It’s hard to overstate the impact of craft beer on Colorado Springs.
Like most cities, we’ve got our divisions: east and west, north and south; political right and political left; natives and transplants; cyclists and drivers. But we agree about craft beer. As a city, we agree it’s important to make it close and drink it fresh; for brewers to support each other and the neighborhoods around them; and that macrobrews are mostly for watering the lawn.
And with our rapid expansion mirroring the national trend—the Pikes Peak region boasts at least 26 breweries and counting—the effect has been one of specialization (cask ales at Iron Bird Brewing Company), recognition (Trinity Brewing’s seemingly annual Great American Beer Festival medal or perennial contenders Bristol Brewing Company), and symbiosis (blossoming food-truck partnerships a la Red Leg Brewing Company).
Here are a few different ways to enter and explore the scene:
THE BIG DOGS
BRISTOL BREWING COMPANY
Mike Bristol’s brewery has been the first word in Colorado Springs beer since 1994. The operation has grown through three locations: Forge Road off Garden of the Gods Road to Tejon Street to its latest expansion when it took over half of the defunct Ivywild School and opened a glassed-in state-of-the-art brewhouse. Now you can watch the chemistry of flagship brews like Laughing Lab Scottish Ale and Red Rocket Pale Ale—or really geek out waiting for special batches, such as the Old No. 23 Barley Wine.
The Scene: Loyal drinkers who miss the cozy old tasting room but still dig the converted elementary school vibe.
1604 S. Cascade Ave., bristolbrewing.com
COLORADO MOUNTAIN BREWERY
CMB’s first location opened in a new building near the U.S. Air Force Academy, a deliberate move by owner and graduate Scott Koons to both cater to and honor that culture. The upscale gastropub later opened a second location in the historic westside Roundhouse. With the Colorado cuisine pushing forward, you’ll find the staple Ole ’59er Amber Ale working its way into plenty of dishes.
The Scene: Sports fans and upper middle-class families who are actually there to eat.
1110 Interquest Pkwy. and 600 S. 21st St., cmbrew.com
PIKES PEAK BREWING COMPANY
Before Pikes Peak Brewing opened in Monument in 2011, co-founder Chris Wright might have been best known for his book The Beer Journal. That’s changed now that PPBC is firmly ensconced as one of the most successful outfits in the area. The brewery has often touted its goal to be number two in the area (after Bristol), but there’s nothing second tier about its beers, including favorites Devils Head Red Ale and Ascent Pale Ale.
The Scene: Beer nerds, corn hole lovers and anyone thankful for a brewery within 20 miles.
1756 Lake Woodmoor Drive, Monument, pikespeakbrewing.com
RED LEG BREWING COMPANY
In a city surrounded by military bases, it was only a matter of time until a brewery opened with the uniformed in mind; that brewery is Red Leg, owned by Army veteran Todd Baldwin. Its beers, such as Cutter Wit and Doolittle IPA, are found on taps around the city, and accolades have followed, including a win at the 2014 World Beer Cup for its Devil Dog Stout.
The Scene: Former military types who appreciate a community approach to inebriation.
4630 Forge Road, redlegbrewing.com
TRINITY BREWING COMPANY
Owner and Colorado College-grad Jason Yester spent 12 years at Bristol before opening Trinity in 2008. The mad scientists of suds are one of a handful of breweries nationally to pull off difficult koelschip beers, and thirst for their experimental saisons, such as Pappy Legba and The Menacing Strawberry, has taken distribution to Portland, New York City, Philadelphia—even Europe. National awards from the likes of the Great American Beer Festival and the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers keep rolling in for the most decorated brewery in the region.
The Scene: A combo of vegans, neighborhood drinkers, GABF-medal chasers and those there for the quality out-of-state guest taps.
1466 Garden of the Gods Road #184, trinitybrew.com
THE LITTLE GUYS
SMILING TOAD BREWERY
Smiling Toad was born from the ashes of Kevin Baity Kraft Beers, with owner Biff Morehead now cranking out creative small-batch brews from a picnic-table-strewn taproom on 8th Street. India Pale Ales dominate the menu, like a vanilla IPA, a passion fruit IPA and an oaked IPA.
The Scene: Pretension-hating locals who like a unique beer around a picnic table.
1757 S. 8th St., smilingtoadbrewery.com
GOLD CAMP BREWING COMPANY
Gold Camp boasts a calm mining theme that incorporates low booths made of wood slats and decorative canary cages. Find events like vinyasa yoga or trivia night, which join a slate of high alcohol by volume (ABV) beers and experimental creations like the Bloody Espinosa Blood Orange Belgian Wit.
The Scene: Free-thinking beer nerds as eager for the food truck outside as they are for the new grapefruit IPA.
1007 S. Tejon St., goldcampbrewing.com
FIELDHOUSE BREWING COMPANY
Owned by Travis and Niki Fields, the brewery specializes in creating great gluten-free beer—from the GF Chicks Dig Millets IPA to the GF Caramel Macchiato Stout—though drinkers will find a full slate of pours. The low-key renovated space on South Tejon Street offers leather couches up front and food trucks usually out back.
The Scene: Downtown drinkers, friends of the owners and gluten-free beer devotees.
521 S. Tejon St., fieldhousebrew.com
PEAKS N PINES BREWING COMPANY
One of the newer entrants to the Springs scene, Peaks N Pines is the project of co-owner Paul Vieira, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and homebrewer for longer. The lineup includes Backcountry American Brown, Angry Antelope IPA, Peak Pumpkin and seasonals like a 5.7-percent ABV honey amber.
The Scene: Eastsiders who know the difference between specific gravity, original gravity and final gravity.
4005 Tutt Blvd., peaksnpinesbrewery.com
MANITOU BREWING COMPANY
Inside a charming, open-industrial interior warmed with reclaimed wood, Manitou Brewing combines consistent beer with a kitchen pumping out legitimate food. Try the Nitro Oatmeal Milk Stout on Taco Tuesday night, when $9 yields a pint and three tacos, or grab a bowl of Cajun tofu mac-and-cheese with jalapeño-bacon-lime wings.
The Scene: Manitou hippies stoked by the reclaimed wood, creative brews and excellent kitchen.
725 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, manitou-brewing.com
WHO’S THE ORIGINAL?
Judge Baldwin’s opened as the area’s first craft brewery in 1991. But the restaurant ended its brewing in 2012. That leaves Phantom Canyon Brewing Company as the region’s oldest active microbrewery. The brewpub opened its doors in 1993 after a pre-gubernatorial John Hickenlooper saved the historic Cheyenne Building from the wrecking ball. After several expansions, including a billiards hall and rooftop patio, Phantom Canyon remains a downtown hot spot turning out a wide array of flagship beers, including Streamliner IPA, and intriguing batches, such as the vanilla porter cask ale Ralphie Goes to ’Nam.
2 E. Pikes Peak Ave., phantomcanyon.com