Dispensaries are grabbing the headlines, but Colorado continues to rank high in terms of gross beer production, thanks to the state’s 200 or so microbreweries. And there’s a gem in Alamosa— the San Luis Valley Brewing Company, where old floors, exposed brick and a 5,000-pound vault door serve as visual reminders of the 117-year-old building’s beginnings as the American National Bank.
Located just a mile south of Cattails Golf Course, SLVBC is owned by Scott and Angie Graber, who serve a versatile selection of six brews, ranging from the hoppy Grande River IPA to the creamy Ol’ 169 Oatmeal Stout, which honors the long-retired Denver & Rio Grande locomotive that once chugged through town.
Speaking of chugging, I found SLVBC’s Alamosa Amber smooth and easy to drink, with a balanced malt-to-hop ratio and a hazed crimson color. The unique creation is the Valle Caliente, a crisp, golden Mexican-style lager (think Corona) aged on Hatch Chile, a longtime staple of southern Colorado cuisine. It has the heady aroma of flame-roasted mild green chile, but not the spice, resulting in a most refreshing summer beer.
The Valle Caliente flavors the batter used on the Fish & Chips appetizer, and the Amber Ale laces the “secret recipe” Brewers Red Chili, which in turn finds its way into the Chili Cheese Red Potatoes and Chili con Queso. If mayonnaise-based appetizers hold a special place in your heart, the Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip is a delectable blend of spinach, artichokes and cheese, served with tortilla chips and pita bread.
Entrees include a succulent bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon and fall-off-the-bone Stout Braised St. Louis-style Barbecued Ribs. But the stars are the burgers, which come as half-pound hand-packed premium Angus beef patties, or you can opt for a veggie burger, or substitute Salazar local natural beef or bison from Zapata Ranch (not far from the Great Sand Dunes National Park and the former Great Sand Dunes Golf Course in Mosca). Of the half-dozen or so offerings, I recommend the Smokehouse BBQ Burger— the “Simply Honey” chipotle BBQ sauce delivers the perfect sweet-heat combination, with beer-battered onion wedges, pepper jack cheese and a finishing touch of cabbage slaw.
Also of note are the sausage entrees sourced from Gosar Sausages in Monte Vista, a sixth-generation sausage maker that uses naturally grown meat and organic spices with no fillers, MSG, nitrites or gluten. The Andouille Cajun Pork is sliced and served on wild rice with red and green peppers, onions and Southern au jus. It’s like Mardi Gras in your mouth. Gosar’s savory chorizo finds its way into the delectable Southwest Chorizo Salad, one of a number of hearty meals masquerading on the menu as light leafy fare. Other culprits include the Steak & Spinach and Salmon salads—both served with bleu cheese crumbles along with the veggies. The crispy Teriyaki Chicken Salad, however, arrived on a spring mix with mandarin orange, sesame seeds, pineapple, carrots, and walnuts, much to my heart’s delight.
The brewery has recently branched into fresh roasted coffee beans in the ROAST Cafe next door. If they ever expand into cot rentals, I’ll never leave.
531 Main St., Alamosa; 719-587-2337; slvbrewco.com