Beers, Toads, and Backyard Beer Gardens: Great Craft Breweries in Golden Colorado

Golden, Colorado. Beer lovers know it as the home of the Coors Brewery, but there is so much more to the Golden.  There a cute little historic district full of places to eat, drink, and shop on Washington Avenue.  There is the Colorado School of Mines, one of the top engineering and applied science universities in the country.  There is also quite a lot of outdoor recreational spots, such as Clear Creek, where you can spend the day tubing, kayaking, or even panning for gold.  I’m sure there’s a lot more but we came for the beer so we may have missed some of the other touristy details.  Still, it’s certainly a lot more than just Coors.

So when we recently visited Golden to visit the MillerCoors brewery, we decided to visit a couple of other spots that brew from the same crisp, clear, Golden, Colorado mountain water that made Coors so famous.  We didn’t get to visit all the craft breweries in Golden, but we did visit two: Mountain Toad Brewing and Golden Toad Brewing.

Tubers on Clear Creek in Golden
Tubers on Clear Creek in Golden

Mountain Toad Brewing

Mountain Toad Brewing calls itself “a place to gather and unwind,” and when we walked through their door we immediately felt comfortable.  They are a small, unassuming brewery with a friendly attentive staff that was just what we needed after the all-business, impersonal experience at MillerCoors.  Mountain Toad was started by four Golden locals, all with ties to the Colorado School of Mines, who decided to leave the corporate world to engineer something a bit more fun and crafty — beer.  Clearly, they found their calling.  By focusing on small-batch beers and seasonal brews, they had some tasty choices on the menu.  I had the Apex Amber, while Jeff had the Mt. Zion IPA.  Both were amazing!  The Apex Amber (6.6% ABV, 30 IBU) was perfectly malty, with a delicious caramel flavor.   The Mt. Zion IPA (7.5% ABV, 75 IBU) was full of citrusy hop aroma and bitter flavor.   We also shared a Summer Hop (5.5% ABV), a hoppy wheat ale they brewed as a small batch in their 1 barrel system.  Delish!   We could have spent the rest of the afternoon in their sunny beer garden enjoying them all.  Unfortunately, we had a beer schedule to keep, so after a round we had to move on.  You can bet we’ll be back again.

Mountain Toad Brewing
Mountain Toad Brewing

Golden City Brewery

Our final brewery in Golden was Golden City Brewery, also known as the “second largest brewery in Golden.”   Founded in 1993 by two geologists, Charlie & Janine Sturdavant, the brewing started at their home, and although it’s grown over the years it’s never changed locations.  You read that right.  A carriage house on their property is now the tasting room, and the beer garden is in their backyard.  Does it get any better than that?  I don’t think so!

We arrived at Golden City Brewery on a Sunday afternoon and quickly realized this was the place to be… they were packed.  We were still able to find a place in the back of the beer garden and settled in for a few brews.  My first beer was the Legendary Red Ale, an Altbier that was as bready as it was malty, with a sweet maltiness that was good, but maybe a bit sweeter than I needed this late in a day filled with beers.  Jeff’s first choice was easy – the Stand Up Double IPA.  It was a wonderfully citrusy, floral, well-hopped beer, but at 9.5% he only had one.  For our second round, we both went light and had the Clear Creek Gold Pale Ale.  This Kolsch, was light and crisp and the perfect beer to wind down on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Golden City Brewing
Golden City Brewery

The atmosphere at Golden City Brewery was lively and fun – the perfect place to relax with friends or make new ones. We met some friendly folks from Texas (Austin?) who came in town for something (a wedding?) that we cannot quite recall.  Anyhow, we chatted with them like we were long-lost friends, hearing stories about their Colorado camping adventures and giving them recommendations on breweries they should visit in Denver.   Maybe it’s because you’re drinking in the Golden City Brewery owner’s backyard – but something about that place really makes you feel like you’re with friends.  It was wonderful.

There are more breweries in Golden and the nearby area, but after a day of tasting our way around town, it was time to get some food, sober up, and get ourselves home.  We really loved Golden, though, and promise to visit more often.   If they’d have us, we’d move in.  I wonder if they GCB folks have a room to rent?  If you hear of anything, you let us know.

Until next time….. cheers!

%d bloggers like this: