Colorado loves its beer. After California and Washington, the Centennial State boasts more craft breweries than anywhere else in the nation—348 in all, or 8.4 for every 100,000 adults of legal drinking age. In line with those statistics, our corner of paradise, with a year-round population of 55,000, is home to four locally owned craft breweries, perfect places to celebrate after a long day on the dusty trail. The valley’s most notable craft-beer success story, Crazy Mountain Brewery, was established by local entrepreneur Kevin Selby in an Edwards warehouse in 2010, but the much-loved brewery and taproom closed in 2015 when the business relocated to a much larger production facility in Denver’s Baker neighborhood after securing distribution in 22 states across the country and 9 nations around the world. Fortunately, others have filled the void. Whether you prefer to enjoy a local pint with your best buds or your four-legged friend, paired with street tacos or artisan wood-fired pizza, listening to live blues or spectating games of cornhole, here’s everything you need to know about Eagle County’s quartet of craft breweries, plus three beercentric taprooms, and two summer festivals where the action unfolds around frothy pints of the best local and regional brews. Cheers!
1020 Capitol St, Eagle Ranch; 970-328-6220; 7hermitsbrewing.com
“My neighborhood, it’s full of lushes,” former home brewer Matt Marple once explained to a local reporter about the brewery he opened in 2014 to satisfy the unquenchable thirst of Eagle Ranch, a local workforce colony on the banks at the confluence of the Eagle River and Brush Creek 45 minutes west of Vail Village. “At any time, I would have six kegs in my garage. We would have parties on the weekends, and my neighbors would drink me dry.” Not surprisingly, the first incarnation of 7 Hermits quickly outgrew its incubator space, and the business now inhabits a lively, industrial-chic taproom on the east end of the Ranch’s Bedford Falls–style Main Street. Like Marple’s garage, the downtown brewery opens to the outside on beatific summer nights thanks to walls of articulated roll-up windows, serving as a second home for resort workers unwinding from service jobs, deputies from the county sheriff’s office fresh off patrol (along with their boss, a regular), dads and moms needing grown-up time away from their kids, and MTB enthusiasts replenishing calories lost on the Ranch’s singletrack network with beers named after local trails. They pair their libations with mouthwatering entrées where, as Marple likes to brag, everything is handmade (by a creative chef he poached from Beaver Creek’s Black Diamond Bistro) and, like the pub’s signature barbecue sauce, is fortified with the main ingredient: beer. Heaven.
Opens 4 p.m. (11 a.m. Sat/Sun)
Last call 10 p.m. (11 p.m. Sat)
Happy hour $1 off pints between 4 and 6 p.m.
Pint to try Gold Dust (a traditional blonde ale, named after a favorite trail), $5.50
Paired with Anything off the happy hour menu, but more specifically: the $5 cheeseburger (arguably the best deal in the valley), plus a splurge on a $5 order of beer cheese fries
Must-have swag Logo hoodie, $40
Entertainment Three classic Stern pinball machines; live regional and local bands most Friday and Saturday nights (check the pub’s Facebook page for details)
Outdoor seating Sidewalk tables, and a newly expanded patio—the finest at any of the valley’s brewpubs—abutting a lush open space with a burbling creek
Dog policy Welcome at tables outside, leashed and in the company of a well-behaved human (a.k.a. you!)
Vail Village Tasting Room
278 Hanson Ranch Rd, Vail Village; 970-470-4028
The new Vail Village taproom of 7 Hermits shares space with Crespelle, a crêperie at the very top of Bridge Street (directly across from the flaming fountain). The combination offers a full menu of sweet and savory crêpes alongside pours of 7 Hermits beer crafted downvalley (augmented with rotating guest taps) served to a transient crowd of hikers and bikers fresh off the trails on Vail Mountain.
Opens 8 a.m.
Last call 10 p.m.
Happy hour $1 off from 3 to 5 p.m. daily
Pint to try Fire It Up! Green Chile Lager, $5.50
Paired with The Taos (a crêpe fortified with chicken, jalapeños, jack cheese, onions, cilantro, avocado, and salsa) or, if you’re in the house on Taco Tuesdays from 6 to 9 p.m., $2 street tacos
Entertainment Watching the crowd file by on Bridge Street
Outdoor seating Six tables off the fountain plaza
Dog policy Same as Eagle Ranch brewery
127 W Second St, Eagle; 970-306-7113; bonfirebrewing.com
The taproom recently shed its dark, dive-y vibe, thanks to a new wall of garage door–style articulated windows that open the room to the busy two-lane highway outside. But Eagle’s first brewery (cofounded in 2010 by Andy Jessen, a former Eagle County code enforcement officer) remains a no-frills den for locals loyal to the Bonfire brand; whitewater enthusiast Ken Hoeve even retrofitted a kayak with an on-board keg—creating a Bonfire Brewing–branded “kegyak”—to combine his two true loves. There’s no kitchen or eclectic small-plates menu, just two dozen taps at the center of a bustling room anchored by a well-worn bar that might as well be an altar, where devotees worship elbow-to-elbow from high-backed stools while their furry friends doze at their feet (this is the valley’s most dog-friendly brewpub). The summer beer to try? Pink-I Raspberry IPA, released as a limited-edition seasonal last summer and now canning thanks to its popularity—it’s ideally sipped (post-hike, -ride, or -paddle) under the string lights and hop vines strung across the pub’s patio arbor on a warm summer night.
