Did you know there’s a difference between microbreweries and craft breweries? We didn’t either — until we did. Microbreweries brew less than 6,000 barrels annually, while craft breweries produce between 6,000 and 6 million barrels of beer every year. We don’t know what you would call a brewery that makes more than 6 million barrels a year, but we imagine you wouldn’t call it “good.” Zing!
Here in our little mountain hamlet, we are hashtag-blessed to be home to several Durango breweries, each as distinct as…uh…as the fingerprints you leave on the pint glass. (That was a stretch.) Anyway, in no particular order (except alphabetical), here are the breweries in Durango you should check out:
Animas Brewing Co. is Durango’s newest brewery. It opened its doors in December 2014, so it’s not even two years old, but it’s already a favorite among locals. In addition to taps that rotate a wide selection of its suds — browns, blacks, reds, IPAs, wits and kolsches — Animas Brewing serves food. As the brewery says itself, it dishes up “soon-to-be-famous pasties,” a traditional Cornish hand pie that is filled with a variety of savory stuffings and baked (sort of like the English version of a calzone).
Animas Brewing may be the newest Durango brewery, but BREW Pub & Kitchen is a close second. Long-time locals Erik and Lainie Maxson opened their brewery opened in March 2013. Rather than focus on the type of beer, BREW categorizes their small-batch brews by its standout ingredient: malt, hops, yeast and “session” to represent water. What’s on tap is always rotating because BREW makes each in small batches, so what’s available changes quickly. The BREW Pub also has “kitchen” in its name, and the kitchen dishes out deliciousness that includes Cubano sandwiches, bratwurst, beef medallions, nachos and buttermilk pretzel-battered fried chicken.
Since first opening Carver Brothers Bakery in 1983 in Winter Park, Colorado, the Carver Brothers have transformed from bakery to brewery. In 1988, the Carver family opened their brewery in Durango — the first in the Four Corners region since Prohibition ended — and closed down the Winter Park bakery. Today, Carver Brewing Co. is known for its flagship lager, amber ale, nut brown ale, pale ale and raspberry wheat ale but also brews a range of porters, stouts, IPAs and seasonals. The restaurant, led by executive chef Dave Cuntz, also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, so fill up before (or while) you enjoy a tasting flight, a pint or a pitcher! You can also buy a growler to take with you.
Durango Brewing Co. was founded in 1990, making it Colorado’s third-oldest microbrewery — and it’s less than a block from our hotel. The brewery opened its Tap Room in 2007, and recently reopened under new ownership after being closed for renovations for 10 months. The Tap Room is open daily from 11 to 11, and guests can sip or swig a range of brews. Although amber ale was Durango Brewing Co.’s first beer brewed in the fall of 1990, Durango Dark Lager put the brewery on the map. The brewery also offers a menu filled with fun food, including kabobs, pull-apart garlic bread and its “Pint O’ Bacon,” half a pound of bacon served in a pint glass. Other year-round brews include Derail Ail, Durango Amber Ale, Colorado Wheat, a pale ale and an IPA. Durango Brewing Co.’s beers can also be found at most Durango-area restaurants, bars and even on board the Durango & Silverton train.
Two beer-loving guys, Bill Graham and Dave Thibodeau, started Ska Brewing in 1995 in Durango. The brewery, which is 100 percent wind-powered, has been at its location in Bodo Industrial Park since 2008, where visitors will find a beer garden, live music and events like “Happy Hour Yoga.” Ska uses bottles but is also one of the few microbreweries to use cans. Ska makes more than a dozen brews but be sure to try out their flagship beers like Buster Nut Brown Ale, Modus Hoperandi IPA, True Blonde Ale, Pinstripe Red Ale and Steel Toe Stout. The Container of Food, built from repurposed shipping containers, is located at Ska Brewing and is sort like a permanent food truck that dishes up handcrafted brick-oven pizzas, sandwiches, salads, snacks, sweets and kids’ options. Every Thursday night during the summer, guests can enjoy live music and “Ska BQ” in the beer garden.
Steamworks Brewing Co. has been a favorite among locals and visitors alike, both as a gathering spot and a watering hole, since the Durango brewery first opened its doors in 1996. Located in downtown, the brewpub has plenty of beers to offer — with witty names like One Wit Wonder, Lizard Head Red, Backside Stout, Prescribed Burn and Third Eye P.A. — but Steamworks’ restaurant also has a vast menu that offers high-end gastropub fare and features locally sourced meats, Southwestern-style dishes and Mediterranean-inspired fare as well as staples like burgers and pizza.