Snow, the Rocky Mountains, Aspen, and laidback, friendly people. These are some of the terms people have used to associate with Colorado, and they are all true. Colorado has great snow and the Rocky Mountains are home to some of the best skiing terrain in the entire world. Aspen is considered the Beverly Hills of Colorado where many famous celebrities have homes and come to enjoy the extravagant lifestyle away from Los Angeles. And yes, the generalized description of Coloradoans is “laidback.” But did you know that Colorado is also nationally recognized for its craft and microbrew beers? What is a craft beer? A craft beer produces no more than 6 million barrels of beer each year. Craft breweries are independently owned, use traditional ingredients to brew their beer, and must contain at least 50 percent traditional malt, rather than additional ingredients such as oats, barley and/or wheat that microbrews use to brew their beer. Craft beers are typically full-bodied European-style brews such as pilsners, lagers, pale ales, ales, hefeweizens, stouts and porters. Here in Colorado, there is a seemingly never-ending array of craft and microbrews beers to try, whatever your taste may be.
Throughout Colorado, there are over 140 established breweries. In fact 8 percent of all craft beers in the nation are produced here. That may seem like a small number but when you consider that less than 2 percent of the nation’s population lives here, it is actually quite impressive. Not only does Colorado have a plethora of craft and microbrews but the world famous Coors Brewery is the largest brewery in the world boasting a production of 17 million barrels of beer each year. With such sheer volume of product and hundreds of varietals of beer, it is no wonder that Colorado has been dubbed the “Napa Valley of beer.” Why does Colorado make such great beer? If you look towards the peaks of the Rocky Mountains you will see white, snow-capped mountains. That is the secret. The “Rocky Mountain Spring Water” that runs off these peaks is some of the best water in the world with which to make beer.
If you are a beer connoisseur and wondering how on earth you could possibly sample all of the different kinds of beer here, I have four words for you: Great American Beer Festival. This beer festival is the largest in the nation. It lasts for three days every fall in Denver and attendees are able to sample more than 1,800 different brews from Colorado as well as the rest of the Untied States. From dark porters to crisp ciders the Great American Beer Festival is a haven as well as a heaven for beer aficionados from all over the world. If you aren’t in town for the beer festival, you can always patronize some of Denver’s local brewpubs to get your fix.
The Wynkoop Brewing Company: The nation’s largest brewpub, located downtown across from Union Station, was Colorado’s first brewpub. Here you can sample original brews such as Railyard Ale, an award-winning Octoberfest style ale; Light Rail, an English style ale and St. Charles Extra Special Bitter, a strong English ale amongst many others. The Wynkoop also serves great food and has over 20 pool tables.
Rock Bottom Brewery: Located on the 16th Street Mall, Denver’s mile-long pedestrian promenade, Rock Bottom has one of the city’s largest outdoor cafes and during the summer hosts live music. Some of their best brews include: Red Rocks Ale, an Irish red ale named after Denver’s famous amphitheatre; Molly’s Titanic Brown Ale, a dark ale that honors one of Denver’s most famous residents, Titanic survivor “Unsinkable Molly Brown”; Black Diamond Stout, which pays homage to black diamond ski runs, and Rockies Premium Draft, named after The Colorado Rockies baseball team.
Breckenridge Brewery: Located almost directly across the street from Coors Field, this microbrewery serves great food and of course, beer. Four of the beers are bottled and marketed throughout the Rocky Mountain west, but they can also be sampled from the keg at the brewery or at many other bars in the Denver area. Best brews include: Avalanche Ale, a malty, rich, creamy ale made with caramel malts; Mountain Wheat, a lighter beer made with 60% malted wheat; India Pale Ale, a full-bodied, hoppy and bittersweet ale; and Oatmeal Stout, a dark stout with a smooth, chocolate coffee flavor and aroma.
If you are a beer lover, and many Bridge students are (I can attest to that), then you will be doing yourself a great disservice by not going to at least one brewpub and sampling the sweet nectar of the gods called beer. Just up the street from Bridge, in fact, is a restaurant called Old Chicago that has over 50 beers on tap from all over the world, many of them from right here in Colorado. You can also find many Colorado beers for sale at local liquor stores. Yes, snow, mountains and the Denver Broncos are all part of Colorado, but I must say, they are much better enjoyed with a Colorado beer.