Brewery Snapshot: Wild Blue Yonder Brewing Co.

Occupying the old Victorian space of the former Augustine Grill, Wild Blue Yonder Brewing Co. takes its place as Castle Rock’s newest and possibly busiest brewery. Offering up huge indoor and outdoor spaces plus food, a full bar and a variety of beers, Wild Blue Yonder was packed when I visited just before Halloween on their second day of business.

BEER LINEUP: While limited at this early stage, the taplist of seven beers hits most popular styles and will likely let any beer lover find something appealing. The styles that our party tried all tasted great and true to style. Additionally, there are guest ciders and a limited bar.

ATMOSPHERE: On their second day of operation the atmosphere was buzzing with energy and even a little chaotic. The mostly adult, professional crowd packed the indoor taproom and spilled onto the large front patio and huge rear beer garden. The industrial taproom has a slight aviation theme in keeping with the brewery’s name and the owners’ Air Force roots, and opens nicely to show off the production area. While the beer garden is a bit roughly-finished at the moment the plan is to upgrade the landscaping and make it a multi-functional space. The kitchen offers a full food menu.20181026_174018_HDR

SERVICE: As one might imagine for a brand-new operation that was suddenly packed to capacity, service was a little confused but overall the friendly crew did a pretty good job of keeping the drink and food flowing.

LOCATION: Situated on a corner of busy Wilcox Street at the edge of downtown Castle Rock, Wild Blue Yonder makes a great stop while strolling around the main street shops and businesses, as part of a brewery-hopping tour, or as a destination its own right. There’s decent street parking and the Douglas County School District building across the street has plenty of spots in off hours.

STANDOUT BEER: Napoleon’s Conquest French Saison showcases virtually everything I love about saisons. The orange-amber, medium-bodied beer puts forward a medley of spice flavors balanced by a little bit of breadiness and the crispness that comes with Belgian yeast.

Patio Weather in the Springs

The patio-drinking season is winding down so a friend and I decided to take a trip to Colorado Springs for a short hike and a few patio beers.

After a morning hike we stopped at Cerberus Brewing Company 20181026_125401_hdr.jpgto enjoy their expansive patio/beer garden and some lunch. Cerberus serves up what I’d call “gourmet pub food”, which seems like overkill for a brewery, but was certainly tasty. They specialize in smoked brisket and our hunger was piqued when we smelled the smoker as we pulled into the parking lot. As far as the beer, my friend went light and I went dark and we both enjoyed all of the beers that we tried. They offer a varied selection for all tastes and exceptionally friendly and efficient servers. The overall atmosphere definitely encourages lingering, chilling, eating and drinking – especially on a warm sunny day.

From there we headed 10 minutes through downtown Colorado Springs to Goat Patch Brewing Co., which looks like a dated strip mall from the outside but inside is an old 20181026_142228_HDRschoolhouse converted to retail with businesses in the old classrooms and gym. The taproom offers up the standard craft-brewery experience; light-industrial design, garage doors opening to a patio, and a handful of beers that stay reasonably true to style and cover the full spectrum. The brewery offers up a pleasant experience but nothing about it would make me go out of my way to visit. In the context of this little tour, it’s a fine drop-in between Cerberus or Atrevida but you could easily substitute one of the other downtown breweries and not miss out on anything.

Our last stop in The Springs was Atrevida Beer Co., which was  a spur-of-the-moment choice but a fortuitous one. Located in a depressing-looking industrial park/strip mall, the exterior did not inspire confidence. However the indoor Mexican-themed taproom felt warm and cozy, enough so that we didn’t even bother with the small front patio. The 20181026_154621_hdr.jpgbeers mostly focused on traditional styles with interesting additions such as the Fresas con Crema strawberry cream ale and Boriqua Belgian blonde with pineapple and citrus. Based on all the brews we sampled, Atrevida has that approach dialed-in. We greatly enjoyed the creative beers, the friendly server, and checking out the tiny production units that make these small-batch creations.

Finally it was time to head back to Denver but not without a mid-way refreshment stop in Castle Rock at Wild Blue Yonder Brewing Co., which had just held their grand opening the previous day. We expected a quiet environment20181026_173437_hdr.jpg to wind down our day but it seems like the place has already become the go-to stop for Friday Happy Hour. The trendy-industrial taproom, front patio, and huge beer garden were packed and buzzing with energy. Although I didn’t try any of their food, the two beers I enjoyed while playing cornhole outdoors were absolutely fantastic. It often seems to take time for a brewery to settle into  their recipes and equipment but Wild Blue Yonder appears to have hit the ground running. It’s definitely worth the short drive from Denver.

From there it was back to the city and on to other Friday night Halloween-ish fun. Despite the fact that we packed in a drive, a hike and four breweries this day trip didn’t seem at all rushed and would also make a great weekend excursion. And if hiking isn’t your thing, Colorado Springs offers up a bunch more breweries that could give you an early start! Note: The earliest-opening brewery we found was 11 a.m.

Route Map and Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/bsQRzWDRyFQ2

 

Weekend Beer Update

As one might expect, it’s a weekend full of Halloween parties and other spooky happenings at a multitude of breweries. Most involve prizes of some sort so if you’re rockin’ that absolutely killer costume this year get out there and cash in!

Friday 26: Put on your Halloween best and head to Strange Craft Beer for $1 off pints on Costume Night. Strange sweetens the deal for hopheads with a release of their Super FI IPA as well.

Friday 26 – Wednesday 31: Demons take over Avery Brewing Co., Image result for free demon clip artwith the return of the Demons of Ale – The Beast Grand Cru, Samael’s Oak-Aged Ale, & Mephistopheles’ Stout – along with a costume contest on Friday the 26th. Naturally the best costume takes home a case full of demons!

Saturday 27: Tear yourself away from Halloween-themed events and join Little Machine Beer for a brunch to celebrate their third anniversary. Starting at 11:00 a.m. the brewery will serve up brunch food accompanied by live music and a special beer release.Living the Dream

Saturday 27: If brunch is too early for you head to  Living the Dream Brewing Company in the afternoon for their annual BBQ Fest, which as you might imagine will include plenty of pig and beer!

Saturday 27: If you’ve had your fill of BBQ and want to jump back into the Halloween spirit, throw on a costume and head to Westfax Brewing Company for their Night of Crafty Delights with a costume contest, beer & candy bar pairing and apple-bobbing contest starting at 6:00 p.m. The best apple-bobber will receive a prize as well as best costumes in three separate categories.

Saturday 27: Make your happiest nightmares come true with River North Brewery’s Nightmare Fuel Halloween Party featuring the release of regular and barrel-aged Nightmare Fuel coffee stout combined with a doggy costume party, plus trick-or-treat beer & cookie pairings with Good Sugar Baking from 4:00-6:00 p.m.20181024_170427_hdr.jpg

Saturday 27: Do double-duty with your dog’s costume and drop by 4 Noses Brewing Co. before or after downing a few River North beers for their 3:00 p.m. costume contest offering up prizes for winning dogs and their owners.

Saturday 27: Get your pumpkin on at Hops & Pie’s Pumpkin Beer Fest. They will pour pumpkin beers from about a dozen – mostly local – breweries all day for your drinking pleasure.

Saturday 27: Get to Call To Arms Brewing Company early for the20160907_191850_hdr 7:30 p.m. costume contest at their Halloween Rumpus to score some sweet prizes, not to mention specially-printed t-shirts, beer releases and an 80’s DJ.

Saturday 27: If your costume involves a onesie (yeah, that’s kinda random) or you need an excuse to get one, Ursula Brewery hosts a Hallow-Onesie party to coincide with the release of Scary Stories s’mores porter.

Saturday 27: Enjoy a delightful pairing of chocolate and peanut butter as Alpine Dog Brewing Company hosts their Halloween Peanut Butter Cup Stout Party featuring the release of the aforementioned beer plus a costume contest at 9:00 p.m.

Saturday 27: Boulder’s Upslope Brewing Company hosts Swills & Chills with a DJ for some dancing and a costume contest at 11 p.m.

Saturday 27: Further afield, darkness comes to New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins as Darkness Pours 2018 ushers in drinking, dancing, and a costume contest. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Saturday 27:  Take a trip back to the 1990’s at Ratio Beerworks‘ Halloween Party with a Green Day tribute band. They’ll feature costume contests throughout the night along with special beer releases. The party starts at 8:00 p.m.

Sunday 28: If the 80’s is more your style then head to Seedstock Brewery’s Beers For Fears 1980’s-themed Halloween Party. Watch classic Halloween movies while sucking down $4 pints.

Monday 29: Strange Craft Beer bookends the weekend with a Beer ‘o Lantern carving at 6:00 p.m.

Weekend Beer Update

Enjoy some of the last of the beautiful fall weather this weekend with all sorts of fun festivals, fall beer events and even a pet costume contest in addition to the usual anniversaries and grand openings. 

Friday 19 – Saturday 20th: Multiple sessions of The Festival bring you dozens and dozens of small-batch and artisan beers from the United States and around the world. It would be impossible to try all these brews and meet so many brewers without breaking the bank and this weekend they all come together at The Rock Drill in RINO. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Friday 19: Get into the Halloween/Day of the Dead spirit at Golden skullIntrepid Sojourner Beer Project by painting a sugar skull mug. The finished mugs will be taken to Potter’s Touch for firing and returned to you just in time for Halloween. Note: The cost for supplies and firing is $30.

