My Beercation To Beer Mecca & Beyond: A Boulder Way To Drink
Denver is a fantastic place to beercation as yesterday showed. However, it is also nice to get out of the big city and explore some of the fun places that are pretty close. Boulder, Colorado, is one of those places. The craft brewery concentration of this beautiful city is nothing short of amazing. One day is not nearly enough time to do this beercation hotspot justice. The tricky thing about Boulder is that it is also ridiculously expensive and so lodging just didn’t fit into my budget this time around.
I opt to just spend the day there visiting some old favorites and discovering some new spots. Visiting five breweries in a day seems like a daunting task, but my beercation co-drinker, Marty, agrees that it can be done. After a nice breakfast with plenty of coffee, we are hitting the road. This first stop is actually in Broomfield where we will be visiting 4 Noses Brewing Company.
4 Noses Brewing Company
Previous to strolling into their incredible taproom, I have only had their beer in cans. I am happy to be at the source to try some things. 4 Noses Brewing has a robust beer list and I am thankful Marty is along for the beercation ride. For being relatively early in the day, 4 Noses is certainly lively. There are various 4-legged furry friends accompanying their owners for a day of fun. I think that if I move to Colorado, I will have to get a tattoo, own a dog, and grow a beard because that seems to be a common theme in the taprooms.
In Minnesota, some places have embraced the dog-friendly taproom, but here, it is on a whole different level. I order up a taster flight of all that looks good and Marty and I start sampling. Knowing that it is going to be a full day, Marty heads out to the Peruvian food truck and returns with some amazing street tacos.
I am elated to see 4 lagers on the tap today! I go for all of those on my flight along with a pale ale, IPA, and a delectable stout called “El Jefe.” I am in a much different mode when I have someone with me at a brewery. Usually, on a beercation I tend to fly solo. This allows me to focus on the notes and be more introspective. Today, I have the luxury of being able to talk about the beers with Marty. We both agree that the Zwicky P (Zwickel Bier) and the Perfect Drift Pilsner are the best of the lagers. They both drink wonderfully crisp with rich notes of bready and cracker malt character. The Once Upon a Lime Mexican Lager also was good, although a little less lime would have made it more to our liking.
Marty has the beercation quote of the day when I am thinking through the pale ale. I mention that there is not much memorable about the beer. He pipes in very dryly, “I’ll remember that I didn’t like it.” We are pretty much Stadler & Waldorf of beer critics. The About Damn Time IPA has herbal notes of chive, green onion, and a little bit of grass. The flavor is nice and piney.
The El Jefe is so incredibly balanced. It has a beautiful tan head and the beer is full and viscous on the tongue. The enticing aromas of chilis, cinnamon, and chocolate waft out of the glass like an invitation to try an old Mexican grandmother’s molé recipe. The flavors are roasty and bold. They consist of coffee and dark chocolate to make it a semi-sweet sipper.
After basking in the energetic taproom and sipping on some high-quality beers, it is time to move this beercation up the road. We set the GPS for Boulder and Sanitas Brewing Company.
Sanitas Brewing Company
Back in 2013, Sanitas Brewing was the last stop on our Boulder jaunt. I believe that they had just opened and it definitely had that new brewery smell. Now, the brewery definitely has that lived in feel.
Sanitas Brewing Company is tucked off the beaten path in the corner of an industrial building. The taproom is modern with lots of seating of low-tops and high-tops. The bar is spacious and meant for lots of traffic. They also have an incredible patio and area for bags outside. There is something so perfect about drinking beer in this setting. However, about 5,000 other people feel the same way and got here first today. So, we have to sit inside.
The taproom is packed and there is either a trust-fund twenty-something meetup or some type of pub crawl happening. I have never seen so many salmon shorts in my life. Seriously, someone needs to get Banana Republic on the phone and have them send more outfits in case someone spills beer. After some investigation, we learn that there is a pub crawl happening today and it is not always this crazy here.
