Colorado is beer country. From the famous – and very large – brewery in Golden that boasts their lager is brewed with “pure Rocky Mountain spring water” to tiny taprooms in Telluride, there’s plenty of the cold, refreshing stuff to go around. The Vail Valley is no exception, boasting five great breweries and a plethora of bars and pubs that serve the local brews alongside offerings from across the state.
But with so many choices, how do you decide what to drink when you want a cold one? Sure, you could bar crawl your own way from east to west, sampling as much as possible yourself, but aside from the expense of that experiment, there are other drawbacks, namely finding a designated driver, the next day’s hangover (although we do have a cure for that) and the fact that there are actually way too many great beers being brewed right here to actually try them all in one evening.
That’s OK, we’ve got your back--and beer belly--with our picks for favorite brews of the valley. And as you’ll see from our review, there’s something for every taste and every occasion. But remember, while we did our best, we still haven’t had a chance to sample every offering, including a very interesting pumpkin ale brewed by our friends at the Vail Brewing Company. Tried that one? Let us know what you think here.
GRAPEpHRUIT (Mixed-Fermentation Sour Beer) • Rating: 4.5 • 5.0% ABV • 88.0 IBU
Comments: Nice tart and sour finish with bitterness you’d expect from an IPA fortified with grapefruit rind. This is a beer perfect for a warm fall day to refresh after a long hike or a downfall session. • It’s tart and refreshing but not over-the-top sour. It’s just the right amount of sour and sweet.
Haba–Cream-0 (Cream Ale) • Rating: 4.75 • 5.7% ABV • 19.0 IBU
Comments: The habaneros add a kick, with a mellow aftertaste. Pair with your favorite Mexican dish or breakfast. • A delightfully smooth beer with a pepper punch that won't fry your tastebuds, thanks to the cream that tempers the fire. Would probably be great in the morning with some bloody Mary mix.
Woodsplitter (Czech Pale Lager) • Rating: 3 • 4.5% ABV • 26 IBU
Comments: This beer has a smooth and light taste even lighter than most brown ales. It's very crisp, with light hoppy flavor. Would be very refreshing at the summit of a hike or after a bike ride.
Demschitz Brown Ale (American Brown Ale) • Rating: 3 • 5.5% ABV • 29 IBU
Comments: It’s smooth and light--lighter then most ales--with a hint of smokiness at the finish. Pairs well with a steak. • An all-around brown ale, full-bodied with lots of flavor but light enough to be refreshing on a warm or cold day.
Tentpole Vanilla Porter (English Porter) Rating: 3.5 • 6.1% ABV • 32 IBU
Comments: Roasty, silky, smooth and sweet. Refreshing, and not overly heavy. • An easy to drink porter especially on a cooler day or as a dessert after a meal.
Oktober Fest (Marzen Lager) • Rating: 3.5 • 5.7% ABV • 28 IBU
Comments: Full-bodied, rich and malty. • A fresh and flavorful beer. Perfect for sipping while watching sports or grilling.
Sticky Fingers Fresh Hop Ale • Rating: 3.75 • 6.3% ABV • 63 IBU
Comments: This beer has a green aroma and a mellow bitterness with a grassy, earthy, and citrusy flavor. • Super smooth and a little bit creamy and somewhat sweet. You drink this beer all day.
Summertime Saison • Rating: 3 • 4.2% ABV • 36 IBU
Comments: With a fresh summery taste, this one's perfect for relaxing on an Indian summer day, or while sitting out in the patio. • A good day-drinking and activities beer for doing things like golfing.
Great Sex Honey Lager • Rating: 3.75 • 6.7% ABV • 35 IBU
Comments: This beer has a sweet aroma, a very light and up-front citrusy taste with a hint of honey and a hoppy finish.
(Ob)session Lager • Rating: 3.5 • 4.0% ABV •23 IBU
Comments: This is a full-flavored beer, something you can pair up with a juicy hamburger, steak, or bone-in pork chop.
Hoppy Valley • Rating: 2.5 • 6.6% ABV • 103 IBU
Comments: This beer has a bitter taste with a citrus kick to it at the end and a grapefruit aroma. • Heavy hops with a citrus scent.
Chocolate Orange Stout • Rating: 3 • 6.6% ABV • 60 IBU
Comments: Complex with citrus taste at the beginning, followed by chocolate and espresso at the end. • A full-bodied stout but still easy to drink. A great after-dinner drink!