Saturday 20: In preparation for Saturday sessions of The Festival, Freshcraft hosts a Fuel for the Fest brunch starting at 10:00 a.m. with special tappings to complement the tasty brunch food.

Saturday 20: Head down to Parker to check out the grand opening of Welcome Home Brewery. Details seem a little sketchy but it looks like they’ll be pouring some of their newly-crafted beers, along with having some food and a DJ.

Saturday 20: If you’re looking for somewhere more established, head up to Loveland for Crow Hop Brewing’s fifth anniversary party with at least ten wood-aged brews plus other specialty beers, a food truck and giveaways.

Saturday 20: Oktoberfest’s not done with us yet! The Real Oktoberfest Crate Brewery Beer -Brick Lane Londontakes over Glendale’s Infinity Park in combination with Olympic-qualifying women’s rugby. Starting at 1:00 p.m. grab samples from over 30 breweries before checking out the action on the field. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Saturday 20: The Brew Hut holds their annual home brew competition. Entry space is limited but they are looking for judging and stewarding volunteers.

Lit-up Halloween pumpkin with shadow vector imageSunday 21: Pumpkin mayhem hits Station 26 Brewing Co. as they celebrate all things pumpkin with beers, pies, carving, and even a bit of smashing. The brewery will supply tools and pumpkins to carve up at outdoor stations.

Sunday 21: Dress your pet for success at Bruz Beers’ pet costume party. In addition to  prizes there will be treats, swag, photos and it all benefits a good cause – MaxFund Animal Shelter. Note: This is a ticketed event for entrants.

Weekend Beer Update

This weekend ushers in colder weather but that’s not preventing a number of breweries from holding outdoor events – fortunately on Friday and Saturday before the snow flies! 

Friday 12 – Saturday 13: Head north to Windsor and help High Hops Brewery celebrate their 6th anniversary with food, music, commemorative swag, giveaways and of course beer releases.

20170610_195333_hdr-e1497366840193.jpgSaturday the 13th ushers in the Lucky 13 Anniversary Party at Dry Dock Brewing Co’s North Dock. They’ll be bringing out the big guns with music, food, lawn games, beer releases, screen printing and even a tattoo artist. Even better, you can also purchase the First Mate’s ticket, which gets you a souvenir glass and covers all the beer you want to drink. Seems like one helluva deal to me!

Saturday 13: The monthly West Side Brewery Bus Loop Hits the streets between Zuni Street Brewing Co., Hogshead Brewery, Little Machine Beer and Joyride Brewing. For 5 bucks you can ride the loop and get a free future beer if you complete the circuit. This month has a theme that about every beer-lover can get into, which is wear your brewery gear!20180621_171744_HDR

Saturday 13: Turn up the heat with Copper Kettle Brewing Company’s BBQ Cook-Off starting at noon. Note: This is a ticketed event for samples.

Saturday 13: Make a run up to Longmont for Collision Brewing Company’s grand opening with live music and giveaways, not to mention their spanking-new beers.

Saturday 13: At the opposite fringes of the metro area, Iron Mule Brewery opens in Castle Rock. Housed in the same facility as the recently-deceased Castle Rock Beer Co., they’re hoping to have an actual mule in attendance at the festivities.

Pub Pass Circuit

In an attempt to check off a number of Pub Pass breweries, a friend20181001_143113_HDR scheduled at short ride (approx. 5 miles) through The Highlands and Edgewater. The route primarily uses residential streets but takes a few trails, most notably through Sloan’s Lake Park with pretty views of the lake and mountains. The shorter ride lets you finish before dark on these shorter fall days but beware if it’s a Broncos Sunday, as the first part of the route runs reasonably-close to the stadium.

Briar Common signWe started at Briar Common Brewery + Eatery, which as the name implies offers both beer and food. The location in The Highlands is reasonably accessible by bike from light rail and other transit but if you choose to drive, parking can be tricky with many streets marked for resident permits only. Briar Common serves up a wide range of beers that should satisfy most tastes, paired with gourmet/trendy food offerings. The location in an old brick building feels cozy and has a wonderful patio on the roof for warm days (and why else would you be out biking, right?)

Leaving Briar Common we rode directly west on 23rd Avenue to Sloan’s Lake Park and beautiful views of the Front Range. A quick ride through the park to the corner of Sheridan Boulevard and 25th Avenue brought us to our next stop at Joyride.

