Frequent visitors to this blog may have noticed a pretty lengthy lapse in updates, and for that I apologize. Truth be told, I took a few months off from drinking beer (which is astoundingly helpful when attempting to lose weight). Also, (and I don’t know if this is unique to me or is a common occurrence) my taste buds are completely screwed up for beer now. It’s rather traumatizing: I’ve found that the more intense styles (such as IPAs) aren’t as easy to consume as they once were, therefore it seemed kind of ridiculous to review things that I couldn’t do proper justice. Like I said, it’s all very disturbing. I recommend that beer drinkers never, ever, EVER do something as foolish as I have. KEEP DRINKING YOUR BEER. Let this be a warning to you.
OK, now that that sad admission is out of the way I’d like to at least give some quick impressions of the atmosphere and ambience of a few new breweries along the northern front range.
Rally King Brewing is located in a really nice strip mall in Ft. Collins. While that might strike some as an oxymoron, it’s true: the brewery is situated in an area with large, shady trees and huge planters overflowing with multi-colored flowers. As far as boring, suburban strip malls go, this is the Taj Mahal. Take that for what it’s worth, I guess.
The inside is similarly pleasant. While it isn’t breaking any new ground in terms of decor or Feng Shui, it’s totally comfortable, clean and serviceable, like a P.F. Changs restaurant or some other totally decent casual establishment. It ain’t overflowing with character, but it serves its function more than adequately.
Our service was quick and friendly, and the beers were, as far as my damaged taste buds could discern, totally acceptable across the board. My favorite was the lager, thus proving I am now damaged goods and need to go to some kind of remedial beer camp.
Next up was Lumpy Ridge Brewing in Estes Park.
I’ve gone on record as stating that resort and ski towns tend to be disappointing when it comes to breweries….and I shall now go on record in retracting that belief.
Lumpy Ridge Brewing is AWESOME.
How many tourist-friendly mountain towns have breweries made out of converted gas stations? I’m guessing the number is now exactly one. And it’s AWESOME.
The porch/beer garden area is conveniently shaded by the remnants of the old pumping area. Did I mention that it’s AWESOME? I did? Well, it TOTALLY IS.
While I’ve seen quite a few breweries built into odd buildings, this one ranks near the very top in terms of inventiveness and fun. Plus, it’s actually quite lovely in appearance thanks to some quirky wall paintings and lots of wood-based handiwork.
….and hell, even if the brewery itself was of questionable attractiveness, it almost wouldn’t matter with the view on hand. Yep, the mountain range that’s visible through the bar window as well as from every outside angle is the eponymous Lumpy Ridge. As per usual, my amateurish cell phone photos do little justice to the wonderful mountain views that are inescapable no matter where you stand/sit around Lumpy Ridge Brewing.
Furthermore, our service was excellent and their rye pale ale beer had a wonderful bread-iness that even my obliterated taste buds thoroughly enjoyed. If you’re a fan of Fat Tire then this is like the 5 star version of that 3 star beer.
Once more with feeling: Lumpy Ridge Brewing Company is AWESOME. Plan a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park just so you can drag your family up to this brewery, then spend a few minutes in the national park as an afterthought.
Finally, one our way home to Denver we stopped by Skeye Brewing in Longmont.
I’m not even gonna try reviewing this place right now. Lumpy Ridge kinda ruined me for all other breweries (at least for an afternoon). It simply wouldn’t be fair to review a strip mall brewery in Longmont after drinking beer in a bad-ass brewery in one of the most beautiful towns in America. Besides, they were out of many of their brews, so we’ll have to go back to give them a try anyway.
Today’s lesson: go to Lumpy Ridge Brewery at the earliest possible opportunity.