Beer Man

Ten other local beers that John Hickenlooper could have chosen to toast Colorado's birthday

There is no brewery in Colorado that has a longer history than Coors, no beer maker that has employed a higher number of locals, and no company that is more associated with our state.

On the other hand, Coors has a checkered history here, from its labor policies to the personal beliefs of its owners, from environmental problems to its sales practices. And then there's the fact that Coors is no longer a Colorado-based company (its corporate parent is based in the United Kingdom).

So opinions will be mixed on Governor John Hickenlooper's decision to toast Colorado's 135th birthday on Monday with Pete Coors and a beer from Coors subsidiary AC Golden, a tiny brewery-within-a-brewery known for its flagship Colorado Native, rather than with a beer made by any of the 120-plus independent breweries here. And since Hickenlooper co-founded one of the those independent institutions, the Wynkoop Brewing Company, the decision is even more interesting.

Colorado Native, which is only sold within our state borders, was designed to celebrate the Colorado, and it is made from 99 percent Colorado ingredients, according to its label.

Still, there are plenty of other deserving beers that honor that state. Here are ten of them.

10) Pick Axe IPA from Tommyknocker Brewing in Idaho Springs honors our state's mining legacy.

9) Denver Pale Ale from Great Divide may be a little too metro-centric, but still, the name says it all.

8) Lucky U IPA from Breckenridge Brewing pays tribute to a recipe used by the old Tivoli brewery, and a portion of its sales are donated to the upkeep of the building, now used by students at UC Denver.

7) Rocky Mountain IPA from Fort Collins Brewing might have a bit of generic name, but the thought is there.

6) Trail Ridge Red from Estes Park Brewing: Nothing says Colorado like the highest road in America.

5) Twin Sisters Double IPA by Longmont's Left Hand Brewing gets its name either from the Twin Peaks of Mount Meeker and Long's Peak or from the Twin Sisters peak itself. Either way, we're talking big mountains.

4) Colorado Kolsh from Durango's Steamworks Brewing backs in Colorado-proud style with the state flag on the can.

3) Cowtown Stout from Wynkoop reclaims the occasionally derogatory term for Denver and makes it our own. Hello, Governor Hickenlooper?

2) Cherry Kriek by Strange Brewing is an absolutely fantastic play on beer styles and on one of our state's founding landmarks.

1) Mountain Standard from Odell Brewing is perhaps the single greatest name for a Colorado beer that anyone has created.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes