Outnumbered in Denver

Hops_MaltsShortly after we arrived in Golden I took to the internet to find some breweries that we might have missed when we were here a year ago. I was totally amazed when that list grew to over 50 breweries – just in the greater Denver area – that would be new to us. BootstrapBrewingWe were only going to be here for two weeks so knew there was no way we would visit them all, or even a majority of them. It must be because of differences in licensing laws that most of the breweries in Oregon are also pubs where you can get a good meal but most of what we found in Denver are breweries-only with a tap room and sometimes an independent food truck. FrontRangeBrewingThat may account for the proliferation of breweries we found here as it seems it would be much easier to open a brewery than a full-blown restaurant. It also seems that Colorado is leaning more toward quantity than quality. Although we visited some really good ones we also found a handful that we’d classify as mediocre. However, in this post we’ll focus on our favorites.
Kokopelli_StoutRedOne of those was Kokopelli Beer Company in Westminster. It is a new brewery since last year and one of the few that do serve food. I think we made a mistake in not eating here but their beers were top notch. Karen had the Cow Tipper Milk Stout and I had the Red Moon Red Ale. Both were excellent and we enjoyed them while talking with Rick the head brewer.

BlueSpruce_Karen_DebbieOne evening we met up with Debbie, a Munich high school friend of Karen’s who lives in the area, at a new brewery in the town of Centennial, Blue Spruce Brewing. BlueSpruce_FirkinTapAfter a few tastings, the ladies both had the Oktoberfest (a salute to their days in Munich) and I chose their red ale. The man behind the bar was very helpful and informative about their beers and let us know that today, like every Tuesday, they would be tapping a firkin which is a small keg of a small batch ale. We had a great time visiting with Debbie and stayed long enough for the firkin tap which today was a chipotle lime blonde ale. So, I had a pint of that while Karen and Debbie split another Oktoberfest. A chipotle lime blonde is not an everyday beer but it was different and I enjoyed it.

Sanitas_Stout_RedThere is a new brewery in Boulder, Sanitas Brewing. Here, once again, Karen had their S.O.P. Stout and it was the Special Cargo Red for me. The beer was great, the decor was cool and the staff friendly. I could see us being regulars, if we lived here. Upslope Brewing, also in Boulder, was new-to-us just because we didn’t make it over to them last year. They’ve been around awhile and the place Upslope_Stout_RyeIPAwas lively. I was ready for something different and so I ordered the IPA and thought it was very good. Karen knows what she likes and had their Foreign Style Stout.

PowderKeg_OatmealStoutsPowder Keg Brewing is located in a renovated, historic building in downtown Niwot. The moment we walked in we could tell this place was brand new and, in fact, they had been open for only a few weeks. They had several guest beers on tap but we both zeroed in on their Totes McOats oatmeal stout. Bootstrap_OktoberfestbierAlmost as good as the stout were the bacon chocolate chip cookies that the lady behind the bar had baked and shared with the patrons. Our next stop, also in Niwot and only a few months older, was Bootstrap Brewing. They had several good options on tap and we both chose their Oktoberfestbier (Märzen) which was an excellent choice. On the way out I got a chance to talk briefly with the the owner/brewer. We will sure be looking forward to our next visit to Colorado and Niwot.

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Autumn Gold

This is the reason we planned to stay in Colorado for the month of September and our timing could not have been better!
RMNP_Aspens_5We made the drive up to Rocky Mountain National Park and continued on U.S. Highway 34 to the Alpine Visitors Center on Trail Ridge Road.
RMNP_Aspens_2I’ve made this same drive countless times but never at the peak of the aspens fall season.
RMNP_Aspens_6We stopped often and took lots of pictures but, as is often the case in Colorado, the pictures don’t quite capture the experience.
RMNP_Aspens_4Being the weekend there was a lot of traffic and much human activity that must have had the wildlife laying low.
RMNP_Aspens_3However, we did catch a glimpse of a small elk herd. The big traffic jam was our first clue.
RMNP_ElkFrom the visitors center parking lot I made a solo hike up to the top at 12,005 feet. It could have been my huffing and puffing that scared the wildlife away.
RMNP_Aspens_7After the hike we enjoyed our picnic lunch before heading back the way we came.
RMNP_Aspens_1I can’t imagine a better place to enjoy the changing season and the beauty of God’s creation.

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One of my very earliest childhood memories is standing with my two brothers by the Big Thompson River and watching a mitten that one of us had dropped float away in the fast moving current. I must have been four years old at the time. We were staying in cabins that my grandfather’s brother had at his mink ranch in the Big Thompson Canyon at Sleepy Hollow. The point of that story is that I’ve been traveling to Colorado for as long as I can remember – even lived there for six months, once upon a time, for a contract job I had near Denver. And in six decades of visiting this beautiful state I had never been to Telluride. Karen and I made our first visit there last week and discovered what we’d been missing. FarmersMarketThe first thing we came upon was the farmers market so we found a place to park and headed over. We soon realized what a dog-friendly town this is. SmugglersGrilledRomaineCeasarIf Jake and Peggy had better social skills we could have brought them and taken them anywhere. After the purchase of a dozen farm-fresh, non-GMO, cage-free eggs and taking in the full length of the market we headed back to the car. SmugglersChickFiletA sign of our good fortune was that we had parked right across the street from Smugglers Brew Pub. Since it was lunchtime and we had time on the meter we crossed the street and went inside. After tasting a couple of samples we both decided on the Road Rash Red and for lunch Karen had the grilled romaine chicken Caesar salad and I chose the Chic-Filet sandwich. Both the beer and the food were quite good.

TelluridePanorama2Telluride has a free gondola that links it to the town of Mountain Village with a stop in between at Station San Sophia up at 10,500 feet elevation. We took the ride up to the top and wandered around for awhile enjoying the magnificent views. We especially like the view of the Telluride airport from up there.TellurideDavidKarenTellurideAirport After we returned to the car we drove around town for a bit, spotted a couple of VW buses and picked out one or two places we could live. Since there was one other brewery in town we made that our last stop. Due to their type of license Telluride Brewing is a stand-up-only affair but that was no problem since we couldn’t stay long. Karen had the Smoke Shack Porter and I had the Bridal Veil Rye Pale Ale. While there we met semi-locals, Rob and Ann. We had the best time talking with them and that helped make our first visit to Telluride a great one.DavidKarenRobAnn

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Uncompahgre Valley

HayBalesMountainsWe wanted to spend a week or two in the Western Slope area of Colorado so YogiBearlooked for an RV park that would be centrally located to Montrose, Ridgeway and Ouray. Our other significant requirement, as always, is dependable WiFi and cell service since that keeps me gainfully employed. Those requirements were all met in of all places, Jellystone Park. Well, hello, Yogi Bear! I don’t think we would have considered this place before Labor Day, but in September with school in session and the summer crowds gone, Jellystone is working out for us just fine. It is located between Montrose and Ridgeway, the sites are large and the place is very quiet since it is mostly empty. Even Yogi and Boo Boo are apparently hibernating.

HorseflyBurgerWith the park emptied out and no available pic-a-nic baskets we decided to try out the first of two breweries in Montrose, Horsefly Brewing. Karen enjoyed their Dry Irish Stout and I had the Tabano Red and then came the bacon cheeseburgers. The beer and the burgers were really very good and we knew we would return later in our stay to do it again.

A couple of days later we tried out the other Montrose brewery, Two Rascals Brewing. 2RascalsBrandonBehind the bar this day was one of the two rascals, Brandon, who offered us a bowl of popcorn from their popcorn machine. Since that is all they offer in the way of food we took him up on that and then had a couple of tasters of their beer. Karen chose the stout and it was the Irish red for me. I followed that up with their IPA which was not obnoxiously hoppy and that made it very good indeed.

On our way to Ridgeway to visit a little brew pub we found there last year, Ridgeway State Parkwe stopped at Ridgeway State Park to check out their campgrounds in hopes that we could spend a little time there someday when we are untethered to cell phones and the internet. It is a beautiful park with great views all around. We were encouraged to hear about the possibility of WiFi in the campgrounds next year, although even better would be to not need them at all.