Arriving at Joyride Brewing Company, we used 20180915_135700_hdr.jpgthe bike racks in front and at the municipal lot across the street and dived right in to the diverse taplist. In my experience Joyride can be a hit or miss in their selection but I’ve never been completely frustrated with their offerings. The taproom connects to the outdoors with garage doors opening to pleasant Sloan’s Lake views in front and a patio/biergarten out back. On our visit it appeared that they are building a rooftop patio to further leverage their location. Like Briar Common, this place is best experienced in warm weather. If the short ride calls for some sustenance, food trucks consistently park out front.

Crossing back over Sheridan Boulevard and taking Byron Place along the edge of the park we took a left on Xavier (though almost any of the streets opposite the park will work), headed uphill four blocks to 29th Avenue and took a right to bring us to Hogshead Brewery after a couple more blocks.20180915_152206_hdr.jpg

Hogshead Brewery was busy on the beautiful day we rode, with the tiny interior and big patio almost full. Hogshead’s specialty is English-style cask ales  so we settled in for a few lightly-carbonated bitters, porters, and the like. They do have a few other beers such as a saison and blonde but where they really shine is the English brews. They don’t typically have a food truck but there’s a coffee shop next door for a quick snack, and if you happen to have bike problems a bike shop shares the building with the coffee place.

We continued east on 29th Avenue across Lowell Boulevard and the tricky Speer Boulevard crossing to Zuni Street and Zuni Street Brewing.

Zuni Street Brewing Company was also having a busy day with both patios plus their interior full. The taproom has an island feel to it thanks to the vegetation-covered bar, the openness to breezes 20180915_172342_hdr.jpgfrom both the front and rear patios, and the chill band. As for beers, Zuni Street covers the full spectrum from dark to light but on my visits it seems like IPAs and hoppier styles are their sweet spot. We found a place in the shade on the front patio where we had easy access to both the bar and food truck.

Finally, as the sun and temperatures started to drop we headed back out on 29th Avenue – west this time – a few blocks to Clay where we turned south until we reached 23rd Avenue and our starting point of Briar Common.

This route is pretty easy to shake up many different ways and add or subtract breweries since it’s such a target-rich area (Little Machine comes to mind). Given the short distances you definitely want to pace yourself, though, as it’s easy to travel between breweries in just a few minutes.

For details on our particular route click the link.

Weekend Beer Update

The Oktoberfest options continue! Many more breweries will celebrate the traditional German holiday this week, along with a culture-heavy Friday & Sunday plus lots of other interesting-looking stuff to do.

Friday 5: Get a little dose of culture with an opening reception for Bruz Beers’ artist of the month, Chris Austin, from 6 – 8 p.m.20161104_175636_hdr.jpg

Friday 5: For a big dose of culture head to First Friday Art Walk on Santa Fe Drive, where you can check out local galleries, sip beer & wine, and pay a visit to one or more craft breweries. By my count you have at least four options – Crazy Mountain Brewing Co., Black Sky Brewery, Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project and Renegade Brewing Co.

Friday 5 – Saturday 6: Longmont is first out of the gate this weekend with their Oktoberfest that spans two days and is sponsored by Left Hand Brewing Company. The festival features beer from over ten breweries, music, food and games for the whole family. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Friday 5 – Sunday 7: Get into the anniversary spirit as Blind Faith Brewing celebrates one year of beer with a whole series of barrel-aged releases.

Friday 5 – Sunday 7: Welcome Goldspot Brewing Company’s new owners at the weekend-long New Ownership Party featuring daily beer releases, rotating food trucks, music, raffles and on Sunday a dog show at 2 p.m.

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Saturday 6: Beer steins, bands, music and food usher in Oktoberfest at Kokopelli Beer Company in Westminster. Kokopelli currently features an extensive lineup of German and Oktoberfest-specific beers, which I had the pleasure of trying last weekend and which I would highly recommend!

Saturday 6: Oktoberfest also rolls on down south in DTC at Halfpenny Brewing Company with all the traditions you’d expect: German food, music and of course beer! In addition, Halfpenny will have games, contests and prizes.

Saturday 6: If you’re already on the south end of town 20171108_161432_HDRfor Halfpenny, why not combine it with Locavore Beer Works’ Oktoberfest in Littleton?  They’ll tap some traditional German beers to complement their food while you watch (or participate in) yard games and stein-holding contests.

Saturday 6: Hop lovers will flock to Falling Rock Tap House for Fresh Hop Fest featuring beers from dozens of breweries created using the unique fresh-hopping process. No ticket required; just buy your hop happiness by the glass.

Intrepid Sojourner SignSaturday 6: For those more centrally-located, Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project throws down their version of Oktoberfest with a new Kölsch release, special steins, lawn games & contests and a craft market.

Sunday 7: Enjoy some ales and art at Alpine Dog Brewery’s Sunday Night Culture Club featuring the work of  Nastasja Martel.