Brewery Snapshot: Blue Spruce Brewing Company

Buried deep in suburbia-land in a quiet strip mall at County Line and Colorado, Blue Spruce Brewing Company wouldn’t seem particularly promising on the surface, however the breadth and quality of their beer combined with their food menu provides 20180105_192628_HDRa welcome surprise.

BEER LINEUP: Blue Spruce features a full range of traditional styles from cream ale to brown with all the steps in between. They also offer modestly different takes on the standards such as an apricot blonde and a vanilla porter. All the beers I tried were well-made and generally true to style. For non-beer-drinkers Blue Spruce carries a small selection of wine and hard liquor.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom definitely draws from Highlands Ranch, with lots of families and a laid back atmosphere that winds down shockingly early in the evening. This brewery is clearly outside the hipster zone. The rustic communal bench seating, small bar, and heated patio provide a welcoming atmosphere to relax, eat, and of course drink. Blue Spruce also features a full kitchen with an extensive and tasty menu and occasionally bands.20180105_192716_hdr.jpg

SERVICE: Uneven. The bartender was great – engaging, informed, and efficient. The table service, not so much. We never went thirsty but we did watch our server aimlessly cruise around the dining area while we tried to flag him down, and most every interaction involved some kind of confusing interjection.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Definitely the ‘burbs. Blue Spruce sits at the far end of a retail strip mall surrounded by housing. It can be hard to see, as it’s located below Dry Creek’s street level but once you find it you’ll also find ample parking. There’s little else to do in the immediate area.

STANDOUT BEER: Serrano Sunrise Chili Beer. I’m a sucker for chili beers and this one stands out above most. With medium heat and a slight roasted-pepper taste laid over what appeared to be a copper-colored Vienna Lager, the Serrano Sunrise made for a pleasant and complex beer with just the right amount balance of heat and flavor. Though not particularly hot, it must have offended many Highlands Ranchers, as the servers are comically obsessed with making you try a sample before you order if you say you’ve not had it previously.

Sunday Funday South Suburban Ride

On a sleepy summer Sunday we ventured out on bikes along the wooded Highline Canal to visit three great south suburban breweries. The ride was slightly longer than usual and we had to tackle a few big hills but the tasty beers made it all worthwhile! Most of the ride is on-trail, with much of it on the scenic canal, although part of the route uses the C470 trail, which currently has major construction. The trails switch between packed gravel and concrete so road bikes may find it challenging. A good map app is essential, as the route features loads of twists and turns.
Starting at Halfpenny Brewing Company near Arapahoe & Holly, we enjoyed the mostly American- and German-style beers in the new biergarden (out back past the brewing equipment). The patio can get hot since it’s really just a fenced-off section of parking lot 20170315_185333_HDRwith a partial sun shade, but hopefully when the hops grow up it’ll have more atmosphere. For beer, you’ll mostly find comfortable, traditional beers with a sprinkling of experimental stuff like Lichtenhainer smoked-sour (Seedstock collaboration) and a Cherry Cardamom Wheat. The staff was all super-friendly and helpful and our big group had no problem finding space in the large taproom amongst the regulars. If you get hungry, there are several food places in the strip mall, including a pizza joint.
Next we headed off to Three Freaks Brewing near Park Meadows. The ride was absolutely beautiful and very peaceful along the Highline Canal and local streams, with amazing voyeuristic views of swanky Cherry Hills Village mansions. The end turned somewhat less peaceful, as we navigated the sun-baked C470 trail with traffic whizzing by. Just past Quebec look for the strip mall on your right with Le Peep and Egg Roll King. Go past the building and you’ll find a trail into their parking lot.

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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. Continue reading “Highlands Ranch Ride”