So then it was on to Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery. What we remembered from last year was that their excellent beer paired quite well ColoradoBoyPizza1with their wood-fired pizza and we were anxious to have both again. Although the beer was still very good, unfortunately the pizza crust this time was pretty awful. It was hard and tough – totally unlike that thin, light and crispy crust last time. The piles of cheese and pepperoni just couldn’t cover up the disappointment with that crust. ColoradoBoyPizza3We saw that they now had a second location in Montrose, Colorado Boy Pizzeria. Several days later we tempted fate and went there to find out if their crust there would fare any better. To be safe, we ordered just one pizza to share and decided it if was good we could order another one. THIS was the pizza we remembered so we quickly ordered another with a request for just a little less cheese and sauce. It came out near-perfect!

OurayBluePearThe weekend arrived and we planned a full day. We started out in Ouray with a stop at one of Karen’s favorite girl stores, The Blue Pear. MaggiesBurgerOurayleHouseStoutThey pack a lot of interesting stuff in a tiny space. Then it was time for a burger at Maggie’s Kitchen with a stout from next door at Ourayle House Brewery, aka Mr. Grumpy Pants Brewing. They are a great combination and our favorite in Ouray.

We made a quick stop back home to let Jake and Peggy out for a walk before taking off for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. BlackCanyonA case of acrophobia cut that visit short but we did see some truly awesome views before driving on to Delta, The City of Murals, to take some pictures of … their murals.DeltaMurals

The shortened visit at the Black Canyon left enough time in the afternoon for an additional adventure and our friend, Google Maps, RevolutionRedStoutfound a new-for-us brewery only 30 miles away in Paonia so off we went to Revolution Brewing (not to be confused with the Revolution Brewing we visited in Chicago earlier this year). Here we had their Colorado Red and the Stout Ol’ Friend and a good conversation with Mike, a local farmer. The red was good but the stout was very good and since they can it and it’s available locally we got to take some home, too.

With a day as busy as this one was we were happy to take a day of rest on Sunday and were treated to this double rainbow in the afternoon.DoubleRainbow

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A Rock Named Smith

SmithRockStateParkOregon’s Smith Rock State Park is located just outside of Redmond. RockClimbersWe have read about it several times, been told by others not to miss it, and even have seen it from the highway. ScenicSo, we finally took a day to go check it out. The weather was perfect and the scenery is amazing. If you’ve ever wanted to climb a rock, this is the place to do it. With it’s sheer volcanic ash cliffs, Smith Rock is world famous for thousands of climbing routes and hiking trails.
That’s okay, we’ll just watch.
There is also the four-mile loop hike, Misery Ridge … maybe next time. Deer
We did take a couple of easy hiking trails along the south rim of the Crooked River, saw large, soaring birds that could have been golden eagles, spotted a deer, and even got a picture of Spiderman.Spiderman

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Rockaway Beach and Astoria

One of our favorite ways to avoid the August heat is a visit to the Oregon coast. And our favorite spot to do that is Shorewood RV Park in Rockaway Beach. They have a couple of RV sites nestled among the permanent park trailer sites that are right on the beach and we were lucky enough to get one of them for a whole week. The really great thing is that you pull forward into the spot, facing the water, and get this view the whole time.BeachfrontView2
With no breweries and few restaurants nearby, we were able to take the time to relax, eat at home and enjoy that view. One thing we did find to do, though, was make a couple of visits to the Tillamook Cheese Factory. TillamookIceCreamOur interest there was not in the cheese or cheese making but in their ice cream. So we endured the crowds, waited in line and each had double scoops of the creamy goodness – Caramel Toffee Crunch, Coffee Almond Fudge, Oregon Hazelnut and Salted Caramel, Espresso Mocha, and even Vanilla!

