As far as I’m concerned, the greatest selection of beers and ales reside in friendly confines of Colorado University’s hippie-speckled college town east of the Rockies awesome summit. On my first Boulder trip in ’96, I pounded down many New Belgium Fat Tires at The Walnut and a few Breckenridge and Flying Dog brews at long-time friend Phil Calitre’s humble abode.
As Phil rightly proclaimed then, “We’ve got tons of good brewpubs and microbreweries here.” A fabulous drinker and proud Colorado U. grad, Phil introduced 15th Street Liquor Mart, which had 60 (!) local brews I hadn’t yet tried as of September ’02.
I had the truly distinct Oasis Zoser Oatmeal Stout at Oasis brewpub while Phil’s 2-year old hung off a barstool then strolled through the crowd. I enjoyed lofty brews by Avery, Berger, Boulder, Great Divide, Twisted Pine, and less interesting fare from O’ Dell and Tommyknockers while 4-wheeling rocky dirt trails near Georgetown and Nederland, hiking the Flat Irons, or hanging out around main Boulder artery, 28th Street.
During August ’07, did full brewpub tour, starting at outskirts with SOUTHERN SUN (sister restaurant-brewpub of quainter Mountain Sun). Opened autumn ’03, Southern Sun’s a spacious family-oriented lodge located at Table Mesa Mall in red brick freestanding building with white grain silo, big side patio, couched lounge area, and silver brew tanks. Tomes and liquor bottles bedeck oak book shelving of left side L-shaped bar. Pub fare included nachos, hummus, soups, salads, and fabulous burgers.
Diligently skirting traditional categories, brewer Curt Meyer served tart peach-candied corn-dried biscuit-y wheat light body Quinn’s Golden Ale, Seltzer-like cherry-tart raspberry-oxidized dry-hopped Raspberry Wheat, subtle dried-fruited cereal-grained chocolate-nut-tinged wood-burnt Annapurna Amber, and banana-fronted lemony-clove clean-watered solvent-like Ruckus Witbier.
Admirably analogous were sharp spruce-juiced apple-pear-sweetened grapefruit-soured floral-tinged Colorado Kind Ale, bitterer resin-hopped peach-y grapefruit-lavished Illusion Dweller IPA, and piney Chinook-hopped candy apple-grazed orange peel-grapefruit-dried floral peach-dabbed FYIPA. Pleasant chipotle-jalapeno notes counter coffee bean dryness, chocolate seed bittering, and Kahlua murk of Isadore Java Porter while equally dry nitro-fused Old School Stout (and its more grainy tapped version) extended hop-roasted black coffee illusions to Band-aid-wafted black cherry nuance. Lacquered ginger-eucalyptus-wintergreen-freshened lemongrass-chamomile-impinged citric-hinged Jah Man Ginger tests experimentalists.