Author: Malin Norman
Colorado is a mecca for craft beer lovers and often referred to as the perfect beercation, travel with a beer theme, thanks to a thriving beer scene and legendary breweries such as New Belgium, Left Hand, Great Divide, Odell and Avery.
Too good to be true, is what comes to mind when I think about Colorado and all its fabulous breweries. To hear more about the beer scene, I had a chat with Dan Rabin, retired travel writer and beer writer, and author of Colorado Breweries (published in 2014). “Colorado is one of the top beer destinations in the US,” he says. “The state has a high concentration of breweries but also an attractive outdoor lifestyle with lots of activities such as hiking and mountain biking, and of course it’s a world-famous ski destination as well.”
There are three main beer hubs in Colorado; Boulder, Fort Collins and Denver. Boulder is where the Brewers Association is based. The city is popular for its proximity to the outdoors as well as buzzing culture and music scene and the area is the birthplace of American craft beer pioneers such as Avery, Left Hand, Oskar Blues and Upslope. Dan also recommends Ska Brewing, which is based in Durango and just opened a new brewpub in Boulder. “They have a carefree persona and a strong following,” he says, and the Tropical Hazy IPA (6% ABV) described as plush and silky smooth with pineapple and papaya sounds pretty amazing!
Fort Collins is called Colorado’s craft beer capital and Dan confirms, “it’s a college town, young and active, an excellent beer destination.” Here live two craft beer legends; “New Belgium got the locals to try different styles, whereas Odell managed to stay relevant and maintained a consistent audience when others faded into the background.” Other interesting breweries in Fort Collins include for example Funkwerks, a specialist in Belgian styles which has been named Small Brewing Company of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival, Jessup Farm Barrel House, with excellent barrel-aged craft beer, and newbie Purpose Brewing & Cellars, featuring an ever-changing line-up of unique fermentations.
And last but not least, Denver. This is home to America’s largest beer festival the Great American Beer Festival with around 800 participating breweries (this year, it will be held online 16-17 October). Just outside the city resides Coors Brewery, the largest brewery in the world. One of Denver’s most inspiring craft breweries however is Great Divide. Opened in 1994, it set the stage for an explosion of excellent urban breweries such as Comrade Brewing, Hogshead Brewery and Bierstadt Lagerhaus.
Some great Colorado beers to try:
Milk Stout Nitro (6% ABV) by Left Hand: called America’s Stout, this is the brewery’s best selling beer. It’s a super smooth, rich milk stout with soft roastiness and mocha notes. According to the brewery, “When you crack that beer, there’s an alarming amount of sex appeal.”
India Pale Ale (7% ABV) by Odell: the brewery’s flagship and a fantastic example of an American IPA, rated “world-class” by BeerAdvocate and used as a benchmark for judges at the Great American Beer Festival.
Yeti Imperial Stout (9.5% ABV) by Great Divide: as described by the brewery, this beer is “an onslaught of the senses.” It has been named amongst Top 100 Beers On Planet Earth by BeerAdvocate and won numerous awards.
Juicy Bits (6.7% ABV) by WeldWerks: a hazy New England-Style IPA with heaps of citrus. The brewery’s biggest star is brewed with Citra, Mosaic and El Dorado hops.
Slow-Pour Pils (5.1% ABV) by Bierstadt Lagerhaus: northern German-inspired Pils, called “outstanding” by BeerAdvocate. The brewery’s tagline says it all; “No flair, no twist, no added things. Just tradition.”
Pictures: Avery Brewing Co., Purpose Brewing & Cellars, Great Divide Brewing Co.