I had never been to Brighton — only driven past it on the highway — until this past weekend. My roommate grew up there, so my other housemate and I decided to join her for a Brighton experience. We drove around the small, semi-rural town while she pointed out the hot hangouts for high school kids (such as King Soopers and Walmart) and the doughnut shop where she used to get free doughnuts because her cousin worked there. She also pointed out signs of growth (new apartments and strip malls) and old favorites, but our real destination was the Floodstage Ale Works, where my roommate had celebrated her 21st birthday.
Located in Brighton's old town, Floodstage is a small brewery that also has a full bar. The house beers on our visit were a kolsch, a red ale and a porter on tap; our bartender brought us over some samples while chatting with the regulars and mixing drinks. The Class 6 Porter stood out as smooth and a little sweet, with notes of coffee. Floodstage isn't a typical craft brewery; it's more of a neighborhood hangout with a wide selection of beers from Colorado and beyond, but you can also get any mixed drink you want. In addition, the bar does tap takeovers and beer showcases with other breweries, along with booze promotions, such as specials on Herradura tequila and Jack Daniel's.
Floodstage opened in 2007 and is currently operated by John Thorngren. As a Brighton mainstay, the bar is one of the best options in town for a drink, but there are a few other breweries and bars, also concentrated in the historic main-street area. Floodstage's 1930s-era brick warehouse has been redone in what I would call "brewery-industrial" style, with lots of metal and exposed beams. Brewery tanks and equipment are visible through a glass wall on one side of the bar. There's also a kitchen back there, and simple pub grub like sandwiches, wings and fries can be found on the menu for lunch and dinner. In the summer, the grill outside also gets fired up for burgers and brats. On this particular day, the staff was just warming it up for the dinnertime crowd.
My friends and I chose seats on the side of the bar that opens onto a large, partially screened patio. It had just rained, so we didn't venture out under the dripping trees but stayed in the covered section of the patio, where there's a pool table and some outdoor furniture. My roommate notes that on sunnier days, the patio is jumping, and various bands that come through play sets in the open air. It's common to find a rotation of primarily rock, blues and country bands here on Fridays and Saturdays. Occasional events like poker or bingo games bring in a crowd, as well as a lengthy happy hour, from 3 to 7 p.m. every day but Saturday, when it's 6 to 9 p.m.
We drank beers served in large, chilled steins and watched as the bar filled with couples having an afternoon date on the holiday weekend, groups of friends in their twenties, older guys in camouflage gear, and even one gentleman sporting a star-spangled cowboy hat. Brighton is a pretty casual town, and nobody here was busting out the party dresses or heels.
Brighton is a farming community that's also home to folks who commute to Denver and Boulder but want something a little more rural than the standard suburbs. My roommate explains that the farms here grow some of the best green chiles in the country. She graduated from nearby Prairie View High School, as did some of the other customers, it turns out. A guy sitting with his friends at a tabletop Ms. Pacman/Galaga game said he went there, too (after asking where we were from), but he said he "had a few years on her."
After a round of beers, we headed back to our tour of Brighton, which included a drive past the wonders of the Prairie Center and other landmarks that prominently featured the word "prairie." Floodstage turns out to be a great neighborhood bar — for a neighborhood with a prairie view.
Floodstage Ale Works is located at 170 South Main Street in Brighton and is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day but Monday, when the bar opens at 2 p.m. Call 303-654-7972 or visit the bar's Facebook page for more information.
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