Colorado, and the Denver area specifically, is often called the “Napa Valley” of Beer, and for good reason. It is home some of the biggest names in beer and has more craft breweries than nearly anywhere else.
Colorado has 348 craft breweries total and it is home to Coors and Budweiser among other brands known internationally. Additionally, its current governor, John Hickenlooper, was a founder of one of the largest craft breweries in the state, Wynkoop Brewing Company.
If you’re coming to Colorado as a visitor or already live here and want to explore the state’s massive amount of breweries, here is a short list of some of the best stops to make on your brewery pilgrimage.
Boulder is a scenic city right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. It has lots of breweries all around the city to explore with two standouts being Avery Brewing Co. and Upslope Brewing Company:
- Avery Brewing Co. opened in 1993, but despite being one of the newer breweries around, it makes some of the best old-world style beers. Try the Kaiser, a very rich imperial-style ale to enjoy over an hour or so, or the White Rascal, a spicy Belgian style ale.
- Upslope Brewing Company is a craft beer company founded right at the beginning of the craft beer explosion in 2008. Their IPA is refreshing yet surprisingly bold and rich, and their Oatmeal Stout goes down smooth but is robust with flavor.
Fort Collins is nestled right outside the foothills, and has some of the biggest beer names and the most prominent up-and-comers in the state. There are three breweries highlighted here, for either their international appeal or their great variety and style, but there are countless breweries to explore in this college town.
It would be remiss to talk about Fort Collins without mentioning New Belgium Brew Co. or Odell Brew Co. These two breweries have huge appeal all over the country, and are local favorites as well due to their craft brews and their community involvement.
- New Belgium and Odell’s: At New Belgium, try La Folie, a sour brown ale with sharp deep fruit flavors, or their flagship drink, Fat Tire, a delicious IPA that is the namesake of an annual festival, Tour de Fat. At Odells, try Easy Street, a delicious and smooth wheat ale, or their flagship ale 90 Shilling, an amber ale which is the main ingredient in a lot of local recipes.
- Snowbank Brewing, opened in 2014, is a celebration of Colorado and their brews definitely show that. Try the Sourado, a dry hopped session sour, or their Cranknbrew, a crisp pale ale combined with Fort Collins coffee.
Denver Metro Area
Denver is a massive city with tons of suburbs spread out over hundreds of miles. Covering every great brewery in this area would be impossible, but there are two breweries that have made a name for themself in the mile high city.
- Great Divide Brewing Co is located just a few blocks from the Rockies ballpark, making it a great place to try before heading out to a game. Try Yeti, a heavy imperial stout with rich roasted toffee flavors, or if you want something a little different, try Claymore, a slightly hoppy scotch ale with a red tint.
- Wynkoop Brewing Co is a downtown denver brewpub famous for being owned by Governor John Hickenlooper, as well as for its selection of craft beers and specialty brews. Try their IPA Nug Life, loaded with hoppy flavors and a favorite at the brewpub, or if you want something to really test yourself, try the Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, a stout with roasted barley, golden hops, and, you guessed it, roasted bull testicles.
Great breweries and beers aren’t just reserved to the cities. There are breweries tucked into mountain towns and the mountains themselves that stand out among the hundreds of breweries in the state. Two of the best-loved in the state are Broken Compass Brewing and AC Golden Brew Company.
- Broken Compass Brewing is based in Breckenridge, Colorado that serves a variety of styles and brews in an outdoors winter environment. Try the Czech Pilsner for a taste of a crisp european style beer, or the Fruit Boot Double IPA, a citrusy brew with a strong melon-like flavor.
- AC Golden is a company founded in 2007 by pete Coors of the Coors Brewing Company fame. While it is owned by MillerCoors, AC Golden serves craft beers created by the subsidiary of Coors dedicated to craft and specialty brewing. Try their line of Colorado Native Lagers, all brewed with local ingredients and only for sale in the state, or one of their many seasonal varieties available on tap.
As you can see, Colorado is the place to go if you love beer. From high up in the mountains to the eastern plains, you will be able to find delicious beer made with fresh Rocky Mountain spring water wherever you go. Come out to Colorful Colorado and experience just how much this amazing state has to offer the beer enthusiast.