Colorado is undeniably a beer state, and Colorado Springs is a beer city. The Centennial State has been a leader throughout the craft beer revolution — from its emergence out of legalized home-brewing in the 1970s, through its early boom in the ’90s and its exponential growth in the 2010s. While Denver and Fort Collins regularly land on national best beer city-type lists, Colorado Springs holds its own. Colorado Springs breweries regularly make strong showings and walk away with awards from beer festivals, most notably the Great American Beer Festival (GABF, held annual in Denver). In fact, Bristol Brewing’s Laughing Lab became the most awarded beer in Colorado history this year when it claimed its 11th GABF medal (silver in the Scottish-Style Ale category).
But the local industry continues to evolve, as it should. “As someone who grew up here in Colorado Springs, I’ve been privileged to witness the steady growth of our local craft brewing scene even beyond the time I’ve been writing about it,” says Ryan Hannigan, who runs the premiere local beer blog Focus on the Beer and who participated in the team to form this list. “I would argue that Colorado Springs beer is still in its formative years, when compared to other spots around the country. Now before you pull out your torches and pitchforks, I say this because we tend to see more fresh faces and homebrewing enthusiasts venturing into professional brewing than seasoned vets moving on to start their own place. While this relative inexperience can often mean some beers are rough around the edges, when breweries really knock it out of the park, it’s easy to take notice.”
Colorado Springs is currently home to 36 craft breweries, 42 if you count multiple locations. They range in size and style from tiny neighborhood outposts to large community centers, gastropubs and a beer multiplex (looking at you, Red Leg). You could say these microbreweries have become the new American neighborhood bars 2.0, welcoming in regulars and visitors, hosting events and gatherings, lifting up nonprofits and local causes, and generally fostering community. And they do it all with a passion and creativity for the craft of brewing great beer.
“As our local brewery industry continues to grow, the external perception of the industry has evolved,” Hannigan says. “There’s a newfound sense that breweries aren’t just spots where you get drunk, they’re local businesses providing careers and livelihoods for a ton of people in our community.”
Our hats are off to all the Colorado Springs breweries and their artisans, but we wanted to highlight those that rise to the top of the sudsy pack. So we assembled our team of food-and-drink-writing beer connoisseurs (read about them below), gathered nominations, discussed some reasoning and voted on the best breweries in Colorado Springs. For our criteria, we included the greater Colorado Springs brewshed, from Palmer Lake to Fountain, Falcon to Divide. The winners must brew their own beer locally, which ruled out some excellent taphouses. Here are the results, a Top 12 breweries plus three honorable mentions.
The Top 12 Best Breweries in Colorado Springs
Cerberus Brewing Company
As you enter Old Colorado City, you’ll immediately find Colorado Springs’ most celebrated gastropub with an impressive disposition for brewing hazy IPAs and serving elevated cuisine. The beer garden is a perfect place to bask in the Colorado sunshine in comfy Adirondack chairs, while noshing on a plate of sky high nachos or pub fries and sipping on an Elysium IPA. Four-legged friends are welcome too. For a heartier dining experience, grab a table to enjoy their wildly popular smoked brisket grilled cheese and pair it with the newly released Batch 1,000, a big boy triple IPA. sitting at 9.8% ABV (alcohol by volume). Since opening in 2016, Cerberus has been a standout local spot, killing it with their IPAs, but since taking over in 2021, head brewer Troy Johnson has skillfully expanded the breadth of versatile offerings. The Dale High End Lager is now one of its most popular brews, and chef Mark LeFebvre recently made a short-term return to refresh and dial in the food menu. With these upgrades, Cereberus is back at the top of the pack — and the only brewery on this list to receive a unanimous vote from all contributors. —Dionne Passacantando
Goat Patch Brewing Company
Goat Patch Hazy IPA is synonymous with draft craft all over town, and you don’t get to be everywhere if you aren’t among the best. Goat Patch’s status is amplified by its World Beer Cup-winning, charitable It Takes a Tribe Red Ale. Anchoring Lincoln Center on the edge of the Old North End, Goat Patch fills up nightly with participatory fun that includes trivia, bingo, therapeutic coloring and more. Its Bleating Heart Night is the area’s premiere weekly nonprofit drinking event that highlights and shares proceeds with a community organization. That’s worth drinking to. Oh, and don’t forget the occasional goat yoga. —Carrie Simison
Urban Animal Beer Company
Families and beer nerds alike flock to Urban Animal thanks to its welcoming atmosphere, plethora of expertly crafted beers and steady slate of award-winning food trucks. In just a little over a year since opening in the Cheyenne Mountain area, Urban Animal has quickly become a local favorite, thanks to head brewer Mike Centanne’s beer. Centanne helped start both Iron Bird and Metric Brewing previously, so his past experiences have helped shape Urban Animal into one of the Springs’ top breweries. When you go, take a trip down memory lane and order a pint of Propaganda IPA, a carryover from Centanne’s Iron Bird days. —Ryan Hannigan
