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

 

Field Trip: Colorado Springs

With this past weekend’s great weather it seemed like a good time to get out of town and check out the sunny scenery, not to mention finding a good patio, so we headed south to Colorado Springs. The Springs has loads of breweries but for a break in the middle and some wonderful scenery we headed up Highway 24 to Ute Pass and The Winery at Pikes Peak. This drive is super-easy to navigate and goes right past Garden of the Gods if you want to take a break for some sightseeing or hiking

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In their own words  . . . One of the “challenging” beers

 

Heading down I25 from Denver it’s a straight shot and just over an hour to exit 146, Garden of the Gods Road. Head west about 3 minutes and Trinity Brew sits on your right in a strip mall. The inside has a mountain-dive-bar look, but outside the wrap-around patio offers plenty of space to catch some sun and hang out. Though bit windy we still enjoyed the beautiful weather, a bite to eat, and good service. Trinity concentrates on what I’d call “challenging” beers – with many hoppy and/or sour options – and they do an amazing job. It’s a great place to expand your palate, and they also offer a couple of sessionable options too. Trinity also has a full-service kitchen if you need something to balance out your beer.

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Northwest Denver Afternoon

Small Town Exploration North of Denver

If you have a long afternoon and want to get out of Denver – but not too far – there are loads of breweries in the small towns just north of the city that make for a nice driving/walking tour.

We started at The Post Brewing Company in Lafayette, primarily because they opened the earliest and have food. The feel is upscale old west – kind of like a pretty saloon, although on a nice day try to sit in the atrium beer garden. Unfortunately the food and beer didn’t match the skill of the decor. The beer was solidly average and the food not even that good. I tried the saison, which had typical barnyard flavors and smells, the maltier-than-expected ESB, and a rather bland red. According the waiter their fried chicken was a point of pride, but that day they seemed to have been a little overly-proud of the fryer and it came out dark, burned, and tough. Although I’ve included it in this tour as an option, you could realistically do better at dozens of other breweries.

Moving on from Post we headed to Liquid Mechanics Brewing Co., about a 5-minute drive or 20-minute walk, and that’s when the fun really started. Although located in a typical liquid-mechanicsstrip mall, Liquid Mechanics has a cave-like barrel room with games side-by-side with barrels and also an outdoor patio. The real stars are the adventurous beers. The chilly day lead me to favor darks which were all very complex and warming. My sampler featured a stout, three porters including coconut and peanut butter versions, and a red wine saison.  All of them had great depth and balanced flavors but the red-wine saison was the clear stand-out. The typical yeasty and bready saison flavors were balanced by rich red wine flavors. If we hadn’t needed to keep moving I absolutely could have had  another pour.

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Fall Mountain Ride

Though not for the faint of heart, the ride from Dillon to Breckenridge is a beautiful one, especially in the fall, with changing aspens and most importantly breweries in both towns. The only drawback is that the breweries are clustered at the ends, leaving a 15-mile dry stretch in between (or you could stop in Frisco). On a recent Saturday ride I started in Dillon, found the trail along the inside of the dam, then rode mostly uphill to Broken Compass in Breckenridge. The ride skirts Lake Dillon and provides spectacular views of the water, the mountains, and the fall color.I had hoped to get the hard uphill work out of the way first and be rewarded with some beer and a downhill cruise – not so much.

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Starting out on Dillon Dam

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Colorado Springs Day Trip

With so many breweries all along the Front Range, a free Sunday seemed like a good excuse to get out of town with some friends and try a tour of Colorado Springs breweries. We hit three starting with very old (in  Colorado terms) – Bristol – to very new – Cogstone. The drive from Denver should only take about an hour (see traffic notes below) and between each brewery is only about 10 min or so driving.

Bristol is in a beautiful 100-year-old schoolhouse that houses boutique shops and eateries. Inside is hardwood and brick and outside is a wonderful patio – either one a great place to kill a couple hours. They have wide distribution in Denver so I tried to stick to the beers I hadn’t seen before. Most everything was tasty,  but for me the standouts were the Mass Transit and the KolschMass Transit was a great balance between hops and malt, with the malt having a slight edge while the Kolsch had amazing crispness and German hop bite that seemed to go best with a 90-degree day.

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Old School Bristol

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