PelicanStoutDarkAleOne afternoon, after our stop in Tillamook for ice cream, we drove further down US 101 to Pacific City and Pelican Pub & Brewery. We missed the fabulous ocean view due to the cold and drizzly weather but made up for it with a pint of Tsunami Stout and Doryman’s Dark Ale. Between that and spotting several VW buses along the way it made the drive quite worth the effort.

On our previous visit to Astoria two years ago I made a couple of mistakes that I would finally be able to make up for this time. DanishMaidAppleFritters2The first stop when we hit town was Danish Maid Bakery. They make the absolutely best apple fritters on the planet and my error last time was talking Karen out of loading up the freezer with them. So with my promise to not say a word about how many she wanted to buy and having made plenty of room in the freezer by eating at home all week we left with a box of eighteen and smiles on our faces. BowpickerLine1Astoria is home to another place on our best-ever list and that is Bowpicker Fish & Chips. The food line is always long and the only item on their menu is the deep fried, beer-battered Albacore tuna with fries, although there is an option for a whole order (5 pieces) or a half order (3 pieces). BowpickerFishAndChips2My mistake last time was suggesting we split a whole order. Once we tasted just how good it was, though, we weren’t willing to go through the long line again to get more. After having to live with that screw-up for the past two years I wasn’t about to let it happen again. We thoroughly enjoyed our whole orders of fish & chips and not having to share them with anybody!

There is a new brewery in town, since our last trip, and so we made Buoy Beer Co. our next stop. BuoyViewBuoyFlight2They are in a renovated, historic old building right on the waterfront with a fantastic view of the river. After tasting both the porter and the oatmeal stout, the slight advantage went to the stout and Karen enjoyed that while I opted for a flight of six: pale ale, ESB, red ale, porter, oatmeal stout and IPA – all very good, indeed.

On the way back to Rockaway Beach, Karen read that there was a brewery in Seaside but since we’d already had a full SeasideKarenday we decided to skip it. However, when we got to Seaside we found ourselves in quite a bit of traffic due to the highway stripe painting up ahead and when Karen spotted the brewery we made a quick decision and quick right turn, made the block and went inside. SeasideNachosThe Northwest Red Ale I had and the Deschutes Obsidian Stout that Karen had went well with the plate of pulled pork nachos that we shared. There was still a bit of traffic to contend with most of the way back home but it’s a small price for a fun visit to Astoria.

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Both Sides Now

DoubleMountainPorterFrom our spot at the Portland/Fairview RV park we made a day trip up the Columbia River Gorge to Hood River. There we knew from past experience that we’d find Double Mountain Brewery. What we remembered most about our last visit wasn’t the beer so much, other than that they do have it, as it was the thin crust brick oven pizza. DoubleMountainPaleSo after driving around the town of Hood River for awhile, spotting some VW buses, admiring the views of the mountains and river, and a quick stop at Ace hardware, we ventured over to Double Mountain Brewing, sat at the bar and after a few tastes ordered a couple of beers. Karen settled for a bottle of their Carrie Ladd Steamship Porter and I had the Homestead Northwest Pale Ale. DoubleMountainPizzaThen we ordered a pepperoni pizza, well done, of course. The beer was good, the pizza was excellent and we got a tip from the guy seated next to us about another brewery on the Washington side of the river back toward Vancouver/Portland. HoodRiverBridgeFirst, though, we would head across the Columbia River via the narrow, steel-grated, almost-mile-long bridge to White Salmon, Washington, where we would check on availability of an RV site at the Bridge RV park and then go up the mountain into town to the brewery we already knew about, Everybody’s Brewing. EverybodysBrewingPorterStoutThis is a great little brewery with excellent beers, good food and on a clear day, a beautiful view of Mount Hood from their patio. Since we had already eaten and it was too hazy to see much of the mountain we enjoyed the Pucker Huddle Porter and Cash Stout Oatmeal Stout from our seats at the bar. On Highway 14, about half way back to Vancouver, which is across the river from Portland, in Stevenson, Washington, we found Walking Man Brewing. WalkingManBlackCherryStoutWe walked past the many patrons enjoying the warm sun in the outdoor seating and took up seats at the bar indoors. After tasting a couple and not being too thrilled with the brown ale or the black cherry stout, Karen stuck with a glass of water. I don’t care much for fruit beers but the black cherry stout sounded kinda interesting so I got a pint. Turns out that a pint of it is too much for me. The flavor that reminded me of a cherry Coke without much sugar got old about half way through. It might have been a pretty good stout without the fruit.

CamasAntiquesA short distance before Vancouver and the I-205 bridge that takes us back to Portland is the town of Camas. On our last visit here two years ago, Karen discovered Camas Antiques. She says it’s one of the nicest antique stores in the country. A girl store for sure but Karen is a girl so it works out very well.

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Brewery No. 100

OneHundredIn reality we already reached this milestone at some point in the past. But since we only started counting breweries last June (see the blog post that prompted counting here) we can only now officially mark the occasion. I should also mention that we only count breweries the first time we go so all those visits to Rat Hole Brew Pub in Bend only moved the counter once.

BreaksideIrishStoutsThe number was at 97 when we arrived in Portland so we knew we’d be at the century mark real soon. Although this is our third trip to Portland we are severely outnumbered by breweries that are new to us. A quick search on Google maps in an area of town that we seem to have missed before found six breweries vying for the honor of significance. As it worked out, number 98 was Breakside Brewery. What they had for us was an Irish Stout – light in body and very drinkable. A good choice since we were determined to make the landmark this day and didn’t want to get too full too fast. Karen took an extra precaution by ordering a half pint.

OldTownRedOld Town Brewing was just a few blocks away so it was an easy choice for number 99. This turned out to be a great choice for any time. We both had their Paulie’s Not Irish Red, which is actually a wonderful Irish red. Apparently, the name was inspired from a former employee who had to often explain that his accent was Scottish, not Irish.

StormBreakerStoutThe choice for our one-hundredth brewery was made solely on its proximity to ninety-nine and that was StormBreaker Brewing. We soon discovered how appropriate this choice was because they are a new brewery, only open since February, and their beer is excellent. The location was once that of Amnesia Brewing but when they outgrew it, StormBreakerCherimoyamoved to Washington and expanded, they sold their old brewing equipment to one of their brewers so he could start his own – cool story! After a couple of tastings we both chose the Opacus Stout, Karen again opting for the smaller variety. We were just about to call it a day when we were offered a taste of their Mon Petite Cherimoya Belgian Pale. Oh my, that was good! So we shared a half pint, acknowledging another new Oregon brewery and a toast to number 100.

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Whole Lotta Brewing

RatHoleFlightOne of the many great things about Bend, Oregon, is all of the beer brewing activity taking place all over town. Even though we didn’t make an attempt to visit them all this year, we did come close. As we’ve mentioned before, our favorite is Rat Hole Brew Pub. All of their beers we tried are so very good, especially the Fence Post Porter, Rotation Red Ale, Lemon Wheat, Hazelnut Brown Ale, Rye IPA, Saison.

RiverbendStout2RiverbendSlidersBend’s newest brewery is Riverbend Brewing. They were already an established pub that recently started brewing their own beer and we think they are doing a great job with that, especially our favorite – their stout. They do a pretty good job with their food, too.

WorthyStoutAndRed10 Barrel Brewing has been around awhile and always seem to have a crowd but they don’t provide a good enough reason for us to frequent the place. We also made one stop at the Deschutes Brewing tasting room. The four four-ounce samples are free and the Black Butte Porter, which is one of our go-to beers back home, is excellent.

We visited Worthy Brewing a couple of times. They have a pretty good stout and red ale but we’ve had a heck of a time getting them to cook their pizza well done so I think we’ll stop trying. Per a previous post on this blog, we found a much better place for a pizza anyhow, even if they don’t brew beer at Pisano’s.

BendBrewing_BratsA brew pub that we do frequent is Bend Brewing Company. Our favorite beer of theirs is the Pinnacle Porter but I also had the Scarlet Imperial Red and thought it was very good. BendBrewingFishChipsAnother reason to frequent BBC is their food. We like to start with the chips & salsa, especially during half-price appetizers happy hour, and we’ve enjoyed their burgers, fish & chips, Ceasar salad and bratwursts. The salsa served with their chips is Bend-made O-hana Salsa. It is also available in the grocery stores around town – just another reason we can hang around for awhile.

