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Colorado is widely known for its stunning mountains, outdoor adventures, and thriving beer culture. The state has a rich history of brewing, with over 400 craft breweries contributing to its national recognition as a beer haven. In this article, we explore the Colorado brewery scene, highlighting the best breweries in the state and the major beer events that take place throughout the year.
10 Colorado-Based Breweries
Discover the thriving Colorado brewery scene and embark on a flavorful adventure through the heart of the Rockies. With over 400 craft breweries, Colorado is a paradise for beer enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of styles, from traditional ales and lagers to innovative sours and barrel-aged brews.
New Belgium Brewing – Fort Collins
New Belgium has become an iconic craft brewery in the United States. Established in 1991, the brewery is best known for its flagship Fat Tire Amber Ale. The Voodoo Ranger IPA series and its exceptional sour beer program have also garnered much attention from beer enthusiasts.
Odell Brewing – Fort Collins
Odell Brewing Company has been a staple of the Colorado beer scene since 1989. Their 90 Shilling Ale and Odell IPA are fan favorites, while their barrel-aged beer series showcases the brewery’s commitment to innovative and unique offerings.
Great Divide Brewing – Denver
Founded in 1994, Great Divide has gained national recognition for its bold and diverse beer portfolio. The Yeti Imperial Stout and Denver Pale Ale are must-tries, along with their exciting seasonal beer releases.
Avery Brewing – Boulder
Avery Brewing Company has been crafting high-quality beers since 1993. Their White Rascal Belgian-Style White Ale and The Maharaja Imperial IPA are popular choices, and their barrel-aged beer series has garnered much acclaim.
Left Hand Brewing – Longmont
Since 1993, Left Hand Brewing Company has been delighting beer lovers with its distinct brews. The Milk Stout Nitro and Sawtooth Ale are two of their most popular offerings, alongside their inventive seasonal beer releases.
Ska Brewing – Durango
Established in 1995, Ska Brewing Company is known for its Modus Hoperandi IPA and True Blonde Ale. Their seasonal beer releases also add variety and excitement to their lineup.
Oskar Blues Brewery – Longmont
Oskar Blues, founded in 1997, is credited with starting the canned craft beer revolution. Dale’s Pale Ale, Old Chub Scotch Ale, and the Can-O-Bliss IPA series are just a few of their popular offerings.
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project – Denver
Crooked Stave is a modern artisan brewery focusing on wild and sour ales. The St. Bretta series and their barrel-aged beer releases have put them on the map as a unique and innovative brewery.
Funkwerks – Fort Collins
Specializing in Belgian-style beers, Funkwerks was founded in 2010. Their flagship Saison, Raspberry Provincial, and barrel-aged beer series showcase their commitment to quality and consistency.
Cerebral Brewing – Denver
Cerebral Brewing, established in 2015, has quickly gained a reputation for its unique and experimental beers. Rare Trait IPA and Work From Home Breakfast Porter are popular choices, along with their seasonal beer release
Popular Colorado Beers
Welcome to the world of popular Colorado beers, where the breathtaking beauty of the Rocky Mountains meets the passion and creativity of the state’s talented brewers. Colorado’s flourishing craft beer scene is known for its exceptional brews that cater to every palate, from hop-forward IPAs and rich, velvety stouts to crisp, refreshing lagers and tart, fruity sours.
- Fat Tire Amber Ale: An Amber Ale is a type of beer characterized by its amber color, medium body, and malt-forward flavor profile. Fat Tire Amber Ale, in particular, showcases a balance of malt sweetness and hop bitterness, with a slight hint of fruitiness.
- Voodoo Ranger IPA Series: India Pale Ale (IPA) is a popular beer style known for its hop-forward flavor and higher alcohol content compared to other ales. The Voodoo Ranger IPA Series offers a variety of IPAs, featuring different hop profiles and flavor combinations.
