Monday, June 4, 2018

Boulder Country Craft Breweries - The Definitive List (updated June 4, 2018)

June 2018 Update:

  • I've finally visited Cellar West - and you should, too! Awesome and exceptionally well crafted farmhouse ales.
This is a definitive list of all Boulder County craft breweries, including key details (such taproom vs. full restaurant, patios, dog friendliness, etc.) I've visited these myself and/or reached out to the brewery for details but please help keep this current! If you have any changes, let me know in the comments below.

A few provisos: 
  • I have not been to all of these (yet). I haven't visited Atom, Echo or Wild Mountain, although I've had beer from Atom and Echo.
  • This doesn't include BJ's Roadhouse as this is a national chain.
  • I left out cider and meaderies.

Brewery Name Location Restaurant
or Taproom
Patio? Dog Friendly?1 Happy Hour Notes
12Degree Brewing Louisville Pizzeria Yes Yes (patio) M-Th 4-6 pm $1 off pizza and pints
300 Suns Brewing Longmont Taproom Yes Yes (patio) M-W 2-6 pm
Asher Brewing Co. Gunbarrel Taproom Yes Yes (patio) No, but pints only $4-5 Organic
Atom Brewing Co. Erie No No NA NA Bottle releases and distribution only
Avery Brewing Co. Gunbarrel Both Yes Yes (patio) No
Bootstrap Brewing Niwot Taproom Yes Yes (patio) All day Mon.
Beyond the Mountain Brewing Gunbarrel Taproom ? ? No
Boulder Beer Original location (Wilderness Place, Boulder) Restaurant Yes Yes (patio) Yes CO's first craft brewery
Boulder Beer on Walnut Restaurant Yes No Yes but different every day
BRU Handbuilt Ales & Eats Boulder Restaurant Yes Yes (patio) 3-6 pm daily and all day Tues.
Cellar West Artisan Ales Boulder Taproom No No No Open Th/F 4-8 pm; Sa/Su 11 am-8 pm
Crystal Springs Brewing Co. Louisville Taproom Yes Yes No
Echo Brewing Erie Pizzeria Yes Yes (patio) M-Th 3-6 pm $1 off pints 2nd site; other site is in Frederick
FATE Brewing Co. Boulder Restaurant Yes Next to (not on) patio only M-F 3-5:30 pm
Finkel & Garf Brewery Gunbarrel Taproom Yes Yes No
Front Range Brewing Co. Lafayette Taproom2 Yes Yes (patio) M-F 3-6pm $1 off pints
Gravity Brewing Louisville Taproom2 Yes Yes (patio) No
Grossen Bart Brewery Longmont Taproom Yes Yes
Gunbarrel Brewery Gunbarrel Taproom2 Yes Yes Limited hours as they staff up - check website
The Industrial Revolution Brewing Co. Erie Taproom Yes
J Wells Brewery Boulder Taproom No Yes "Slacker hour" $2 off pints 3-4pm M-F
Regular happy hour $1 off pints 4-6pm M-F

