A surge of small-town breweries gives rural Colorado a craft-brewing renaissance.
Northern Colorado is expected to add 500,000 residents in the next 20 years. Once-sleepy little towns like Timnath, Windsor and Johnstown are now preparing for the influx—planning with everything from housing and transportation to sewage systems and emergency services.
Oh, and let us not forget beer.
The small towns of Northern Colorado are preparing for their growth like any good Coloradan should: by brewing beer. According to the Colorado Beer List, there are breweries planned or being conceptualized in Severance, Ault, La Porte, Mead and Timnath. This year, Windsor will get its third brewery and Wellington will get its second. Johnstown even has a brewery.
And don’t think these quaint, often rural, locales are brewing drivel. Skilled brewers are bringing tasty craft beer to communities that have long embraced Coors and Bud. These breweries are little gems worth the short drive from Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley.
Old Colorado Brewing Co.
Just north of Anheuser Busch in the heart of Wellington, Old Colorado Brewing Co. has transformed a 100-year-old grain elevator into a comfortable, friendly and very cool tasting room. A giant Colorado license plate takes over one wall, and glass ceiling panels give you a view five stories up. The owner slings his grandfather’s beer recipes (once served in the original Old Colorado Brewing Co. in Fort Collins in 1989) to locals who are embracing this microbrewery.
What to try: IPA, Red Ale and the ridiculously sessionable Tart Blonde
Mash Lab Brewing
A hot rod shop and a brewery. Don’t let the schtick fool you. In a little modern, industrial tasting room, this brewery serves up an ever-changing array of delicious beer. And yes, while you enjoy one of their dozen or so beers, you can also enjoy a view of the stark white fabrication shop, bare-metal hot rods and beautiful custom cars.
What to try: Their menu changes often, but luckily their flagship beers will likely stick around. Don’t miss the Peanut Butter Milk stout and the Citra Pale Ale.
High Hops Brewery
Windsor’s first brewery, High Hops, was opened about five years ago as an addition to the Weakland family’s Windsor Gardener greenhouse and garden shop. Somehow, the mixture of greenhouse and brewery works here in a funky, comfy sort of way. A big indoor patio takes over a portion of the greenhouse, and the family grows and harvests hops for their beer. High Hops has 40 taps pouring a wide range of styles, so there’s a lot to discover.
What to try: Be adventurous. The La Peche au Bois is a nicely balanced imperial peach blonde aged in Chardonnay barrels. Or try the Cordially Tart, Habanero Hunny or Dr. Pat’s Double IPA.
Small Town Breweries on the Horizon
As of this writing, these breweries had not yet started pouring beer to eager drinkers. But by press time, they should be open and ready for visitors.
Timnath Brewworks: Located in the Colorado Feed & Grain Building in Timnath, this brewery and tasting room is expected to open in summer of 2018.
G5 Brew Pub: This Severance bar and restaurant plans to start brewing their own beer in spring of 2018. The proprietors also own G5 Hop Fields in Windsor and will use their own hops in their beer.
Soul Squared Brewing: Wellington’s second brewery already has a claim to fame: Its CSA beer club is one of the first of its kind in the US. They call it a farm-based brewery, using ingredients from their own farm and from other local growers.