- Sour Beer: Sour beers are intentionally brewed to have an acidic, tart, or sour taste. They are often created through a process of mixed fermentation, involving wild yeast strains and bacteria that produce lactic acid, giving the beer its distinctive sour flavor.
- 90 Shilling Ale: The term “shilling” historically referred to the cost of a barrel of beer in Scotland. 90 Shilling Ale is a type of Scottish Ale, characterized by its rich malt flavor, caramel sweetness, and low hop bitterness.
- Odell IPA: Odell IPA is another example of an India Pale Ale (IPA), showcasing a balance of hop bitterness, fruity and citrus flavors, and a moderate malt backbone.
- Barrel-aged beer: Barrel-aged beers are beers that have been aged in wooden barrels, often previously used for wine or spirits like bourbon. This aging process imparts unique flavors from the wood and the residual alcohol, adding complexity and depth to the beer.
- White Rascal Belgian-Style White Ale: Belgian-style White Ale, also known as Witbier, is a wheat beer brewed with spices, such as coriander and orange peel. White Rascal features a hazy appearance, a light body, and a refreshing, slightly spicy, and citrusy flavor profile.
- The Maharaja Imperial IPA: Imperial IPA, also known as Double IPA, is a stronger and more hop-forward version of the traditional India Pale Ale. The Maharaja boasts intense hop flavors, often featuring tropical and citrus notes, and higher alcohol content.
- Milk Stout Nitro: Milk Stout is a type of stout brewed with lactose, a sugar derived from milk, which imparts a mild sweetness and a creamy mouthfeel. Nitro refers to the beer being infused with nitrogen, resulting in a smooth, velvety texture and a thick, creamy head.
- Sawtooth Ale: Sawtooth Ale is an example of an American-style ESB (Extra Special Bitter), a beer style characterized by a balance of malt sweetness and hop bitterness. It offers a medium body, caramel malt flavors, and a moderate hop profile.
- Modus Hoperandi IPA: Another example of an India Pale Ale (IPA), Modus Hoperandi features a hop-forward flavor profile, with piney and citrusy notes, and a solid malt backbone.
- True Blonde Ale: Blonde Ales are a light and easy-drinking beer style, characterized by a pale golden color, mild malt sweetness, and low hop bitterness. True Blonde Ale is a crisp and refreshing example of this style.
- Dale’s Pale Ale: Dale’s Pale Ale is an American-style Pale Ale, a type of beer known for its balanced flavor profile, featuring moderate malt sweetness and hop bitterness. This particular Pale Ale has a slightly higher hop presence than some other examples of the style.
- Old Chub Scotch Ale: Scotch Ales, also known as Wee Heavy, are a type of beer known for their rich malt flavors, caramel sweetness, and low hop bitterness. Old Chub is a robust and full-bodied example of this style, with a deep, dark color and a hint of smokiness.
- Saison: Saison is a Belgian-style farmhouse ale, originally brewed in the cooler months for farmworkers to enjoy during the summer. This beer style is characterized by its dry, fruity, and spicy flavor profile, often showcasing notes of pepper, clove, and citrus. Saisons typically have a moderate to high alcohol content and a refreshing effervescence.
- Raspberry Provincial: This beer is a variation of a Belgian-style sour ale known as a Fruit Lambic. Raspberry Provincial incorporates raspberries during the brewing process, resulting in a tart, fruity, and refreshing beer with a vibrant red hue.
- Rare Trait IPA: Rare Trait is another example of an India Pale Ale (IPA), featuring a bold hop profile with tropical fruit and citrus notes, supported by a moderate malt backbone.
- Work From Home Breakfast Porter: Porters are a type of dark ale known for their roasted malt flavors, often showcasing notes of chocolate and coffee. The Work From Home Breakfast Porter is a unique variation that incorporates breakfast-inspired ingredients, such as coffee and maple syrup, creating a rich, complex, and slightly sweet flavor profile.
- Denver Pale Ale: Denver Pale Ale is an American-style Pale Ale, showcasing a balance of malt sweetness and hop bitterness. It often features citrus and pine hop flavors, supported by a smooth, caramel malt backbone.
- Yeti Imperial Stout: Imperial Stouts are a stronger and more robust version of traditional stouts, boasting higher alcohol content and more intense flavors. Yeti Imperial Stout is known for its rich, roasted malt flavors, with notes of chocolate, coffee, and dark fruit, along with a noticeable hop bitterness to balance the sweetness.
As you explore the diverse and delicious beers that have put Colorado on the map, you’ll quickly discover why the Centennial State has become a top destination for beer lovers worldwide. So, grab a glass, and let’s dive into the delightful world of Colorado’s most popular beers.
Beer Lover’s Itinerary
5-Day Journey Through Colorado’s Breweries
Embark on an unforgettable Beer Lover’s Itinerary, a 5-day journey through the vibrant and diverse Colorado brewery scene. As you travel through the picturesque landscape of the Rocky Mountains, you’ll have the opportunity to visit iconic breweries, taste innovative and unique craft beers, and experience the warm and welcoming culture that defines the Centennial State’s beer community.
From the bustling city of Denver to the charming mountain towns of Boulder and Fort Collins, and down to the enchanting beauty of Durango and Telluride, this adventure will provide you with an unparalleled exploration of Colorado’s finest breweries. So, gather your fellow beer enthusiasts, and get ready to raise a toast to the Rockies on this unforgettable journey through the heart of Colorado’s craft beer scene.
Day 1: Denver
Morning: Arrive in Denver and check into your accommodations.
- Visit Great Divide Brewing Company for a tour and tasting.
- Explore nearby Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project to sample their wild and sour ales.
- End your afternoon at Cerebral Brewing, known for its unique and experimental beers.
Evening: Enjoy dinner at Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen, a beer-focused gastropub with an extensive selection of craft beers and delicious food.
Day 2: Boulder & Longmont
Morning: Depart for Boulder (approximately 30 minutes from Denver).
- Visit Avery Brewing Company for a tour and tasting of their White Rascal Belgian-Style White Ale and The Maharaja Imperial IPA.
- Grab lunch at Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery, a local favorite offering house-made beers and a tasty menu.
Afternoon: Head to Longmont (approximately 20 minutes from Boulder).
- Tour Left Hand Brewing Company and taste their famous Milk Stout Nitro.
- Discover Oskar Blues Brewery, credited with starting the canned craft beer revolution.
Evening: Return to Denver and dine at Freshcraft, a restaurant offering an extensive beer list and a creative menu focused on fresh ingredients.
Day 3: Fort Collins
Morning: Travel to Fort Collins (approximately 1 hour from Denver).
- Begin your day with a tour and tasting at New Belgium Brewing Company.
- Grab a bite at The Mayor of Old Town, a local eatery featuring 100 beers on tap and a diverse menu.
- Visit Odell Brewing Company for a tour and tasting of their 90 Shilling Ale and Odell IPA.
- Explore Funkwerks, a brewery specializing in Belgian-style beers.
Evening: Return to Denver and enjoy dinner at Ale House, a gastropub with a rooftop patio, an excellent beer selection, and a diverse menu.
Day 4: Durango
Morning: Depart early for Durango (approximately 6 hours from Denver).
Afternoon: Arrive in Durango and check into your accommodations.
- Tour Ska Brewing Company and taste their Modus Hoperandi IPA and True Blonde Ale.
- Enjoy dinner at Steamworks Brewing Company, offering a variety of house-brewed beers and a diverse food menu.
Day 5: Scenic Colorado Breweries
Morning: Depart for Telluride (approximately 2 hours from Durango).
- Visit Telluride Brewing Company for a tasting of their locally crafted beers.
- Grab lunch in Telluride’s historic downtown area.
Afternoon: Travel to Ouray (approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes from Telluride).
