“Across the troubled maelstrom of time, people always need a beer,” wrote fantasy novelist Ellen Kushner.
You’re damn right they do. Beer can make a dumpster fire life taste less calamitous. Beer can provide a gold star to a C-minus potluck. Beer can be a community builder, artisan creation, and a way to vacay around your corner of the universe.
The Western Slope is fulla beer masters busting out suds worth your mouth-time. Here’s your guide to breweries in Southwestern Colorado.
DURANGOAnimas Brewing Co.1560 East Second Ave., 403-8850, <URL destination="www.animasbrewing.com%0D">www.animasbrewing.comHappy hour: none
Why aren’t you sitting on the patio at the Animas Brewing Co.? You could be a sashay away from the river with a Boxcar Red Ale in hand, or a Class VI IPA if you’re feelin’ hoppy. ABC’s industrial rustic interior is smaller, but they have long tables good for big groups. What you want to do is have their handmade pasties, which come in savory and dessert flavors, and holy crow, the Peaches and Cream one is to freakin’ die for.
BREW Pub & Kitchen117 W. College Drive, 259-5959, brewpubkitchen.com
Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m., Monday-FridayBREWtine Fries, YES, PLEASE! Who wouldn’t want potato sticks smothered in gravy (with a vegetarian option handy). But you can’t go wrong with BREW’s seasonally-shifting gastropub menu featuring ethically-sourced ingredients. It’s all phenomenal. Ditto that for their small-batch, craft beers. Whether you’re just getting off the D&SNG train or just want a gorgeous view of the General Palmer Hotel against twilight mountains, hit up BREW.
Bonus: They have fried pickles. Fried pickles!
Carver Brewing Co. 1022 Main Ave., 259-2545, carverbrewing.com
Happy hour: 3-6 p.m., dailyCarver’s is known for having some of the best dang burgers in Durango, which ain’t surprising considering their executive chef has been on the Food Network. Wash a Rodeo Burger down with a flagship brew like the Lightner Creek Lager, a 2016 Great American Beer Fest silver medal winner. Save room for one of their many seasonal styles. You might even be drinking a beer that the Wall Street Journal featured.
Durango Brewing Co. 3000 Main Ave., 247-3396, www.durangobrewing.com
Happy hour: 2-5 p.m., dailyEnter ye into a cozy brewery sporting 12 taps and an interior that shouts out to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Comfort food, like the Brewers Burger (stacked with a tower of beer-battered onion rings), is served at a U-shaped bar and indoor (and patio, when it’s warm) tables. Their Durango Dark Lager has won medals at the Great American Beer Festival, the Colorado State Fair Foamfest, and the World Beer Cup.
Ska Brewing Co. 225 Girard St., 247-5792, skabrewing.com
Happy hour: None. Instead, they have reoccurring daily specialsSka’s tall ceilings, 2-tone music, and comic book wall art make you feel (a) cooler and (b) like you’re in a movie. Sit down at the bar and you’re gonna bump into rockers, tourists, and regulars, all of ’em nice. While yer munchin’ on fresh, local food from the Container Restaurant, you better have a hella famous Modus Hoperandi IPA or the award-winning Mexican Logger. In fact, Ska has won so many awards, like the 2017 Best Brewery in the Rockies, that we’ve lost track.
Steamworks Brewing Co. 801 East Second Ave., 259-9200, steamworksbrewing.com
Happy hour: None. Instead, they have reoccurring daily specialsIf you got a big ol’ group, Steamworks is a spacious, bustling brewery to bounce to. OMG, you want the Blue Cheese Kettle Chips, or if you’re mega hungry, their famous Cajun Boil. The seafood is sourced sustainably and meat raised regionally. And dang, son, Steamworks has won 14 Great American Beer Fest awards, four Beer Cup awards, and a plethora of other prizes. Overwhelmed by their lengthy choice? Try their hella popular, award-winning Steam Engine Lager or Backside Stout.
BAYFIELDBottom Shelf Brewery118 E. Mill St., Bayfield, (970) 884-2442, www.facebook.com/BSBBrewery
Happy hour: 3-6 p.m., Monday-FridayThe makings of a good night: beer-battered fish and chips on Bottom Shelf’s patio while sipping a Broken Bridge IPA. If you happen to be there on trivia night, even better. Good if you want a humble, happening spot where the game’s always on and the beer’s made local.
CORTEZJ. Fargo’s Family Dining and Micro Brewery1209 E. Main St., Cortez, (970) 564-0242, http://jfargos.com
Happy hour: 3-6 p.m., dailyCasual family dining meets micro brew beer at J. Fargo’s. If you’re feeling indecisive, you can try a flight of four in-house beers for $3.75. You gotta watch the time on this joint – even the extended summer hours are only till 10 p.m. Hit up a Wednesday night though and you can get $1.50 micro brews from 4 p.m. till close. Boo and yah.
