Colorado Springs is a military town. A big military town. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that the newly opened Red Leg Brewing Company is the first to openly exploit the strong military presence in the city. When starting a business (or making any form of art) it’s always wise to know your audience, and Red Leg seems to have done just that.
The military motif inside the taproom is very understated and utilitarian (as any military themed place should logically be) and is surprisingly tasteful and inviting considering the minimalist approach. It all works quite nicely.
The highlight of the decor was undoubtedly the camouflage-style wall adorned with hundreds of pieces of multi-length wood squares — it added a cool DIY feel to the whole area.
The outside of the building was your typical industrial-space set up, but given the theme of the brewery I wouldn’t necessarily subtract any points for that. What was nice, though, is the taproom is just a few minutes down the road from the beautiful Garden of the Gods park, so for anyone left yearning for scenery after a visit it’ll be remarkably easy to find some.
Our service was pleasant and quick, and you could tell the owners already had a rapport with the locals. In all likelihood, members of the military both past and present are probably right at home during a visit to Red Leg and the clientele will certainly only grow in time. As a brewery that caters to a specific segment of the population, they are sure to garner a strong and loyal following….
…Which is a good thing for these guys, ’cause the average beer aficionado is unlikely to make a return trip. Unfortunately, the beers we had were not very good. I had an IPA that displayed all of the hallmarks of the type of IPA I don’t enjoy: it was exceptionally bitter, but not in the way that a nicely hopped beer should be. Rather, it was an unpleasant bitterness that lingered in the mouth long after swallowing.
As if to emphasize everything wrong with this particular IPA, I had a Slap Yer Mammy down the road at Trinity Brewing later that afternoon that absolutely blew my mind. Advertising itself as the hoppiest beer on Planet Earth, Trinity’s hop-Goliath was certainly bitter, but in all the wonderful ways that hops are supposed to be. What’s more, even with its colossal punch the Slap Yer Mammy did not leave a lingering aftertaste.
Perhaps it’s unfair to compare these two IPAs: Trinity has been perfecting their recipes for going on five years while Red Leg is just learning to walk. Unfortunately, when the superior option is less than two minutes down the same street it makes the choice all too easy to make.
Meanwhile, my girlfriend settled on a wit beer that, despite having a pleasant enough flavor was almost completely devoid of carbonation. Furthermore, she claimed that it tasted watery.
In Red Leg’s defense, their website had stated that they had to close for a week or so because all of the first batch of beer had been ravenously consumed by opening month customers. Perhaps the batch we had was rushed in an effort to re-stock their supply and not lose the valuable momentum gained from their successful opening.
I don’t know, but I do wish them all the best. The impression I got from our brief visit was that of a friendly, hard-working upstart still trying to find their footing. In the meantime, I don’t see us making a return trip.
I’m not going to bother with a full-length review of Trinity Brewing as we’d already been there a few years back. It’s worth mentioning again, though, because not only had I somehow forgotten how amazingly great this place was but it also served to highlight just how much better they are than the vast majority of up-and-comers. Trinity is unquestionably one of the finest breweries in Colorado, if not the western half of the United States.
Every beer we had during our visit was fall-out-of-your-chair, roll-your-eyes-back-in-your-head, mind-bogglingly good. The 7 Day Sour is every bit as face-puckeringly awesome as anything from the great Crooked Stave in Denver and even holds its own against the almighty Cascade Barrel Brewing in Portland, Oregon. Meanwhile, their flagship Soul Horkey Ale is a malty miracle and polar opposite counterpoint to the previously mentioned Slap Yer Mammy.
It’s almost cruel how good their beers are, and to perfect two styles so diametrically opposed on the flavor spectrum makes it all the more impressive.
As if the spectacular beers weren’t enough, the decor and ambiance of Trinity is gorgeously quirky and as comfortable as any brewpub you’re ever likely to find.
Ultimately, the return visit to Trinity rescued what would have otherwise been a somewhat disappointing day-trip to Colorado Springs. And as thrilled as we are to re-discover one of the finest breweries imaginable, I’m also quite glad it isn’t up here in Denver as I’d undoubtedly spend more money there than is morally defensible.