Known as the “Napa Valley of Beer,” Colorado boasts an unmatched brewing culture in the U.S. The state has 115 breweries and produces more beer per capita than anywhere else in the country. Boulder, home to the flagship campus of the University of Colorado, fits right in, with a number of local breweries and brewpubs that produce a bevy of well-known craft beers.
Sampling beer is a tough gig, but somebody’s got to do it, so we took the plunge in bringing you a list of the best breweries in Boulder. Cheers!
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At its popular tap room in East Boulder, Avery boasts an eye-popping 21 craft brews on tap, nearly three times the average number for Colorado breweries. It’s not just volume either -- Avery consistently puts out some of the finest beers on the market. Its self-proclaimed penchant for brewing what its brewers like to drink, “with utter disregard for what the market demands,” leads to tasty and creative concoctions like the Demons of Ale series, multiple barrel-aged brews and the seasonal Chocolate Mint Stout (a personal favorite). But of course, the less adventurous have plenty of great options too -- Ellie’s Brown Ale and White Rascal Belgian Wheat are considered some of the best in their class regionally.
Visiting the Tap Room: Tasters or full pints are available for all current beers, and free brewery tours are offered daily at 4 p.m. on weekdays and 2 p.m. on weekends.
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Proudly proclaiming to be “Colorado’s first microbrewery,” Boulder Beer supplies the thirsty people of Boulder (and beyond) with local favorites like Buffalo Gold (golden ale) and Hazed (unfiltered amber). The tap room feels more like a restaurant, with an expansive food menu and full bar. Boulder Beer's 15 tap beers are made up of mostly Belgian ales, stouts, porters and wheats.
Visiting the Tap Room: Come get a taste of Boulder Beer Monday through Saturday (closed Sunday), with free brewery tours at 2 p.m. during the week and 2 and 4 on Saturday.
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Upslope is relatively new on the scene, releasing its first batch to the public in the fall of 2008, but the small-scale microbrewer has already made a name for itself. Its handful of year-round beers only come in aluminum cans -- a choice the folks at Upslope say makes them better for the drinker, the beer and the environment. Of course, if you want one on draft, you can always stop by the cozy tap room in North Boulder.
Visiting the Tap Room: Open every afternoon except Sunday and Monday, from 2 to 8 p.m.on weekdays and 2 to 9 p.m. on weekends. Try the India Pale Ale, which is the best in town.
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Twisted Pine’s ever-changing rotation of taps includes dozens of pure, unpasteurized brews running the gamut of style. From the flagship Hoppy Boy India Pale Ale to the hot pepper-infused seasonal Ghost Face Killah, Twisted Pine has something to offer most everyone, from the most conservative to the most adventurous palate. The brewery itself is distinctive and vibrant, with a large, homey tap room, known as the “Ale House," that includes a full bar and restaurant.
Visiting the Tap Room: Twisted Pine Brewing Co. is open every day until 8 or 9 p.m. No tours.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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More of a brewpub feel than brewery, Mountain Sun is in the heart of Pearl Street Mall and stands out as a welcoming, vibrant slice of Boulder life. With dozen or so beers on tap at a time, anyone who walks through the doors has their pick of Colorado-inspired ales, porters, ambers and stouts. Mountain Sun makes an effort to promote a warm, friendly atmosphere of community, and it’s not uncommon to be offered free samples just for stepping inside. And as the name implies, Southern Sun Pub is Mountain Sun’s second location in South Boulder, with the same menu and beer selection and much more room.
Visiting the Tap Room: Mountain Sun is open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily, with Summer Sun opening at 11:30 a.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m on weekends and also staying open until 1 a.m. every night. Check out the calendar of events for live music.