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If you’re a beer enthusiast, a visit to Colorado may be a visit to paradise as everywhere you look, there is beer, there’s no escaping it. And, it’s a lot of beer done well, especially the stuff that’s poured from these top breweries in the state.
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Great Divide Brewing was established over two decades ago in 1994 and has become an internationally acclaimed craft brewery. Just a few of its accolades include 18 Great American Beer Festival medals and five World Beer Cup awards. It sources the highest quality ingredients locally whenever possible and even hosts food trucks at its brewery each night. The brewery’s downtown Denver Barrel Bar offers 16 taps of seasonal and year-round beers in a modern space with an intimate feel – some of the more popular picks are the Yeti Imperial South with caramel and toffee notes, and the Colette Farmhouse Ale, a fruity and slightly tart beer with a dry finish that makes it refreshing yet complex. Free guided tours offering a behind the scenes look are available on a daily basis at the new facility in the River North Neighborhood, as well as the original brewery and Tap Room located in the heart of downtown Denver.
Adam Avery established Avery Brewing back in 1993, and the Boulder-based venue has been growing steadily ever since. In fact, it recently moved to a new larger location in the Gunbarrel area, which offers 30 beers on tap plus a restaurant that serves comfort f00d-style cuisine, including vegetarian and gluten-free items. I’s best known for its big alcohol beers, like the Old Jubilation Ale with an 8.3 percent ABV, and a Halloween beer, the Mephistopheles’ Stout at 17.1 percent ABV. Some of their more popular brews that are frequently found on draft include the White Rascal Belgian-Style Wheat and The Maharaja Imperial IPA, although Avery also experiments with various methods and flavors to produce some great limited edition creations, like the Rumpkin, a pumpkin ale aged in fine fresh rum barrels. Free tours, in both the guided and self-guided varieties, are available every day.
Started in 1989, a time when the founder would deliver Fat Tire beer on his bike, today, New Belgium is considered one of the most respected and beloved breweries in the entire nation. While Fat Tire is still considered its flagship beer, the brewery is often coming up with new brews and outstanding seasonal lineups too. New Belgium focuses on taking the Colorado lifestyle and transposing it to a larger audience that not only produces excellent beer, but has an eco-friendly and community-friendly impact. It also has a recently revamped tap room, and what’s considered to be the best brewery tour in the area. Just be sure to book a spot ahead of time to avoid disappointment, and eat well beforehand as you’ll be sampling a lot of different beers.
Left Hand Brewing opened up in 1993 and it’s a consistent winner at the Great American Beer Fest, with favorites like the Fade to Black, Black Jack Porter and Sawtooth Ale. From light to dark, mild to bold, this Longmont brewery’s handcrafted beers are quite diverse, meaning there is something for just about every taste. The Sawtooth Ale is the flagship brew, though we highly recommend the Milk Stout Nitro, a smooth stout with notes of brown sugar, vanilla cream, roasted coffee and chocolate,. If you’re in the area, you can visit the tasting room any day of the week to sample these beers and many others. Free guided tours of the brewery offer a close up look at the behind-the-scenes action too.
Dry Dock Brewing Company started as a tiny project in the back of the company’s sister homebrew supply store, The Brew Hut, in 2005. It was the first craft brewery in Aurora, and has grown to become the state’s largest brewery that only distributes in Colorado. Its biggest seller has been the Apricot Blonde, which requires some 25,000 pounds of apricot puree to make it each year and frequently earns medals in the Great American Beer Festival. The brewery and tap room features a large seating area along with tables and a fireplace, shuffleboard and other games. There’s also a stack of menus for ordering food to be delivered and an attached home-brew shop where visitors can sip while shopping.
Over on the other side of the state in Grand Junction, Kannah Creek Brewing Company is a locally owned and operated neighborhood brewpub that’s been open since 2005. It features a wide range of styles, including award-winning craft brews like Standing Wave Pale Ale and Lands End Amber, from blondes to pales, stouts and porters. The warm and inviting brewery is also a fantastic spot to enjoy a night out on the town. Along with seven mainstay taps like Lands End Amber, a German-style Altbier, a number of seasonal options, such as the Cherry Bourbon Barrel Brown with chocolate and cherry notes, make an appearance, so that nearly every type of palate is sure to be pleased. The brewery recently expanded to a 12,000-square-foot state-of-th- art 30 barrel production facility, Edgewater, in the south part of downtown Grand Junction – tours are available, but be sure to call in advance.
Odd13 Brewing in Lafayette celebrates its fourth anniversary in 2017 and has been called one of the hottest breweries in Denver right now. It’s known as the first to can a “hazy, fruity New England-style IPA” in Colorado, and is said to be poised to be a trendsetter in the state’s thriving craft scene. Since opening in Old Town Lafayette in 2013, the business has grown two-fold every year – in fact, in 2015, they sold so much they actually couldn’t produce any more beer and had to invest in new equipment to up their capacity. The establishment now has a shiny new facility down the road from the tap house which hosts live music, trivia nights, and a host of other events.
Black Bottle Brewery is an upscale brewery/pub that opened in Fort Collins in 2012. Founder and brewmaster Sean Nook says he spent years home brewing before pulling a group together to make it a way of life. Today they’re brewing beer in their basement as well as offering a full food menu in the restaurant which features a wide selection of Black Bottle beers on tap, as well as a number of guest taps, specialty bottled beers and national favorites like New Belgium and Sierra Nevada, wines and meads. Top beers are the Friar Chuck, a German Kolsch which won the 2015 Great American Beer Festival Bronze Medal and the There Goes The Neighborhood, a Belgian Rye Saison.
Breckenridge Brewery originally opened by ski bum Richard Squire more than a quarter-of-a-century ago off Main Street in downtown Breckenridge, the ski town that shares its name. At the time, it was one of just three craft breweries in a state that would eventually become the epicenter of the craft movement. Today, it’s one of the country’s 50 largest breweries, and recently opened up a 12-acre campus in Littleton, just south of Denver, complete with a brewery, tap house and the Farm House Restaurant. It now has a total of five locations and ships to 32 states, but still manages to retain its integrity as one of the state’s most interesting producers. The Nitro Vanilla Porter, with its hints of caramel, coffee and chocolate is a must try. The downtown Breckenridge brewpub is still a mainstay with its lively atmosphere, pub fare, and outstanding selection of beer. The Littleton facility offers 90-minute guided brewery and sampling tours five days a week, though you’ll need to book online in advance.