Crafty Colorado

Nathan Solheim

Editor’s note: At the time of this publication, each venue was open for service. However, should public health concerns warrant additional protective measures, check the websites for any updates.

In my opinion, the U.S. is the best beer country in the world. But with so many options for craft beer these days, it’s hard to know where to get started. Here are a few of my recommendations for visiting breweries that go well beyond the standard ales and lagers. You won’t find these craft breweries in a nondescript industrial park or strip mall; they’ve chosen unique places to set up shop. And one important note: Please drink responsibly.

Four-Alarm Fermentables

Station 26 Brewing

7045 E. 38th Ave., Denver

Occupying a former Denver fire station, Station 26 Brewing features much of the original interior, so beer fans get an idea what life was like on the watch. More than that, Station 26 is one the best breweries in the state, with an extremely popular hazy IPA called Juicy Banger. Try the Colorado Cream Ale, a light, tasty quencher and perfect for a hot summer day. Feeling puckish? Check their website to find a schedule of interesting food trucks.

Craft Beer. No Gamble

Dostal Alley

116 Main St., Central City

“Can a craft brewery and a casino co-exist?” That’s an existential question Kierkegaard never asked, and yet it’s a reality in Central City. The family-owned Dostal Alley serves up well-crafted brews good enough to occupy your other arm while sitting in front of a one-armed bandit. Bartenders can even tell you a bit about Central City’s rich and colorful beer history. When it’s on tap, the American City Pale Ale is one of the better pale ales I’ve tasted around the state. Dostal Alley’s restaurant features pizzas, calzones, sandwiches, salads, and apps. I always go for the classic House Special pie, which, trust me, pairs well with one of the beers and a jackpot.

Mile High History

An old brand flows anew in the historic Tivoli Brewery on the Auraria Campus in Denver. Courtesy of the Tivoli

Tivoli Brewing Company

900 Auraria Pkwy., St. 240, Denver

For a taste of Denver’s brewing tradition, Tivoli Brewing Company is a craft brewery that’s taken up residence in the historic Tivoli Brewery building, which now serves as the student union for the academic institutions that share the Auraria campus. The patio has one of the best views of downtown anywhere, and they’ve resurrected a few original recipes, as well as developed their own modern brews. Most beer fans enjoy the Tivoli Helles lager, but I say check out the Bohemian Girl pilsner—it’s an overlooked yum monster. As far as food, I usually go for one of the three different street tacos, but there’s plenty of other selections to choose from, too.

Too Brew for School

Bristol Brewing

1604 S. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs

Craft breweries pop up in out-of-the-way places—industrial parks, neighborhood storefronts, the aforementioned casino. One of Colorado’s first craft breweries, Bristol Brewing, is located in the former Ivywild School, now turned marketplace, in Colorado Springs. While there’s no detention, it’s an ironic place to sample some great beer. I suggest trying a flagship Winter Warlock or Yellow Kite Pilsner. The entire building has transformed into a community gathering spot to visit and enjoy some local cuisine, art, gardens, and more. The kitchen is currently closed, but they do have food trucks on site.

Go Yeast, Young Man

Weldwerks Brewing Company in Greeley has quickly gained nationwide notoriety for its creative and experimental beers.Courtesy of Weldwerks

Weldwerks Brewing

508 8th Ave., Greeley

Perhaps one of the most revered craft breweries in the country, Greeley’s Weldwerks Brewing, brewed 100, yes, I said 100, new beers in 2019. They’re frequently releasing new beers, and the comfortable taproom and production facility, just north of downtown, is a relaxing, welcoming spot to sample whatever they’re pouring. My suggestions are the Medianoche, a rich velvety stout, or the Juicy Bits Hazy IPA—or anything else, really. For grub, it’s all food truck here, so call the taproom to find out what will be available.

Can-Do Attitude

Craft-beer production for the Oskar Blues Brewery once poured out of this shed in Lyons. Today, the space serves a pilot production facility for new beers. Courtesy of Oskar Blues

Oskar Blues Brewing Company

303 Main St., Lyons

When Oskar Blues started canning beer, people laughed—including the owners. However, it fueled a revolution in the industry. The little brewery in Lyons also grew into CAN-ARCHY—one of the dominant forces in craft beer today, with several brands across the country. But it all started at a small brewpub in Lyons, with a production facility next door in a brown wooden shed. While production has moved to nearby Longmont, the Lyons location offers a vintage arcade in the basement for kids of all ages. When I’m there—usually after a hike in the Indian Peaks Wilderness or Rocky Mountain National Park—I usually wash down my Dale’s Pale Ale with a CHUBurger.

To Honor the Family

Coors Barmen Pilsner

Table Mountain Inn

1310 Washington Ave, Golden

Rock Rest Lodge

16005 Mt Vernon Rd., Golden

One of Colorado’s craft beer secrets is made by one of the biggest breweries around. Coors’ Barmen Pilsner is every bit as a good as a well-made craft beer, if not better. Arriving in a tall pilsner glass, the beer takes seven minutes to pour, since it’s carbonated and nitrogenated. It’s only served at select bars and restaurants around Colorado, including the Table Mountain Grill and Cantina and the Rock Rest Lodge in Golden. I drink my Barmen with the chicken wings at Rock Rest or a plate of fajitas at Table Mountain—both dishes pair well with this brew, as does the ambiance of each historic location.

Chug A Lug a Choo Choo

Accomplice Beer Company

115 W. 15th St., Cheyenne

I know this one’s not in Colorado, but it’s just across the border and it’s too good to leave out, is occupying a wing of the beautiful old Union Pacific Depot in downtown Cheyenne, Accomplice Beer Company is one of the most historically significant breweries on the map. It drops craft beer newbies and aficionados, like me, smack dab in the middle of the history of the West. Sip on an ale or lager—or any frothy creation—from the rotating list of offerings while watching the trains roll in. While the bill of fare may not be as hoity toity as what you’d find on the Orient Express, it is extensive.

EnCompass is streaming on Denver7

Oskar Blues’ flagship brew, Dale’s Pale Ale, isn’t just a hoppy, flavorful pale ale—it quite literally changed the game by launching the craft-beer-in-a-can phenomenon. Learn the story behind this trailblazer on the Denver7 streaming app. Just search “Denver7” on your Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or Android TV to download the app, and then scroll to the “Discover Colorado” section.

Nathan Solheim is the creative content and digital media production manager for AAA Colorado.