furnishings that feel more “home-y” than “taproom-y” make the experience unlike anywhere else.

Factor in the amazing beer on tap and you’ve got a brewery that fills your stomach with joy while making you comfortable enough that you’ll want to build a couch fort while there.

 

Colorado Breweries Are Opening Faster Than Mere Mortals Can Keep Up…

This is (almost) getting ridiculous.

Just 2 months ago we here at The Beer Drifter had felt confident that after having conquered the Colorado Beer Map, keeping up with new additions would be easy.

How wrong we were…

Since the beginning of 2014, no fewer than 7 new breweries have opened their doors throughout the state. That’s nearly one per week.

20140309 174125 Colorado Breweries Are Opening Faster Than Mere Mortals Can Keep Up...

 

 

One of the latest additions to the almost 200 breweries in our state is Centennial’s Two22 Brew. Special points must be given to these guys, though, because of the significance of their name: for every $10 of profit these guys make, $2.22 are donated to local charities — how cool is that? Now you can drink beer and know deep within your heart that you are making the world a better place. If that doesn’t justify a healthy drinking habit, I don’t know what does.

20140309 174102 Colorado Breweries Are Opening Faster Than Mere Mortals Can Keep Up...

 

 

Furthermore, it’s a nicely designed place that’s family-friendly and serves good beer (along with hosting excellent local food trucks). While it’s a bit of a haul to drive to if you live anywhere near downtown, it’s gotta be a Godsend for anyone living out in this area previously devoid of craft beer.

So…do your good deed for the day and grab a few pints at Two22.

Now, on to the other six breweries. It’s a grueling task, but somebody has to do it.

Koozies Are A Thing Again, And They’re Awesome.

Colorado Flag Koozie Vintage Mountains Can Cooler Royal Blue Koozies Are A Thing Again, And Theyre Awesome.

Remember Koozies?

For anyone under 30, that might be impossible…but for anyone who’s been alive since the 80′s (or longer), a koozie occupies a strange little spot in our brains. Back before glass bottles became the de-facto beer container, cans were king. Plus, we used to live in a world where not every inch of indoor space was air-conditioned (and *gasp* people actually spent time outside!). Because of these factors, many beer drinkers fought a never-ending battle against warm beer — a battle that resulted in the invention of the mighty Koozie, an insulation device created especially for the prevention of room-temperature suds.

SK LIFESTYLE KINGS1 Koozies Are A Thing Again, And Theyre Awesome.

 

There was a time, not long ago, that koozies had fallen into the realm of being dismissed as a white-trash accessory — something your redneck uncle Carl used to hold his can of Busch. But, like many things once shunned or considered passe, the koozie has been championed by hipsters everywhere. And with the triumphant return of aluminum cans as the ideal vessel for craft beer, koozies are now not only fashionable, but also a viable product for anyone wishing to avoid piss-warm ale.

With this resurgence has come a tidal wave of custom koozies for any conceivable niche:

CUPP 3629 Koozies Are A Thing Again, And Theyre Awesome.

The bacon obsessed.

 

cowhide koozies Koozies Are A Thing Again, And Theyre Awesome.

For people who prefer the company of livestock over humans.

beard koozies Koozies Are A Thing Again, And Theyre Awesome.

…and the dreaded hipster.

 

What’s more, now anyone can design a koozie to match whatever other strange ideas that might be floating around their booze-addled brains: Here’s a custom beer koozies site where you can create the koozie of your deranged dreams. With tools akin to a miniature Photoshop suite, you can now have that Justin Bieber koozie you always dreamed about, you sick bastard.

Also, there seem to be more applications for the beloved koozie than mere beverage cooling…you can also utilize them for subterfuge!

565073806 o Koozies Are A Thing Again, And Theyre Awesome.

Perfect for the family reunion, pee-wee football games and anywhere else where drinking a beer might make you look like a degenerate!

 

The bottom line is, here in Colorado you practically are required to own one of these retro insulation devices if you are out climbing a 14′er or just milling about your backyard staring at prairie dogs, so this is one of those rare occasions where you can thank a hipster for actually contributing something of value to society.

 

 

 

 

Review: Post Brewing Company, Lafayette, CO

20140119 180417 Review: Post Brewing Company, Lafayette, CO

 

The latest addition to a burgeoning craft beer scene in the community of Lafayette, Post Brewing Company is a bit of a revelation, but it’s not the beer (yet) that sets it apart.

20140119 180436 Review: Post Brewing Company, Lafayette, CO

Located in a rehabbed, small-town post office, the building is a fitting reflection of the kind of old-fashioned food (and drink) available within. Adorned with logs that double as light fixtures and ceiling beams, the interior is a slightly modern take on a classic lodge setting, and it works.

Although they’ve been open for nearly a month, Post continues to attract a crowd akin to an opening day celebration, so a wait for a seat is virtually inevitable (but bar seating can help offset any impatience you might have). The downside of such popularity is that you’d be hard-pressed to have the sort of intimate experience one usually associates with a micro-brewery taproom. This being more of a restaurant setting, though, it’s not really a fair complaint.

 

20140119 192202 Review: Post Brewing Company, Lafayette, CO

 

Comfort food is the main attraction here, and it’s in this regard that Post truly soars; fried chicken, collard greens, black eyed peas — southern-style mainstays prepared gloriously well. If you find yourself making the trek up to Lafayette with your mind set on beer, you’re likely to realize that the food is what will motivate your follow-up trip.

So what of the beer? Well, they’ve only got one house beer on tap thus far (The “Little Buddy”) and it’s a totally respectable lager….except it’s been oddly mislabeled as an “American-style bitter”. Personally, I tasted nothing even vaguely resembling the traditional English bitter maltiness one should justifiably expect. Yes, I know it’s called “American style”, but it should at least have a passing resemblance to its trans-Atlantic namesake. Nonetheless, it’s a perfectly servicable session beer (at 3.5%), and works fantastically when poured into their house-made chelada mix.

With the full menu of beers yet to be introduced to the public, a final analysis can’t be issued at this time — but in terms of food, atmosphere and service Post Brewing Company has already established itself as a bonafide destination. Highly recommended.