At Long Last: Our Visit to Boulder Beer Company

When we started this little adventure called Bottle Makes Three we had the silly notion that we could visit all 200 or so Colorado Breweries in one year.  Maybe we could have done it too if only we didn’t have jobs to work, cats to feed, and a mortgage to pay.  While we are still trying to get to all of the great breweries as part of our Colorado Brewery Challenge, clearly finishing our challenge is not happening anytime soon.  After all, nearly 100 more breweries have opened since we started our blog.  We still try to get to as many as we can, but it’s no longer about a finish line for us.  We are rather enjoying the experience and see no need to rush through our visits.

The reason I bring up our brewery challenge is to point out that while we’ve visited 94 to date, until recently we had not crossed the original Colorado craft brewery off our list.  How is it possible that after all those beer tours and samplers we hadn’t yet been to the one craft brewery who cleared the path for so many others to follow?  Every time we’d go to Boulder we would visit the shiny, new breweries, all the while taking for granted this old favorite.  It was a damn shame is what it was, and one Saturday afternoon we decided that it was time we rectified this situation.  We cleared our schedules for the day and made a date to visit Boulder Beer Company.

Boulder Beer Company

In 1979, two physics professors at the University of Colorado opened the first microbrewery in the state of Colorado, then known as Boulder Brewing Company.  Originally they brewed at a small farm in a goat shed – not a former goat shed mind you.  They shared some space with goats as they perfected their first brews, which is now all part of their legend and still remembered by the old photos of goats gracing their brewpub walls.  Over the years Boulder Brewing Company grew their business, won some medals, went public, changed their name a few times, and then finally in 2005 they became the Boulder Beer Company that we know today.  Somewhere along the way they moved from a goat shed to a proper brewpub, though I admit I sort of wish they still had goats.  Oh, how I love goats.  They’re the friendliest of all the farm animals.  But I digress…

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Given that the Boulder Beer Company is well-known and widely distributed within Colorado, we were surprised that their location wasn’t massive and filled with the latest and greatest high-tech equipment.  Quite to the contrary, Boulder Beer Company has a quaint and comfortable feeling inside their Pub, which is mostly decked out in wood and old photographs, reflective of their earlier days.  The brewpub features a large dining area and equally large outdoor patio, and we bellied up to the bar area nestled between the inside and outside seating.  We were thirsty and hungry, and ordered some pints of Hazed and Infused and some nachos that were, OH MY GOD delicious.  The photo below of these nachos may not do it justice, because they were simple yet incredible, topped with roasted pork, black beans, fresh jalapeno, tomatoes, and layered throughout with enough melted cheddar and jack cheese to stop your heart.  The nachos paired perfectly with the Hazed and Infused, an unfiltered amber dry-hopped with Crystal and Centennial hops, which was hoppy but not overly bitter, and cold enough to help silence some of the heat from the jalapeno.  Overall, lunch at Boulder Beer Company’s Pub was mighty tasty, and we didn’t even get past the appetizer section of the menu. If we didn’t fill up on nachos we may have also tried the Shake Chocolate Porter Milkshake.  Seriously, that’s a thing, and I’m still kicking myself for not splurging on one.

We started our tour with bellies full of beer and nachos, fat and happy.   Fortunately, there wasn’t too much walking. The brewhouse at Boulder Beer Company starts in the restaurant and wraps around the building, and though it’s pretty expansive it’s all in a relatively modest area.  We walked through the brewing room and got a quick lesson on how beer was made before moving on to the fermentation area, bottling lines, and their new canning line. After using mobile canning for some time, the canning line was only recently installed, which will allow Boulder Beer to produce a greater volume and variety of their beers in cans.  More canned varieties is great news for the active, outdoor-loving craft beer drinkers, which let’s be real, is most of the Boulder population.  After canning, we took a trip into cold storage.  Here we learned that Boulder Beer doesn’t follow an established brew schedule, per se, but brews on demand for their distribution needs.  By brewing based on orders rather than pumping out as much as they can, Boulder Beer focuses on delivering their beer fresh.  Who knows maybe all breweries do it this way, but it’s the first we had heard it done this way, so we were fairly impressed.

For the last tour stop, we made our way back to the dining room and into a back room where it was tasting time.  Other than a few special edition brews, we were able to pour ourselves samples from pitchers of all the Boulder Beer varieties.  We were already pretty familiar with the Boulder Beer lineup, but still found a new beer to try, the Honey of a Saison.  This is a really big beer at 11.5% ABV that features the amazing flavor combination of French saison yeast with sweet Wildflower honey, making this a sweet, fruity, and delicious summer beer.  In addition to the saison we also sampled many of our Boulder Beer favorites, like Hoopla Pale Ale, Kinda Blue Blueberry Wheat, Mojo IPA, and for dessert, their amazing Shake Chocolate Porter.  It wasn’t a milkshake, but it was still pretty damn good.

Boulder Beer samples
Boulder Beer samples

We left Boulder Beer with full bellies, a few purchased t-shirts, and two bombers.  One was the Honey of a Saison, while the second was one that we didn’t get to taste, the Killer Penguin Barleywine.  We’re saving that strong ale to enjoy on our first cool, fall day, which you know is just around the corner.

Overall, we had a great time at Boulder Beer Company.  It’s been a long time since we’ve taken a proper brewery tour, and this one was one of the better ones for certain.  We’d recommend a visit to Boulder Beer over that other brewery in Golden just about any day of the week.  Well, any day but Sunday.  They’re closed on Sunday.

Boulder Beer Company is located at 2800 Wilderness Place, Boulder.  They have great beer, tasty food, and a pretty fun tour.  If only they still had goats…