Explore Ouray Brewery and sample their beers while enjoying the stunning views of the San Juan Mountains.
Evening: Return to Durango for dinner at Carver Brewing Company, offering house-brewed beers and a menu featuring locally-sourced ingredients.
After your 5-day journey through Colorado’s breweries, you’ll have experienced some of the state’s finest craft beers and the breathtaking landscapes that make Colorado such a unique destination for beer enthusiasts.
Major Beer Events in Colorado
Colorado has quickly become a go-to destination for beer enthusiasts from around the world, thanks in no small part to the state’s thriving beer industry and the numerous major beer events that it plays host to each year. From the Great American Beer Festival to the Colorado Brewers’ Festival and beyond, there’s no shortage of events where beer lovers can come together to sample some of the finest beers from across the state and the country as a whole. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of the beer festival scene or just looking to explore what the state of Colorado has to offer, these beer events are definitely worth putting on your calendar. So grab a pint, relax, and get ready to discover some of the best beer events in Colorado!
Scenic Colorado Breweries
In addition to the breweries mentioned above, Colorado also boasts breweries in breathtaking locations. Telluride Brewing Company in Telluride, Ouray Brewery in Ouray, Elevation Beer Company in Poncha Springs, and Outer Range Brewing Company in Frisco are all worth a visit for both their excellent beers and stunning surroundings.
Colorado Brewery Scene
The Colorado brewery scene has had a significant impact on beer culture not only within the state but also across the nation. Its vibrant craft beer community, coupled with its stunning landscapes, makes it an ideal destination for beer lovers. With so many exceptional breweries and beer events to choose from, visitors will undoubtedly find themselves immersed in a world of innovative and delicious brews. So, the next time you’re in Colorado, be sure to raise a toast to the Rockies and explore the state’s incredible brewery scene.
Colorado Brewery FAQs
How many breweries are there in Colorado?
As of 2021, there are over 400 craft breweries in Colorado. The number has likely increased since then, as the state’s beer scene continues to grow and evolve.
What is Colorado’s most famous beer?
Fat Tire Amber Ale from New Belgium Brewing Company is perhaps the most well-known beer from Colorado. However, the state boasts many popular and iconic beers from a variety of breweries.
Are there brewery tours available in Colorado?
Yes, many breweries in Colorado offer tours to the public. Some of the larger breweries, like New Belgium and Odell Brewing Company, offer regularly scheduled tours, while smaller breweries may offer tours by appointment or on a more limited basis. Be sure to check with the individual brewery for their tour policies and schedules.
What are some of the major beer events in Colorado?
Colorado hosts several notable beer events throughout the year, including the Great American Beer Festival, Colorado Craft Beer Week, Collaboration Fest, and the Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines Festival.
What types of beer can I find in Colorado?
Colorado breweries produce a wide variety of beer styles, from traditional ales and lagers to innovative sour and barrel-aged beers. You’ll find IPAs, stouts, porters, pilsners, Belgian-style beers, and more, ensuring there’s something to suit every palate.
What is the best time of year to visit Colorado for beer enthusiasts?
While Colorado’s beer scene is thriving year-round, visiting during one of the major beer events can provide an even more exciting and immersive experience. Additionally, the fall season is popular for Oktoberfest celebrations and the release of seasonal beers like pumpkin ales and Oktoberfest lagers.
Is Colorado a good destination for gluten-free beer drinkers?
While many Colorado breweries focus on traditional, gluten-containing beer styles, there are also options for those who prefer gluten-free beer. Some breweries, like Holidaily Brewing Company, specialize in gluten-free beers, while others may offer one or more gluten-free options alongside their regular lineup.
Are Colorado breweries family-friendly?
Many Colorado breweries are family-friendly, offering a welcoming atmosphere for visitors of all ages. Some breweries have outdoor spaces, games, and even special events for families. However, it’s always a good idea to check with the individual brewery to confirm their specific family-friendly policies.
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