There’s something to be said for getting away from it all, even if you’re not getting away very far. Even a brief night away can help you recharge your batteries and reconnect with what’s important to you. Of course, we’re talking about beer.
We decided this weekend to make some real progress on our efforts to visit all the breweries in Colorado by scheduling a quick little getaway to Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs isn’t very far from us, but it’s an area that we haven’t explored much in all the time we’ve lived in Colorado. We decided to spend Saturday night in downtown Colorado Springs so we could have some fun checking out the local brewery scene, and seeing what else The Springs had to offer.
Colorado Springs Beer Tour, Part One
To be honest, we set our expectations low. We’d been to Colorado Springs a few times before, always hoping to stumble upon a good time but sometimes falling a bit short. We knew the bars on Tejon Street could be fun for live music, but also that they were clubby and full of barely legal college kids. Outside of that, we had no clue what there was to do in The Springs and knew almost nothing about their local beer scene. I found about 12 breweries in the area, and for lack of anything better to do, we just decided to try to hit them all.
Colorado Mountain Brewery
Our first stop of the day was at Colorado Mountain Brewery. It was about 11:30 AM when we arrived, and although Colorado Mountain’s website said they opened at 11:00 AM, there was not a car in the parking lot and no discernible movement inside. We seriously drove around the place for about 15 minutes before we decided to actually go up to the door and see if they were open. They were open of course, and actually had a few tables of people. From chatting up the bartender I realized this place is right next door to a movie theater, so apparently, a lot of people park at the theater and then come over before or after their film. We’re not very smart, so we never put those facts together.
This place was really big, and though I don’t see any indication that it’s a chain restaurant, it sort of had that chain restaurant feel to it, like a Rock Bottom or CB & Potts. The restaurant was huge and very nice, chock full of natural woods and tasteful Colorado inspired décor. For those who may be interested, they have a decent looking menu and also a full bar. Of course, we just stuck with the beers. Jeff had the Panther IPA, while I had the Old 59er Amber. Both were good, but nothing too unique, again reminding me of your typical chain brewpub. The offered a variety of styles – A blonde, a stout, and a hefeweizen (named UniBrau, which I will give them is super clever!) plus one seasonal. What we drank was good, and I’ll even go so far as saying we’ll be back maybe for lunch… but it wasn’t really very memorable.
Great Storm Brewing
Stop number two was at Great Storm Brewing. I knew that they had recently opened, but didn’t know much more about this small brewery. Located inside a small strip mall, Great Storm is all about the beer! There was no food here, but a few restaurants nearby, including Dominos. The place is small, but very nice and comfortable. Best of all, the beer wasn’t your run-of-the-mill choices that we’d had at our first stop. There were so many good choices that we opted for a tasters of the following:
- The Seven Wolves IPA on Nitro was good, but we both agreed that for us, the nitro just didn’t do this one justice. I mean, it looked super cool when it was poured, as it cascaded beautifully in the glass. It just lacked that “bite” that the CO2 gives a traditional IPA.
- The Seven Wolves IPA on CO2 was much better than the nitro. This was an amazing IPA!
- Rum Raisin Stout (also nitro) was very good, though very, very sweet. If you like your dessert in a glass, this one is for you! The nitro worked well with this beer, adding to its milky creaminess. Apparently, you can get this as an ice cream float. Yum!
- Get Buzzed Honey Ale was good, though less memorable as some of the others.
- Lightning Wit Belgian Witbier was really great. It was very light and refreshing, with a good hint of citrus.
- Shine On was an Oaked Belgian Golden Strong Ale and this was my clear favorite. It had such a deliciously sweet aroma that smelled like coconut to me. It was amazing!
Great Storm was empty when we arrived, but a steady stream of people filed in over the course of the time we were there. It was good to see because this is a really great brewery. We’ll be back for sure.
BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse
Next stop was BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. Honestly, we could have skipped this one because not only is BJ’s a national chain, but this particular location doesn’t actually brew on site. However, all the sampling we did at Great Storm left me a little tipsy, and it was clear we needed some food! BJs was nearby, so we stopped for lunch and washed it down with a beer. I opted for the super-cute and tiny 5-oz pour of the Piranha Pale Ale, while Jeff had the standard size HopStorm IPA. Both were very good beers, and the food was great as well. What goes better with beer than some tasty bar-food inspired appetizers, right? It was all good!
Judge Baldwin’s Brewing Company… Pass!
After BJ’s, we decided to check into our hotel at the Hilton and rest a bit before Round 2 on Saturday night. I must add, the Antlers Hilton we selected to stay at was a nice surprise too. Good accommodations, within walking distance to downtown bars, and a brewery on-site (Judge Baldwin’s Brewing). Unfortunately, word was that Judge Baldwin’s Brewing was not very good. In fact, we heard (and later confirmed) that they had stopped brewing in favor of providing better beers on tap. We decided to pass on Judge Baldwin’s in favor of some other (better) breweries in town.
Day one in Colorado Springs was a success. Stay tuned for more details on our adventures in the next post!