Behind the Scenes at Breckenridge Brewing Co., Denver, Colorado

Behind the Scenes

Your ticket into the secret world of boozemaking.

[Photograph: Lee Williams]

The Breckenridge Brewery story begins in 1990, when homebrewer Richard Squire opened the third (!) craft brewery in Colorado in the popular ski town of Breckenridge. The beers the small brewery served to locals and skiers were an immediate hit and in 1992 Breckenridge expanded into the Denver market, opening a bottling facility in a then-neglected part of downtown. A few years later, Coors Field baseball stadium was built on an adjacent lot, and the neighborhood's fortunes began to change for the better.

In 1995, Breckenridge moved the brewing, kegging, and bottling of its beer to Kalamath Street, south of downtown. The original Denver location still exists today as Breckenridge Ball Park Brew Pub. It remains a popular place to grab a beer and bite to eat, but no brewing takes place at Ball Park Brew Pub today.

The most popular beer Breckenridge makes is an amber ale, Avalanche. And while that beer is certainly a solid example of the style, many more exciting Breckenridge beers await the palates of adventurous beer geeks.

The standout of the the brewery's year round offerings is the super-drinkable Oatmeal Stout, a beer with rich notes of fresh black coffee and bitter baker's chocolate. It has a thick body and robust flavors, even though it's less than 5 percent ABV. Pandora's Bock, a January to March seasonal, is well worth trying if you're in the mood for a strong dark lager with sweeter toffee treacle, hazelnut and caramel overtones. 471 Small Batch Double IPA is released sporadically throughout the year, and has a potent and pithy aroma, with strong fresh orange peel, apricot jam, and mild fresh cut grass notes. Flavors of marmalade, kumquat, and preserved lemon complement the beer's sweet biscuit base. In February 2012, Breckenridge released the new Well Built ESB, a collaborative effort with the nearby Stranahan's Whiskey Distillery.

Tours take place every Saturday on the hour at 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Parties of 10 or more people should email ahead of time. The tasting room, open Monday-Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., is expansive, with plenty of seating and serves a full menu of excellent in-house smoked BBQ. Growlers and bottled beers are available to go.

Can't make it to the brewery? Check out what's going on behind the scenes at Breckenridge in the slideshow above.

Breckenridge Brewing Co.

471 Kalamath Street, Denver, CO 80204 (map) 303-573-0431;

About the Author: Lee Williams grew up in Bristol, England and now resides in Denver, Colorado. In 2009 he founded Hoptopia, a beer review website, iPhone and Android app. He is currently penning his first book, titled Beer Lover's Colorado; due for publication in October. You can follow him on Facebook or on Twitter at @Hoptopia.

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