Due to the noise, we opt to do full pours of a few of their beers. The Porch Pilsner and Everyday Mountain Lager. They are both refreshing and quench our thirsts. I have no doubt that if we didn’t have such an ambitious day planned, we would have stayed for more.
Chris Coyne, one of the co-founders is working the taproom and lets me in back for some photos. I mention to Chris that I remember visiting right after they started. He shows me their brewhouse, and it floors me how much more equipment they have. Sanitas Brewing is pumping out a lot of high quality beer. Chris apologizes for it being so busy today and that he wishes he had more time to chat. I tell him not to worry and that my friend and I are having a great time.
I am flattered that Chris even took a few minutes to chat with me about the brewery. Although, I suspect it is that kind of passion for beer fans that has turned Sanitas Brewing into one of the must-stops in Boulder, Colorado. I cannot say how much I urge you to make Sanitas a stop on your beercation.
After taking more pictures, Marty and I decide to head out to Wild Woods, another brewery I missed my first time around in Boulder. We make the five minute drive to Wild Woods, a place that is not easy to find, and get out of the car. Immediately, our broski senses are tingling. . . The party bus!!! Not wanting to deal with the insanity of whatever fraternity hijinks are taking place today, we call an audible. Upslope Brewing is close and so we reorder our stops. We opt to avoid the party bus and get right back in the beercation mobile and go to Upslope.
Upslope Brewing Company
Finally, a taproom sans party bus crowd. Upslope Brewing is a classic and award-winning brewery that should be on everyone’s list. I first set foot in their taproom in 2013 and have been a fanboy ever since. I don’t always make it to their taproom when I beercation to Colorado, but you better believe that a six-pack of their brown ale always makes its way back home with me.
Today, I am happy to reacquaint myself with their offerings. Since beer tastes have definitely changed since 2013, their tap list reads differently than before. Three out of the four tasters we get are lagers. Of course, I also opt for the brown ale for old times sake.
The craft lager is delicious. It is ridiculously clean and crisp. There is also a remarkable cracker aroma that allows this lager to stand out in the crowd. The Bohemian Pilsner is a bread-lover’s dream with its satisfying malt character. The soft and rich bread notes are balanced out with a decent crispness. The Vienna Lager is easily the best in show thanks to its familiar notes of toasted bread and rich toasted malt. This beer is a hug in a glass.
The brown ale is a world-class beer in my opinion. Subtle hints of coffee, burnt toast, and roasted malts give the brown ale a depth to it. One of the best things about a beercation is the discovery of classic styles brewed well. This is the perfect example of keeping something simple. Leave the lactose, unicorn tears, and triple hopping out of it and just let the simple ingredients shine.
Marty agrees that this beer is phenomenal. On this trip with him along, I feel like I have the responsibility to show him the best that each place has to offer. I think that so far, I am doing a fine job of with that charge.
I also order a full glass of their pub ale. At 4% ABV, this beer is not going to take too much tread off my liver’s tires. This beer is also a magnificent and malty delight. Toffee, burnt sugar, and coffee all are evident in each and every velvety sip.
Being back at Upslope, a brewery that helped fuel my love of craft beer, is special to me. This magical place illustrates why Colorado is so wonderful for beer, people, and adventure. Looking around the taproom, there are people of all ages enjoying a common drink. A wise woman once said to me that beer brings people together. As I look around the space, I see that adage playing out in front of my own eyes and the feeling is amazing. I finish off my pub ale and Marty and I head back to the car. Just as we are walking down the street, we see the party bus roll up to Upslope and we just laugh.
Wild Woods Brewery
Wild Woods Brewery is tucked back in a series of industrial spaces and strip malls. They are hard to find. However, after spending the next hour and a half drinking and chatting with the people there, I can say that they are absolutely worth the beercation stop.
