Beers and pizza are already a pairing that go perfectly hand in hand, but when you take that pairing and grab a seat at Dolores River Brewery, the combination goes from perfect to downright magical.
It was our first time visiting the small town of about 1,000 people, and by the time we arrived at Dolores’ oldest operating brewery – a mere half hour after it opened – the bar was buzzing with patrons, regulars and tourists alike.
Open since 2002, Dolores River Brewery is a hodge podge of vibes and decor that all work in tandem. There’s a disco ball hanging from the ceiling; “Best of my Love” by The Emotions is crooning to customers; band posters stretch across the walls; a model train is tucked away above the bar; and there’s a poster of a woman lazily staring out over the bar with a foaming beer in hand.
There is an instant comfort from the welcoming scene and a sense of familiarity, despite it being our first time at the brewery. The staff are friendly and make no attempts to hide that they’re happy to see you. They’re full of recommendations and are more than willing to let you taste test the beers till you find your match.
We took a seat with a few tourists earnestly looking over a road map. On our other side was a pair of locals discussing the possibility of visiting Iceland.
Dolores River Brewery’s menu gives a holistic view of who they are as a business. Aside from listing their food and beer offerings – salads, sandwiches, pizza, and appetizers – they go into detail about the care they put into their cuisine.
The brewery has four regular craft beers on their menu: the Demeter Cream, Pale, ESB, and Snaggletooth. They make their brews with the idea that a beer can change the world and bring people together – “loosen tongues and open minds,” as their menu says. Luckily, we feel the same.
We went for the Demeter Cream and Snaggletooth (couldn’t pass up that name). The Demeter Cream is a dry ale, the lightest of the bunch, made in the traditional American cream ale style with a malty flavor. We could tell it would be a great pairing to the pizza we were ordering. The Snaggletooth is a hoppy beer with traces of fruitiness and toffee, and it was already down the hatch by the time we got our pizza.
Staff at the brewery spend each day preparing fresh ingredients, and cook the pizza in a small oven that was built on site. The menu states: “There are no conveyor belts, timers, knobs, whistles, or bells in our process, just the watchful eye, and the loving caress of our cooks who create from a lump of dough a masterpiece.” The menu promises the best pizza you’ve ever experienced, and we were instantly on board. We went with The Chevy, a delectable-looking mix of sun dried tomato pesto, bacon, garlic, fresh bocconcini, chevre, Parmesan, and topped with pesto.
Upon first glance and first bite, it was clear Dolores River Brewery takes great pride in their pizza. The Chevy was packed with flavor, and cooked to perfection. The crust was a delightful balance of crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The creamy sauces blended seamlessly with the crunchy bacon. It was, no lie, some of the best pizza we’d ever eaten, just as promised.
With that in mind, if you’re in the area or in the mood for a beautiful drive down US-160/CO-184, hop on the highway and make your way up to Dolores River Brewery. It’s a road trip you won’t regret.