Colorado Springs, Colorado Bars and Brewpubs

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A fall mountainbiking trip to the Rockies took me Colorado Springs, Colorado. Located in town are two restaurants of the Old Chicago Pizza chain. At first glance, their interiors have the look of a sports bar; plenty of TV's, baseball memorabilia, and a young crowd. The physical layout seems well thought out, with outdoor patio seating, quiet dining areas, a good size bar, and numerous group tables where it's hard not to meet people. In addition to offering above average quality pizza, each location boasts of having over one hundred beers available. At the first, 7115 Commerce Center Dr.,(719)593-7678, I found 25 draughts and 82 bottled beers on hand. The Wrigley Red was a deep ruby color with a pleasant malty flavor and aroma, it left a dry aftertaste and a fine lace. The Rockies was straw-colored with a good head and a light hop aroma, a good summer combination. Both brews are produced under contract by Boulder Brewing. The beer list also has two slots for "specials", for October, one that I found was an unnamed from Odell's; dark straw color, incredibly smooth with a hoppy flavor and aroma. The second was Boulder Pale Ale, dark straw color with good hop character and a nice malt balance, quite an improvement from previous versions. The $2.75 and $3.25 pint prices were comparable with other local establishments but the $4.50 "market price" of the specials was a "special" surprise when the bill arrived.

Located at the base of one of the tallest buildings downtown, the Antlers Doubletree Hotel, is Judge Baldwins at 4 Cascade Ave., (719)473-5600. The long wooden bar hosts three beers brewed on the premises and 16 popular draughts from elsewhere. Copper-clad brewing equipment is visible behind the bar but a mash tun is noticeably absent, all recipes are "extract". While definitely an indoor setting, there is ample light to show off the dark wood furnishing, beer memorabilia, TV's and pooltable. The most requested serving size was their 14 oz. "half-yard". The small kitchen was kept very busy on a Saturday night and each of the entrees sampled was well received. One word of warning, the nacho plate covers half of the table and should not be attempted single-handedly. The Wheat was clear, light-bodied, lightly hopped and came with a complementary hard pretzel. The Pale Ale was a clear amber color, lightly carbonated, and imparted a very smooth hop flavor. The Amber appeared a deep amber color and offered a medium body and a malty flavor. The Nut Brown Ale was a dark ruby color and gave a dry/malty flavor and aftertaste. All of the beers were extract brews and filtered yielding excellent clarity. The combination of food and drink made an attractive setting for quiet conversation or relaxed listening to the live weekend music.

An interesting restaurant with a good attitude toward beer is Beckett's, located at 128 S. Tejon, (719)633-3230. Its upscale interior design features a medium-sized bar, booths, small tables, patio seating, good music, a separate dining area and even video games. They offer a number of custom-brewed beers which originate at Boulder Brewing. The Ram's Gold Ale was straw-colored, displayed a good head and imparted a coarse hops aroma and flavor. The Red Dog Ale was ruby-colored and with a dry, slightly malty flavor. The Harvest Ale was a clear straw color, well-carbonated and revealed a mild hop presence. The Serious Stout had a fine head and a malty flavor and aroma similar to the Red Dog. The Grizzly Amber Ale, colored dark straw, offered a good head and a nice hop/malt balance. The Porter poured black, with a malty aroma and a roasted flavor. The Boulder Oktoberfest was straw-colored with a lingering head and a sweet, malty flavor. The light end of the spectrum was well represented by Rockies. Sunday evenings offer two for one dinner specials as well as standard $2.50 prices for 14 oz. "foots". The portions and the tastes of everything tried were pleasing and a perfect after dinner walk could lead one to the Old Chicago at 118 N. Tejon, (719)634-8812, where 115 more beers await tasting. October visitors would definitely want to visit the festivities at the Alpine Chalet, 4610 Rusina Rd., where they can find German cuisine to complement the draught Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, Oktoberfest, and Warsteiner. I would personally recommend that those journeying past this part of the Rockies stop their wagons long enough to quench their thirsts on some of these hand-crafted brews.

Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - October, 1994

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