The interior of the taproom has a cozy and woodsy feel. This could easily be someone’s cabin from Brainerd, Minnesota. Marty and I grab seats at the bar and I start snapping pictures while he peruses the menu. One thing that jumps out at me immediately is the variety of styles that they have on tap at Wild Woods Brewery. Of course, it is about five minutes until we make another midwestern connection with Anthony in the taproom. Anthony is from LaCrosse, WI, and spent some time at Pearl St. Brewing there. He is also familiar with Minneapolis and we talk about the local beer scene back home a bit.
The tasters arrive and Marty and I are impressed with the beers. I learn that Wild Woods has been open since September of 2012 and I figure out that I just missed them last time around. Again, there are 4 lagers on tap and we order them all up like a bunch of thirsty hooligans. We are going for the coverall win of lager bingo.
The flavors in the beers are unique. Some of them sound a little crazy, but flavor-wise are delicious. The Boysenberry Helles has a fantastic synergy between the tartness of the boysenberry and the crispness of the beer. The Agave Lime Lager is perfect for any patio. The bright nature of the live along with the herbaceous agave create a nice flavor profile that is delicate and refreshing.
They also have some standard classics like their Maibock and Vienna Lager. Both of them are great examples of their respective styles and I would definitely order full pours of each one if I were staying for the rest of the night. The Treeline IPA is a west coast marvel. Lemon peel hop aroma is followed up by straight up assertive bitterness of west coast hop bitterness. The Smores Stout is a campfire experience in a glass. The graham cracker aroma is inviting and comforting. The burnt marshmallow flavor give a hint of smoke and amazing sweetness. This is an extremely balanced stout that you could have a few pours of before heading back to the tent to turn in for the night.
The day is passing faster than we would like it to be. In the midst of great beers, Marty and I are having great conversation and continue to reminisce about the good old days. It is time to find some food, so we bid farewell to Wild Woods and Anthony. I cannot say enough good things about these guys and how they treat people. The beers definitely stand out as being high quality and inventive. This place is a great beer destination to dazzle your palate when you are in Boulder.
Avery Brewing Company
In Boulder, there are so many great places to go for food and beer. So, our options for dinner are plentiful. I will also say that the grandeur of Avery Brewing is definitely a thing that every craft beer fan should experience. My first time at Avery was in their old space not too far away from Upslope. That was a cool experience and the tour consisted mostly of being out in an alley. They have since moved to a mammoth facility on the outskirts of Boulder. I visited here in 2015 and spent 4 hours eating and drinking my way through their portfolio.
Now, we are here for dinner and the place is slammed. Because we are a party of 2, we get seated quickly in the less fancy ground level eating space. Because this is our fifth spot of the day, we are not really up for tasting our way through all the beers on tap. So, we each order a beer. Marty goes with Bourbon Barrel-Aged Trogdor: The Burninator. This is a boozy and insanely good Doppelbock aged in a Bourbon barrel. I go with the lower octane Avery Lager because I am driving. The beers are great and we start to think about food.
We look at the menu we decide to split a dinner salad, roasted beets, and some pulled pork nachos. We are both pretty tired and eating something on the lighter side after a fun-filled day of beer drinking is a welcome change. Marty and I agree that we did a pretty good job of making the most of our time in Boulder.
The Boulder beer scene is incredible. If you are visiting Denver, you have no excuse not to make the 45 minute drive up here to immerse yourself in a fantastic craft beer scene. There are many different types of breweries to visit and we barely scratched the surface. One regret that I have is that we didn’t get into downtown Boulder to see any of the street performers. So, it is back to Denver to relax in the jacuzzi at the hotel after a wonderful day. After all, we still have two more full days to see what Denver has to offer and we will need our rest. Prost!
Dan Beaubien has been involved with Beerploma since 2014 although his passion for craft beer dates back to 2006 when he started traveling for beer. Dan mostly covers craft beer events, festivals, brewery openings/releases, and beer reviews. Dan has a soft spot in his heart for authentic British Style ales, IPAs, and all things barrel-aged. If you have any questions or comments about this article feel free to email Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org .