The Quest for the Holy Grain - Best Microbreweries
Colorado

 

 

Berthoud

Denver

Ft. Collins

Loveland

Ouray

 

 

 

 

Ourayle House Brewery / Mr. Grumpy Pants
703 Main St
Ouray, Colorado, CO
(970) 903-1824

Ouray, Colorado is the county seat and largest town in Ouray County, with an estimated population of 1,033. But it is in the heart of the part of Colorado known as “the Switzerland of America,” surrounded by steep snow-covered peaks, brilliant blue skies, clean clear air and colorful vegetation in the heart of Colorado's mining country in the San Juan Mountains. Predictably, tourism is the leading industry here, and tourists are always thirsty for locally-brewed beer, so Ouray has three nanobreweries. They all share the most spectacular views imaginable from almost any seat.

The nano-est of all of them is this establishment, called by its proprietor “Ourayle House Brewery,” but called by everyone else “Mr. Grumpy Pants” after the personality of the dry-witted and dour owner / brewer / barkeeper / bouncer, known as “Hutch.”
Hutch sits behind the bar on a steel-cable swing that slides the length of the bar on an overhead rail, so he doesn't even have to stand up very often to greet customers, pour beer, and make change.
And his demeanor (probably just an act, but who knows?) fully lives up to his nickname.

But Hutch is a pretty good brewer!
He had been brewing beer at home for a long time before opening his doors to the waiting crowds in Ouray, and he has gotten very good at it. In particular, his “Smoked Brown” is pretty awesome, and always on tap due to its continuing popularity.
And if you want something to go along with your beer, the taproom shares a building with Maggie's Kitchen, which serves up an incredible bacon cheeseburger topped with onion rings and accompanied by fries. And do-it-yourselfer Hutch has a gas grill off to the side of the outdoor seating area that he will let you use if you want to bring your own food and grill it.
Not the usual arrangement – but Ouray is not your usual place!

 

 

 

 

 

Berthoud Brewing Company
450 8th Street
Berthoud, CO 80513
970.532.9850

Tiny Berthoud, Colorado (Population 5,130) boasts two hometown breweries, and this is no longer unusual by Colorado standards.

Microbreweries with taprooms have all but replaced small dive bars in the many small towns across the state.
In fact, the preferred term for these very small operations is “nanobrewery,” which means that each batch produces no more than 3 barrels, or about 50 gallons.

Berthoud Brewing Co. fits this description perfectly. Its very much a small, neighborhood bar, visited by food trucks from nearby (an much larger) Loveland on weekends.
The building's interior is crafted from old barn wood and industrial hardware, yielding a very interesting and pleasant experience. You will hear no live or recorded music besides the dull droning of conversation and the clink of bar glasses.
On most weeknights, there will be a dozen or so locals there, sipping a brew and catching up on local news.

The beers are varied, offering everything from hefeweizens to stouts to IPAs.
No prize-winners here, but even an ordinary craft brew drawn from a tap a few feet from where it was born beats mass-produced Big Beer any day.

 

 

 

 

 

New Belgium Brewing
500 Linden St
Fort Collins, CO 80524
888-NBB-4044

One of the largest “microbreweries” anywhere,
New Belgium has certainly outgrown the label, but is currently seeking to find its niche.
It is now marketed in all 50 states but has yet to gain a following commensurate with its new, big-beer footprint.
A recent move to employee ownership is expected to bring new life to its growth spurt that had been stalling.

You would never know this company was experiencing growing pains based on seeing and touring its immense Ft. Collins, CO campus. Along with Odells, these two breweries represent the state of the art showcase for craft brewing.
The expansive and enchanting garden-like grounds, and the large but not overwhelming indoor seating areas combine to help the visitor lose track of time and concentrate only on one thing – enjoying superb beer, one glass at a time.

Local food trucks provide fresh, creative food options to all patrons, whether first-timers or regulars. Truly a must-see for beer enthusiasts – or for those who want to gain some insight into the craft brew movement.

 

 

 

 

 

Odell Brewing Company
800 E Lincoln Ave
Fort Collins, CO 80524
Phone: (970) 498-9070

Odell Brewing - along with New Belgium, the other mega-craft brewery in Ft. Collins - is one of the largest, grandest brewery / taproom campus settings anywhere.

Beautiful, expansive outdoor beer garden, and food service via selected food trucks, plus indoor seating that meanders around and seats hundreds, all contribute to a very relaxing atmosphere in which to enjoy some of the best beer on earth.

Most patrons appear to have nothing else on their minds for the entire day than enjoying a succession of outstanding tributes to the brewing art.

Odell is ranked as a “regional” brewery because its distribution is limited geographically, but its beers are world-class, and one assumes that wider distribution will come in time.

Odell is served by a variety of food trucks, and the fare offered is up to the standards of the most sophisticated beer drinker.

