With four taprooms within a two-mile radius, the small Boulder County town has earned a reputation for bodacious brews.
Despite concerns that the current craft beer market is nearing saturation, new breweries are still opening at the rate of almost two per day according to the Brewer’s Association. Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins might be the most visible beer-soaked cities in Colorado, but smaller towns now seem to have as many breweries as they have traffic lights. One of the more varied in terms of styles of beer available is Lafayette, in eastern Boulder County. The hometown of Indian Peaks Golf Course currently has four top-flight taprooms. Not only are they able to coexist, they are also able to thrive, offering different atmospheres and unique beers while pushing each other to be the best they can be.
Located outside of the historic district amidst the sprawl of the suburbs, Liquid Mechanics Brewing Co. (pictured above) gives a warm, inviting character to a space formerly inhabited by a gym. Liquid Mechanics brews a wide range of offerings, but with the intent to make them as true to the guidelines as possible. “He’s a beer geek, he loves to pick a style of beer and try to brew it better than anyone else,” says co-founder Davin Helden, referring to head brewer Seth Townsend. Liquid Mechanics’ list of awards testifies to their philosophy of creating uncompromising classics, including medals for their Amber Altbier (a German amber) and Kölsch (a German pale ale with attributes similar to light lagers), both of which are known for subtle nuances that require perfect technical skills and attention to detail. A rotation of quality food trucks appears throughout the week, allowing Liquid Mechanics to focus on what it does best. A full calendar of live music and other entertainment keeps the place hopping every night.
297 US Highway 287
The Homebrewer at Heart
Front Range Brewing Company feels like a place begun by a homebrewer who just scaled-up his system to meet the growing demand of his buddies. And that’s not a bad thing. Known for its award-winning Altitude Red Ale, Front Range brews everything from big, American IPAs to classic Belgians, but with the curiosity of a try-anything-once experimenter. Their small batch program (which taps a new beer every Wednesday) allows for creative concoctions that have included a Girl Scout Coffee Stout, Breakfast Cream Ale (with cinnamon toast crunch added to the mash)and a habanero-Mexican chocolate Russian Imperial Stout. Founded, owned and operated by two families, the first brewery in Lafayette exudes a homespun vibe, and it’s not uncommon to see a family with a few small kids relaxing at a table. The kitchen offers wings, wraps and flatbreads. Open-mic nights, trivia contests and local music acts bring in the crowds. Seventeen Colorado liquor stores carry Front Range’s beers.
400 W South Boulder Rd #1650.
303- 339-0767; frontrangebrewingcompany.com
The Gathering Place
While beer is at the heart of each of Lafayette’s breweries, The Post Brewing Company also serves homemade fried chicken—and a full menu of fabulous entrees. As partner and brewmaster Bryan Selders puts it, “it’s about the total experience.” From the big outdoor patio, to the 360-degree bar and large dining room, The Post caters to families big and small. Eschewing the current American craft beer tendency to make enamel-shredding IPAs and to super-size every style into doubles, triples and imperials, The Post focuses on über-drinkable American session beers with a nod to their English ancestors. Those include the light yet complex Meathooks Mild Ale, whose toasty notes with bread crust flavors lead to a dry finish, as well as the Sip-N-Rotate IPA, which utilizes different hop varieties for each batch. The best part about this brew is that despite its 6.8% abv, it’s eminently quaffable. The hallmark of Selders’ beers is that the light, mild beers drink with much more complexity than you would expect, and the larger, sometimes hoppier offerings drink like session beers. Selders, who tests his beers in a lab for consistency, will send several of The Post’s flagships to the canning line soon.
105 W Emma St.
The Quirky Neighbor
Big, bold flavors in a laidback atmosphere reward patrons of Odd 13 Brewing. From an array of sours, to several styles bursting with hops, subtlety will not be found here. “We brew beers that we like to drink,” says head brewer Brandon Boldt. The overall demographics skew a bit younger compared to their Lafayette counterparts, which isn’t surprising considering the comic book theme. Each beer comes with its own character, created and drawn by friends of the brewery, and origin story, such as the “Doctor Cougar” saison and “Codename: Superfan” American IPA—the latter of which avoids the “hoppy” bitterness associated with “West Coast”-styled IPAs in favor of a softer, more nuanced “East Coast” profile. Another equally flavorful, but very different beer, “Love Machine,” is an assertive cherry sour, with a background of chocolate from cacao nibs and aromatics suggestive of a sweet red wine. The beer itself is not overly sour or funky, but rather more tart like a sour cherry, and balanced with a medium-full body for a smooth mouthfeel.
301 E. Simpson St.
Post Brewing's Patio
Cody Gabbard contributes regularly to CAG and the Boulder Weekly.
This article appeared in the May 2016 edition of Colorado AvidGolfer.