Being the time of year when everyone’s top ten lists come out — top ten cats on the interwebs, top ten reality stars to embarrass themselves in public, top ten lists that no one cares about — we decided to add a new list, in addition to our annual Top Ten Draught Beers: our favorite Colorado breweries visited this past year.
It was a rare year for us in that our only out of state trip was to our beloved New Orleans. Kirk and the gang of NOLA Brewing were gracious hosts and the beers delicious, we look forward to returning some year and enjoying their new taproom.
But we did pack in a record number of Colorado breweries, both locally and throughout the state. So it only made sense to recognize the ones we could barely tear ourselves away from.
We decided to leave the Denver area breweries off the list for a couple of reasons. First, we spend so much time at nearly all of our local breweries that it’s hard to place one above the other; like proud parents not wanting to favor one among their varied offspring. From the Beermuda Triangle (thanks Scott, for inventing the term) to RiNo, to the Highlands, we frequent all of the taprooms on a regular basis. Strange, Wit’s End, Renegade, and Denver Beer Co all hold special places in our beery hearts. Secondly, we always encourage the people we meet to get out and explore new breweries farther afield, especially the smaller establishments that may not have had the press of an Avery, Oskar Blues, or New Belgium. You never know who you’ll meet, what you’ll drink, or what special moments will imprint themselves upon you when a smaller brewery is involved.
The criteria we used for this list involved a lot more than just the beers or structures. Food, where applicable, staff, brewers and owners, fellow patrons, and intangibles like the Brew Trek vibe all contributed to our selections and ratings. So, we hope you enjoy the list, either from memories of your own, or experiences you’re yet to have when you visit them.
- Trinity Brewing Company
Perhaps the best food at any brewery, locally or nationally, Trinity has more to offer than just their unique and excellent beer. Brewer/owner Jason Yester heads a competent and friendly staff, ready to serve you with genuine smiles. Its patrons are fiercely loyal and knowledgeable, happy to join in conversations at will.
- Elevation Beer Company
With a line up very few breweries can match, every single one of Elevation’s brews is finely crafted and tasty. We felt welcome the moment we stepped into the taproom, both from the warm decor and the people who make the brewery what it is. Sitting at the bar, you’ll get intelligent conversation from their growing local patronage as well. Look for our post on them sometime in the new year.
- Ska Brewing Company
We fell in love with Ska long before we ever passed through the doors of their taproom; the times we’ve had there over the years have only justified those feelings. The service has always been exceptional, the room inviting, and the beer guaranteed to be fresh. Our trips there in June, and then again for their anniversary party in September didn’t disappoint.
- Pikes Peak Brewing Company
If we had made this same list last year, PPB would’ve been at or near the top. It was a must stop in our travels to parts South, being a home away from home because of their beers, cozy taproom, and incredible staff and ownership. Our single trip this year was made all the more memorable by the afternoon spent catching up with long lost friends who we hadn’t seen in decades.
- Crazy Mountain Brewery
The laid back atmosphere and a flight of sure winners made this a perfect beginning to our Summer brewery sojourn. The staff easily answered our questions, gave us an impromptu tour, and kept our beers refreshed. The taproom is a perfect embodiment of Colorado’s skiing heritage.
- Amicas Pizza and Microbrewery
A favorite stop over in the region over the past couple of years, the experience was all the more enhanced by the patrons and staff of the brewery during our last couple of visits. Tasty pizzas, imaginative beers, and a comfy interior add up to a truly local experience.
- Colorado Boy Pub and Brewery
An Old World pub plopped into a quaint mountain town, Colorado Boy’s beers are just as traditional and inviting. Locals and tourists alike stop in for a pint as well as pizzas served up by an engaging staff.
- Palisade Brewing Company
A true hidden gem, Palisade’s brews are solid and the staff amiable. Stop in for a brew and a bite to eat in their bier garden, while enjoying the incredible view of mesas surrounding the town. And if you’re so inclined, a winery and distillery are both across the street.
- Ouray Brewery
The most unique bar seating in the state, the suspended chairs impart a feeling of riding up the slopes on a lift. And if the outdoors are more your style, the rooftop patio offers stunning views of the canyon encircling the town. Friendly servers and delicious beers just make it that more appealing.
- Horsefly Brewing Company
Well crafted brews are complimented by a great menu that includes a large variety of wings coveted by the Wife. Small town hospitality at its finest, kick back in the taproom or enjoy the afternoon on the large shaded patio.
What do you think, did you visit any of these breweries? Let us know which were your favorite taprooms in 2012.