You can’t take a vibe and bottle it, but if you could, Bristol Brewery would be the place to start. It’s housed in the old Ivywild School building where the remnants of its former institution make it feel as if you are breaking all of the rules all the time. Mike Bristol is the O.G. of local brewing, consistently creating a solid lineup of award-winning beers and giving back to build community. His — along with restaurateur Joe Coleman’s — vision to renovate Ivywild School transformed the neighborhood. Kids are still welcome; they just don’t have to go to class. Bristol, and all of Ivywild, are easy to take that big group to on Friday for dinner or an anytime place you can take the dog and grab a quiet pint. Shout out to the folks at Decent Pizza who know how to do it right and to CJ and Nitch at Spark BBQ — order the brisket! —Steven Hayward
Red Leg Brewing Company
Red Leg is Colorado Springs’ own Field of Dreams situation. Todd Baldwin built it, and we keep coming. A grand, one-of-a-kind vision combining permanent food vendors, a full bar, yard games, entertainment, vendors, views and of course, beer, the enormous veteran-owned and operated facility on Garden of the Gods is a must-see-to-believe beer multiplex. The beer itself is consistent and accessible. The flagship Howitzer Amber Ale pays tribute to owner Todd Baldwin’s military heritage, and the Springs Lite is a lager even brewers will drink. With kids and dogs welcome, the Westside scene is often a full family affair. —C.S.
Fossil Craft Beer Company
Fossil Craft Beer has been my go-to spot on the Westside for close to a decade now, primarily because owners Josh and Megan Mater have created a neighborhood-bar-type atmosphere where everyone is treated like family (even my wild-child toddler). Widely known for their Oreo Stout and Mammoth IPA, Fossil has recently expanded its lineup to include more lagers and lighter fare, thanks to brewers André Blyth and Mater’s shared talents. Fossil is part of the 1% for the Planet program as well, donating 1% of their profits to causes that help the environment, which is a win-win in my book. Fossil is a perfect place to belly up to the bar, order one of their nonprofit collaboration beers and get to know your neighbor. —R.H.
Local Relic Artisan Ales
Beers at Local Relic ebb and flow as the seasons change — I’ve often referred to Local Relic’s brewing style as “nomadic” — so don’t expect to find the same beer on two separate visits. Brewer Ben Cape brews close to 200 different beers each year, so by eschewing the standard flagship model, he can stay on top of trends and try new experimental ingredients. That means their tap list is ever changing and could be entirely different even within a few hours. Local Relic is the place where you want to find a beer with mushrooms or a fruit you can’t pronounce. And if you’re not into beer, Local Relic’s downtown location in the Carter Payne also has cocktails, wines and a full kitchen available. —R.H.
Metric’s beer looks as good as it tastes thanks to the sibling dream team of mad microbiologist Chase Perry in the brewery and marketing magician Morgan Perry behind merch, social media and videos. The beer is diverse and delicious, and there is no style they’re scared to try — but there’s so much more beyond what’s on tap. Thanks to staff like Britta, the large Knob Hill brewery feels like home as soon as you open the door, even if you’re walking in solo. And they throw epic anniversary — and other — events. —C.S.
Located in the old Junior Achievement building in Old Colorado City, the aptly named OCC Brewing has my favorite Pilsner in all of Colorado, their Westside Pilsner. It’s a beer that seems simple but takes mountains of precision to make perfect, which is akin to OCC’s whole operation — simple in practice, but complex in execution. In that vein, don’t miss out on Chef Malikei’s food options either: My favorites include culinary treats like Pastrami Mushrooms, Salted Honey Pie and Korean Bulgogi. If you go, order a Westside Pils, munch down on some duck fat popcorn and enjoy the view of Pikes Peak from their spacious rooftop deck. —R.H.
Paradox Beer Company
Wildly creative, spontaneously fermented and barrel-aged beers put Paradox on the map 11 years ago. Their Divide location with 365-degree views houses the brewery, taproom, gigantic “beer garden” and newish New Mexican kitchen (that includes brunch). The combination has solidified Paradox as a craft brewing powerhouse. Paradox has always specialized in sours and farmhouse ales. They regularly also pour lagers and IPAs, providing plenty of beer for the less adventurous to drink and check out at this spectacular mountain property. —C.S.
Manitou Brewing Company
Head into Manitou for major staycation vibes and be sure to grab a meal and brewskis at Manitou Brewing Company as you stroll around the quaint, historic town. The stacked cheeseburgers, consistently great beer and charming patio make this local spot an essential l watering hole to frequent with family and friends or for a casual date night. We always look forward to our post-hike reward in the form of the Incline Burger, featuring a hefty beef patty topped with cherry applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, house-made barbecue sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion served on a pillowy brioche bun. Pair it with their signature truffle fries and an A-Frame Amber. —D.P.
