A Day of Drinking in Durango: Our Trip to Ska Brewing’s 22nd Anniversary Party

Drinking in Durango: Our Weekend Trip to Ska Brewing's 22nd Anniversary Party | BottleMakesThree.com

Hey friends, are you as happy as we are that it’s the weekend? The past month has felt like “all work and no play” for your friends at BMT. We have both been so tied up in projects at our day jobs that we have been sadly absent around here. Have you missed us? Regardless of your answer, we missed sharing our Bottle Makes Three adventures with you. In fact, we lots of great stories just waiting for us to find the time to tell them to you. In between working we’ve managed to have a few adventures, visit some great new places, and get the lowdown on a cool new brewery opening soon in our own backyard. Well, not literally in our backyard… though that would be pretty amazing. Fortunately it feels like things may soon be settling down [knock on wood] so watch for those stories soon. Just not today. We have a different story for you today.

Today, we want to tell you about last weekend and how we escaped the daily grind for a quick Colorado road trip to Durango. As busy as things have been, we totally blew off work early last Friday for a little fun. It wasn’t optional, we had to go. We missed the last two Ska Brewing Anniversary parties, and dammit, we were not going to miss another one. Not only did we get to do a little celebratory skanking with the folks at Ska, but we also visited a few other Durango breweries. In fact, we can now finally say we’ve visited all the breweries in Durango. Score one for Team BMT! Sure we’ve had to work extra late all week to make up for leaving early last Friday, but we needed the getaway, and it was totally worth it.

Ska Anniversary Road Trip 2017

Before we start breaking down our trip for you, we feel we should tell you that this story is best enjoyed if paired with a delicious Ska Brewing beer. So go grab a cold Modus, Decadent, or whatever Ska beer you like, and then let’s get started.

Friday: Gotta Get to Ska

Despite our best efforts, didn’t leave as early as we would’ve liked on Friday thanks to those pesky day jobs. When we finally did hit the road we had just one goal in mind: Get to Ska Brewing for the release of their 22nd Anniversary beer. The beer, a Rye Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, was being released at 5 p.m. and we wanted to snag a few bottles. To be honest, we didn’t have to rush… but we liked the idea of enjoying our Friday happy hour at Ska Brewing. This meant we made almost no stops on the way to Durango. Nope, we didn’t even stop for beers in Alamosa or Pagosa Springs this time, we just booked it to Durango. Once we were there and checked in to a hotel in walking distance, we could finally enjoy the start of our beer-filled weekend! We had several Ska brews, but were particularly into their Mod Project lineup of beers. Jeff’s favorite was the Barrel-Aged Strong Ale With Plums, while I was all about the Pink Vapor Stew. Thanks to a freebie beer from a friend (thanks Dane!) we also tried the newer Mod Project release, Tart Mexican Logger. Was it good? Duh, of course. I don’t believe we’ve ever had a Ska beer that wasn’t excellent.

While we may have had big plans to hit the town on Friday night, the long week finally caught up. We were beat. Instead we purchased our anniversary beer, snagged a crowler of Modus Mandarina IPA and walked back to the hotel. The crowler made for a nice nightcap and before you know it, we were fast asleep. We were so tired we didn’t even take pictures of the Anniversary beers we bought. You’ll just have to wait for us to share the pictures once we pop the top on one of those bad boys.

Saturday Afternoon: Let’s Do This, Durango!

Saturday we woke up ready to party, Durango-style, but the Ska shindig wasn’t starting until 4 p.m. With lots of time to kill we walked around downtown until lunchtime, then it was all about the breweries. We had previously been to Carver Brewing and Steamworks, so our focus was on the three Durango breweries we hadn’t visited yet. First on the list was BREW Pub and Kitchen. As soon as they opened, it was game on!

BREW Pub and Kitchen

We arrived at BREW Pub & Kitchen around lunchtime. I ordered a coffee brew while Jeff picked an IPA. Can you guess which beer is which in the pictures below? Now, a clever person would say the lighter beer is the coffee, because they would know that since we’re asking the question, we must be trying to trick you. After all, only a great fool would assume it is the obvious choice. Then again, we know you are not a great fool and would have counted on you picking the less obvious choice, so clearly the coffee beer must be the darker one. Or is it the lighter one? Well, which do you choose?

If you guessed the dark beer was the coffee beer, you are absolutely wrong! The dark beer above is BREW’s Sonny Black IPA, which Jeff ordered and absolutely loved. Sure it looks inky black and heavy, but flavor wise it was a nice, crisp IPA. Meanwhile the blonde beer is my Joey Coffee Kölsch, and while it’s light in color it was filled with rich coffee aroma and flavor. Both beers were delicious, as were the nachos we had for a lunch during our visit. Nachos and coffee beer maybe aren’t the ideal pairing, but whatever, I like what I like. It was delicious.

BREW Pub & Kitchen was awesome. We loved everything about the brewery and taproom. The have a great food menu and such tasty beer choices that it was hard to decide what to try. Plus, BREW offers a nice selection of guest tap beers & full bar. It’s silly that in our previous Durango trips we never made it here. We won’t make that mistake again.

