Colorado's Ten Best Breweries for Music Fans
Fans at this year's Breckenridge Hootenanny
It's no surprise that music and beer are meant to be together, especially in Colorado. Still, there are a handful of local breweries that like to turn it up a notch when it comes to supporting Colorado's music. We've picked out ten of the best places for music fans to find their microbrews. You'll find live music at some and others made the cut because of the way music informs everything from specific beers to the brewery's entire identity.
When brothers Branden and Chad Miller, along with Chad's wife, Carissa, started Black Shirt Brewing in 2009, they were inspired red ales and music. Not only does the brewery host outdoor concerts in the summer and indoor concerts in the fall, it has a unique "track listing" system for each batch of beer. Each six-pack of 2014's second batch of American Red Saison, for example, bears the track listing "2014-02." Black Shirt drinkers can then look up the track listing in the American Red Saison "album" on the brewery website and learn more about the specific batch's ABV, flavor and overall brewing process.
Considered Colorado's first craft brewery, Boulder Beer Company was started in 1979 by two University of Colorado professors. In 1990, brewmaster David Zuckerman joined the Boulder Beer team and began pushing the brewery into the craft beer market. With this push, Boulder Beer began organizing and sponsoring many music-centric events across the front range. On August 9, for instance, the brewery will present "Kyle's Brew Fest," a likely beer-soaked, album release party for the String Cheese Incident keyboardist, Kyle Hollingsworth.
In less than a year, Boulder's Sanitas Brewing Co. has accomplished a lot, including throwing own music festival. Started in September 2013 by former Boulder Beer brewers Chris Coyne and Michael Memsic, as well as their longtime friend, Zach Nichols, Sanitas boasts an extensive list of craft brews. In March, Sanitas began expanding its brewhouse and taproom and, on July 26, the brewery celebrated all its hard work with the daylong Sanitas Fest, which featured Boulder blues rockers West Water Outlaws and the Nederland bluegrass outfit Mountain Standard Time.
Oskar Blues Brewery
Oskar Blues got its start in 1997 as a "funky little blues joint" in Lyons, Colorado. Soon, owner Dick Dale Katechis began brewing (and canning) beer in the restaurant's basement. By 2002, Dale's Pale Ale was on the market and it was hailed as the first canned craft beer. Now, the brewery hosts the "Burning Can" festival, which celebrates all things Oskar Blues with live music. Meanwhile, the original Oskar Blues and its sister locations in Longmont host shows nearly every night of the week.
Twisted Pine Brewing Company
In 1996, after creating award-winning brews for craft breweries along the front range, longtime brewmaster Gordon Knight, decided to start the Twisted Pine Brewing Company in Boulder. Just after opening the brewery, however, Knight sold Twisted Pine to its current owner, Bob Baile. Along with creating the ghost pepper-infused beer, "Ghostface Killah," which was enthusiastically approved by the Wu-Tang emcee in 2011, Baile also expanded Twisted Pine's taproom, allowing more room for live music. Each month, Twisted Pine plays host to a number of genre-spanning local and national acts, as well as an open mic night every Tuesday.
For founders Dave Thiboudeau and Bill Graham, Durango's SKA Brewing grew out of their passion for, well, skanking and skirting the law. In 1995, when Thiboudeau and Graham weren't old enough to buy beer, they decided to brew their own and SKA was born. Since then, the brewery has hosted plenty of live music and even set up collaborations with some notable bands. In 2011, SKA brewed the "Shebeen" Black IPA for the 30th anniversary of the Toasters, a longtime Ska group out of New York. And, at SKA's 19th anniversary party on September 6, the brewery will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the legendary Jamaican ska outfit the Skatalites with another specialty brew.
Opened in 1990 by home-brewer Richard Squire, Breckenridge Brewery has grown into one of Colorado's largest and most renowned breweries. Over the years, Breckenridge's passion for music has grown, too. In July, Breckenridge had its 24th Anniversary Hootenanny, featuring the Denver-based barn rockers Marty Jones and the Great Unknowns, the Nederland groove-grass quintet the Magic Beans and more than a few awesome beers. The brewery has also been a major sponsor of the massive Underground Music Showcase for the last three years.
Founded in August 2013 by Breckenridge brewmaster Harry Smith, Black Sky Brewery specializes in wild flavors and heavy music. From its Pineapple Saison to its rose-and-hibiscus-infused ale, "Pedal to the Metal," Black Sky is notable because of Smith's willingness to get creative. And Smith's penchant for metal gives beer enthusiasts a place to head bang. Black Sky's matinee metal shows (which start at 2 p.m.) are perfect for anyone craving a day beer and some brutal riffs.
A few years after the breakup of his longtime band (Fear Before the March of Flames), local musician Brandon Proff decided to open Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew with his friend and fellow music maker, Bryan Leavelle. As brewmaster, Leavelle focuses on roasting malt to give Our Mutual Friend's beers a unique, rich flavor. This fall, Proff and Leavelle hope to launch an equally unique concert series where bands can create their own brand-new beer and tap it on the day of their performance.
Like Black Sky, TRVE Brewing Company is a metal-inspired brewery through and through. According to Trve's founder and self-proclaimed publican, Nick Nunns, craft beer fits in with metal because craft beer is about extreme flavor and metal is about extreme music. Since opening in 2011, TRVE has poured plenty of extremely flavorful beers, including the "Tiphareth" sour red ale and the "Winter Zephyr" sour black ale. In August 2013, Nunns paired up with Dave Otero of Flatline Audio recording studios to give local metal bands an opportunity to record tracks courtesy of TRVE. The first session featured two crushing cuts by the Black Sleep of Kali. Now, Nunns and Otero are searching for another band for the next "Flatline" session. Until they find one, you'll just have to pull up a barstool and wait.
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