Fort Collins may be the craft beer capital of Colorado, but Colorado is famous across the country as a craft beer center. No matter what city you visit, no matter how big or small, you’re sure to find a local spot to fall in love with.
To make your search a little easier, we narrowed down our go-to craft beer cities in the state and then picked out the best beers in each one. Whether you’re visiting Colorado, planning a statewide crawl, or you’re looking for something new to try in your hometown, be sure to taste a few of our favorites. Cheers!
Photo courtesy of Funkwerks
Funkwerks is near and dear to most FoCo locals — and their Saison is basically famous. Out of 100 beers on the list and thousands across Colorado, the Funkwerks brew ranks 53rd on Beer Advocate’s list of the best in the state. And it won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2011 and 2012! The flagship ale began in Brewmaster Gordon Schuck’s backyard and won a gold medal at the National Homebrew Competition. The rest is history.
No FoCo beer list would be complete without one of the craft beer giants and this time, we have to applaud Odell’s Myrcenary. On the beer advocate list, it comes in at number 11, but our taste buds bump it up to the top ten. Named for Myrcene, a component of essential oils in the hop flower, Myrcenary has a tropical fruit flavor, a pungent floral aroma and a hoppy finish.
Photos courtesy of Gilded Goat Brewing and Mark Darrough
Gilded Goat is Fort Collins’ newest craft brewery and it’s slowly but surely making its way into the hearts of beer-loving locals. The standout on opening weekend was the Petrichor IPA, a more drinkable, less bitter brew when compared to other traditional IPAs. You’ll also taste notes of ripe grapefruit and orange!
Brewer Ben Peterson said of the beer, “Charlie and I talked about how there a lot of IPAs out there that are super sticky and piney and resinous, and with too much hop and bitterness to them. So with this beer we really tried to have a hefty malt backbone to counteract those bitter notes you get from the hops.”
Photo courtesy of Verboten Brewing
According to NoCo locals and visitors alike, Verboten is one of the must-try breweries in all of Colorado. Their name is inspired by the German Purity Law for beer, the Reinheitsgebot, which stated beers could only be made with three ingredients: barley, water and hops. And their beer list fights that law with every new, innovative brew.
Killer Boots is a flavorful standout — a caramel porter infused with housemade caramel at the end of the fermentation process. Don’t miss out on other favorites like the Run By Fruiting Milkshake Kettle Sour brewed with cardamom and passionfruit or the Blood Guardian, a Blood Orange Silent Guardian Imperial IPA.
Photo courtesy of Crabtree Brewing Company and Scott Smith
Crabtree is definitely a go-to brewery, whether you’re driving through or just walking down the street from your Greeley home! They’ve been brewing and growing in the city since 2006 and we can’t get enough of their family environment, outdoor patio or Dearfield Ale!
The classic blonde ale is inspired by Colorado ghost town history and finishes with a deep strawberry taste, thanks to real strawberries in the recipe! Learn more about the namesake, Dearfield, CO, from KUNC, and stop in to taste a bit of history.
West Bound and Down is one of the newest craft breweries on the Colorado scene and they’re already making a name for themselves. Their stainless steel brew system is 100% American made; the beers are non-filtered; the water is 100% pure Clear Creek County, Colorado snowmelt and rain runoff, and their facility is wind-powered!
The Colorado Pale Ale is a classic brew. An American IPA with a bright citrus aroma from dry hopping with Cascade, Simcoe, Centennial and Citra hops. Then the taste is balanced with formidable malt flavor from Maris Otter malt.
Photos courtesy of Finkel & Garf
Finkel & Garf is a collaboration of father-son team, Eric and Dan Garfinkel. They believe beer shouldn’t be the center of attention, but rather a facilitator of unforgettable moments. So they create approachable brews and serve them with a side of community environment, snacks and tabletop games!
The Rye Saison is spicy, tart and crisp and is the perfect beer to sip on a sunny Boulder afternoon.
Photo courtesy of Wild Woods Brewery
Wild Woods is one of the most well-known of the small craft breweries throughout Boulder. Owners Jake and Erin Evans are inspired by nature — and so are their beers! Fittingly, the brewery concept was born around a campfire in Crested Butte and the recipes began on an all-grain professional brewing system in their basement.
