Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
Colorado is home to a bustling craft brewing community with local breweries medaling in world class competitions regularly. For people looking to dip their toes into the scene, or those just looking to try a new watering hole, here are four breweries worth visiting in the Centennial State.
Great Divide Brewing Company in Denver, Colorado is one of the larger craft breweries in the area. They are best known for their Yeti Imperial Stout, which has won three medals at the Great American Beer Festival, and was named the 36th best beer on earth by BeerAdvocate in 2010. In total, they have won 18 Great American Beer Festival medals and 5 World Beer Cup awards. Great Divide’s excellence does not end with their beer though, as they describe themselves as “one of the leading craft breweries in sustainability.” They have recycling programs, Certified Green taprooms, and energy saving technologies. Great Divide also set up the Denver Pale Ale Foundation, a nonprofit that gives money to programs focused on hunger relief, homelessness, environmental stewardship, education, and at-risk youth. Each purchase gets you great beer and supports great causes.
New Belgium in Fort Collins, Colorado is another large brewery in the area. Fat Tire is recognizable all over the country, and has the added distinction of being the first certified carbon neutral beer in North America. New Belgium won its first gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 1993 only two years after founding, and has continued to secure awards at competitions since. The brewery is also a Certified B Corporation, which means it is a for-profit organization that meets “the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.” With an $18.50 minimum wage in the company, the secret to New Belgium’s success may be motivated employees.
The smallest brewery on this list is Gemini Beer Company in Grand Junction, Colorado. The Gemini Beer Company is owned and operated by the husband and wife duo Chris and Beth Dutton. Their brewery is looking to expand in the near future, and their Sanctuary Golden Strong Ale won silver in the 2016 World Beer Cup. They continue to be a registered competitor in the World Beer Cup now, and Chris Dutton says he is always looking to innovate and improve the beers he brews. If you find yourself on the west side of the state, make a stop at their location.
Finally we have Bristol Brewing Company in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Their Laughing Lab Scottish Ale has earned nine medals at the Great American Beer Festival alone since 1994, making it one of the most highly decorated beers in this list. Bristol Brewing is also committed to environmentalism, with water recycling practices, six pack carriers made of recycled materials, and a reward system for customers who return the six pack carriers to be reused. Their Community Ales program also generates hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, which is donated to local initiatives to improve and care for the community. Bristol steadfastly refuses to ship their beers nationally, believing that breweries are for the local community, so you can only find their beers in Colorado.