Feelings about specific craft breweries, as well the beers they brew, can’t help but be subjective. Appreciation of a beer or brewery will span the spectrum depending upon the individual. Some will love the beers but be ambivalent about the actual location, the staff, or the philosophy of the people who comprise it; and of course the reverse can be true as well.
We’ve traveled to a good number of breweries here in Colorado in nearly every portion of the state, and as can be expected, we have our favorites. Breweries that either just clicked with us because of when we visited, what we had to drink there, or because of all those things and more combined. Ska Brewing in Durango, Strange Brewing in Denver, and Palisade Brewing in Palisade (of course) are just a few that come to mind. And you can now, most definitively, add Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs to that list as well.
Admittedly, we’ve just scratched the surface of breweries in the Springs (we had been to three of the nine in-town before Trinity), but the majority have served great beers and appealed to our tastes in atmosphere and vibe. The craft beer community in the town is tight and it shows in how they support their local breweries and taphouses. Inevitably when talking about which breweries to visit there, the phrase “you have to visit Trinity” has worked its way into the discussion. So we made it a point to go there one Friday on a trip to points South a few weeks ago.
After the cluster fuck that is the drive between Denver and the Springs (keep right except to pass means nothing to most who drive this stretch) we were ready to take a breather, have a beer, and get a bite to eat.
Located northwest of downtown on Garden of the Gods Road, the newer strip mall it sits in boasts an impressive view of Pikes Peak and the foothills. The generic suburban exterior belies nothing of the homey, funky interior that feels more like an urban watering hole. Like a glittering jeweled slab from Ali Baba’s cave, the bartop, made completely from recycled broken beer bottles seizes the eyes; the illumination underneath only enhances its sparkly allure. This was just the first of many more, carefully thought out details throughout which impressed themselves during our visits.
We were the first ones in that day, the bar staff unlocking the door for us at Noon. And the place filled up quickly behind us as a steady influx of lunchtime customers gravitated to both the bar and numerous, evenly distributed tables.
Looking over the tap list for the day, both for their beers and the plethora of guest taps, a realization that any single label describing Trinity was useless. It’s a brewery and a taproom, it’s a taproom that brews it’s own beers, it’s a gastropub that also brews its own beers and has an incredible tap list; all of these descriptors and more correctly characterize it depending upon your personal preferences.
I mulled this over as we enjoyed the first sips of a Flo IPA on nitro and an Awaken Stout, also nitrogen infused. The Flo was a rare case, in my opinion, where the nitro did nothing for the beer; with its subtle hop profile, the nitrogen muted Flo’s aroma and bite too much. This was made more evident with my second pint which was a cask conditioned version. Without the creamy gas smothering it, Flo showed its true colors as a well balanced IPA.
The wife’s Awaken on the other hand benefited well from the nitro, complimenting the dark roastiness and hint of chicory. Both paired pleasingly with the Western Kobe Sliders and Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese we ordered for lunch. Bacon crumbles, cheddar cheese, and BBQ sauce combine to make the sliders edible nirvana. The fresh, locally-sourced ingredients take all of their menu that much further, being among the best food we’ve had at a brewery. The side of fries we selected came accompanied with dippers of homemade bleu cheese sauce, and ketchup so fresh it makes the taste buds sit up and take notice. The Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese was creamy and delicious; nobody’s mother ever made a plate so satisfying.
The bacon loaded menu offers a conundrum when taken with the decor, philosophy, and brand; it’s definitely got a counter-culture, almost hippy vibe… but in a good way. It’s more an embracing of life and the differences that make us all unique than an indoctrination like we’ve felt at Mountain Sun’s Vine Street Pub. Someday I’ll relate our experience at Vine Street to elaborate. Suffice it to say, everyone who comes in to Trinity, regardless of their outlook on life, is made to feel welcome by both the staff and ownership.
Our servers for the day, Alyssa and Kristen, certainly made the experience enjoyable. Serving a nearly packed house with nary a slip, they found time for friendly chat between delivering the next expediently pulled pint or next order up. After checking on the opening time for our return trip that Sunday, we bid them farewell and a promise to stop in again.
The return visit didn’t disappoint. The food and beers reflecting the high standard set previously. Both the Soul Horkey and Sunna Wit were solid companions to the other beers on tap. After another Flo, I couldn’t pass up having a Pliny the Elder they had just tapped that morning, and without a trace of guilt of choosing a visiting tap over the house brews. Like any true supporter of craft beer diversity, an appreciation of other breweries’ beers is embraced.
As we finished up our meal and beers we had a conversation with a fellow patron that further emphasized why we visit as many breweries as possible. Robert, in for a pint and growler fill told us of how he loves Trinity. He drives halfway across town just to visit his favorite brewer and an atmosphere he feels at home in. As the various local breweries entered the discussion, he pointed out that he loves Bristol Brewing’s beers but hates the atmosphere at their taproom. He feels it’s like drinking in a cold impersonal warehouse, whereas we think the clientele and staff warm up and contribute to its vibe. Each person has what they connect to on a personal and visceral level. Observations from others can only give you an impression of what a place will be like. To truly have an opinion, you have to visit and experience it for yourself.
We got a chance to talk to Trinity’s owner Jason Yester, at the place where he got his start, Bristol, during the Firkin Rendezvous the following weekend. We were struck by how much his brewery truly reflects his outlook on life, being almost an extension of his self. It was also reflected in who he hires since we also had a nice chat with Alyssa who was there as well, pulling tastes for her husband’s employer New Belgium.
We will have some difficult choices to make when we visit Colorado Springs in the future. We will be torn between trying the other breweries in town we haven’t experienced yet, and our favorites like Bristol, and now unquestionably, Trinity.