Opens Noon (4 p.m. Mon)
Last call 10 p.m. (12 a.m. Thu–Sat)
Happy hour $1 off pints till 7 p.m. daily, $3 pints from noon to 3 p.m. Tue–Thu
Pint to try Demshitz (a brown ale named for a group of pro kayakers who referred to themselves as “Demshitz”), $5
Paired with An artisan pie ordered from nearby Pickup’s Pizza Company (pickupspizza.com), which will deliver right to your barstool; must try: The Goat, topped with locally sourced Italian sausage, goat cheese, and arugula
Must-have swag Bonfire-logo stainless steel growler, $50
Entertainment Shuffleboard, darts, cornhole, open-mic night (Wed, 7–9 p.m.), live music (most Friday nights; see Facebook page for details)
Outdoor seating Benches along the perimeter of a fenced patio with a hop-vine arbor; furnished with Adirondack chairs (fashioned from recycled skis and snowboards) arranged around a firepit
Dog policy Until recently, well-behaved pooches could roam free-range in the bar and outside, as long as they ascribed to the cheeky rules of conduct posted on the door (“Barking, humping, aggression & other obnoxious behavior will NOT be tolerated”), which, the sign helpfully notes, also applies to their humans; those rules still stand, but now all dogs must be leashed.
Gore Range Brewery
105 Edwards Village Blvd, Edwards; 970-926-2739; gorerangebrewery.com
Opened in 1997, the granddaddy of the valley’s craft brewing scene has earned a reputation as a pub where the food menu strives to be every bit as aspirational as the beer menu. Since 2011, owner, brewer, and head chef Pascal Courdouy—at one time the youngest chef at Hotel du France, a Michelin two-star restaurant where he trained under world-renowned chef André Daguin—has helmed not just the malt mill, mash tuns, and fermenters in the on-site brew house but also the pans, stoves, and wood-fired pizza oven in the kitchen. In the latter, he produces an expansive and satisfying array of standout apps (from crab cakes to homemade pretzel sticks), artisan pies (e.g., prosciutto, arugula, and pear), burgers (a bison patty with hand-cut fries and garlic mayo), and entrées (e.g., sautéed Rocky Mountain trout in lemon caper sauce with creamed spinach and smashed potatoes). Regulars here include resort workers from Miller Ranch and the volunteer members of Vail Mountain Rescue Group, headquartered across the street, which convenes here for post-mission debriefings and ebullient bull sessions—if the team’s there when you visit, pick up their tab, because they’ve got your back in the backcountry and will never bill you for a rescue.
Opens 11:30 a.m.
Last call 10 p.m.
Happy hour $1.50 off pints from 4 to 6 p.m. daily
Pint to try Great Sex Honey Lager (followed by Hoppy Valley IPA, or as the beer menu puts it, “Always one of our top two sellers—It’s hard to beat Great Sex!”), $5.50
Paired with An artisan pie from the pub’s wood-fired pizza oven
Must-have swag Branded 64 oz glass growler, $25 (includes first fill)
Entertainment Multiple screens airing the games du jour
Outdoor seating Ten wooden tables on a lush garden patio, with shade provided by the brewery’s towering grain silo
Dog policy Welcome on the patio, leashed, watched, and on their best behavior
Vail Brewing Company
41290 US Hwy 6, Eagle-Vail; 970-470-4351; vailbrewingco.com
Once upon a time, there was the Hubcap Brewery & Kitchen, which in 1991 began serving its signature Vail Pale Ale in an aluminum-paneled tasting room off of Meadow Drive in the heart of Vail Village. Not to be outdone, in 1997 an actual Bavarian prince (His Royal Highness Prince Luitpold) transformed the Lionshead Gondola Building into the Kaltenberg Castle Royal Bavarian Brewhouse, a 12,000-square-foot beer hall modeled after Neuschwanstein, which annually produced 7,500 barrels of Kaltenberg Pils. But Vail Village’s brewing heyday was short-lived: the Hubcap closed in 2002 (replaced by the Solaris), and the Kaltenberg Castle followed two years later (replaced by the Arrabelle at Vail Square). In that vacuum, Garrett Scahill, who shoveled spent grain at both institutions, vowed to bring craft beer back to Vail one day. After schooling himself at Chicago’s World Brewing Academy, Scahill partnered with a trio of estimable friends (10th Mountain Division special forces operators) in 2014 to open Vail Brewing Company, an everyperson’s beer hall housed in a commercial stall in the heart of Eagle-Vail’s Green Mile district. “I just wanted to create an amazing craft brewery for all the upvalley locals,” explains Scahill, a former Ski Club Vail coach. On weekday and weekend nights, this is where they come to unwind after riding the path from Vail Pass, shooting the Class IV-plus Dowd Chutes (on the Eagle River, across the highway from the pub), or clocking off after a long day tending to visitors at the resort.