Durango Brewing Company

Our next stop was at Durango Brewing Company. Open since 1990, Durango Brewing is one of the oldest breweries in Colorado. Outside they had an amazing patio, while the inside could make you think you’ve made a wrong turn into the train museum. Okay, not really.. but it had a great train theme that highlighted Durango’s history as a town founded in 1880 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. Plus we both really just like trains and beer, so we thought this place was pretty cool.

I had a tough time deciding on a brew, so I stuck to a few Durango Brewing tasters. I had the Vienna Lager and the Blueberry Wheat. I didn’t get as much blueberry as I would have liked from the wheat, but the Vienna Lager was delicious. Jeff had the IPA, no surprise there, and thought it was pretty solid. While we weren’t hungry, it’s worth noting that Durango Brewing did have a full menu, and the food looked good. Maybe next visit we can explore more of their menu.

Animas Brewing Company

The last brewery we had left to visit in Durango was Animas Brewing Company. Nestled just near the Animas River, this place was packed with people enjoying the beautiful, sunshine-filled afternoon. The restaurant and patio were especially full, so we snuck into the bar. The place was nice, and definitely decorated to appeal to the outdoor enthusiasts who frequent the river and park next door. At Animas, Jeff had the Class VI IPA and I had the River Gose Through It. The IPA was pretty good, but the gose didn’t have the hint of sourness I would have expected from the style. Maybe I was being too picky, or maybe I got the wrong beer… who knows. It was still good enough that I drank it, so I don’t have any complaints.

Drinking in Durango: Our Weekend Trip to Ska Brewing's 22nd Anniversary Party | BottleMakesThree.com

Drinking in Durango: Our Weekend Trip to Ska Brewing's 22nd Anniversary Party | BottleMakesThree.com

At this point in the day, we decided it wouldn’t be wise to have more beer since we were heading toa beer festival. Fortunately, Animas Brewing had plenty to explore outside their doors. We wandered over a pedestrian bridge that crossed the Animas River and took in all the beautiful views along the riverbank. We kept wandering until we happened upon the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Durango Fish Hatchery and Wildlife Museum. It was a happy accident, and ended up being a fun way to kill some time. We wandered through the museum and checked out the rainbow trout growing in the hatchery. It was fun and truly interesting. The fish seemed pretty bummed that despite following us around in their tanks we never rewarded them with food. Sorry, guys. Next time we go to Animas Brewing we’ll visit again, and I’ll know to bring quarters for fish food.

Saturday Night: Celebrating 22 Years of Great Ska Beers

Party time had finally arrived, and if there is one thing we know for sure, it’s that Ska Brewing knows how to party! They host a great throw-down every year, no matter what obstacles try and get in the way. For example, just days before the party this year, Hurricane Irma cost them their headliner, Less Than Jake. Did Ska cancel the show? Hell no! They decided to donate a bunch of dough to hurricane relief and went on with the party. And because they are Ska Brewing, another band – The Dendrites – drove down last-minute from Denver to step in and perform. Just more proof that everybody loves Ska Brewing.

Drinking in Durango: Our Weekend Trip to Ska Brewing's 22nd Anniversary Party | BottleMakesThree.com
The Dendrites. They rock in more ways than one.

The Ska Brewing Anniversary Party is awesome because it mixes the all elements of a great beer festival with a kick-ass music fest. It’s a totally chill festival and loads of fun. Breweries from all over Colorado and beyond come to take part in the festivities, includin several breweries from nearby New Mexico and Arizona. There are also several food vendors serving up grub, including Ska’s own Container Restaurant, who makes some killer pizzas, sandwiches & apps. But what really makes this party great is the Ska Brewing folks. They are all so nice and welcoming, and genuinely happy that everyone comes out to celebrate with them. We meet new folks each year who tell us how awesome it is to work at Ska Brewing. Sometimes it makes us totally jealous that their job is full of fun and beer, while our jobs lately are filled with stressful projects and looming deadlines. Sometimes it makes us question our life choices. But then we have another beer put on some silly costumes for the photo booth, and everything in the world is totally awesome.

Have you heard the one about a unicorn, a rooster and Focus on the Beer’s Ryan Hannigan walking into a photo booth? If not, we don’t have a punchline for you, but we do have a pretty awesome photo. BTW, that unicorn really doesn’t know how to play the sax. Silly unicorn.

Ska’s Anniversary Party is clearly a fun time, but for us it’s so much more than a fun beer festival with great music. This party is our chance each September to take a mini vacation from whatever is stressing us out at the moment. The long road trip gives us the time to enjoy miles upon miles of beautiful Colorado scenery, just as the leaves are beginning to change for the season. We get to plan fun detours to visit places we’ve never been, and try those far-out breweries we rarely get a chance to visit. And even though it’s a 6-hour drive from house to Ska Brewing, we always run into friends there. Even better, each time we go we make a few new ones. It’s just an awesome time all around, and we’re happy we got to make it back this year.

The only thing that would make it better is if we could just all collectively talk the Mighty Mighty Bosstones into playing Ska’s 23rd. Jeff has offered to start up a collection for their airfare if that helps. The balls in your court, Bosstones. Let’s make this happen.

Happy 22nd Anniversary Ska Brewing! Cheers to you!

Drinking in Durango: Our Weekend Trip to Ska Brewing's 22nd Anniversary Party | BottleMakesThree.com


  1. Kira

    You guys rock! Glad you got to come out and celebrate with us and visit our homies (ABC, DBC & BREW). Thank you!

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