Editor's beer note
Writer Alexandra Sieh is a serious connoisseur of craft beer in this town. But she's a wee lass (like you!), and I've been drinking legally since she was knee-high to a keg (inappropriate reference, I know). So I'd like to recommend a few of the breweries she hasn't made it to yet.
Mountain Sun and Southern Sun are both close to campus, and the vibe is chill enough that you can show up filthy from a day of mountain biking or rock climbing and no one notices, because what matters above all else is BEER. And when it comes to Stout Month, in February, the selection is worth the wait, trust me. Note: These establishments are cash-only.
Upslope Brewing always feels like it has a party going on, and that's true for both locations. Live music helps: At the north taproom, consider yourself lucky if you snag a stool that lets you bump elbows with a dude playing the upright bass. (Just don't. Spill. The beer.) This year, the brewery organized live music and beer festival. Look for the next Upslope Get Down next spring.
If you're willing to travel, try any of the Oskar Blues locations in Longmont, or the original in Lyons. If you're strapped for cash, go to CyclHops. The taps lack the depth and breadth of the bigger locations, but they have plenty to choose from, plus your choice of three tasty tacos for $8. On some Fridays, you can get a fresh cans of beer — extras from their canning operation — for a buck.
Here in Colorado, we have become pros at the craft beer thing. Seriously, craft breweries pop up everywhere, each with a beer as delicious as the one before.
But the thing is, this isn't your usual PBR or Coors Light. These beers are meant to be savored. So there will be no chugging, just sipping and enjoying of one's afternoon. Got it? (And as always, only for those who are of age! We're not kidding!)
You'll find your favorites as you go, but here are some tidbits on some craft beer delights here in Boulder and beyond, courtesy of your nightlife reporter with a penchant for tasty brews. So let the hops guide you through Boulder's (many) great craft breweries, but here are some of the ones I frequent.
2880 Wilderness Place
Tucked off Valmont Road, Boulder Beer sits as a local institution. It's our fine town's oldest craft brewery, and damn proud of it. By this point, their Hazed and Infused and Shake are well known and well worth a trip over. They've also got plenty of perks all week for their faithful following.
Every Tuesday, snag a $3.50 Mojo pint from 4 p.m. to close. Wednesdays, you'll get half-priced appetizers from 8 to 10 p.m. if you buy a pint. (And, well, if? Let's get real. Good way to bribe your under-21 or beer-hating friend to go with you, though.) Every Thursday, you can expect some live music out on that patio from 5 to 9 p.m.
But hey, interested in how that beer made it into your glass? Well from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, Boulder Beer employees will take you on a free tour and walk you (quite literally) through their beer-making process. Oh, and then stick around for their Nightly Hoppy Hour: From 3 to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, you'll get $3.50 pints and $13.50 pitchers.
It's a relaxed, beer-loving haven. Go enjoy it.
1123 Walnut St.
What's the atmosphere at Walnut Brewery? Easy. They're all about great beer and burgers that will make your taste buds absurdly happy.
Don't know what they have? Just look around. They've got posters of their year-round brews nice and big along the walls. Go on game day, and this place is buzzing with black-and-gold fever. And while they have solid annuals, their seasonals and specialty brews are definitely worth checking in on. They'll even hand out free pints on a release day.
Plus, they have happy hour every day, from 3 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close (either 11 p.m. or midnight), with top-notch options, like $3 southwest egg rolls, $5 fried calamari and $3 signature lagers and ales.
Avery Brewing Co.
5763 Arapahoe Ave.
One of Boulder's powerhouse breweries, the folks at Avery Brewing know how to shock your taste buds. And with a beer menu as big as theirs, they'll get you no matter your taste.
They've got their year-rounds, of course, but honestly, it's their specialty beers and seasonals that locals plan their year around. Like their Demons of Ale series, with beers like Mephistopheles that'll douse your tongue in all things dark — and a very high ABV. (Seriously, Mephistopheles is a whopping 15 to 17 percent ABV, and they describe the color as "coal black." Sheesh. Drink with caution.) Or their Dictator Series, for the more mellow yet still flavor-packed set.
Now, folks there are in the process of building up a new, snazzy brewery because they've simply outgrown their current location. But in the meantime, you've got a setup with a long bar and patio to help you with your Vitamin D intake. Oh, and a kick-ass catering company just steps away with incredible fries and individual pizzas.
Wild Woods Brewery
5460 Conestoga Ct.
This brewery's small, but don't underestimate the folks at Wild Woods. Sure, they've only been open a few years, but man, they've figured out beer. Tucked in an almost corporate-looking building set, they take you by surprise. Take their Ponderosa Porter. I've never really enjoyed dark beers, yet I can drink that Ponderosa like it's a pale ale. Or my friend who isn't a fan of lighter beers, she loves their Berry Patch Wheat.
And that's just their year-round set.
Their tap room's a bit sparse, with a woodsy theme and just a few tables and a bar in the echo-y space. But who cares about decor when the beer's this good? Now, you have to keep your eye on their hours. They're closed Sundays and Mondays, and only open from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Saturdays, they tack on an extra two, opening at 2 p.m. But they're worth the trip. Especially on Tuesdays, with an all-night happy hour.
Fate Brewing Co.
1600 38th St.
I don't know what it is about Fate Brewing, but man, you go once and you're hooked.
We all thank them simply for taking over the rainbow-colored eyesore that was the Mexican restaurant before them. But the taproom is gorgeous, as is the patio, tucked back along Arapahoe Avenue. The bar alone can sell you, with a tap line-up that's almost intimidating.
Their own craft beers can take up a few trips (and their flights come out in a very unique way, be sure to check that out). Like the Watermelon Kolsch that comes around when the weather's nice, or the Atropos, an imperial IPA aged in bourbon barrels. Yum. But they also do well in keeping out-there beers from other craft breweries on tap, too.
It's an experience, to be sure, especially if you couple it with their almost Southern menu. I mean, blackened shrimp and smoked paella? Not your usual fare for a brewery. But they make it work, and will tell you exactly what beer to pair with it.
BRU Handbuilt Ales
5290 Arapahoe Ave.
Here's another place that's slightly hidden but worth the trip. Settle in: With pillows on the benches, it invites you to hang out for the long haul. And their tap wall will help ensure the time spent is well used, as does the kitchen, with fancier fare like Wood Roasted Hot Chicken and a Disgruntled Hawaiian pizza. They take pride in their grub (yeah, we said both "grub" and "fancier fare"), and know exactly which beer will amp up those flavors.
West Flanders Brewing Co.
1125 Pearl St.
While you're shopping Pearl Street (or being dragged along by folks who actually like shopping), be sure to stop in at West Flanders. But you better like flannel and plaid, because the moment you step inside you'll be surrounded by a rustic vibe and plenty of places to take a seat.
Their beers are as cozy as their taproom, with pints like Lion Heart Stout and the Trippel Lutz to give you the variety you crave. You'll also get a heaping dose of live music most Friday nights from 10 p.m. to close.
Alexandra Sieh writes about nightlife for the Colorado Daily every Thursday. Follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/ansieh.