Colorado might be the self-proclaimed “Colorful State,” but perhaps there is reason to acknowledge the state as one of America’s beer Meccas. After all Colorado has one of the largest microbrewery concentrations in the country and is host to the Great American Beer Fest.
So when the Glutton Household recently made a weekend trip to Boulder, CO we naturally made plans to imbibe in the sudfest that is happening at 13 breweries located within an hour drive of the city. Though some would say that my fixation on sampling the local brews is only a vain attempt to satisfy my palate and liver at the same time, I regard the the consumption of good, bad, and alright beer as research that must be done for the Greater Good.
Here are some observations and tidbits from three of the breweries visited in Boulder:
Mountain Sun Brewing Company (website)
Located along the main strip in downtown Boulder, the Mountain Sun Brewing Company offers up a casual atmosphere adorned with cool original art work. Though the establishment is both a restaurant and brewery, there is much more of an hippy diner feel to the place. The beer menu is a combination of regular and seasonal/experimental beers of which…prepare yourself…one can sample the entire selection for free! Yes I said free, kostenloss, nada. It might sound crazy, but seriously I can’t think of a better way to start one’s day than sampling 19 different brews in an effort to decide which is the most befitting of being the first “Pint-of-the-Day.”
As one expects, not every one of Mountain Sun’s beers was a winner, but to the brewery’s credit each beer had it’s own identity and lack the redundancy of ingredients found in so many microbrews (click here to peruse the entire line-up of beers).
The overall consensus and preferred beer of our group was the F.Y.I.P.A., which was hardly a hop enthusiast’s delight, but nonetheless was the beer with the the greatest character development and satisfaction sampled. Other beers of note were the Nitro Old School Dry Irish Stout, Nitro XXX Pale Ale, and surprisingly the Blackberry Wheat…that is if berry beers are your thing.
Avery Brewing Company (website)
The second stop on our brief tour was Avery that with national distribution is a hardly an unrecognized name in American beer. The company’s tasting room is located in one of the more unconventional, though perhaps one of the more endearing places in Boulder. Situated behind a car wash and surrounded by auto repair shops in a commercial zone of the city, Avery provides a welcoming indoor/outdoor environment for patrons to enjoy their tasty suds and fill their stomachs with some surprisingly simple but exceptional food.
Since myself and others have reviewed Avery’s beer offerings I’ll focus on the brewery’s food. However, click on any of the following links for detailed, morbid, funny, and informative reviews of some of Avery brews:
Unlike other breweries, Avery surprisingly (and wisely) farms out the cooking to their neighbors across the alley at Savory Cuisines, a local caterer. What this means for patrons is a solid standard bar menu with a few unique twists and upgrades (click here to read entire menu). Case in point are the Sweet Potato Tots, which can be covered in pork green chili and cheddar cheese, or the Jalapeño Popper Roulette with a raspberry chipotle sauce. And their most popular sandwich, a Vietnamese Banh Mi, is certainly the odd item out for a brewery menu.
The food selections for our merry band of beer consumers were the Sweet Potato Tots, Super Buffalo Fried Chicken Sandwich, and a Turkey Bacon Supreme. For the tot-heads in our group the small round cylinders of sweet potatoes made them giddy as little school girls. The Super Buffalo Fried Chicken was a long standing favorite our of hosts and is best described as a crack sandwich for those who are addicted to buffalo style wings.
The surprising favor however was the seemingly boring run of the mill Turkey Bacon Supreme. Who knew combining the simplicity of smashed avocado, smokey bacon, coleslaw, potato chips, along with turkey on sourdough bread could be so satisfying? This is really a sandwich for the masses, as individual ingredients resonates with people making it an endearing pile of happiness. For me it was the perfectly prepared coleslaw that was not overly mayo, not overly runny, with just the right fresh and textural crunch. For others it was the smoky bacon that provided a harmonious balance to the sandwich. And for others it was the brilliance/convenience of having one’s potato chips already placed inside the boundaries of the sourdough bread. All in all, a perfect sandwich.
Bottom line, if you already enjoy Avery brews then visiting headquarters is a must. If you’re an Avery virgin then start drinking and make plans to visit on their location for a great brew pub experience. And if the wife (or hubby) asks where your going, just say to get the car repaired and cleaned.
Upslope Brewing Company (website)
After recharging the batteries at Avery, the third stop of the day was at Upslope Brewing Company located on the north side of town in another row of commercial buildings. A medium sized austere, yet cool tap room with indoor and outdoor seating welcomes visitors with large viewing windows into the brewing facility itself.
Once again we went right to work and set about “researching” each of Upslope’s beers that were currently on tap. While each beer displayed an interesting degree of experimentation, some in a clear attempt to reinvent the wheel, all that were sampled demanded varying degrees of refinement before one should consider filling up the old growler prior to departure.
Here are some quick observations:
- Craft Lager- Basically a step up in flavor and price from a Budweiser.
- Maibock- A solid effort to recreate the Bavarian strong spring beer, but nothing memorable.
- Pale Ale- A little too pale.
- Brown Ale- Literally tasted more like a slightly creamy coffee stout. WTF?
- Bourbon Aged Foreign-Style Stout- Just a weeee too much bourbon to make this stout drinkable…and I love bourbon.
- Belgian-Style Pale Ale- This bronze medal winner at the Great American Beer Fest, was pretty damn good. Just give yourself plenty of time to drink one pint.
- IPA- Probably the most balanced of all the beers sampled and the groups go-to selection of the bunch.
In all honesty, Upslope was the most disappointing stop of the three and a brewery that I’ll allow some time to pass before revisiting. Though I will say that Upslope has done a decent job on their gear…so they’ve got that going for them.
*Many thanks to our good friends/hosts Brandi and Dave for showing us the ropes in Boulder.
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