Opens 11:30 a.m.
Last call 10 p.m. Sun–Wed, 11 p.m. Thu–Sat
Happy hour $1 off pints, Mon–Wed, 4–6 p.m.
Pint to try Pete’s Stash Pale Ale (named for Vail founder Pete Seibert), $6
Paired with A Hippie Crack burrito (grilled potatoes with Anaheim and red bell peppers, onion, shredded carrots topped with pico de gallo, and a spicy crema) from the cart parked outside
Must-have swag VBC “LOCAL BEER” trucker cap, $29.95
Entertainment Geeks Who Drink (hosted trivia nights, Wed, 7–10 p.m.); live music (most Thursday and Saturday evenings—check the pub’s Facebook page for details)
Outdoor seating Café-style tables on an asphalt parking lot and a fenced shaded patio
Dog policy Leashed pups welcome on the patio
Vail Village Tasting Room
141 E Meadow Dr #209, Vail Village; 970-470-4622
Opened three summers ago, VBC’s Vail Village tasting room occupies a former art gallery on the balcony level of Solaris—former home of the Hubcap Brewery. Here, locals and visitors convene on Adirondack chairs around communal firepits to boast about the day’s outdoor endeavors and toast the alpenglow on Vail Mountain at sunset, all while being serenaded (on most Wednesday and Thursday evenings) by musicians jamming around the upright piano just inside the bay door.
Opens 11 a.m.
Last call 10 p.m. (later on Fridays and Saturdays)
Happy hour $1 off pints Mon–Fri, 3–5 p.m.
Pint to try Deck Daze Wheat, $4
Paired with A pie ordered from Pazzo’s, just across the street (pazzospizza.com)
Entertainment Bingo (Mon, 7–11 p.m.), Vail Summer Bluegrass Series (Wed, 6–9 p.m., June 26–July 17), live music (schedule varies; check VBC’s Facebook feed)
Outdoor seating Adirondack chairs and tables around gas firepits on the mountain-facing balcony overlooking Solaris Square
Dog policy Same as the Eagle-Vail pub
56 Edwards Village Blvd., Edwards; 970-926-5833; craftsmanvail.com
Since opening in the summer of 2017, Craftsman (a partnership between the owner of Vail Village’s Sweet Basil and that restaurant’s former chef de cuisine, Chris Schmidt) has elicited raves from hordes of young-ish professionals working their way through nine gourmet sandwiches on the menu—from a spicy Italian with house-cured ham, pickled peppers and pimento cheese to a vegetarian wild mushroom “pastrami”—and a chalkboard tap list offering a dozen regional craft-beer selections curated by the chef. Don’t miss Ramen Night on Tuesdays, when Schmidt and his Craftsman crew theatrically produce broth-filled bowls of noodles paired with Japanese imports like a Belgian-style Hitachino Nest White Ale straight from Tokyo.
Opens 11 a.m.
Last call 9 p.m.
Happy hour $6 pours of draft beer from 3 to 6 p.m. daily
Pint to try Whatever hazy, juice-filled IPA happens to be on tap from Frisco’s Outer Range Brewing Co, $6
Paired with Chef’s signature Schmidt Mac (pictured below), a double-patty burger topped with griddled onion, bacon, special sauce, shredded lettuce, house-made dill pickles, and American cheese on a sesame seed bun, $14; splurge on an $8 plate of parmesan fries slathered in vadouvan butter and caramelized onions
Entertainment Shuffleboard table, the open kitchen, tunes spinning on a turntable from the chef’s vintage vinyl collection. Want to influence the selection? Buy a six-pack for the kitchen ($12), and earn the right to be DJ for the night.
