Winter is right around the corner, and it’s only a matter of time before the slopes open up for another season of intense skiing and snowboarding. Being a former snowboarder, back in the day, I always looked forward to the first snowfall of the year. Being a rather large mammal, I tend to embrace the cold more than most people since I tend to overheat easily. And being a former rider, it was always fun to get into debates over which towns and resorts were the best. For me, it was Breckenridge. I know, I know, say what you will. But for others, it could be Keystone, Copper Mountain, Winter Park, or even Vail.
If you picked Vail, then I’m sure you’re well aware of or at least heard of Vail Brewing Company. Located on a side access road of I-70, Vail Brewing Company is a little hard to get to if it’s your first time in the area. Just look for their big, white malt storage tank from the highway or access road, and you’ll know exactly where they’re at. I will admit, though, my girlfriend and I got a little turned around the first time we went and somehow managed to miss the big, white storage tank and bright red wooden building.
Vail Brewing Company is a very quaint little brewery, and is one of my favorites to go to up in the mountains. The place has a sort of rustic appearance with handmade wooden tap handles. If you didn’t already feel like you were in the middle of the Rocky Mountains before (I don’t know how), you certainly would as soon as you walked into the brewery. Having been to this brewery a couple times before I started contributing to RMBR, I was very eager and excited to go back and give them a proper review.
The taproom is one of the smallest I’ve seen, but still provides ample sitting area. With an L-shaped bar, a cozy little fireplace, and an outside patio that actually looks into the brewing operation (depending on where you sit), it boasts a very rustic, mountain setting that accents the unique Eagle-Vail area very well. The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable in their brews, and were very attentive to my glass once I emptied it. One of the best things about Vail Brewing Company is the quality of their brews they serve. So far, out of all the breweries I’ve been to in the mountains, these guys have always produced some of the best quality beer I’ve had.
- Style: American Wheat Ale (with fruit adjuncts)
- ABV: 5.8%
After falling in love with Epic Brewing Company’s Los Locos Lager, I was eager to try another lime based brew. But, I do have to say, at first sip, this beer didn’t really have that intense or even subtle lime aroma I was anticipating. You could definitely tell it was there, but to me, it was very well hidden within the brew. This, however, began to change as I drank deeper into my pint. While still being a somewhat light flavor, the lime started to come through, complimented somewhat by the wheat. Displaying a very nice cloudy, orangish/yellow color, it was one of the more unusual color characteristics I’ve seen. As the tasting went on, the more the beer started to open up, but not enough for me to really get a good judge of the flavor notes. The finish was on the dryer side, and medium in length with some bitterness from the hops creeping up. Overall, it was a very light and nice wheat.
- Style: Amber Ale
- ABV: 5.5%
Now this was a beautiful brew. Showcasing a roasted, almost honeycomb amber color with some subtle caramel, this was a brew worth presenting. After taking my first whiff, I was a little taken aback, and to some degree, felt like my credibility to give accurate taste notes was at stake. I just couldn’t detect any other aromas other than the strong notes of malt and hops, and it left me feeling confused. Figuring that maybe my allergies were acting up, or the fall breeze that was coming through the garage door was hindering my abilities, I decided to go for my first sip to see if I could taste any hidden flavors. Again, to my surprise, all I got on the palate was a lot of malt, and a lot of hops. Swirling, sniffing, and sipping; swirling, sniffing, and sipping, and repeating the process several times, I just couldn’t get any other flavors or aromas. I admitted defeat and reiterated my results to my girlfriend as only being malt and hops. Thankfully, the beertender behind the bar overheard my frustrated report and acknowledged that the brewer added extra malts and hops to the recipe and, was in fact, a malty and hoppy beer. My feelings of frustration lifted, and I was able to enjoy the rest of brew knowing that I wasn’t crazy, after all.
- Style: Session IPA
- ABV: 5.0%
Talk about one of the most drinkable IPAs I’ve ever had! So much so, even my girlfriend was enjoying it and she can’t stand the intense bitterness most IPAs have (Side note: Vail Brewing Company also has a Mountain Buzz Coffee IPA that is out of this world and was her favorite, if that says anything about the drinkability of some of their IPAs). Anyway, presenting itself with an elegant golden and amber color, this was a very beautiful looking brew, to say the least. On the nose, subtle sweetness and citrus creeped up my nostrils, and wasn’t overpowering in the least bit. I also received some very nice floral notes that helped accent how delicate of an IPA this is. Medium-to-full bodied with very nice carbonation, my taste buds welcomed the balance between the sweet and citrus with a bit of an orange peel zest. The finish was dry and on the longer side – the bitterness stayed towards the back of my palate – and it didn’t overpower my senses like IPA’s tend to do. This was easily my favorite brew from the day.
Whether you’re in town to take in the sights, or you just finished with a full day’s worth of runs on the slopes, Vail Brewing Company can provide you with the right beer to finish your day. While it may seem like a bit of a drive if you’re not too interested in winter, or even summer mountain activities, Vail Brewing Company is still a brewery that I recommend you venture out to try if you like good artisan beer. All of their beers are brewed in small batches, which, to me, is what makes this brewery very special. Because of their very humble and small operation, my girlfriend and I always make it a point to visit them whenever we’re in the area to try any new releases.What better way to celebrate a day of hitting the slopes?
- Address: 41290 U.S. 6 B-2 & B-3, Vail, CO 81657
- Phone: (970) 470-4351