Best Beer and Breweries in Colorado
Adolph Coors set up a brewery in Colorado in 1873. Three years later, Colorado became a state. Yes, beer came to Colorado before statehood. From that proud tradition, the home brewing and craft beer movement have taken root in Colorado, yielding some of the world’s finest beers from amber ales like Fat Tire to a Belgian style-white like Blue Moon to Pilsners like Coors Banquet. These beers were a message from Colorado to the world. And so, the world has answered by sending their best brewers to the Rocky Mountains.
The result is a booming industry that brings $2.7 billion of value to the state. Colorado produces more beer per capita than any state in the US.
What is the History Behind Brewing in Colorado?
Colorado was designed for brewing beer. The crisp autumns, the cold winters, the rocky soil adept at growing grain, the freshwater trickling down the Rocky Mountains. It’s an idyllic place to brew beer with the perfect population to drink it. As Colorado was settled in the 19th Century by gold miners, those miners were thirsty. In 1859, Rocky Mountain Brewing established the first brewery in the state. It only lasted a year, but by 1873, the town of Golden became home to the beer most associated with the Centennial State: Coors.
Breweries thrived in Colorado until Prohibition laws stopped the industry in its tracks. Coors managed to diversify, selling malted milk and dinnerware, but the rest of Colorado’s breweries shut down. A half century later, Charlie Papazian founded the American Homebrewers Association and started the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Out of this movement came thriving breweries like New Belgium and Odell and microbreweries like Front Range and Breckinridge. Today, Colorado is known for its vibrant craft beer scene.
Why is Colorado Considered a Top Destination for Craft Beer?
If you want to do a statewide tour of breweries, there’s no better place to do it than Colorado. Start with the beer that tapped the Rockies by heading to Golden for a tour of the Coors Brewery. Golden itself is a gorgeous mining town outside of Denver that seems like it was frozen in the late 19th Century. Coors is the world’s largest single-site brewery, an old fashioned factory on the banks of the Clear Creek. The endless mountain views is what makes Colorado an ideal state to enjoy a beer.
A half hour away in Littleton, you’ll find the Breckenridge Brewery. A microbrew scaled up to be available in the lower 48, the 12 Acre campus includes the Farm House restaurant and a 100 barrel aging room.
If you drive an hour north to Ft. Collins, you can enjoy a 90-minute tour of New Belgium Brewing Company that concludes with a curated flight including New Belgium’s signature beer Fat Tire Ale.
Then, head to the capital city of Denver, home to Blue Moon, which was born at the Sandlot Brewery within the baseball park at Coors Field. Denver has such a thriving microbrew scene that the best Colorado beer we haven’t even heard of yet will be available by the time you visit.
What Are the Top Events to Visit in Colorado for Craft Beer?
Every October, the finest makers of craft beers from all 50 states come to Denver to celebrate the Great American Beer Festival. For the past 40 years, the festival has spawned a microbrew movement, taking the spirit of Colorado beer all across the nation. The event showcases over 500 breweries, 2000 plus beers, and 10,000 beers are judged to crown winners in over 25 subcategories. Denver is the ideal place for such an event, with its central location and laidback enthusiasts, Colorado beer is about the hard work that goes into chilling.
What Makes Colorado Beer Taste So Good?
It’s the water. Fresh water trickles down from the snowmelt in the Rockies, making the supply ample and the water quality ideal for brewing. The foothill soil is perfect for growing barley and the climate gives Colorado some of the finest brewing conditions in the world. On top of that, the sheer number of microbrews aligned with the big brewers has made Colorado the “Napa Valley of beer.” It attracts the most innovative brewers and deepest talent pools for beer making in the United States. When you add these qualities together, you get a beer industry as eclectic and great tasting as Colorado Beer.
There is no better environment for drinking a cold beer than in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. With over 335 breweries and thousands of craft beers to choose from, you can’t go wrong with Colorado beer.
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