Highlands Ranch Ride

Perhaps a  C470 trail brewery bike tour on a 99-degree day wasn’t the wisest move. The trail is hot and exposed and has a couple of decent hills, although overall the ride isn’t that long – approx 7.5 miles. I’d recommend it as a good fall ride. Regardless, everyone survived and perhaps enjoyed the cold beers even more.

Our meeting point was Lone Tree Brewing across from Furniture Row right off C470 (exit Quebec and head east if driving). Their style is mostly what I’d call Colorado Brewery In A Box – taproom with lots of wood, exposed brew systems, patio. The key differences are the merch, which is definitely Highlands Ranch oriented (branded soaps and coasters), and the very-thoughtful “adults-only” section. I thought that was a nice and unique feature for people who may want a more peaceful drinking experience. As far as the beers, almost any beer-drinker, no matter how picky, will find something to his or her taste. Expect every major style to be represented along with more adventurous offerings like their Peach Pale Ale and a Dill Rye IPA. That’s not a typo Dill . . . Rye . . . IPA. And it surprisingly works really well with the dill balancing out the hops and, dare I say, giving it a light, fresh taste that’s perfect for a hot day. They can many of their beers too, so you can always even get a souvenir at the end of the ride.

Next stop – Blue Spruce Brewery – was essentially straight west on the C470 trail, with just a bit of sidewalk riding on either end. Note that for about a block just before Blue Spruce the sidewalk ends and you’re on hard-packed dirt/gravel but even friends with road bikes did fine. Blue Spruce has a huge selection of beers along with food  and large sunny patio areas that were unsurprisingly unoccupied on this hot day. Like Lone Tree they have every style along with some more experimental brews. The Honey Kolsch was very refreshing after the hot ride and the honey definitely took charge and won out over the light and refreshing hop bitterness in a typical kolsch. The cream ale was pretty much straight to style, as was the golden strong (the stand-out beer for me here).

Retracing our trail and heading south along Colorado and east along C470 we reached our final stop – 3 Freaks Brewery. You can go all the way to Quebec on the trail and make a big u-turn to 3 Freaks or shortcut on the concrete path to the left  between the hotel and strip mall a few hundred feet before Quebec. Three Freaks is in the strip mall and a big departure from the last two suburban-feeling places (in the best way). It’s much smaller and has a much more urban vibe – like somewhere that would be at home on South Broadway or in RINO. They do VERY small batches so things turn over quickly.

3 Freaks Industrial Taproom
It’s certain you’ll have a different selection of beers than we did, but if generalities hold true, you’ll find decent takes on the basics and some hits and some misses on the experimental ones. However with smaller batches it’s also a lot easier to experiment.I count their Lloyds Christmas Porter – Christmas in July I guess – as a successful experiment. It was a very dark, choclatey porter without the spices I normally expect in a Christmas beer but that worked perfectly with the mint candy-cane flavor. It’s difficult to describe without sounding strange, and for sure it is not for everyone, but if it sounds even remotely interesting you must try it. And last but not least – the staff were amazingly friendly and helpful. Everyone working that day has a hand in the brewing process and was happy to show and tell all about their newest experiments. If I lived closer it would be the kind of place that keeps me coming back probably too frequently to check out the next concoction.
And finally back to Lone Tree via a combination of sidewalk-trail-sidewalk again. If biking (or heat stroke) isn’t your thing, all of these would be very driveable primarily using County Line Road.

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