ThreeCreeksPorterAbout twenty miles from Bend is Three Creeks Brewing in Sisters, Oregon. It is definitely worth the drive for their Five Pines Chocolate Porter. Since it is also available in 22-ounce bottles, we tend to make it back home with a couple or three.

SilverMoonPortersOur first visit to a Bend brewery three years ago was Silver Moon Brewing and it was there we first tasted their Snake Bite Porter. A visit to Bend wouldn’t be complete without one.

CruxPorter2Finally, we managed to get over to Crux Fermentation Project. The Crux Porter is our favorite there. Too bad they don’t bottle it like they do several of their other beers. Their happy hour is 30 minutes before and after sunset because their location is a great place to watch it, if you don’t happen to go on one of those rare cloudy days and if you can stay up that late – which can be a problem if you are still operating on central time.

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RedmondFifteen miles to the north of Bend is Redmond, Oregon. An internet search showed that there are three breweries with a tap room there, two of which are fairly new, so we made the short drive to check them out.
SmithRockRedAleSmithRockChickenBaconSwissOur first stop was Smith Rock Brewing. With only two of their own beers on tap we both chose their McKay Crossing red ale – a very good choice. Because of the reviews Karen had read online, we decided to also eat lunch here – another good decision. Karen ordered their Smith Rock Burger and I went with the special – a grilled chicken, bacon and Swiss sandwich. Both were quite good as was the red ale. While there we were told about another brew pub just down the street so our next stop was the Seventh Street Brew House. CascadeLakesTapsI was a little disappointed when we realized that the “brew house” was just one of the five area pubs for SeventhStreetStoutsCascade Lakes Brewing. It wasn’t because their beer isn’t good, it is, but we’ve had it before at their Cascade Lakes Lodge in Bend and were hoping for another new find. We both had the Silverback Stout and Karen wisely chose the half-pint. The beer was good but being quite full from lunch it wasn’t so easy making room for that full-bodied stout. There were still two breweries to go so we pressed on but weren’t totally committed to finishing this in one day.
WildRideStoutRedSix blocks away is Redmond’s newest brewery, Wild Ride Brew. They’ve only been open since May and their air conditioning was either just being installed or WildRideBrewbeing repaired so it was rather warm inside since it was rather hot outside. After Karen’s imperial stout and my hoppy red ale we called it a day and headed back to Bend.
It was a week later that we drove back to Redmond to visit the remaining new brewery, Juniper Brewing. JuniperBrewingThe first thing we noticed as we were pulling into the parking lot was that a couple of doors down there was a tent and some outdoor festivities going on. We didn’t find out exactly what it was for but it was at Redmond Black Rifle, manufacturer and dealer for their line of Colfax Tactical AR-15s. Interesting. Shortly after we sat down in the brewery, the rifle event must have ended and a few more folks came in and let Curtis, the brewer and man behind the bar, know that his wife had won a Smith & Wesson pistol in the drawing. Were we still in Oregon? ColorIsNotaFlavor
So now back to beer. We both had the Jolly Black Ale and liked it very much. We asked Curtis about their porter and he told us it was still conditioning but then he went to the back and drew us a couple of samples. Unfortunately, I don’t think conditioning will help. It was very hop-forward and for a porter … that’s just so wrong. However, he made up for it by giving us a sample of their soon-to-be-released farmhouse saison which was quite good. Even better was the recommendation he gave us for a place to eat in Redmond and that was our next stop, Diego’s Spirited Kitchen. DiegosSpiritedKitchenWe were off to a very good start when they brought out the chips and salsa which quickly got a joint “we could live here” declaration. DiegosChipsSalsaThey were that good. We both had combination plates – a beef taco and shredded beef enchilada for Karen and a chicken enchilada verde and shredded beef chimichanga for me. It was all delicious and a great recommendation from Curtis at Juniper Brewing.

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