On a recent weekday afternoon, I sat in the heart of Ouray admiring the blue, white, red and yellow colors of the Colorado Flag that was printed on one side of a pint glass, full cold red ale, and was reminded of what a great state us Coloradans are lucky to live in.
Travel to all four corners of the state and everything in between and undoubtedly there will be something adventurous and fun to tell your friends about. Similarly, you can travel to any part of Colorado and you are likely to find memorable craft beer. Colorado is state of beer bliss and the brews poured at the Ouray Brewing Co. don’t fall short of that characterization.
Before you get your face into a pint, the first decision you have to make upon entering the main street brewery is if you want to take a seat on one of the few swings surrounding the main floor bar or if you’d like to take it to the rooftop patio and take in Ouray’s scenery from, perhaps, the best seat on main street?
The Ouray Brewing Co. has four of what it calls its “core” brews. The Box Canyon Brown, is slow fermented with a variety of roasted and chocolate malts, brings a complex nutty flavor with a hop aroma.
Brewed with American Ale Yeast and local hops from Misty Mountain Hop Farm in Olathe, Colo., the Backcountry IPA brings a hint of malt with strong citrus hop flavors. Got time for a few session-type beers or you are just in the mood for something light? The Camp Bird Blonde is made with pilsner and pale malts bringing flavor without overburdening it. It won the Judges Award for best light/summer beer at the 2012 San Juan Brewfest in Durango, Colo.
Finally, the 550 Red Ale, named after the state highway that summits adjacent Red Mountain Pass, is an American Style ale that brings plenty of malt flavor but isn’t too sweet thanks to a light dose of hops. The Red, like the Blonde, easy to drink and hard to put down.
Besides those “core” four, the Ouray Brewing Co. also has a list of seasonal beers that may be on tap including the Black Lake Dark lager, Mountainbock, Pick Axe Pilsner, Mountainweizen, Kayle’s Scottish Ale and a few others. Be sure to check the chalkboard above the bar for seasonals or ask your server. Try a few of the brews with a sampler tray ($9) or simply go all in with a 16-ounce glass ($4) or a $20-ounce glass ($5).
With all this beer to be had, the Ouray Brewing Co. has plenty of starters, burgers, sandwiches and salads to wash it all down with. For starters the antipasto kabobs ($11.50) are both unique and perfect for a hot summer day. Served cold, a medley of mozzarella, provolone, salami, grape tomatoes, artichoke hearts and cherry peppers are skewered then drizzled in balsamic vinegar. An order of 10 chicken wings ($11.50) are available with tangy orange ginger sauce or with a traditional Buffalo sauce. An order of six chicken tenders ($11.50) is also available with those sauces.
The southwestern burger, topped with guacamole, Southwestern spiced veggies, pepper jack cheese and chipotle mayo ($11.50) came highly recommended by the server and it didn’t disappoint. While the burger’s Southwestern flair was tasty enough, the real goods of this burger is the burger itself. It’s thick, tender, juicy and flavorful. And yes, it was cooked perfectly to medium temperature.
The pulled pork sandwich ($11.50) also came highly recommended and comes topped with coleslaw and homemade barbecue sauce. Other pub food to be tasted are the basket of ribs ($12.50), a bratwurst basket ($11.50) and a hot roast beef sandwich ($11.50) that’s topped with the breweries own beer glaze. There is also an extensive salad menu that includes a grilled avocado salad ($13) made of a grilled avocado stuffed with shrimp remoulade and served on a bed of greens.
There is plenty of Ouray Brewing Co. swag to be had including T-shirts, key chains, hats, water bottles, and, yes, a Ouray Brewing Co. pint glass with a Colorado Flag to ensure you won’t forget where you finally found a state of beer bliss.
GROWLERS/GROWLETTES: As any good brewery should have, growlers of Ouray Brewing Co. beer are available to go and come in two sizes: 64-ounce ($15 new, $11 refill) and 32-ounce ($11 new, $6 refill).
KID FRIENDLY: Bring the little ones. The restaurant has a full kids menu including chicken tenders, mozzarella moons, mac ‘n’ cheese or a corn dog, all priced at $7.50.
Open daily from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
– Gus Jarvis