 

 

 

 

 

Fort Collins Brewery & Tavern
1020 E Lincoln Ave
Fort Collins, CO 80524
Phone: (970) 682-2260

The Fort Collins Brewery is a large working brewery that has a bar in its midst.
The bar itself is to the left as one enters and seats about 15. A divider separates that section from the 20 or so tables in the seating area.
A great table that seats about 40 is along the righthand (front) windows.
A glass wall to the rear shows the brewing operation; one to the right looks on the bottling line.
FCB has about 25 of their own beers on tap as well as maybe 15 guest taps.
They serve a very limited pub grub menu.
Six-packs of Fort Collins' year- round beers and bombers of special products are available for purchase.
Everything is available in growlers.

 

 

 

Equinox Brewing
133 Remington St.
Ft. Collins, CO
970-484-1368

Equinox Brewing is a microbrewery in downtown Ft. Collins.
A slender store front opens to a bar area.
The small bar seats about six and there are a few tables.
An opening leads to the next storefront which apparently belongs to Equinox as well.
There are tables and booths in that room, like a restaurant, and a passage out to the back yard.
Behind the bar, and visible from the passageway, is the brewery.
Equinox has 22 different beers on tap - one of each style.

According to the Equinox mission statement, " On one level our beers fit into some traditional styles, but we put our own twist on them. We want our beers to capture elements from the past and incorporate new ideas, ingredients and techniques into them. We're not afraid to try new things."

To obtain a pint of an Equinox creation, one stands in line at the bar, gets a beer, and finds a seat somewhere.
Equinox beer is also sold in a number of other bars and restaurants in Ft. Collins.
I saw no reference to food.

 

 

Prost Brewing Company
2540 19th Street
Denver, CO 80211
303.729.1175

Prost Brewing is a microbrewery just a few blocks across the river from Coors Field.
It is a new stand-alone building - very modern inside.
The German decor consists of mostly large picnic tables.
The brewworks were made in 1963 and brewed beer in the German town of Grafenau until 1984. At that point, it was sold to Brauerei Hummer from Germany's Franconia region. After 350 years of brewing beer in Germany, the operation was moved to Denver.
Prost brews 5 German-style beers and one seasonal. Each of the beers can be purchased in the traditional 1-Liter Mass.
During our visit, there were 10 taps pumping 4 different beers. (Duplicates of all and two broken taps.)
It's a friendly and easy place to drink, and the beer is pretty good.

 

 

 

Denver Beer Company
1695 Platte St 
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 433-2739

The Denver Beer Company is a micro brewery a few blocks from the Colorado Rockies' Coors Field in Denver.
There are many garage-type doors in front reminding one of a Firehouse, but since the building is not very deep perhaps a gas station in a previous life. Appropriate because DBC, according to their website, was born "in our garages with a few batches of home brew.

The bar is in the center of the inside area with a tabled section to the right, and a patio out front.
This patio was designed by
"drawing inspiration from beer gardens of Bavaria...where new and old friends can share a table and pint out of doors. "

The brewing operation is visible also.
.All self serve...buy a beer and find a seat. Denver BC has 8 of their own beers on tap. Tuesday at 4:00 the place was quite busy.
Denver Beer Company also has food trucks present, so you may want to call about their schedule.

 

Hogshead Brewery
4460 W. 29th Ave.
Denver, CO 80212
303-495-3105

The Hogshead Brewery is a microbrewery in a nice, older residential area a few miles from downtown Denver.
Unlike the vast majority of American microbrewers, Hogshead brews traditional English-style ales.

According to their mission statement, their tap room and patio "have been designed and developed to provide a variety of beers with an emphasis on English ales in a warm and inviting atmosphere with a neighborhood friendly feel."

Hagshead has at least 5 of their own English-style beers on tap. Some are "real ales" served from the cask.
Those brews that I tried were tasty and seemed true to style. Everything is also available in growlers.

 

 

 

Loveland Aleworks
118 W 4th St
Loveland, CO 80537
(970) 619-8726

Possibly Loveland Aleworks was the best find during a recent tour of the state, for a number of reasons.
First, Loveland is big enough that this taproom would never survive as just a beer bar serving small batches of craft-brewed beer... there are too many other great beers being brewed in the vicinity.
Also, there is no food service, so that the proprietors can focus exclusively on creating and perfecting some really unique brews.
Each beer I tried was exceptional.
The sour was one of the best I have ever tasted.
Wish I could have come back a few more times and sampled every one.
The space is attractive but not overly trendy. The focus is on beer.
I am certainly hoping they get some wider distribution and continue refining and perfecting the art of craft brewing.

 

 

 

 

Grimm Brothers Brewhouse
623 Denver Ave.
Loveland, CO 80538
(970) 624-6045

Grimm Brothers Brewhouse specializes in unusual German-style beers, such as a Dusseldorf Ale and Kottbusser Ale.
Their brewhouse and brewpub are located in an unassuming industrial park in Loveland, CO.
Grimm Brothers featured a very friendly and helpful staff, and seemed to be patronized by locals and knowledgeable out-of-towners.
No food menu other than the convenient hot dog cart outside, but a great selection of current beers on tap.
Their "Little Red Cap" altbier has won some recent awards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"They who drink beer will think beer ." ....Washington Irving