Colorado’s status as a capital of craft beer is well-established, and the best-known strongholds of Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins are just the tip of the iceberg. In the southern half of the state, there’s a vibrant culture of craft brews and local gems just waiting to be discovered. Here’s a list of some of our favorites:
Phantom Canyon Brewing Company
Taking up a sprawling multi-story warehouse in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs, Phantom Canyon offers a broad lineup of beers, some steady and some seasonal, like the Game of Thrones-themed “Take the Black,” a dark and highly sippable German-style schwarzbier. Grab a cue and play a game of pool in the restaurant’s second-story pool hall or order a plate of nachos and enjoy the view from the upstairs patio, and you’re all but guaranteed an enjoyable night.
Housed within the refurbished shell of Pueblo’s old police headquarters, Brues has a little bit of everything. Here you’ll find traditional pub fare like burgers and the “Wings of an Angel” hot wings, as well as more unusual dishes, like pork belly nigiri and the ever-popular roasted shishito peppers. All of this exists alongside a steady lineup of local musical acts and law enforcement-themed beers and cocktails, such as the Probation Lager and the Ball and Chain.
Some of the most popular beer to come out of Colorado calls Durango’s music-themed Ska Brewing Company home. You can find their colorful cans in supermarkets and specialty liquor stores as far away as Chicago and the West Coast, where many of their brews, like the light and flavorful Mexican Logger, have developed a cult following all over the country.
A creative craft brewery in the guise of an old-school public house, Florence Brewing Company likewise pairs traditional beers with more experimental brews, such as the seasonally-themed “LeprecHans tears,” a glitter-studded Amber ale that made an appearance this past St. Patrick’s Day. Dog-friendly and BYOF (bring-your-own-food), it offers a relaxed, casual atmosphere sure to please most visitors.
There’s nothing quite so satisfying after a day at Monarch than descending into Salida for pizza and beer at Amica’s. Maybe it’s because the food at this family-owned landmark is as creative as its beer — like the famous pan e porco tirato panini, featuring beer-braised pulled pork, house-made BBQ sauce, pineapple and jalapeños. Maybe it’s the endorphins from a day up on the slopes. Maybe beer just tastes better at high altitudes. Whatever the reason, you don’t want to miss your next chance to grab a bite and a brew at this beloved Salida destination.
More than just a local watering hole, the San Luis Valley Brewing Company in Alamosa was the first brewery to set up shop in the valley and is a hub for local events and entertainment. Try the Valle Caliente lager infused with hatch green chiles or the award-winning Valle Especial Mexican-style lager made with imported yeast from south of the border. In addition to handcrafted food and beers, guests can enjoy coffee roasted in-house at the adjacent Roast-Craft Coffee & Libations.
There’s perhaps no brewery in Colorado more old-school than Bristol Brewing Company, whose operation is literally housed within a repurposed schoolhouse on the south side of Colorado Springs. Many of their beers, like the Laughing Lab Scottish Ale and the Beehive Honey Wheat can be found all over the state. If you pay them a visit, make sure to browse the company swag at the adjoining gift shop to the side of the restaurant, and maybe take home a growler or two as well.