Trinity Brewing Company
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a group of people, after a Westside hike at, say, Ute Valley Park or Garden of the Gods, will at some point decide that it’s time for a beer. When that happens, Trinity is the place with an extensive list of beers named with a verbal energy usually reserved for horses running in the Kentucky Derby: Pacific Sunset, What It Is!, Westside Citra Pale Ale (well, OK, that one does sound a little like it could be the name of a beer.) Don’t forget their best-selling IPA, Orbital Warfare, which, in case you were wondering, is “Galaxy, Strata & Apollo hops” allegedly “blended with our in-house Space Modulator.” You figure it out. Or better yet, give it a taste. Trinity has always been funky in its vibe and its brews. Founder Jason “Saison Man” Yester was an alchemist and iconoclast who drew national attention to the Springs’ brewing scene with a pioneering farmhouse brewing style, multiple GABF awards and strong, sometimes abrasive opinions. Since 2020, new owner Matthew Dettman has continued many of Yester’s groundbreaking saisons, wild ales, sours and IPAs — some would say with a friendlier style. —S.H.
3 Honorable Mention Best Breweries in Colorado Springs
These three just missed the cut in our team voting for the Top 12, but we think they are still deserving of a shoutout. We’re happy to drink here any day.
“A beer for everyone” is the motto Mash Mechanix stands behind, and owner-brewer Leif Anderson’s brewing absolutely reflects that. When I walk into Mash Mechanix, I’m always surprised at the wide variety of styles available — a “who’s who” of brewing styles — ranging from IPAs to cream ales to stouts to seltzer, with Leif’s own creative touch thrown in for good measure. Keep in mind, Mash is motorhead-themed, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself talking cc’s and hp’s after a few ”true” 16-ounce pints. Larry’s Lager is a must-try, but venture to the light side for a customized Trailer Queen Seltzer and you won’t regret it. —R.H.
Phantom Canyon Brewing Company
Spacious, gleaming, smack dab in the center of downtown across from the Antlers Hotel with an upstairs billiards hall, stellar rooftop patio and a touristy walk-in crowd, Phantom Canyon is one of the places that everyone in the Springs ends up in sooner or later. That’s probably what now-U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper had in mind when he opened Colorado Springs’ first brewpub in 1993. Located in the historic Cheyenne Building that dates back to 1901 and the heady days when Colorado Springs was known as Little London, the brews here are reliable and the Happy Hour deals are worth checking out. Head brewer Charles McManus has stepped up the brewing game in recent years, bringing consistency to the flagships and adding variety to the seasonal taps, while also making Phantom a collaborative, community-minded leader. The oldest brewery in the Springs is one not to miss.
Pikes Peak Brewing Company
If you’re looking for a spacious craft brewery on the north side of Colorado Springs, head to Pikes Peak Brewing Company in Monument for a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere and pub-like feel. Pikes Peak boasts a spacious wraparound patio that encourages the pups to tag along, features live music on select evenings and hosts a menu teeming with well-executed flagships and seasonal brews. It’s hard to go wrong with an Elephant Rock IPA or Devil’s Head Red or a seasonal like the Summit House Oatmeal Stout. —D.P.
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Meet the Writers
Schooled in craft beer at the now defunct Brewer’s Republic, Carrie Simison (aka @hotchiccoldbeer) has been the color girl on beer podcasts and the loud girl in the brewery. A lover of lagers, she is never one to say no to a standout IPA or something you never thought might be a beer.
Dionne Passacantando is a food and beverage writer with a long-time appreciation for the passion, care and community that makes Colorado’s craft beer scene so unique. She provides sudsy coverage on her Rocky Mountain Food Report and for Beer Connoisseur magazine. She judges at local beer festivals and is a member of the Pink Boots Society, an organization for women and nonbinary individuals in the fermented/alcoholic beverage industry.
Ryan Hannigan runs Focus on the Beer, the premiere beer blog in Colorado Springs. With an unwavering passion for the Springs community and its local beer culture, Ryan writes the weekly Focal Pint newsletter to help raise awareness around local beer stories. With a toddler in tow, Ryan can often be found at Fossil or Urban Animal drinking something bubbly and hoppy.
Steve Hayward has traveled the world, not always in a straight line, but most often pointed toward the nearest beer or brewery. Born in Toronto, Canada, where, if pressed, he will order a Keith’s or if that’s not on tap, a Moosehead, he lived for a time during his undergraduate years in London, where Sharp’s Doom Bar became one of his closest friends.