Traveling around camping, exploring Colorado’s beauty, and enjoying the occasional beer is a tough hobby. It’s given Lady Lupulin and I the opportunity to see a wide-variety of breweries, from folks who have been in the business for a long time, to others growing large enough to expand their operation out-of-state, to watering holes that are absolutely content brewing and serving beer to locals. One of our favorite parts of advocating for the Colorado beer scene is telling tales about the vast diversity to approach, style, and atmosphere when it comes to the notion of brewery. It’s in fact why we think everyone should experience more than just a dozen places, and more than just their local spot (though local is EXTREMELY important).
Since it takes every brewery time to find their own niche and identity, we’ve actually made a point of not venturing to new breweries during their opening weekend, week, or even month. We understand how difficult running such an establishment is, and it seems unfair to judge a brewery by its first day. Not that we do a lot of judging here at coloradobrewerydays.com, but we want to tell the most positive story possible.
There are of course exceptions. In mid-May, we camped at Great Sand Dunes National Park, dropping by San Luis Valley Brewing in Alamosa and Three Barrel in Del Norte (we love these spots). On our third day out, we soaked in the Silver Thread Scenic Byway from South Fork to Gunnison through the eastern San Juans (truly a must). We enjoyed a few half pints at Gunnison Brewing and then cruised over Monarch Pass, reaching Poncha Springs around 5 pm.
We knew Governor Hickenlooper had dropped by Elevation Beer Company at their grand opening the day before, and we knew the crowds had probably returned home by this late Sunday hour. But we hesitated. Would they really be able to have their best of show in place?
The short answer? Yes. The more definitive answer? Absolutely.
The four co-owners and brewers at Elevation have their stuff together. I could be even more explicative, but I’ll just say that at one point during our tasting, I was completely overwhelmed. All six of the beers set in front of us, (everything from their Saison to their farmhouse Signal de Botrange), were true to their style, while also offering crisp, new insights, demonstrating an experienced and mature understanding to the brewing process.
In addition, the brewers and bartenders behind the bar all made a point of coming over and talking to us. Again, we expect friendliness at Colorado breweries, (though it’s not always the case). Friendliness often makes the difference between a positive experience or an outstanding, I’ll-drive-back-here-even-if-it’s-out-of-my-way experience.
And not only was everyone friendly and welcoming at Elevation, but they were knowledgeable. Despite our frequent beer adventures, when it comes down to it, I’m not an expert in tasting beer, so I have lots of questions. There are too many places we go where the person serving the beer has very little knowledge about the beer they’re pouring. But at Elevation, they know what’s in their water.
We were also impressed by some of the details these guys had considered. For example, their chalk board menu of the beer corresponds to the ski rating system (i.e. a green is their Kolsch while the double black diamonds are their cask-aged, far-out beers). Prices correspond to that rating system as well. Totally in-genius? No, maybe not . . . this is the state of skiing, isn’t it? But it is original; we haven’t seen this anywhere else.
In addition to this system, they’ve already begun distributing champagne bottles of some of their most crafty brews, creating an immediate demand for these limited releases. Without hesitation, I bought a bottle of their inaugural Apis IV Quadrupel for transport back to California for my brother’s first Father’s Day as a new dad. And if Elevation keeps charging forward from its opening weekend, I have a feeling this won’t be the last present I bring down to my brother from these lofty heights.