818 just wrapped up a whirlwind Colorado brewery tour! The 2014 Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) was held in Denver, CO, just a 9-ish-hour drive away from Des Moines. What better time to explore the incredible Colorado brewing scene than with 9,000+ other brewing industry folks?! So, we loaded up a rental car with waaaay too many things, headed west — somehow packing 25 stops (17 of which were breweries!) into just a few days. We met so many wonderful folks along the way, opened a few new doors for the empire and are back designing with a refreshed creative energy we can’t wait to put to work for our clients.
We were able to visit many of the popular places and a few of the lesser-known. For the full summary of our tour, see notes and pictures below!
- Driving, driving and more driving
- Thunderhead Brewery – Near the half-way point, this was an oasis in the middle of Nebraska.
- Cheeky Monk – Stopped by this Belgian beer café with Mark from Confluence Brewing, for the Women Enjoying Beer meet up.
- Great Divide Brewing Co. – Admired their fun branding and believed in the Yeti. Bumped into John from Exile Brewing and invited him along with us for the afternoon.
- Breckenridge Brewery – More beautiful branding and an interesting taproom, chatted with our bartender who was from Iowa!
- Denver Beer Co. – Awesome patio and open air taproom, said hi to a few sweet dogs on the patio, said goodbye to our friends Mark & John and headed to the mountains.
- Idaho Springs – In search of a gorgeous view, we took a tiny car places you probably shouldn’t.
- Tommyknocker Brewery – At the base of the overlook we found the brewpub and stopped in for supper.
- Empire – Discovered that a neighboring town was called Empire, so thought we better check that out… ironically rolling into town at 8:18 (weird).
- Downtown Denver – On our way back to our hotel, searched for a great photo op of the downtown night skyline.
- Strange Brewing – Had great conversation with Strange staff and met Joe from Chueyfus who made us delicious tacos and put 818 stickers on his truck.
- Chueyfus Latin Asian Grub – Discussed the awesomeness of cilantro and learned of Joe’s restaurant experience and future brewpub plans, got the scoop on “must stops” for the rest of our tour
- OMF (Our Mutual Friend) – Located in an up & coming arts district, we knew we were amongst friends when the group to the right was shooting a rubber arrow with a bow at their vintage van to pass time and the guys to the left were passionately feeling paper samples. From the patio, we spotted “A Small Print Shop”, stopped in and became instant friends over beer on the OMF patio discussing our tiny/small business correlations. Love.
- A Small Print Shop – Toured their print shop and acquired some free swag. This crew was incredibly friendly and welcoming to the tiny design empire. Learned more “must stops”, gave several high-5’s and reluctantly went on our way. Again, these guys were awesome. We plan to send some print work their way!
- Wynkoop Brewing Co. – Hung out with all of the Iowa brewing gang (Great River, Confluence, New American, 515, Keg Creek and more!) at the Iowa Brewers Guild meet-up! Barely lost a heated game of fooseball but won in skeeball.
- Falling Rock Tap House – Stopped by for a bit but it was a long day and the crowd scared us home.
- Avery Brewing – Great taproom, excellent staff and delicious food & beer.
- Oskar Blues Brewery – Enjoyed a flight and talked with our bartender with yet another Iowa connection. Kyle from Avery Brewing happened to sit next to us and told us about Oskar’s Bike/Taco themed bar, CyclHOPS and invited us to an Avery tap takeover later in the afternoon!
- Left Hand Brewery – Another great taproom and brewery with awesome branding. Their apparel and merchandise was impressive. Bought a growler container because of it’s design and were gifted the cutest tulip sample glass. Really enjoyed the dividers in the bathroom which were layers of different colored grain between panes of acrylic.
- CyclHOPS Bike CANtina – Stopped by for the event Kyle invited us to and immediately fell in love with the place. Chatted a bit with Avery and Oskar Blues peeps, got more Fort Collins “must stop” suggestions (which at this point were thankfully all aligning with others’) and continued on our way!
- Odell Brewing Co. – Holy amazement! Odell definitely has all their ducks in a row – unbelievable taproom environment with lots of different areas to relax, beautiful & cohesive branding, impressive merchandise area AND quality beer. Only had time for a quick flight, but wish we could have spent the entire day there!
- FunkWerks – Known for their Saisons and they didn’t disappoint. Simple logo, fun color scheme for their taphandles and free posters made us swoon.
- Equinox Brewing – Equinox was a small, but lively taproom in a quaint neighborhood with lots of young professionals. We arrived near last call so this was another quick visit. The beer we sampled (Space Ghost IPA) was so good that we grabbed a growler to take back to Iowa.
- Black Bottle Brewery – Awesome beer list and great food. Got to thumb through The Brew Dogs of Colorado book here and think we should probably adapt this idea for Iowa!
- New Belgium Brewery – Signed up for the first tour of the day so by lunch we were learning more about the history and ethics of this great company. I could go on and on and on about all the awesome things we experienced here, but I’ll keep it short. We saw the bottling line running — of which they were packaging this beer called Fat Tire if you’ve ever heard of it (insert sarcasm here because of course you have!). Unfortunately, the canning line was not in action. Most interesting of the tour was the barrel-aged area where we got a chance to sample side by side the beer before and after aging as well as all the unique 3D graphic displays. Their appreciation for design, their quality product, consideration of the environment and respect towards and amongst employees is very admirable. AND they have a slide. Again, more love.
- Crabtree Brewery – Through a business contact, we had heard of Crabtree Brewing before so we made this our last stop on the long drive home.
- Driving, driving and more driving.
The common threads we noticed from our Colorado experience were: Beer, Bikes, Art, Murals, Great Design, Dogs, Nature, Friendly People
What’s not to love? We’ll be back!