Stout in the Springs (and a Hike)

I’m on a kick for seasonal beer, and it’s been a while since we’ve visited Colorado Springs. So I tracked down some malty beverages and we headed south on I-25 last weekend.  But it seemed far too beautiful to hide inside all day, delicious beer or not. I also researched a new hiking area, something a little different from our usual tour in Garden of the Gods.

The sudden change in weather might make this post just a little bit late.  Though if it warms up again, a hike in Castlewood Canyon State Park, (near Castle Rock and north of the Springs), will surely satisfy your outdoor cravings. It seemed unseasonable for December 1st to stop here for a five mile jaunt, but during the walk we soaked in the winter sun, the vistas across the Black Forest, and the stunning rock formations in the canyon.

With miles of good trails, and wonderful picnic areas, this park is a hidden gem. It made for a perfect start to our day . . . after strolling along the still flowing Cherry Creek, we were thirsty (and hungry) for some craft beer.

Fortunately, Rocky Mountain Brewing was our next destination. We took the scenic route on CO 83, enjoying more vistas of the plains and long panoramas of the Front Range. After weaving through the sprawl of east Colorado Springs, we ignored the strip club across the street, and sauntered into the brewery to a surprising selection of beer.

After sharing a large tasting tray to fully sample their menu, (this was our first visit), everyone ordered a favored pint and headed outside for some lunch on the patio from B’z BBQ (an ideally located, and rather stationary, food truck). The Double-Burnt Brisket, the Buffalo Sausage, and the Pulled Pork Sandwich, all paired perfectly (of course) with the Smoked Brown, the Irish Dry Stout, and the Shoup (cocoa) Stout.

Though we could have easily stayed for another pint, the Winter Warlock (on Nitro!) at Bristol Brewing across town beckoned. Bristol remains one of our beloved spots in the Springs, thanks to a welcoming vibe, dog dishes filled with pretzels, and something good always on tap.  We couldn’t help but to buy a 6-pack of the Warlock, and two bombers of their Christmas Ale, to enjoy at home the rest of the week.

We were headed back to Denver when we realized we had yet to use our 2012 Beer Drinker’s Guide to Colorado coupons for Colorado Mountain Brewery.  There’s a new second location for this brewery family near downtown, but we opted for the spot right off I-25 on the north side of Colorado Springs. This is one of those brewpubs that offers a sit-down restaurant, which sometimes steers craft beer fans away.

Don’t be alarmed, their full bar offers a full list of tasty beer brewed with love and care on the premises.  The bartender was also very friendly and quite knowledgeable about the beer.  I tasted a few styles, and then I opted for the Monumental Stout (nice not to be the designated driver on a Saturday). While this pint had stiff competition in the Warlock and the Smoked Brown from the earlier breweries, it stood its ground and made for a nice culmination to the day.

We left before the dinner cravings began from the aroma of steaks and burgers, and headed home.  The usual traffic going up Monument hill slowed us down for a while, but that gave us the chance to watch a terrific sunset over Pikes Peak and the Rampart Range. So, Stout in the Springs?  Absolutely.  And some lovely scenery and hiking to enjoy as well.

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