Without much fanfare – understandable in our virus-gripped times — a new brewery has opened on the north side of Durango.
Durango Beer and Ice Co. is located at 3000 Main Ave. — the water tower-bedecked location most recently occupied by Chainless Brewing, and the home of Durango Brewing Co. before that. It appears that it’s also known as High Trestle Brewing (at least that’s what’s on the taps, menu, and liquor license).
The brewery’s name seems to be an homage to both local history and the history of that particular spot. The past is murky, but depending on who you ask, either Durango Beer and Ice Co. became the original, pre-Prohibition Durango Brewing Co., or vice versa, right around the turn of the 20th century. (It may also have been the Smelter City Brewing around that time.)
It doesn’t seem like the new brewery is related to the more recent Durango Brewing Co., which closed up the last of its Durango operations, fired everyone, and moved everything to La Junta in August 2018. You can still find Durango Brewing Co. beers in liquor stores, but that’s about it. Even the La Junta operation’s taproom at Dean & Co. Brewery closed in October 2019.
But enough dwelling on the past — are the new brewery’s beers any good?
On our first visit to the brewery, we tried three beers.
The first, “Eternal Bliss,” immediately caught our eye thanks to its ingredients. The beer is a light lager, think cucumber, basil, and a hint of juniper berry. Whether you like it or not will depend entirely on your personal relationship with basil. The cucumber and juniper — as well as the lager-iness of the beer — are all there, but by far, the most dominant flavor is the basil. We loved it.
About halfway through the pint, we started eating french fries, (we ordered the house burger with our beers — it was good, especially the spicy aioli, and the fries were cooked just to the edge of golden) and that’s when we discovered how well the salty potato chunks complimented the basil lager. Next time we go, we plan to combine the Eternal Bliss with the brewery’s garlic parmesan fries, as that sounds, well...blissful.
For our second beer, we ordered the “DBI Dreamsicle.” The menu describes it as smooth golden ale with creamsicle notes, and they’re not kidding. It tastes very much like the frozen treat, with a creaminess to it (but just slightly...it doesn’t have the heaviness of, say, a milkshake IPA, and it’s not quite opaque) and just a bit of citrus to it. It immediately evokes nostalgia for midsummer childhood afternoons but in the form of a beer. We imagine it would be great as a light dessert beer, or as something to drink in to-go form while floating in a body of water like a pool or the river.
Finally, we went for the “Pie Car Blueberry Ale,” another golden ale, but this time brewed with wheat malts and the essence of blueberry. Based on the name, you might think that this one would be sweet (Dreamsicle certainly was), but you’d be wrong. The blueberry definitely adds a fruitiness to it, but not in a sugary way. And the beer itself, with its wheaty tones, lends a quality that makes the name quite apropos. It does taste a bit like a pie, crust and all, but not to the extent that it’d make a great dessert. We can imagine drinking it while eating a bowl of chili.
If you can’t tell, we liked all three beers (though Eternal Bliss was our favorite) and we’re headed back in the near future. So far, we’ve only tried a handful of DBI’s lighter beers with unconventional flavors. Next, we need to try their IPAs (such as the “Taste Lift Hazy IPA”) and their dark beers (including the “Cascade Creek Coffee Stout,” which is described as a nitro stout with notes of chocolate and caramel with coffee roasted at 81031 coffee house).