When they told me April 7 is National Beer Day, my first thought was “And what about the other 364 days?”
I detest these made up celebratory days. Even worse when I have to talk about them on the news. Hey, everybody! It’s National Redheaded Left-Handed Ornithologist Day! Give me a break. But I’ve never passed up a chance to suggest some adventures in Colorado’s incredible craft beer scene.
We often talk about great beers and breweries around the Denver metro area. Here are nine of my favorite spots to pop in for a pint when I’m away from the big city. They’re all under-the-radar to some extent or another. Consider them my suggestions for a way to celebrate any of the 365 National Beer Days that occur each year.
Amicas Pizza & Microbrewery – Do you really need an excuse to go to Salida? I mean, come on people. It’s right at the center of our state and at the center of great mountain biking, fishing, whitewater rafting, and hiking. Next time you’re in town, pop into Amica's for a pizza and a pint of the Green Chile Ale. Get some excitement in your life.
BREW Pub & Kitchen – Durango is spoiled. It’s home to Colorado’s second-oldest brewpub (Wynkoop beat em to it in 1988) plus solid breweries including Steamworks and SKA. BREW can get lost in the mix. It shouldn’t. The food is excellent and its location on West College allows for great people watching as the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge train comes into town rattling your glass with its steam whistle. If they have the Devon, Diana, Donovan, or Norm on grab one of those.
Broken Compass Brewing – Let’s stretch the definition of apres ski off the resort property… and up to a bar stool at Broken Compass in Breckenridge. Colorado is awash in tasty coconut porters these days (I’m looking at you, Oskar Blues Death by Coconut) but Broken Compass’ version gives it a run for it’s money. It’s crazy how solid their beer is considering they’re a fairly young brewery.
Colorado Boy Pizzeria & Brewery – Montrose gets my vote for Colorado’s most underrated downtown. I could walk around for hours just checking out the beautiful old buildings. But then I wouldn’t be able to plunk down at Colorado Boy for a slice and pint of the Pale or the Stockman’s Ale (get that on cask if they’re serving).
Elevation Beer Company – Elevation in Poncha Springs is right down the road from Amica's in Salida. I’m not saying you have to visit them back-to-back, but if you don’t, your time management skills are in question. It’s tough to go wrong at Elevation; that’s why I’m a fan. They brew a variety of styles cleanly and imaginatively. I don’t usually care for fruit beers, but the Raspberry Gulch is a good choice on a hot day. The Signal De Botrange offers a bit of warmth on a chilly day.
Equinox Brewing – Fort Collins is another great beer town that needs no introduction to most Colorado beer geeks. But don’t get lost in the shiny things like New Belgium and Odell and forget Equinox on Remington Street. Chill is the word for this place. It’s laid back, friendly, and the beer is studly. Want to get lost in an underappreciated beer style at an under-the-radar gem of a brewpub? Grab the Jonas Porter. You’re welcome. I’ll let you buy me one sometime.
Riff Raff Brewing Company – Grab a chair under a tree on the front lawn at Pagosa Springs and chat up the locals. Last time I was there, our waitress was hoot and the beer selection was varied and interesting. The spruce-infused Pale was a standout.
Three Barrel Brewing – Three Barrel in Del Norte is a great excuse to visit my favorite part of Colorado to soak in the majestic scenery of our state: the San Luis Valley. Three Barrel has a series of sour ales. Chimayo is the best for my money. But don’t ignore their standards. If you’re not sick of coconut in beer (clearly I’m not), go for the Thurday Special, an exceptional Coconut Brown Lager.
TRiNiTY Brewing – I’m not sure if TRiNiTY in Colorado Springs is under-the-radar anymore. It’s inventive work with odd ingredients and wild yeasts is well known. But if you’ve only had their beer in the bottle, stop by the brewery. TRiNiTY makes beer that demands a discussion. Love it, loathe it, or something in between, you’ll want to spark a conversation with your server or someone at the next table over. I never pass up a chance to have the 7 Day Sour or its rarer counterpart, the 365 Day Sour.