Brewery Snapshot: Iron Mule Brewery

After purchasing Castle Rock Beer Co. over the summer, Iron Mule Brewery held their grand re-opening in late October with a completely redesigned beer menu and totally new taproom vibe. The tap list now features a wider range of styles and the taproom has a completely different energy, both of which encourage checking out Iron Mule if you find yourself in Castle Rock.

20181215_150357_HDRBEER LINEUP: While still a bit limited at six beers, the tap list covers far more territory than the British-style brews of the previous owner. It sounded like beers rotate on and off fairly quickly so it’s hard to make a full assessment of what you’ll encounter at any given time. However between what was on tap and what the owner said they had brewing it appears that Iron Mule will usually have a decent variety of brews: a light, some IPAs, and a dark at least.

ATMOSPHERE: On a Saturday afternoon the small, round taproom was packed and energetic with a diverse crowd including older couples, young families, groups of friends and several dogs. A display of several live birds of prey from a local raptor non-profit rounded out the mix. For food, Iron Mule has some pre-packaged snacks but also hosts frequent food trucks. It appears that the outdoor space is still in flux but perhaps by the time warmer weather arrives this will be fully sorted out.

SERVICE: The bar-only service was enthusiastic and friendly, 20181215_163953_HDR.jpgwith the owner joking with patrons as he poured beer while the brewer roamed the taproom and chatted. Both seemed excited to talk about their beers, the changes that have come with the new brewery, and upcoming plans.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Just a block off Wilcox Street in Castle Rock, Iron Mule provides a pleasant diversion while strolling downtown and visiting restaurants, stores, or one of the many festivals Castle Rock hosts. You could easily double your brewery experience by walking one block to Wild Blue Yonder on Wilcox. There’s also easy highway access for a five-minute detour if you’re heading either direction on I-25. Clearly, Castle Rock is 20181215_151552_HDR.jpga driving destination for most people and fortunately the surrounding area has plenty of free parking.

STANDOUT BEER: The Ears to You Champagne beer stood out as a truly unique beer.  The light-golden, slightly-hazy beer hides a surprisingly full body with lots of biscuit and malt. The beer also exhibits a dry crispness, likely from Belgian and/or Champagne yeast. The overall experience is an interesting contrast to typical craft beers.

Brewery Snapshot: Castle Rock Beer Co.

UPDATE: Apparently the English-style strategy was NOT a viable one. As of mid-Sept 2018 Castle Rock Beer Co. was sold and began the process of becoming Iron Mule. The taproom remains open and Iron Mule will be doing an official Grand Opening late October 2018.

Opening a brewery that produces only English-style beers in Castle Rock may seem like a stretch, but that’s exactly what Castle Rock Beer Co. (CRBC) did. Time will tell whether that’s a viable strategy of course, but meanwhile they serve up a broad and tasty (if you like that style) taplist from a location one block off Castle Rock’s main street.

BEER LINEUP: The menu contains only English and Irish-style ales, but offers a large range from cream ale and wit, through IPAs, all the way to a dark stout. As expected, some are rather plain but most all are pleasant and very sessionable. 20180811_133110_HDR

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom sits in one half of a big circular building and thus has unique architecture and lots of windows, but aside from that is your standard build. We visited on a Saturday afternoon and the place was very quiet with just a handful of customers and without much energy. Some might say relaxed, others dull. They have a small heat-and-serve food menu. The taproom is dog friendly, though there’s no patio.

SERVICE: The service was ok. The bartender/brewer/ 20180811_141524_HDRowner offered plenty of information on the beer and seemed friendly enough, but at times seemed more interested in the baseball game than monitoring customers’ empty glasses.

LOCATION: Just a block off Wilcox Street in Castle Rock, CRBC allows for a short (or long!) stop while strolling around downtown visiting restaurants, stores, or one of the many festivals Castle Rock puts on. There’s also easy highway access so you make it a stop on the way back from Colorado Springs or other southern destinations. Clearly it’s more of a driving destination for most people, but the surrounding area has plenty of free parking.

STANDOUT BEER: The Sea Queen  Irish Stout didn’t seem like a logical summer brew but was much lighter- and thinner-bodied than one might expect from that style and the dark mahogany color. The body took nothing away from the typical malty and roast flavors that one would expect in a stout and the end effect was a surprisingly refreshing dark beer.