The Small Town Brews

“If your town doesn’t have a brewery then it’s not on the map.” We heard this quote somewhere down the line in our travels and it certainly rings true as far as we can tell. There are very few towns in this state without a brewery or two to draw in locals and travelers alike. We’ve prided ourselves on making our way to all of the breweries in the state, big or small, from Ft. Collins to Alamosa. One thing we’ve noticed is that breweries, especially the smaller operations in small towns, have created a space for folks to gather and build community. Local breweries generally offer a low-key vibe and there are always friendly craft connoisseurs eager to strike up a conversation. Oh, and one other thing is absolutely sure, the beer is always good. So because of this pleasant community atmosphere, spots like Dolores River Brewery in Dolores, Colorado have quickly become our favorites.

We made our way to the San Juan Mountains recently to revisit some memorable breweries and to try out some new locations.  What we found was not surprising based on our previous experiences with the friendly San Juan region, but reassuring that breweries can be the heart of a community. After visiting five small mountain towns (Ridgeway, Telluride, Dolores, Silverton, and Ouray) we came to ask ourselves “where would people gather in this town before the brewery or breweries opened up?” All of the operations are relatively new to the Colorado beer scene, most opening within the past five years. But whenever we visited each of the eight locations, each was packed with locals seeking out favored brews.

We set up home base in Ridgeway, calling the Ridgeway State Park campground home for three nights. Ridgeway is a great farm town at the base of the San Juans with sweeping vistas of the massive peaks in Ouray, Silverton, and Telluride.

Here’s a few highlights and notable info about the eight breweries in the San Juans region. Please visit our Silverton-Ouray-Ridgeway and Dolores-Telluride pages for more information and maps.

Colorado Boy Pub and Brewery, Ridgeway, CO:

–Great pizza and beer

–Historic downtown building

–Chat it up with locals about whatever comes to mind

–Thinking of opening a brewery? Colorado Boy supports their fellow brewers by offering an immersion course on how to start your own small brewery, “covering everything from building and brewing, to licensing and business systems designed to operate a small brewery that is profitable and inexpensive to open.”

Smuggler Joe’s Brew Pub,  Telluride, CO:

–Downtown Telluride location

–Patio views

–Impressive selection of craft beer brewed on-site

Telluride Brewing Company, Telluride, CO:

–2012 World Beer Cup: American-Style Brown, “Face Down Brown”

–Locals spot located outside of town on HWY 145, opened fall 2011

–Galloping Goose bus drop off/pick up, or ride bikes for a little exercise

–Awesome Grateful Dead mural above the bar

Dolores River Brewery, Dolores, CO:

–Serves up some of the best wood-fired pizza out there

–Decorated and furnished with all re-purposed and recycled materials, from the taps to the brew equipment

–16-oz “Tall Boys” available only here (and near-by liquor store)

Ouray Brewery/Ouray Brewing Company, Ouray, CO:

–Ouray Brewery: located in a beautiful historic Main Street building

–Ouray Brewery: roof top patio has one of the best views in the state

–Ouray Brewing Company (1/2 mile north on Main from Ouray Brewery): riverside patio

–Ouray Brewing Company: pool table and re-purposed ski lift chairs at the bar

Ourayle House Brewery, Ouray, CO:

–Quirkiest, (therefore one of the coolest), brewing operations in Colorado

–AKA “Mr. Grumpy Pants Brewery”

–Always changing taps with equally quirky names and references

Avalanche Coffee House, Cafe, and Brewery, Silverton, CO:

–Coffee and beer served side by side

–New operation in town

–Locals spot for getting the scoop on what’s happening in and around Silverton

–Killer pumpkin bread

Silverton Brewing Company, Silverton, CO:

–Great selection of beer

–Downtown Silverton with beautiful views

–Historic building location over 100 years old

–Husband and wife duo recovering from a fire that took hold of the place one year ago…looked pretty good to us

–Check out a recent post on Silverton Brewing: Trailblazing for Women in Beer for more information.



One comment on “The Small Town Brews

  1. Ridgway needs an edit in this article as well. Cheers & Mountain Beers, Roger

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