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An Afternoon in Longmont and a Boulder Beer Hike

December 4, 2011

After nearly two months, here is part two (of three) of our GABF trip to Colorado.  Enjoy!

It would have been more difficult to leave Fort Collins if I hadn’t known what was coming, two nights in Boulder followed by three nights in Denver for the GABF.  The appetizer for all this was a transfer day stop in Longmont for lunch at the Pumphouse and then a sampler set at Left Hand Brewing.

Pumphouse in Longmont, CO

Pumphouse Brewery and Restaurant
Located in the heart of downtown in a historical building the Pumphouse has been serving up food, fun and beer since it opened in 1996.  The outdoor patio was packed for a weekday lunch rush, so we ventured into the pub. You would think you were sitting in a former fire station; however it is just a theme that has been done really well.   The brewery is impossible to miss sitting behind the bar with the 10 barrel fermentation tanks hovering above.

We didn’t mess around and ordered our lunch and a couple of draughts.  It was Tuesday and “Guy’s Day”, so my pint of Hot Shots Harvest Ale was only $2.50. LushC was bummed and had to pay full price for her 4-Alarm Copper.  The 4-Alarm Copper is their take on a German Altbier, and as advertised had a bready malt and a mild floral hoppy finish. Hot Shots is their seasonal fresh hopped amber that finishes with a big wet floral hop finish.   Both beers were very quaffable and the salads were fresh and agreeable.

Self Portrait at Left Hand Brewing

Left Hand Brewing
We checked out a few of the shops in town, and then began our next trek. After a navigation gaff that took us under and overpass and across railroad tracks we made it to a trail that took us right to Left Hand Brewing. Of all the breweries we visited on this trip I was most excited to go to this one, and I was not disappointed.  The operation was much larger than I expected, and although we didn’t take a tour they have one online that is very entertaining.  If I had my guess, they are located in a former lumber mill, and the tasting room showed it with a bountiful of exposed wood that made it feel very cozy.  The crowd was sparse when we arrived, but not long after it really picked up with locals, out of town brewers, and beer geeks like us filling the bar stools and tables.  It was GABF week after all, and as I heard one bartender say this was the busiest week of their year.

Surprise, surprise we started off with a sampler tray of eight beers of our choice.  We selected Polestar Pilsner, Sawtooth American ESB, Good JuJu Ginger Pale, Stanger American Pale Ale, 400lb Monkey, English Style IPA, Milk Stout (Nitro), Fade to Black v.3 Pepper Porter, and Wake Up Dead Stout (Nitro). It’s impossible to say anything bad about our selections, as each was a good as expected. I did most of the sampling since LushC was driving. It was no shock that the Milk Stout was our favorite; so smooth with robust flavors of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, and a wee bit of cream. Good Juju was very interesting; light, crisp, and refreshing with a spicy ginger kick. Earlier in the year I was very fond of Fade to Black v.2 Smoked Baltic Porter and v.3 Pepper Porter was equally as impressive replacing the smokiness with a touch of chili pepper reminding me of Mexican Chocolate.

LushC finished with a glass of the Peotch, a collaboration beer with Terrapin Brewing in Athens, Georgia. Did it ever have a big peach smell and taste, though it remained crisp, and dry, and not too sweet. Needing a little pick me up, I went with the Beer Week Sauce Coffee Porter. Wow, what a great coffee aroma, robust coffee taste, and smooth to the last drop.

Upon leaving we split a Grilled Cheese Sandwich from the Salt Box Food Truck outside before venturing on to Boulder.

We splurged a bit and stayed at the historic Hotel Boulderado, a quaint hotel that was very comfortable, clean, and friendly.  It was perfectly located in the heart of downtown too.  That evening we took a break from beer and went to Tahona Tequila Bistro for south of the border inspired cuisine and some fermented, distilled, and aged agave nectar.

Mountain Sun - Boulder, CO

Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery
In the morning we prepared for our day with a brisk warm up walk on the Boulder Canyon Trail.  We made it a few miles before we started to get thirsty, and turned around, making a brief stop at the hotel before blasting off on our Boulder Urban Beer Hike. The first stop on our excursion was Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery, the only independent brewpub in downtown Boulder.  For those from the Northwest, Mountain Sun kind of reminds me of a McMenamins with lots of quirky art. They have a real community feel, and a fresh local menu.

Planning to return later (though we didn’t ) we just stopped for a quick bite and a pint.  My BLT was as expected, and heck if I remember what LushC had.  I do know that to quench our thirst LushC went with a Colorado Kind Ale (nitro) and I went with an Illusion Dweller IPA (nitro). The Kind Ale was a bit sweeter, the IPA was a bit hoppier, but they were both smooth and well balanced.

Boulder Beer - Boulder, CO

Boulder Beer
The next stop on our UBH was Boulder Beer, roughly two miles away.  I hadn’t done my research and was surprised they had a pub and not just a taproom.   We could have eaten here, but I was content with the choice to eat at Mountain Sun.   The pub is broken up in to three sections: a dining area with large glass windows looking into the beautiful copper top mash tun and brew kettle, the bar side with window views of the fermentation tanks and bottling line, and a large outdoor beer garden.

The place was packed so we grabbed the first table we saw on the bar side. When our server got to us we asked for a couple of waters and a sampler tray.  Not long after we were presented with the mother of all taster trays.  It was a good thing we were walking, because we would be sampling fourteen of their beers: Fresh Tracks Fresh Hop Copper, Killer Penguin Barley Wine (Barrel aged), Saison (Noir aged), Kolsch, Mojo IPA (Nitro), Mojo IPA, Fresh Tracks (Cask), Buffalo Gold, Single Track Copper, Sweaty Betty Blonde, Hazed and Confused, Hoopla Pale, Flashback India Brown Ale, & Planet Porter.

With that many samples it’s tough to really judge them all. That said I really enjoyed the subtle tartness, hints of cherry, and flowery hops in the Saison and the easy drinking sessionable Single Track. For favorites LushC’s choose the well balanced, mild hopped Fresh Tracks whereas I went with the light bodied Flashback India Brown Ale that had a nice toasted toffee flavor and an exploding hop finish.

Redstone Meadery
We survived Boulder Beer and continued on our way.  It just so happened that our way took us right by Redstone Meadery. LushC likes mead, plus I like mead, plus they had a tasting room, seemed like an easy equation.  It was a pleasant stop. We tried many samples, took a peak at the Meadery (it was smaller than I thought), bought some mead filled chocolates and were soon back on the beer trail.

A glass of Avery magic

Avery Brewing Company
Okay, we planned on visiting the Roundhouse Distillery next, but they were closed, which was probably good for us.  Our final stop of the evening was at Avery Brewing. Wow, have they grown since we were there in 2007. The tasting room has doubled in size, and is no longer just a few tables in a warehouse front office.  Sure, it is still located in an industrial warehouse district, but it now has a Bavarian Tavern feel.

Outside they have a nice patio area, where we enjoyed the warm Colorado evening.  We shared our table with recent college grad from California who was on a multi-state/country motorcycle camping trip.  It was fun hearing stories of his trip, if I could only remember some of them.

Being resourceful, Avery has teamed up with the caterer across the parking lot, Savory Cuisines, to provide delicious eats to go with their amazing beer. We were a bit peckish, so we ordered the Sweet Potato Tots smothered with Pork Green Chili and Cheese.  It was oh so good!

With over twenty beers to choose from, it was pretty difficult deciding what to order.  We were past the point of wanting a sampler, so we went with beers you’d likely only see at the brewery.   LushC selected the Eremita Strong Sour Ale aged in Cabernet  and Zinfandel  barrels. I threw caution at the wind and started with the Bad Karma Belgian-Style pale ale aged in Cabernet barrels.  I followed it up with the Freckles Saison, brewed with rosehips, cherries and orange peel. All three were very good.

As with all beer hikes this one had to come to an end at some point, and that time was here. We settled up the tab, and hit the Boulder trail. After a seven mile beer hike, and a decent amount of beer and mead, we slept well.

In the morning, feeling good, we packed up and headed to Denver, and the Great American Beer Festival. (After some well-deserved massages at Marianna’s L’Esthetique Day Spa & Salon)

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 -To be continued –

FTC InfoNothing was received for the writing of this post. Nothing. That is why it took over two months to get posted.

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