There's something perfect about the contrast between a cold Colorado beer in your hand and the warm sun on your face -- something that makes the tensions of the day melt away. And although there are plenty of places around Colorado to drink good beer, a few of them stand out when it comes to summertime fun. Here's our list of ten of our favorite places -- both patios and special events -- to drink beer this summer.
Denver Beer Co 1695 Platte Street It's hard to beat the vibe on the patio of Denver Beer Co, which combines a sunny, mellow disposition with perfect people-watching on busy bike- and pedestrian-friendly Platte Street. And then there's the ever-changing roster of seasonal beers -- most of which are only brewed once, so there's always something new when you come back. Order a cold one, grab a snack from one of the food trucks that are always on hand, then chill out under an umbrella while you watch another Denver summer go by.
Mountain Toad Brewing 900 Washington Avenue, Golden Golden residents have proved their love for beer gardens over the past two decades by showing up in droves at the tree-shaded Golden City Brewery. But this year, the town most closely associated with Coors has two new craft breweries, with at least one more on the way. And Mountain Toad, located in the heart of downtown, has already become a destination for locals, families, cyclists and anyone taking advantage of the nearby open space. And, yes, food trucks will pull right up onto the gravel by the patio, dishing out grub to go with your beer.
Southern Sun Pub & Brewery 627 South Broadway Street, Boulder It's hard to sum up an entire town with a single drinking establishment, but Southern Sun comes close. Its laid-back vibe, open-minded clientele and patio -- the perfect place to take in both of the previous characteristics -- as well as views of the Flatirons could make you want to live forever in Boulder. Or just this bar. Southern Sun also boasts a stellar lineup of beers brewed on site and at its parent company, Mountain Sun.
Lowry Beer Garden 7577 East Academy Boulevard Every day at the Lowry Beer Garden is like being at your neighbor's annual summer barbecue blowout -- with hundreds and hundreds of neighbors you've never met before. Tucked away behind a former airplane hangar, this entirely outdoor spot serves brats, burgers and other smokin' specialties at the front, then lets you take them to one of the dozens of long picnic tables lined up in the summer sunshine. The beer choices vary, but Lowry puts special emphasis on easy-drinking local brews from across Colorado.
Ouray Brewery 607 Main Street, Ouray There's something about drinking at elevation that makes the beer taste better, the scenery look more beautiful...and the hangovers much, worse. But that headache will be worth it if you acquire it while sitting on the rooftop patio at Ouray Brewery, in the gorgeous town referred to as the "Switzerland of the Rockies." Three stories up, the patio offers splendid views of this terrific little mountain town and the impressive peaks all around it.
Oskar Blues Hops & Heifers Boulder County Longmont-based Oskar Blues bought this fifty-acre farm to supply its restaurants with sustainably raised Black Angus cattle, then added a two-acre hop farm and farmhouse to the amazing venue. Although it isn't open to the public on a regular basis, Hops & Heifers hosts unforgettable events and beer dinners during the year. The first, A Night at the Farm (tickets are $75), runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on June 22 (note: this is a change from the earlier date of June 8) and includes live music, food, beer and a trolley ride to and from the brewery in Longmont. But there are sure to be other events through the summer, right up until the Great American Beer Festival in October.
Great Divide 19th Anniversary Party Saturday, June 15, 2-6 p.m., $30 Great Divide Brewing Great Divide Brewing will once again celebrate its anniversary with a giant block party in the Curtis Park/Ballpark neighborhood, where the brewery was founded nineteen years ago. Snacks will be available from a variety of food trucks, with live music from A. Tom Collins, the Parlor Pickers, Confluence and Royal Aces. And there will be beer, of course: Great Divide will brew up a full spectrum of small-batch and experimental beers to complement its stellar regular lineup.
17th Annual Colorado Brewers Rendezvous July 13, 1-5 p.m., $35 Riverside Park, Salida Last year's Colorado Brewers Rendezvous combined sunshine, some gentle mountain rain, superior scenery on the banks of the Arkansas River, and great beer from more than fifty Colorado breweries. And this year will be even better, since more than 65 breweries have signed up for the festival. (There will also be food vendors and live music.) The brew rendezvous consistently ranks up there as a favorite summer festival for both beer lovers and the brewers themselves, who will be pouring in person in many cases -- especially since proceeds go to benefit the Colorado Brewers Guild.
Kyle's Brew Fest July 20, 3-7 p.m., $25-$30 Boulder Beer Company Kyle Hollingsworth of the String Cheese Incident loves beer -- and as a Boulder local, he's had the chance to brew with several of Colorado's best-known breweries. This year, he'll again take his Summer of Brews tour across the country, with the signature event, Kyle's Brew Fest, making a major stop at the Boulder Beer Company. In addition to music from the Kyle Hollingsworth Band, there will be sixty beers on tap from more than thirty breweries, including various collaborations Hollingsworth has done with local brewers.
Craft Lager and Small Batch Festival August 10, 11 a.m.- 8 p.m., $30-$40 Memorial Park, Manitou Springs The eleventh incarnation of this Manitou Springs festival -- which primarily features easy-drinking summer beers -- promises to be bigger than ever in 2013, with more beers, live music, food and samplings from local micro-distilleries. Located in the funky, artsy town's festive Memorial Park, this year's Craft Lager fest will give attendees the option of attending one of two different sessions -- or simply drinking all day long. Bring the dog (on a leash), bring the kids (under twelve only), and bring a big thirst.
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