Boulder, Colorado is one of America’s great beer cities. The mountain retreat is home to breweries, bars, and tap rooms with great beer flowing in every form. One of our favorites among them is Upslope Brewing Co., where master brewer Sam Scruby has been brewing up well-crafted beers for years now. His year-round line is a measured and beautifully delicious selection of beers that covers the stone-cold classics, from lagers to experimental IPAs. From there, Upslope has a rotating seasonal selection (think tasty Spruce Tip IPAs and Oatmeals Stouts), and the Lee Hill Series and Tap Room Series — very local beers that you’re going to have to get to Boulder to drink.
It’s a varied selection that’s dialed in, balanced, and features a smart flavor profile. All combined, this makes Upslope one of the best beer experiences you can have in Colorado.
When we wanted details on where to sip suds in Boulder, we knew we had to reach out to Sam for a tour of the local scene. Who better to show us where to drink and point us to awesome pizza to pair with our pints? The ten spots Scruby lists are all fantastic joints where you’ll drink unique beer, nosh some tasty eats, and make new beer friends out Colorado way.
Classic Brewery/Taproom Experience — MOUNTAIN SUN and SOUTHERN SUN
Mountain Sun and Southern Sun are of the last bastions of Boulder’s crunchy upbringing. Mountain Sun brings together a mix of locals and tourists with great burgers and classic beers.
My standby is the Junk Burger with a pint of FYIPA. Every Boulder local knows that you must make at least one pilgrimage during the month of February to celebrate Stout Month when their tap-list transforms into an almost exclusive line up of stouts. Pro tip: Bring cash, no credit cards accepted.
Experimental Brewery/Taproom — AVERY BREWING
While I was going to school at the University of Colorado, Avery Brewing was my first brewery tour after turning 21 and the experience transformed what I thought was possible to create with malt, water, hops, and yeast (and maybe a barrel, some sugar, and spices). Known for their high gravity, barrel-aged beers, it’s a can’t miss stop while on a beer journey in Boulder. The open catwalk over the brewing floor is completely unique from any other brewery I have visited. Grab a snifter of Tweak and go drool over their yeast propagation room.
Pro tip: Don’t actually drool over the railing, or drop your glass on the production floor.
Neighborhood Brewery/Taproom — WILD WOODS BREWERY
Every brewer knows the danger of hanging out at your own place for a post-shift pint, just to be re-engulfed into problem-solving mode on the brewery floor. Wild Woods Brewery, in proximity to Upslope, continues to lure me in as my go-to pint after work. The owners, Jake and Erin Evans, do a great job of wrapping natural inspiration into a wide array of beers like the Ponderosa Porter (my favorite), Berry Patch Wheat, and their seasonal Oktoberfest, which is phenomenal. It attracts a great after-work crowd while also having the feel of a neighborhood taproom.
Pro Tip: Jake and Erin hail from Wisconsin, so harass them about Old Fashioneds and the Wisconsin Badgers as you desire.
Brewpub for Food and Beer — BRU
From his humble beginnings brewing beer in his garage and extensive background as a chef, Ian Clarke has been able to create an elevated menu that perfectly pairs with his small-batch brews at BRU. The sourdough pizzas with IPA tomato sauce (trust me on this one) are the standouts on their diverse menu.
Pro Tip: Ian also runs the ice cream shop next door, Heifer and the Hen. Don’t skip dessert.
Beer Bar (that’s not a brewery) — BACKCOUNTRY PIZZA & TAP HOUSE
Whether you’re trying to tick off a rarity, looking for an obscure Swiss sour, or you just need a fresh Pivo Pils, Backcountry Pizza & Tap House is hands down the best beer bar in Boulder. Their team is hyper-focused on keeping their draft beers fresh and rotating, and are happy to offer many of their beers in 5 oz or 10 oz pours for maximum beer grazing. If you love exploring beer, Backcountry Pizza will have something you have never tasted (or likely heard of).
Pro Tip: They offer individual slices of pizza and make a great beer cheese soup, it’s a perfect stop for an afternoon snack and pint.
Dive Bar for Beer — OUTBACK SALOON
No blooming onions here, but plenty of items from 1983 tacked to the wall. Outback Saloon has a relatively large tap-list and the hottest spot for karaoke on the weekends. Grab a local IPA or a Coors Banquet, some dubious free popcorn, and go sing on stage. What happens at the Outback, usually… stays at the Outback.
Pro Tip: sign up for karaoke early in the night. If you wait for the courage to kick in, you won’t get a chance to sing before last call.
Hotel Bar for Beer — CORNER BAR AT HOTEL BOULDERADO
The Hotel Boulderado has a great historical upbringing and its Corner Bar has a great “old west” saloon feel. There is a good mix of classics from Boulder Beer plus a couple of rotating taps. This place provides a great starting point for a night on the town.
Pro Tip: the Corner Bar is connected to the Boulderado, don’t miss a chance to drink directly from the spring water drinking fountain in the lobby.
(Fancy) Restaurant for Beer — THE KITCHEN
Once in a while, a brewer must save up and go out for a big, fancy meal and The Kitchen has never let me down. This place has the highest quality farm-to-table dishes with a curated beer list. If you’re in Boulder seeking a great meal paired with a phenomenal beer, The Kitchen is a can’t miss.
Pro Tip: Order steak.
Place To Eat Pizza and Drink Beer — AUDREY JANE’S PIZZA GARAGE
View this post on Instagram
Launching the first of our new menu items today, our Sesame Grandma style crust! It’s called the Patty style after my mamma who used to make it for me when I was little and is the fist #pizza I truely fell in #love with. Limited number per day so get it while it lasts! #sogood #getinmybelly #grandmastyle #pizzagirl
I already touched on two great spots for pizza and beer (BRU, Backcountry Pizza), so I would recommend grabbing Pizza at Audrey Jane’s Pizza Garage and heading up to Chautauqua Park or Ebin G. Fine Park to enjoy the fantastic scenery we have here in Boulder. I can’t advocate for breaking the law, so I’ll leave the decision to drink a beer in public up to you.
Pro Tip: If you’re feeling adventurous, Audrey Jane’s offers “grandma style” pizza crust with sesame seeds baked on the bottom of the crust. It’s fantastically crunchy.
Brewery/Taproom Run By A Friend — VISION QUEST BREWING
View this post on Instagram
#space #jam is back on tap! We also have some strong ales on tap that we're clearing out in preparation for #Octoberfest! (Laws III, Chum, etc) Come check out Starwater Wednesday or Thursday Stand-up comedy open mics this week! @rastalglasses Spacey Harmony tumblers are $9 until we run out!!! ✌️
I’ve known Greg and Adam since college — when we were all homebrewing beer in our kitchens and have thoroughly enjoyed their DIY attitude to starting a brewery. They’ve bailed me out of many “Oh Sh**, I forgot to order…. ” moments. Vision Quest Brewing has a funky, psychedelic taproom attached to a homebrew shop is the perfect setting to enjoy beers that can be equally outlandish in design. They thrive on pushing the envelope with single batch beers. Their Coconut IPA is worth seeking out when you’re in town.
Pro Tip: Around Thanksgiving time, Adam brews “Plymouth Stuffing,” the liquid version of a standard Thanksgiving side. Yes, it is that weird. I highly recommend a taste.