Made in Colorado: Craft beer and spirits
Ellie’s Brown Ale
Step inside Avery Tap Room and you feel like you’re part of the in-crowd as twentysomethings wash down pulled pork sliders with Hog Heaven Barleywine-style Ale or Philly cheesesteak sandwiches with New World Porter. Makes you forget it’s a bit hard to find this ever-crowded Boulder oasis tucked inside an industrial park.
But the iconic "A" that sits at street level at 5763 Arapahoe Ave. is all the craft brewer needs to lure customers. Since 1993, the Avery family has been creating inspired interpretations of Old World brewing traditions.
Avery complements its year-round regulars – Ellie’s Brown Ale, India Pale Ale, White Rascal Belgian White Ale, Out of Bounds Stout and Joe’s Premium American Pilsner – with seasonal limited editions such as Old Jubilation Ale. "Our winter strong ale has a gorgeous mahogany hue, a hint of hazelnuts, and a finish of mocha and toffee. No spices, just a perfect blend of five specialty malts," the brewers say on their website.
Not the kind of brew to be pounded down but one to be savored – perhaps with a tap room burger and sweet potato tots.
Straight Bourbon Whiskey Colorado Gold Distillery
After 46 years in the construction industry, Tom Cooper decided he needed to spend his work days doing something that was
easier on his body. His chose to make whiskey.
"My family all came from Arkansas and Missouri years ago so they were all familiar with whiskeys. I just picked it up," says Cooper, 64, who with his wife, Pam, founded Colorado Gold Distillery in Cedaredge in 2007. "My favorite whiskey was bourbon, and my favorite was Maker’s Mark. I tried to make the product as good as or better than Maker’s Mark."
The couple’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey earned a fourth place distinction by the American Distilling Institute in 2010. They also make corn whiskey, agave spirits, gin and vodka.
The Coopers buy their malted barley from Colorado Malting in Alamosa, corn from Grand Valley Hybrids, and grain and wheat from farms in Eckert and Olathe respectively. And Cedaredge has great water.
"I think that and the process I use in making my spirits make them extremely smooth," Tom Cooper says.
CapRock Organic Gin
Lance and Anna Hansen founded Jack Rabbit Hill Farm about 12 years ago in the North Fork Valley to grow grapes. In 2005, the California transplants decided to branch out and founded Peak Spirits, a distillery that keeps its focus on the farming connection, a concept commonly practiced in Austria and Germany.
"We look at our products as agricultural products. We look for quality in the way stuff is grown," Lance Hansen says.
The Hansens produce CapRock Organic Vodka with their estate grapes, which they are also among the ingredients for their brandy and grappas. The couple source peaches, pears, cherries and apples from other local farms in the North Fork Valley.
Peak Spirits is distributed in eight states and Washington, D.C., and several countries in Europe.
"It’s great that people are starting to wake up to this whole artisan food movement, and it’s starting to spill over into the spirits and beer category," says Hansen, 51, who notes that the concept already has been adopted by vintners.
Foreign Style Stout
Trinity Absinthe Overland Distillery, Loveland
Diamond Whiskey, Downslope Distilling, Centennial
Strange Pale Ale Strange Brewing Co., Denver
Colorado Straight Bourbon
Peach Street Distillers, Palisade
Manana Amber Lager Del Norte Brewing Co., Denver
Bristol Brewing Co., Colorado Springs
Milk Stout Nitro
Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont
Tread Lightly Ale
New Planet Gluten Free Beer, Boulder