Main Street Brewery and Restaurant21 E. Main St., Cortez, (970) 564-9112, www.mainstreetbrewerycortez.com
Happy hour: NoneWhere do you go for prime rib in Cortez? Main Street Brewery. Then you tip back a Honey Raspberry Wheat Beer and look at the oddball Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-naked-lady-meets-oceanic-adventure mural above the bar. Plentiful booth seating makes a cozy dining experience in a space that feels more restaurant than brew pub.
WildEdge Brewing Collective111 N. Market St., Cortez, (970) 565-9445, www.wildedgebrewing.com
Happy hour: NoneWildEdge opened in 2017 and is already taking Cortez by storm. They strive to use seasonal, local ingredients on a small menu that ranges from savory pies to stupidly-good, in-house-made soft pretzels. If you’re sipping on a WildMaker Coffee Stout or one of their ever-rotating, delicious IPAs and look around for a TV, you won’t find one. This joint is all about talking to whoever’s around you, and they’ll always be friendly.
DOLORES Dolores River Brewery100 Fourth St., Dolores, (970) 882-4677, http://doloresriverbrewery.com
Happy hour: NoneIn Dolores, DRB is the music scene. And heck yeah, there’s wood-fired pizzas and calzones to go with the live music in this quirky, rustic, locals’ bar. If you don’t save room for their handcrafted desserts, you better make room for a Snaggletooth IPA on their spacious patio.
MANCOSMancos Brewing Co.484 E. Frontage Rd., Mancos, (970) 533-9761, www.mancosbrewingcompany.com
Happy hour: NonePhrasing themselves as a “nano brewery,” Mancos Brewing Co. hosts live music in a small but friendly setting. Even if seating can be hard to grab, the big sky views are epic and the beer damn tasty. The Pagan Porter was a chocolatey favorite of ours, second favorite went to the Dizzy Blonde Ale. It’s better to go for the beer, not food, because though MBC has munchies, it’s a small menu of three to eight items.
SILVERTONAvalanche Brewing Co.1067 Notorious Blair St., Silverton, (970) 387-5282, www.avalanchebrewing.com
Happy hour: NoneLocated in what once was Silverton’s red light district, Avalanche Brewing Co. is fulla colorful character, starting with its bright blue exterior. They’ve won the Taste of Silverton four years in a row and Best of Fest at the 2016 Blues and Brews of Telluride. They’re off the main drag, ridiculously friendly, and you’re not going to want just one beer to go with your artisan-crafted pizza. (Like the Thai Pie or the Mojo Pork Pie, so frikkin good.)
Golden Block Brewery1227 Greene St., Silverton, (970) 387-5962, http://goldenblockbrewery.com
Happy hour: 4-6 p.m., daily, on PBR onlyFounded in 2014, Golden Block is killin’ it, already. Their Whoop Arse Scottish Ale swigs down easier than’s good for us. Then again, so does the Blind Lode IPA. The only way to cook in the joint is through their brick oven and the paninis and pizzas are slap-your-mama good. They gotta silver, tin ceiling, shining, old-time ambiance and a small stage kickin’ out the jams.
PAGOSA SPRINGSPagosa Brewing Co. and Grill118 N. Pagosa Blvd., (970) 731-2739, https://twitter.com/pagosabrewingco
Happy hour: 3-6 p.m., Monday-FridayYou feel like you’re walking into a retro, wood lodge, stepping into Pagosa Brewing Co., which is rad. There’s a big ol’ beer garden where you can play cornhole and, if you’re up to the challenge, the taste flight is basically an entire server’s tray fulla beer.
Riff Raff Brewing Co.274 Pagosa St., Pagosa Springs, (970) 264-4677, http://riffraffbrewing.com
Happy hour: 3-6 p.m., dailyYou want music in Pagosa? You go to Riff Raff. You want a damn fine IPA? Sip on the Hopgoblin. Try their flagship El Duende Green Chili Ale and it’s the exact southwestern flavor profile you want outta a Four Corners vacay. Not to mention, they’re continuously winning All Colorado Beer Fest awards. You’re literally gonna be drinkin’ in a cozy pub made outta an old time Victorian house whose brewery runs on spring-fed geothermal energy – meaning: this place is effing awesome.
Wolfe Brewing Co.2045 Eagle Dr., Pagosa Springs, (970) 731-9653, www.wolfebrewingco.com
Happy hour: 3-6 p.m., dailyThe vast beer garden fulla patio tables and big mountain views is where you want to be at Wolfe Brewing. Swallow those views whole, along with a Yippee-ki-yay IPA or a Taxi Dog Red Amber Ale. Wolfe is a grab-friends-watch-the-game kinda bar with plenty of wings to go splitsies on. If the game ain’t on, live music is.