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It didn't take long for Breckenridge Brewery, one of Colorado's first brewpubs, to spill over from Summit County. In 1992, Richard Squire and his team came down from the hills and picked up a massive spot just blocks from the future Coors Field, where they opened a second brewing facility and a restaurant.
This Ballpark neighborhood spot is made from the same mold as the original Breckenridge Brewery; it's definitely a place where I'd feel comfortable showing up in my workout clothes. But rather than an après-ski or post-hike crowd, it tends to attract a crew that comes for its sports-bar amenities.
An elevated bar area in a front corner caters to beer drinkers who want to watch ballgames on the flat-screens. I've only seen the rest of the vast space packed on Rockies game days, when the tables fill with families, friends and pre-gamers looking for a solid meal and a couple of pints before heading off to an afternoon or evening of alcohol-fueled rooting for the home team. Last week I managed to scrounge up a seat at the bar during the pre-Rockies rush — only to watch the restaurant go from full to nearly empty before I'd even finished half of my beer.
Breckenridge has its full line on draft at the brewpub, rotating in seasonal and small-batch selections, which are frequently offered at enticing special prices. The creamy vanilla porter was the first beer I'd tried at Breckenridge; feeling nostalgic, that's exactly what I ordered this round. It paired perfectly with the "heart-stopper" sausage sandwich I'd chosen after barely glancing at the rest of the pub-fare options on the huge menu. The sandwich featured a fat, spicy sausage slicked with tangy barbecue sauce and topped with sweet, caramelized onions hit with a little oatmeal stout, then stuffed between two halves of a dense hoagie roll. (The menu says the bread is freshly baked, though mine was a little too crusty and dry to make this claim totally convincing.) Sided by a massive pile of blocky fries dusted with paprika, the sandwich was indeed heart-stopping — heart-stoppingly satisfying, that is. In a weird way, it reminded me of the bangers and mash I used to get at Summit County's Breckenridge when I was a kid, even if the sausage and spuds had been tricked out a bit.
In fact, my visit here made me miss the original Breckenridge Brewery. Still, this downtown outpost is a good spot for a game-day rendezvous, particularly if you're looking for great beer.