The Wildflower Pale Ale is inspired by spring in Colorado and the wildflowers that fill our front range. It’s a soft, floral, dry hopped pale ale brewed with citrusy Cascade hops, floral Tettnang hops, and whole dried jasmine flowers.
Photos courtesy of Holidaily Brewery
Holidaily is the only commercial scale, dedicated gluten-free brewing facility in Colorado. In the tasting room, everyone can sip a delicious cold brew without worrying about cross-contamination. Owner Karen Hertz is a survivor of melanoma and thyroid cancer which eventually led to a treatment plan including a gluten-free diet. Always a craft beer enthusiast, this took many tasting and brewery experiences away from her — so she built one for herself and anyone else interested in gluten-free brews!
The Favorite Blonde Ale was inspired by her grandpa, a small town optometrist who called Karen his “Favorite Blonde”. The classic blonde ale has a subtle hop character and mellow malt flavor.
Photo courtesy of Black Shirt Brewing and Todd Williams
Black Shirt Brewing has been brewing in Colorado since 1999, but just opened their Denver doors in 2012. Though they didn’t have brewing experience beforehand, the team read every book they could get their hands on, studied every article and got to work. They’ve been collecting awards ever since.
The Red Evelyn is an Imperial Red Rye IPA with a story that might just make you tear up. Evelyn Miller was the grandmother of owners Chad and Branden Miller, the rock of their small community in Westcliffe, CO. Read the full story from 5280 and stop by in August for the release party — a celebration of beer and the sweet, firecracker who inspired it.
Crooked Stave is an all-sour brewery, and is the perfect place to go if you think you don’t like sours. Because, trust us, you do. A whopping 17 of their brews made it on Beer Advocate’s list of the best beers in Colorado! Their unconventional approach to brewing blends science, art, creativity and passion and results in progressive beverages you won’t soon forget.
The best beer recommendation will depend on your taste for sours and your Crooked Stave beertender will be the expert on that. But our go-to is Blueberry Origins. The taste starts quite sour upfront, has a strong blueberry flavor and finishes dry.
Photo courtesy of Briar Common Beer
Brothers Kent and Greg Dawson grew up in Portland, Oregon where the wild berry vines grew in abundance. Combine that with their love of craft beer and Kent’s first batch of homebrew in 1993, and you get Briar Common Beer.
Lanham is a Belgian Dubbel you’ll be suggesting to all your friends as soon as you taste it. The beer is dark amber in color with prune, blackberry and floral aromas. The complexities combine perfectly to create a unified, innovative but classic Dubbel.
Dry Dock is an Aurora speakeasy that just hasn’t stopped growing. When they opened in the back of a homebrew supply shop in 2005, they were the city’s first. Today they’re recognized all over the country.
The Apricot Blonde is possibly the most recognizable and one of most awarded. It has won five medals at the Colorado State Fair, a silver at the World Beer Cup, and a gold and bronze at Great American Beer Festival. First brewed in 2006 on a 7 barrel brewhouse, the fruity blonde ale has become on of their most beloved recipes — and it’s made with actual apricot puree!
Photo courtesy of Storybook Brewing and Sam Kilman
Over 15 years ago, owner Pete got his first home brew equipment from his wife and he cooked up his first beer, a Doppelbock. After watching him brew every weekend for years, his wife and daughter convinced him to open a brewery. And Storybook was born!
Every beer is inspired by classic recipes — from Little Red’s Rockin Ale, an approachable American Red Ale, to our favorite, The Last Straw-Berry Honey Wheat. Originally developed as an anniversary gift, the honey wheat became a mainstay and has been brewed every year for the last 12 years. It’s a classic Bavarian Wheat brewed with local, unfiltered honey and strawberries!
Photo courtesy of Carver Brewing Company and Scott Smith
Carver Brothers Bakery first opened on June 1, 1983 in Winter Park, Colorado. After moving to Durango in 1986, Carvers opened the brewery in 1988 and became the first brewery in the four corners region since Prohibition. As such, they’ve developed quite the following in Durango — and the delicious, classic beer recipes certainly helped convince us.
The Colorado Trail Nut Brown Ale is one of their flagship beers. A malty brown ale with balanced hop bitterness, it rivals those made across the pond in traditional English pubs. Grab a pint for yourself and it’ll quickly become one of your favorites!
We know we only scratched the surface when it comes to all the amazing libations created in our great state. Share your favorite local craft brews with us in the comments below!