Outdoor seating Three picnic tables on the sidewalk/patio outside (entertainment provided by kids on a sugar high from the ice cream parlor next door)
Dog policy Pooches welcome on the patio
Vail Ale House
2161 N Frontage Rd W, West Vail; 970-476-4314; vailalehouse.com
The Ale House doesn’t offer much in the way of scenic vistas—the taproom occupies a find-me-if-you-can niche at the back of a West Vail strip mall—because the focus here is on late-night music, dancing, pool, sports (15 flat-panel TVs streaming multiple games plus a giant projector screen that rolls down for prime events), and quaffing beer. Lots of beer. Twenty taps’ worth of beer, in fact, with everything from Belgian sours to milk stouts, although about three-quarters of them are dedicated to Colorado drafts. Don’t forget an order of the pub’s popular Rattlesnakes to pair with your pint—a grazing-size dish of roasted jalapeños filled with herbed cream cheese, wrapped in bacon, and drizzled in aioli.
Opens 11:30 a.m. Mon–Fri (10 a.m. Sat–Sun)
Last call 2 a.m.
Happy hour Select craft beers $4 per pint, daily from 3 to 6 p.m., $1 off pints—plus, discounts on certain shared plates (like $11 flatbread pizzas and $9 orders of Rattlesnakes)
Pint to try Boulder Beer Company Hazed & Infused, $7 (22 oz)
Paired with Steak frites: an 8 oz hanger steak slathered in chimichurri with a side of garlic truffle fries, $22.95
Entertainment A 2,000-square-foot dance floor with live music Thu–Fri (check the pub’s Facebook page for details), open-mic night (Mon, 9 p.m.), Geeks Who Drink (trivia night, Tue, 8:30 p.m.), pool
Outdoor seating Nope
Dog policy Only if your best friend performs a service and is wearing a vest (and Mutt Muff canine earplugs on music nights)
82 E Beaver Creek Blvd, Avon; 970-949-7730; einprosit.net
It’s no accident that the valley’s German club convenes here for monthly stammtisch meetings, speaking in the mother tongue while munching on 18 styles of locally sourced wurst (from traditional Oktoberfest beer brats and weisswurst to exotic elk/jalapeño cheddar and antelope/rabbit habanero sausages), piled high with hot kraut and house mustard, as they clink liter steins and tall glassware filled with fruity Weihenstephaner hefeweissbier and frothy Paulaner Märzen (or 10 other imported European draft beers) tapped from kegs only recently filled in Bavaria.
Opens 11 a.m.
Last call 11 p.m.
Happy hour $1 off pints 4 to 6 p.m. daily
Pint to try Houblon Chouffe (a Belgian IPA brewed in the Ardennes), $9 (0.25 liter)
Paired with A sampler of four house sausages, $19
Entertainment Hammerschlagen (translates as “hammer-striking,” a German game/sobriety test in which the objective is to pound a nail into a stump with a single hammer blow), live music (most Friday and Saturday evenings; see the pub’s Facebook page for details)
Outdoor seating Picnic tables on a covered deck overlooking Beaver Creek mountain
Dog policy Leashed and on the deck
Don't miss ...
Vail Craft Beer Classic June 21–23, vailcraftbeerclassic.com
Three days of suds-soaked fun in and around Vail Village, starting with Sip at the Summit (at Vail Mountain’s Eagle’s Nest, dubbed the world’s highest beer tasting/barbecue feast; June 21, 6–9 p.m., $75), followed by the Toast of Vail (a tasting featuring hundreds of brews from 50 local, regional, and national craft breweries with live bluegrass in Solaris Square; June 22, 3–6 p.m., $49), along with a multitude of beer-centric outdoors excursions (including Ales & Anglers, a fishing trip on the Eagle River hosted by the owner of Crooked Stave Brewery and his brewers—guided by Minturn Anglers; June 22, 8 a.m.–1 p.m., $195; Beers and Gears, a guided bike descent from Vail Pass to a beer-paired picnic lunch; June 22, 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m., $110; and a Hair of the Dog Hike up Vail Mountain to recover from all the excess with a celebratory—and beery—lunch provided by Vail Chophouse, June 23, 10 a.m.–1 p.m., $60).
Vail Valley Brew Fest June 29, brewfestevents.com/vail-valley
This beer lover’s carnival on the great lawn of Avon’s Nottingham Lake kicks off in a manner befitting one of the nation’s most active (and beer-besotted) populations: with a 5k fun run, followed by a Beer Olympics sponsored by Vail Brewing Company (events include the Beer Squat Challenge—performing as many squats as you can in one minute, with a cup of beer balanced on your head; the Beer Balance Relay—sprinting 50 meters and back with a cup of beer balanced in an outstretched hand; and the Keg Haul Relay—a 50-meter paired sprint carrying full kegs of beer); $40 (includes run, Olympics, and Beer Fest admission; rockymountainbrewruns.com). Mere mortals content to exercise hoist-and-toast muscles compete in the main event from 4 to 8 p.m., anteing in $25 for a bottomless glass cup for a sampling of suds from more than 60 local and regional craft breweries, with live music on the pavilion’s lakeside stage, paired with street tacos and other à la food cart fare.