Microbrews in Colorado

Colorado is crazy for microbrews. Since the first microbrewery opened in Boulder in 1979, the state has wholeheartedly embraced the craft beer movement. As of this writing, there are more than 235 establishments making fresh beer throughout the state. With a governor who once was a brewer (John Hickenlooper), a family that helped define American brewing (the Coors), and a youthful demographic, craft beer is booming like never before in Colorado.

While most towns have their own brewpub or brewery, many of the best ones are located in three cities in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains: Denver, Fort Collins, and Boulder. Many breweries have attached restaurants or food trucks that offer everything from pub grub to upscale cuisine. Much like wineries, they offer tasting flights so that visitors can sample the full range of their beers. Most microbreweries also have tasting rooms open to the public, where bottled beer and growlers (half-gallon glass jugs filled with fresh beer) can be purchased for takeout.

The Great American Beer Festival, the country's largest and most prestigious beer festival, attracts more than 1,300 breweries from across the country each fall in downtown Denver. For a list of the microbrews in the state, visit the Colorado Brewers Guild (coloradobeer.org).

Where to Go

Aspen Brewing Company, Aspen. One of the most beautiful places in the state, Aspen is home to a local brewery turning out some fine beers. Independence Pass Ale pays homage to the 12,000-foot-high pass and “back road” into town that is closed all winter due to snow. The taproom is open daily noon–midnight.

Avery Brewing Company, Boulder. The beers at Avery Brewing Company range from big bold IPAs to subtly smooth porters. Their state-of-the-art, technologically advanced brewery, which opened in 2015, has a suspended catwalk that allows you to take your own self-guided tour while sipping a cold one.

Boulder Beer Company, Boulder. Learn about Colorado's first craft brewery on the free tours and tastings at Boulder Beer Company. You can grab a bite to eat afterward at the brewhouse's pub; in summer, you can enjoy the grub and suds on the patio.

Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, Denver. When owner Chad Yakobson opened his brewery in the Denver neighborhood of LoDo he had one plan: to create superior sour and experimental beers. His barrel-aged beers are proof of his success.

New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins. This gorgeous brewery is often referred to as the “cathedral of beer." It is employee-owned, fully wind-powered, and one of the largest breweries in the country. Famous for its Fat Tire Amber Ale, New Belgium Brewing Company always has an array of flavorful beers in their taproom. Tours are available Tuesday through Sunday 11:30–4:30.

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