Taking the Ambient Temperature
Seeking the best brewery ambience in Colorado
By Kailyn Lamb
In the exploding Colorado brewery scene, beer lovers sometimes need more than a hearty list of taps to pick their go-to spot. Breweries are adding patio space, food, games and live music to their resume to keep the customers and the beer flowing. To round out the experience, many offer tours of the brew space.
If you’re looking for a great place to enjoy a beer, we’ve compiled a list of Colorado breweries with excellent ambiance.
Horse & Dragon Brewing Co.
Located near brewery row, Horse & Dragon features an open ceiling with green accent walls. The brewery is an open love letter to the northern city, one of Colorado’s brewery hot spots. Brew signs hang from ceiling beams and a giant dragon is featured in the bar top design. Horse & Dragon frequently participates in community events, including family-friendly visits with Santa, weekend brewery tours and special dinners.
Odell Brewing Co.
One of the state’s top 10 craft beer producers by volume, Odell is also one of the oldest. Odell first opened in 1989, with Golden Ale and 90 Shilling in its early repertoire. The large taproom has a barn aesthetic and hosts a local food truck every day in the spacious and comfortable backyard. Think luxury, well-appointed yard with extensive, multi-level landscaping. The brewery also doubles as a music venue, hosting bands year-round.
Odell recently added a second brewery and taproom in Denver’s River North neighborhood. Both taprooms have a collection of the brewery’s staples as well as unique beers brewed on location.
Oskar Blues Brewery/Tasty Weasel
The Oskar Blues Longmont taproom, known as the Tasty Weasel, puts the brewing space center stage right behind the bar. Large sliding doors open the space up to the patio. The taproom opened in 2008 after Oskar Blues outgrew its original brewpub in Lyons. The Tasty Weasel carries on the live music legacy from the original, with bands Friday through Monday.
Bristol Brewing Co.
Bristol Brewing is housed in a century-old elementary school building. Ivywild School has been converted into an urban marketplace with a bakery, cocktail bar, distillery, a handcrafted shopping area and, of course, beer. The brewery was founded in 1994, and moved into the Ivywild space in 2013. Bristol has 16 beers on tap and a full restaurant menu. While the halls, brick walls and chalkboards in the brewery are still reminiscent of a school, Bristol has made the space its own with suspened bikes, artwork and a patio space.
Elevation Beer Co.
It’s nice to arrive in a truly Colorado location that features free-for-all dirt parking and a great opportunity to wet one’s whistle inside. Hiking, biking, rafting and fishing are available nearby. Repurposed tractor seats line the bar and the windows offer great views of distant hills. There’s plenty of space to enjoy Elevation’s big-beer offerings both inside
607 Main St., Ouray
Have beer, will travel. Located in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, Ouray is the perfect place to stop after a day of hiking, ice climbing or enjoying the hot springs. The rooftop dining area provides all the views a mountain lover could desire. Warm lighting inside helps provide a cozy break from the cold in winter months. Play some pool or
sit in the hanging bar chairs and live the mountain life.
Wynkoop Brewing Co.
Located near Union Station, Wynkoop helped to launch the beer boom in Denver. In 1989, four friends, including current governor John Hickenlooper, opened shop in an old warehouse. The multi-level building is a restaurant on the main floor, with the beer hall upstairs. The upstairs level has 22 pool tables, as well as darts. As for its beers, Wynkoop experiments with Colorado culinary favorites like Hatch chiles. They’re also probably the only brewery to use Rocky Mountain Oysters as an ingredient.
Looking for something similar in Colorado Springs? Phantom Canyon, Wynkoop’s sister brewery, is located downtown with the same pool hall and restaurant setup.
While driving down Platte Street, you’d be hard pressed to miss this building. The exterior is painted with a blue, purple and red mural. The inside is just as colorful, with more wall art, as well as bright chairs and tables. Cerveceria was launched earlier this year by the owners of Denver Beer Co. and has a regional focus on Mexican beers. Brewer Jason Buehler has been traveling to Mexico not only to find inspiration, but to build partnerships with brewers there. The brewery is located next door to the original Denver Beer Company taphouse.
River North has quickly become Denver’s new beer district. Bierstadt Lagerhaus is in a giant warehouse with an upstairs restaurant. It shares space with C Squared Cider. The restaurant offers the full selection of taps for both companies. Equipment from a former print shop was kept in-house to enhance the aesthetic. Downstairs, the open floor of the warehouse includes production space as well as lawn games. Cornhole, beer pong with basketballs, and the now classic giant Jenga are just a few of the options. The lower level offers a few of the tap options for both breweries. River North also has a handful of breweries within walking distance of each other.
Declaration Brewing Co.
What do you get when two former chemical engineers start making beer? Declaration Brewing. The production space includes a lab for cultivating yeast strains. But the crown jewel of Declaration is the 8,000-square-foot beer garden with a dog-friendly patio area. The beer garden has room for a food truck to park inside, as well as lawn games and live music.
Woods Boss Brewing
Woods Boss is a small woodland retreat in the heart of Denver. Co-owner Jordan Fink spent time working in the forests of Oregon, which inspired the name and the décor. A 21-foot-long piece of redwood serves as the bar and a matching table. Behind the taps is a large cut-out piece of metal made to look like a forest. In addition to a speaker system for live music, Woods Boss has board games and a collection of books left behind in the building by its former owner.
Breckenridge Brewery Littleton
Sitting on a 12-acre plot next to the Platte River, Breckenridge Brewery was built on what used to be farmland. The brewery embraced the theme with its Farm House restaurant, which serves a selection of Breck’s staples and nitro beers. The space also has room for live music and lawn games like corn hole and horseshoes. In nice weather, a separate beer garden area is also available. The brewery itself is in its own building. Breckenridge Brewery offers tours Thursday through Monday.
Coal Mine Ave Brewing Co.
One word: dogs. After two years of planning and construction, this Littleton brewery opened in early July. While dogs are still not allowed in the tap room, Coal Mine has an off-leash area with room for 20 dogs. The website includes rules for the off-leash area. Coal Mine currently has five beers on tap, but is hoping to build up to 12. The brewery has the staple pale ale and New England style IPA, as well as a cream ale, saison and porter available now. Manuel and Erica Baca estimated that they poured more than 1,000 beers at their grand opening on July 6.
Metropolitan State University of Denver graduate Kailyn Lamb is a Colorado native who has been writing about the beer scene since 2017.