Beer Man

Telluride Brewing Opens Taproom and Taqueria for the Après-Ski Crowd

Telluride Brewing Opens Taproom and Taqueria for the Après-Ski Crowd (2)
Courtesy of Telluride Brewing Co.
Since Telluride Brewing opened in 2011, it has been turning out some of Colorado's favorite beers, including Face Down Brown, Russell Kelly IPA and Ski In Ski Stout. But the brewery itself and its makeshift taproom are on the outskirts of the ski town, in a business park that that is more drive-in-drive-out than ski-in-ski-out.

But grabbing a Telluride beer will become a little more convenient on December 11, when the nine-year-old brewery opens a second location, complete with a small pilot brewing system and a taqueria, just across the plaza from Lift 4 at Telluride Ski Resort.

"At our current spot, people will line up for beer and hang out or sit on the curb for a few hours. It's so cool that we created something where people were willing to do that, but we wanted to reach a bigger audience," says brewery co-founder Tommy Thacher. Since most of the tourists who visit Telluride stay close to the historic downtown and to Mountain Village, which is at the base of the ski mountain (using the gondola to go back and forth between the two), reaching that audience meant finding a location closer to the action.

Courtesy of Telluride Brewing Co.
A few years ago, the brewery would not have considered a Mountain Village location, Thacher says, but things there have changed dramatically. Not only is there a healthier mix of tourists and locals, but the town (Mountain Village is actually its own town, separate from Telluride) invested in upgrades and changes. "They spent a ton of money...they refurbished the gondola...and the whole plaza is heated underneath," the brewer notes.

Not only that, but the entirety of the town's Village Center is a state-approved "common consumption area," where customers of various bars and restaurants can buy alcoholic beverages and walk around with them. That will come in handy this year in particular, during the coronavirus pandemic, as bars, restaurants and breweries can only seat a very limited number of people. In the common consumption area, however, there are plazas and tables and benches, and "there are fire pits everywhere. People really enjoy being outside," Thacher says.

In fact, "the whole thing was sort of made for" a pandemic, he adds. The town has even repurposed a few gondolas as dining cabins that serve all of the bars and restaurants in the common consumption area.

click to enlarge Mountain Village has outdoor fire pits and dining pods made from gondolas. - COURTESY OF TELLURIDE BREWING CO.
Mountain Village has outdoor fire pits and dining pods made from gondolas.
Courtesy of Telluride Brewing Co.
The brewery's new taproom, called Telluride Brewing Company Brew Pub & Taqueria, will pour twenty different beers, including several that will be made on site on a 3.5-barrel pilot system (Crowlers and six-packs will be available to go as well). In addition, the same company that owns The Goods, a restaurant in Ouray, will serve up takeout street tacos and taco kits that include handmade white and blue corn tortillas.

Telluride Brewing cans and distributes its beer statewide, and it has won a number of awards — notably for its Face Down Brown Ale and Whacked Out Wheat. The new location will allow brewmaster and co-founder Chris Fish to experiment, Thacher points out. "It won't just be Groundhog Day with Face Down," he explains. "We will get to do a ton of new cool stuff...Belgians, sours, more lagers."

click to enlarge Telluride Brewing is experimenting with hop terpenes. - COURTESY OF TELLURIDE BREWING CO.
Telluride Brewing is experimenting with hop terpenes.
Courtesy of Telluride Brewing Co.
They'll also be able to play around more with hop terpenes, which are hop oil extracts that concentrate flavors and aromas so that brewers can make intense beers with just a fraction of the ingredients. Telluride Brewing was the first Colorado brewery to sell a packaged beer made with terpenes with its Galloping Juice, and it has followed up with five new and different versions of that hoppy IPA.

Thacher and Fish had been looking for a second location for several years, but were unsuccessful until Mountain Village approached them about the taqueria. "They wanted some local flavor up there," Thacher says, adding that Telluride Distillery opened in Mountain Village two years ago. And skiers will be able to get off the lift, put their skis and boards on a rack, and walk over to the brewery for a beer and a taco.

"We feel really blessed and excited that we have this location," he adds. "It's kind like a bright spot for us in this weird, terrible year."
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes