Local Durango breweries create unique, seasonal, and go-to beers that are enjoyed in town and even across the country. Many of these breweries also double as a restaurant preparing delicious meals paired with a homemade beer.
How Is Beer Made?
Beer origins date back to 2400 BCE but modern brewing techniques, including using hops, were first used in Germany in the 11th century and the lager was born. Over the centuries, there has been a huge expansion in beer styles, packaging, and many cultural adaptations. However, the main ingredients remain the same: malt, hops, yeast, and water. The industrial revolution began mass production of beer with more control over the fermentation process. Today, brewing is a massive, worldwide industry and operation usually involving computer-controlled, stainless steel machinery to package aluminum cans, glass bottles, and plastic containers. This crafted beverage can take weeks to months from start to finish with a multitude of steps including malting, milling, mashing, boiling, heating, cooling, fermenting, and maturing.
Types of Beer
With many brewing techniques and ingredients used across the world, there are many variations of this common alcoholic beverage. However, beer is generally split into two main categories: lagers and ales. Yeast type, fermentation process, and temperatures are main factors differentiating these two. However, some beers are hybrids or simply do not fit in either of these categories. Commonly known beers are ambers, bocks, india pale ales (IPAs), blondes, dunkels, helles, hefeweizens, kolsches, pilsners, porters, sours, stouts, wheats, and many more. Domestic picks such as Coors Light, Budweiser, Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR), Fat Tire, Samuel Adams, and Blue Moon as well as imports like Stella Artois, Guiness, Heiniken, Corona, Modelo, and Dos Equis are easily found in many US restaurants, bars, and liquor stores.
Beer offers many defining components including aroma, taste, color, body, bitterness, and alcohol content. Beer aromas and flavors can be characterized by adjectives such as fruity, grainy, floral, woody, caramely, and nutty. The color ranges from dark brown to blonde with reds, oranges, and golden hues mixed in. Body can range from transparent to opaque and be described as light, thin, refreshing, and crisp in contrast to toasted, heavy, thick, and creamy. Bitterness is judged based on the international bitterness units (IBU) which is a scale to measure the beer’s bitterness. Hops determines the bitterness of the beer and can have an IBU of 0 (minimum) to 120+ (maximum). The alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage is a metric that determines the pure alcohol content. Beers typically have 3-7% but can be slightly less or more too. In comparison, wine typically contains 10-14% and liquor 40-50%.
Durango is no novice in beer craftsmanship. From local pit stops to the Ska world headquarters, Durango is home to many well made beers. Founded in 1995, Ska Brewing has become the largest beer producer in Southwest Colorado with well known picks like True Blonde, Pinstripe, Mexican Logger, Euphoria Pale Ale, and the Ska Lager. They distribute across other states and draw crowds into their industrial brewery and restaurant called The Container. Steamworks Brewing Company started in 1996 in downtown Durango and has brewed award-winning beers such as their Colorado Kolsch, Steam Engine Lager, Third Eye PA, Conductor IPA, and the chile infused Prescribed Burn. Accompanied by their gastropub food menu and centrally located, this is one of Durango’s largest eateries welcoming the whole family. The second brewpub to open since the prohibition, Carver’s Brewing Co. was founded by the two Carver brothers in 1988. Medaled beers, locally sourced food, and run by a second generation of Carvers, this is a Main Avenue gem with flagships including Colorado Trail Nut Brown Ale, Jackrabbit Pale Ale, Iron Horse Oatmeal Stout, Old Oak Amber Ale, and the Lightner Creek Lager. Other local breweries to try are Animas Brewing Company, Anarchy Brewing Company, Durango Craft Spirits, and Durango Beer & Ice Company. Many companies also brew gluten-reduced, gluten free, and non-alcoholic beers and other beverages.
No matter your taste in beer, Durango breweries have a wide selection for you to choose from. Try these local favorites and enjoy responsibly! Please let us know how we can help you make Durango home.