Estes Park has been, and always will be, known as a tourist town. While I have no doubt that it attracts people from all around the world, it will always be an escape from the chaos of the front range for me. I know I’m not alone in this, since every time I visit overhear a conversation of someone from Denver who just came up for a couple days to escape. Because of this local retreat reputation that has been built around the town, it was shocking to me to find out that until just a year or two ago there was only one brewery in town to choose from. Not to name names or lob insults but the only game in town until a couple years ago was… really bad. Things are changing in Estes though. Now there are several new breweries like Lumpy Ridge Brewing Co. in Estes Park, Colorado.
For quite some time now my family has been using Estes as a holiday retreat, but it wasn’t until this year’s visit that I found one of my favorite new mountain breweries Lumpy Ridge. Located slightly off the beaten trail, just south of town, in the old shell of what used to be a gas station you’ll find Lumpy Ridge Brewing. It was holiday season and it was still a bit frosty from the snow that had fallen the night before, but that wasn’t going to stop me from going and enjoying craft beer. After finding a parking spot nearby we walked in and were first greeted by Thurman the resident brewery hound and namesake for one of their Flagship beers. Stephanie behind the counter greeted us with words rather than sniffs and welcomed us to take a seat at their dinky three-stool bar. The walls were tastefully adorned by some rather eclectic art pieces that Stephanie explain were crafted by the co-owner of the brewery, Wayde. She went on to explain that Wayde is also responsible for the artwork on all of their bombers as well. The brewery itself is named after the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead that starts just up the road from their quaint little gas station brewery. Lumpy Ridge is also a relatively new brewery, having only opened its doors two years ago. Regardless of the when and the hows, I was just excited to see another brewery opening up for me to partake in next time I visit Estes Park. Now I know I probably should have gone for there flagship beers but the exciting seasonal and small-batch brews they had on tap were too good-looking to pass up. I started off with their extraordinarily punny-named Biggie Small Batch.
- Style: East Coast Inspired Pale Ale
- ABV: 7.2%
Stephanie presented me with a beautiful pour of this light effervescent brew. When I first got my beer there was quite the robust head on it and a pale yellow hue that graced the top as well. The initial smells that came off of Biggie SmallBatch were sweet and citrusy with a mild odor hops that blended into a well-balanced aroma. The beer itself was relatively opaque and gave off a beautiful yellow glow. On initial inspection, it looked very analogous to many New England-style IPAs that I’ve enjoyed in the past. I took a big swig. Citrus notes seem to be the highlight of the initial flavor and the bold taste of Cascade, Columbus, and Simcoe hops make for a heavenly zing at the finish. A unique aspect of Biggie SmallBatch was the after-flavor that it left. The flavor was extremely malty for a beer that is so heavy on hops but made for a delightful juxtaposition against the citrus notes. As I slowly sipped down to the bottom, I swear I started to detect hints of pineapple, but I might just be crazy.
Sgt. PepperCorns Pale
- Style: Dry-Hopped Pale
- ABV: 6%
An equally punny-named beer Sgt. PepperCorns Pale was my choice for my second brew. When I was presented with this beer, the very first thing that I noticed was it dark Rich color and ample frothy head. Not only was the head on this brew robust but it also was immaculately White. The initial aroma of Sgt. PepperCorns was very light and I had to really dig my nose in before I detected a sort of sweet floral smell coming from the beer. What makes this beer unique are the green peppercorns that are used in its brewing process (the name makes sense now huh). Knowing that there was some pepper in this beer I started off with a smaller sip than I usually would. Due in part to the size of my sip, on my initial sampling I didn’t detect any of the aforementioned peppercorns; however, when I took a larger sip I quite easily picked up on the peppercorn flavor from the process. Although light, the peppercorn taste was a wonderful spicy enhancement to the overall pallet of the beer. The floral notes that I detected in its aroma were also present. It made for a unique but well-balanced flavor that hits hard when you take a large swig. As far as aftertaste goes through with Sgt. PepperCorns, the pepper spice vanishes quickly and you’re left with the flavor of a pretty standard lightly hopped pale.
Nugget Pale Ale
- Style: Pale Ale
- ABV: 7.1%
I finished off with another hoppy option, the Nugget Pale Ale. Hopped during the flame out and fresh-hopped with Nugget hops, this pale makes me use the word “hop” four times in a sentence (my kind of beer). My pour of nugget Pale Ale was citrusy light and had a formidable fuzzy head. Fresh hops made for a remarkably light and floral bouquet. There was a little bit of tartness to the aroma and an underlying wheat smell as well. This is a beer that doesn’t play coy, it’s smells were spot on in representing its flavor. The Nugget hops made for a tart but easily drinkable pale ale with a very strong and unique mouth-feel. The mouth-feel was a huge highlight of this brew, and the zinginess of the hops left me with a delightful flavor that is so inherently fresh. There was something in the aftertaste of this one that came off as being just a little bitter. I couldn’t put my finger on what was causing it but it wasn’t my favorite after-flavor. This was quickly remedied by taking another sip.
While I didn’t sample any of lumpy ridges Flagship Brews I did grab myself a couple bombers to try later. I figured I was justified in trying the beers that I can’t get in bombers while I was there, and taking the bombers home for later. What I can say of the three beers that I did try is that lumpy Ridge has some amazing beers for being a very nascent brewery in the region. I am genuinely excited to try more of their beers in the future and plan on making Lumpy Ridge a staple visit every time I’m in Estes Park. If you find yourself visiting Estes Park and are hankering for a craft brew I’d recommend checking out lumpy Ridge it’s worlds better than the towns namesake brewery. Plus the quaint lakeside setting of the old gas station would make for some remarkable summer evenings. Keep lumpy Lumpy Ridge, I’ll be seeing you again in a few months!
- Address: 531 Saint Vrain Ave, Estes Park, CO
- Phone: (812) 201 3836