Colorado’s Craft Beer Scene

Colorado's Craft Beer Scene

Maybe it’s the altitude, or perhaps it’s the attitude, but Colorado’s craft beer scene is growing in leaps and bounds, putting the days when Colorado was known only as the home of Coors Brewing Company a.k.a. Miller Coors in the distant past. In fact, over ten percent of U.S. craft breweries are located in the Mile High state, some 230 of them in all. Beer lovers are flocking to Colorado to taste and enjoy a wide range of beer choices. From relatively new breweries like Caution: Brewing Company, home of Asian spiced Lao Wang Lager and Honey Matrimony Brown Ale made with local wildflower honey, to more established names like Oskar Blues, the first craft brewery to can their beers – there’s something for every beer drinker to quaff in Colorado.

Among the top Colorado craft breweries are Great Divide Brewing Company. A wide variety of tasty brews come out of this expanding enterprise, including the Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout. It’s a mouthful to say and to taste, with cocoa nibs, vanilla and oak notes, and a spicy spike of cayenne. With an ABV of 9.5, this imperial stout is memorable in flavor and potency. A consistent festival award-winner, the Great Divide’s Denver Pale Ale is a classic, malty ale with just the right hoppy bitterness to follow. Located in Denver’s Ballpark Neighborhood since 1994, Great Divide has lived up to founder Brian Dunn’s quest to brew unique and flavorful brews, winning eighteen Great American Beer Festival medals over the years, and offering over twenty beers, including the robust, red Claymore Scotch Ale and the crisp and citrusy Whitewater wheat beer.

New Belgium Brewing

Also beginning their quest for craft beer in the 90s, New Belgium, located in Fort Collins, Colo., produces its classic amber ale Fat Tire, and is home to the sour apple and cherry-flavored La Folie, a Flander Oud Bruin that’s rich, yeasty, and pleasant to pucker over. Wheat beer drinkers haven’t been forgotten either, with a taste of sour lactobacillus and a citrus flair to the brewery’s Snapshot. Offering ten year-round brews and a variety of seasonal beers, New Belgium’s popularity is such that they’re building another manufacturing facility out of state.

Breckenridge Brewery

Skiers thrilled when Breckenridge Brewery opened it’s tasting room and pub on the small town’s main street in 1990. Now headquartered in Denver and merged with Wynkoop, another craft brewer, this Colorado mainstay bottles main line brews like Agave Wheat and crisp, light Avalanche Ale, and also offers seasonal brews like Summer Bright Ale. The brew barrel aged beers as well, such as the Small Batch 72 Imperial, a rich chocolate cream stout aged in oak whiskey barrels. Founder Richard Squire may not head straight off the slopes to work anymore, but his ski-town legacy continues to grow. The merger with Wynkoop should prove a compatible partnership.

Wynkoop Brewing Company

Founded in 1988 by none other than Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, Wynkoop Brewing offers crisp tasting Rail Yard Ale, Mile High Pale Ale in Cans, and the spicy Patty’s Chile Beer among other craft brew bests. Their new barrel aged Candy Brown Ale and their delightfully bitter Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout are other trendsetters worth tasting.

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