When Santa Claus brought Left Hand Brewing Company’s cofounder Dick Doore his very first home-brewing kit, the jolly man unknowingly set Dick on a whole new life path. Home brewing became an obsession, and soon he had partnered with his college buddy Eric Wallace and started making their first batch of beer: the Sawtooth Ale. Just a few months later, Dick and Eric took home two medals at the Great American Beer Festival.
Nearly 20 years later, the brewery’s accomplishments have swelled: 16 medals in the Great American Beer Festival, 8 medals at the World Beer Cup, and 3 medals at the European Beer Star. The brewery was also the first craft-beer company to master bottling a nitrogenized craft beer without a widget, owing to the introduction of their popular milk stout. Its extensive offering of brews is now available in 25 markets. Favorites include the golden crisp Polestar Pilsner and a roasty black Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout, both of which are available in the Longmont tasting room.
Set in a wind-powered facility, Asher Brewing Company bowls over imbibers with a flurry of certified-organic beers. The company’s wide palette of fresh tastes resides in the organic five-beer tasting sampler, which furnishes fans of fancy barley pop with five five-ounce pours. Mouths happily cancel public-speaking arrangements to accommodate the company of the rotating and seasonal brews such as the Green Bullet IPA, Treehugger Organic Amber, Green Lantern Organic Kolsch, and Funbarrel Kriek. Guzzlers will also guzzle one full pint of their choice, poured into a take-home glass that, like leprechaun wrestlers, comes tattooed with an official Celtic-like logo.
In 1995, Twisted Pine Brewing Company began as something more of a grove than a forest, with brewer Gordon King crafting just a trio of beers in equipment purchased from New Belgium. Come 1996, the company fell into the hands of current owner Bob Baile, who merged the nascent brewery with his own project, Peak to Peak Brewing Company, and began bolstering the lineup with inventive stouts, ales, and porters. Since then, Twisted Pine has maintained a high standard of quality even in the face of its expanding scale, as evidenced by the gold medals garnered at the Great American Beer Festival for its American Amber Ale and Oak Whiskey Red. They credit their love for experimentation and strong community involvement as the driving force behind crafting beers that surprise and delight their loyal customers.
Today, locals and visitors mingle in the tap room, where the beer menu offers seasonal specials such as the Ghost Face Killah, infused with the 1.1 million Scovilles of the Bhut Jolokia pepper, and rated by Bon Appétit as one of the top ten weirdest beers in America. And to pair with the beer and drawers of otherwise useless silverware, the food menu features hearty pizzas, sandwiches, and salads.
The community-driven Big Beaver Brewing Co serves several handcrafted brews concocted on-site—though the racy titles of its drinks are appropriate for adults only. Thirsty patrons can sidle up to the bar to sip on eight different 2-ounce beer samples, including the Potent Peter IPA, a hoppy, aromatic ale, and the Wonder Wiener Wheat, boasting strong notes of clove and banana. Fermentation fans can then take take 64 ounces of their favored barley in a Big Beaver growler, which can be kept, refilled, or returned to the brewery for a $4 refund. Big Beaver’s brewing model relies on a community of beer lovers refilling their growlers with reusable containers to reduce their carbon footprint and give feedback as to what types of beer should be brewed next.
Avanti Winery handcrafts its own signature wine blends alongside more than 25 local Colorado wines, furnishing oenophiles with myriad grownup grape-juice choices. A bottle of chardonnay ($16.95) transports hints of vanilla, lemon, almonds, and hazelnuts to taste buds, and the popular white table wine ($16.95) melds five varietals potent enough to charm palates and steal guests’ girlfriends at dinner parties. Swill sips of Avanti's table red wine ($17.95) or uncork the signature cabernet sauvignon ($22.95), bursting with maroon-tinged fruits. The merlot ($22.95) introduces cherries and a dry finish to palates, and the port III’s dashes of caramel, cherry, and chocolate ($24.95) form a trio of dessert flavors in tipsifying liquid form. Avanti Winery also offers free wine tastings Thursday–Sunday from a different Colorado winery each month.