Kettle and Spoke Boulder Taproom Yes Yes Funky nanobrewery in a bike shop with limited hours - check website
Left Hand Brewing Co. Longmont Taproom Yes No No (but free tour)
Liquid Mechanics Brewing Co. Lafayette Taproom2 Yes Yes (patio) $1 off pints M-Th 4:30-5:30pm
Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries Mountain Sun (Pearl St. Boulder) Restaurant Yes No Yes No credit or debit cards
Southern Sun (South Boulder) Restaurant Yes No Yes
Under the Sun (South Boulder) Restaurant No No Yes
Long's Peak Pub (Longmont) Restaurant Yes No Yes
New Planet Beer Co. Boulder Taproom Yes Yes (patio) No Gluten-free, Gluten-reduced and Barley beers available
Limited hours
Odd13 Brewing Lafayette Taproom2 Yes Yes (patio) M-Th 3-5 pm All night M-Tu if you walk or bike
Open Door Brewing Longmont Taproom No No No
Contract brewer
Oskar Blues Brewery Brewery (Longmont) Taproom Yes Yes No but pints only $4
Liquids and Solids (Longmont) Restaurant Yes No Food only
Chuburger (Longmont) Restaurant Yes No Food only
Cyclhops (Longmont) Restaurant Yes No Food only
Lyons Restaurant Yes No Food only
Boulder Taproom Taproom but small menu Yes No Food only
The Post Brewing Co. Lafayette Restaurant Yes No M-F 4-6pm
Longmont Restaurant Yes No M-F 11am-6pm; Sa/Su 3-6pm
Boulder Restaurant Yes No M-Th 4-6pm; F-Su 3-6pm Old location of Shine Restaurant
Pumphouse Brewery Longmont Restaurant Yes Yes (on patio leashed to perimeter fence and out of walkways) M-F 3-6pm & 10pm-midnight
Sanitas Brewing Co. Boulder Taproom2 Yes Yes (patio) M-F 4-6pm $1.50 off pints
$2.50 for train beers within 15 min. of train passing
Skeye Brewing Longmont Taproom2 Yes (small) No No
Twisted Pine Brewing Co. Boulder Restaurant Yes No (although dogs can stay on grass a few feet away from patio) All day Tu
M, W-F 4-6 pm
Upslope Brewing Co. East Boulder Taproom2 Yes Yes M-F 11 am-2 pm $1 off
North Boulder Taproom Yes Yes No
Very Nice Brewing Co. Nederland Taproom2 No Yes No but flagship beers only $4
Vison Quest Brewery Boulder Taproom Yes Yes
West Flanders Brewing Co. Boulder Restaurant Yes No M-F 3-6 pm
Wibby Brewing Longmont Taproom2 Yes Yes No
Wild Mountain Smokehouse & Brewery Nederland Restaurant Yes No 4-6 pm daily
Wild Woods Brewery Boulder Taproom Yes Patio only All day Tues.
1 Dogs must be on leash (whether in the taproom or on the patio) in all of these establishments.
2 Although these breweries do not have restaurants, there is food available, either from an adjacent restaurant or from regularly scheduled food trucks.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Short Story: Decisions Decisions

(Click here for a PDF for easier reading. Other short stories on My Writing page.)

Nick is catatonic. He rocks on his feet like an inflatable clown, hands twisting against his skull as if trying to squeeze the images out of his head. He does not notice Sarah talking to him, then yelling, then finally grabbing his wrist and ripping an arm away from his head.

“Jesus Christ, Nick. Are you listening to me? They set off another one.”

He spins, unfocused. What is she saying? Since the flash and burst of static, the abrupt blank screen, and the shocked news anchor struggling to produce a coherent sentence, he’s felt drugged, everything muddy and distant, staccato bursts of noise that resemble language but might as well be Esperanto. He realizes she’s glaring at him.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Best Albums of 2017: #25-1 (with commentary)

#26-50 #51-100 Good albums that didn't make the cut
#25: BjorkUtopia
More ethereal fairy music from the Icelandic pixie. (And I don't use "fairy" lightly: just listen to the title track and tell me the flutes and strings don't remind you of The Nutcracker.) On this outing, she's helped by Venezuelan producer/DJ Arca, who adds some deft and off-kilter beats to the mix. 
#24: Roger Waters, Is This the Life You Really Want?
Roger Waters is pissed. Profoundly pissed. Even more pissed, perhaps, than on
Animals or The Wall. He applies his trademark sounds (echoing vocals and basslines,  incorporated sounds, etc.) to our current political climate with striking results.
#23: The Front Bottoms, Going Grey
This is basically straightforward power pop, but it's lifted to another level by great hooks and an interesting lead vocalist who sings in a flat, ironic voice that lends a hardcore edge to proceedings.
#22: The New Pornographers, Whiteout Conditions
Just another collection of catchy, singalong, power pop from the Canadian "super group."
#21: Destroyer, ken
I find I often use the words “acquired taste” to describe bands I like. That certainly applies to Destroyer with Dan Bejar’s quirky tenor and its odd inflections, not to mention the jazz-like arrangements, strings, saxophones, etc. Things often lurch in unexpected directions.
#20: Good Downie, Introduce Yerself
One of the most touching goodbyes ever recorded (and inevitably compared to David Bowie's Blackstar and Leonard Cohen's You Want It Darker). Downie recorded these songs over two sessions after his brain cancer diagnosis, and each song is addressed to a specific person (or thing, as in “The Lake”). He remembers his time in the Tragically Hip with “Love Over Money,” his first girlfriend (“My First Girlfriend”), his brother Patrick (“You Me and the B’s”), etc. The songs are simple guitar and piano arrangements. Perhaps the most affecting song is the closer “The North” with his voice quietly floating above a simple piano figure musing on the Indigenous children he met in northern Canada. (For my thoughts on Good and the Tragically Hip, read this.)
#19: Broken Social Scene, Hug of Thunder
This is a good, but not great BSS album, which means it's still better than most albums out there. The opening cut is a classic slice of BSS uplifting pop, with hushed female voices guiding the verses and then leading to a mass of vocals on the chorus with soaring horns and a nyckelharpa (a Norwegian viola-like instruction played by pressing pegs down). 
#18: Arcade Fire, Everything Now
A good but not great Arcade Fire fire (see above!) is still pretty damn good. The whole commentary on consumerism wears thin, but it’s saved by the typically soaring music. The title track with its obvious ABBA ripoff is a great start, but it’s “Creature Comfort” where the band really hits it’s stride with growling synths and shrieking vocals. “We Don’t Deserve Love” brings it to a downbeat yet still uplifting ending.
#17: The Wild Reeds, The World We Built
Exquisite soaring harmonies from the three female singer-songwriters in this band. You'd swear they were sisters or somehow related. Reminds me of Lucious. And they wrap their pipes around beautifully crafted pop with a timeless feel.
#16: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound
Jason Isbell is one of the best songwriters out there. His songs contain terrific imagery and strongly observational lyrics often focused on the lives of those in isolated and economically depressed areas, but never falling into cliché, sympathetic without being maudlin, all produced with melodic country-rock.
#15: Margo Price, All American Made
Terrific Nashville singer-songwriter who creates deeply insightful music that's perfect for our times. This would be on my list for the title track alone.
#14: Manchester Orchestra, A Black Mile to the Surface
This a dramatic collection of alt-rock and an actual concept album built around stories in the mining town of Lead, SD.
#13: Alvvays, Antisocialites
This collection of retro pop-rock owes a big debt to the sounds of the '60s.
#12: Mark Lanegan BandGargoyle
I have a total weakness for dramatic, vaguely threatening music. Mark Lanegan does this so well with his voice, urgent music, and ambiguous guitar chords. 

#11: Daniel Romano, Modern Pressure
Another great "stew" of an album that pulls in influences from a wide range of music and produces something that sounds like skewed country-rock. Passionate vocals and great musicianship pull it all together.
#10: U2, Songs of Experience
Unlike (too?) many people, I don’t dislike U2. They were one of my favorite bands in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I even walked into my wedding to “Beautiful Day.” But I have many times just wanted to scream at them, “Stop f’ing around trying to be ‘relevant’ and just making an f’ing album!” The constant angst, the changing of producers, - it just gets old. But maybe I should just shut up as their latest is just a terrific set of songs, melodic and uplifting. If I have a complaint, it’s that the use of so many producers and engineers has led to a somewhat inconsistent sound, and the feeling that at any one point, one could be listening to a song from any aspect of U2’s career. “Red Flag Day” even introduces some War-era like background vocals. Still, it’s a strong outing and I’d encourage people to get over their baggage about U2 and just listen to the music.
#9: Father John Misty, Pure Comedy
It's hard to know how serious Josh Tillman really is. He's taken irony to an entirely different plane. And yet somehow one can't help but feel that beneath the public persona, the odd tweets, the rants, etc., he really does mean it. The title track alone would put this album on my list. And who else could pull off this lyric: "Bedding Taylor Swift every night inside the Oculus Rift" (on "Total Entertainment Forever").
#8: Hurray for the Riff Raff, The Navigator
Alynda Lee Segarra has immersed herself deeply in American roots music and along with her band, Hurray for the Riff Raff, become one of the top practitioners of the genre. This album is leap into another sphere, creatively and musically. She went back to her Puerto Rican and NYC roots for this incredibly timely concept album about a Nuyorican moving through American life. Great storytelling songwriting and the musical palate adds considerable Latin influence to reflect the story.
#7: Elbow, Little Fictions
Kind of like a modern, low-key version of prog-rock: complex arrangements and superb musicianship, and yet somehow accessible and melodic. The lead singer sounds like a mid-career version of Peter Gabriel.

#6: Portugal, The Man, Woodstock
By far the best thing to come out of Wasilla, Alaska, almost making up for Wasilla’s other export. Soul, funk, and rock all blend together into a creative and melodic stew.
#5: alt-jRelaxer
Still one of the most creative bands out there. Take opening track "3WW," which turns a conventional English folk song on its head with quiet electronic percussion, a triling acoustic guitar and soft spoken vocals. Then things switch into their trademark sudden time signature and musical changes on "In Cold Blood."
#4: Beck, Colors
Just more incredibly crafted, funky, danceable, upbeat, creative Beck Pop

#3: Zola Jesus, Okovi
Nicole Hummel (aka Zola Jesus) possess an incredible highly operatic voice that she uses to ride over orchestral electronics. This is big, grinding, deep and dramatic music.
#2: St Vincent, Masseduction
In which Annie Clark goes (almost but not quite) mainstream. It's beautifully crafted and accessible, but with more than enough quirkiness and creativity to lift it well above the usual pop fare.
#1: Fleet Foxes, Crack-Up
Sublime. Absolutely sublime. Robin Pecknold and crew throw a lot of musical genres and traditions into the pot, and out comes something that sounds like nothing else. There is quite simply no one out there making music remotely like this. There is more than a passing resemblance to classical music in the complex titles and arrangements. Take opening track “I Am All That I Need/Arroyo Seco/Thumbprint Scar.” Pecknold’s voice starts out in a lower register, so low that it’s difficult to hear. Then the band crashes in with ringing guitar and piano and a different voice takes over.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Best Albums of 2017: #50-26 (with commentary)

#1-25 #51-100 Good albums that didn't make the cut

#50: King Krule, The OOZ
To understand this album, just imagine stoned jazz. Very stoned jazz, with a lower-class English accent. You can see him holding a mic and not moving while smoking a doob and slur rapping into the mic.
#49: Hippo Campus, Landmark
Yearning, upbeat pop with great hooks on the first full album from this Minnesota band. Highlights: "Epitaph" and "Boyish."
#48: The Yawpers, Boy in the Well
Upbeat stomp 'n' holler (perhaps the "cow-punk" genre describes them best).

#47: Foo Fighters, Concrete and Gold
Dave Grohl and crew are still at it, grinding out pure hard rock. Just listen to the grinding riff of "Make It Right" to get the vibe.
#46: Foxygen, Hang
These guys have chops, man! And they apply them in a great creative way. There's funk, soul, and even a kind of '20s dance hall number ("Avalon"). It's hard to classify, which is a great recommendation by my standards.
#45: Steve Earle and the Dukes, So You Wannabe an Outlaw?
One of the great American songwriters, deeply stepped in the history of American folk music, has produced another collection of Americana - country, folk, rock, honky tonk, bluegrass - all blended together and driven by one of the best backup bands in American music.
#44: The National, Sleep Well Beast
Matt Beringer's baritone (an unusual range for a rock 'n' roll band) lends The National a lot of their unique sound, but their approach to arrangements (often subtle and wary of over-instrumentation) and general tightness as a band gives this outing its usual sense of melancholy and drama.
#43: Circuit des Yeux, Reaching for Indigo
Haley Fohr's music has a character all its own. Dark and almost creepy at times, the music also has elements of free jazz and avant-garde composition (e.g., "Paper Bag"). Not the easiest music to listen to, but endlessly interesting.
#42: Sylvan Esso, What Now
Not as catchy and surprising as their debut but still very warm, fun, interesting, creative and danceable electronica.
#41: Nick Mulvey, Wake Up Now
This album somewhat reminds me of Ben Howard: highly percussive and rhythmic acoustic music, very melodic and charming.
#40 (tie): Dori Freeman, Letters Never Read
Beautiful songwriting covering a wide range of Americana, from bluegrass to Patsy Cline to crooners. The title track is a highlight.
#40 (tie): Nicole Atkins, Goodnight Rhonda Lee
That this tied with Dori Freeman's album is not a big surprise. They are both exceptionally talented songwriters with a deep grounding in American musical history. Not to repeat myself (although I am) but the title track is superb.
#38: Japandroids, Near to the Wild Heart of Life
These guys make more noise with a guitar and a drumset than seems possible. And while they do it with a punky attitude and crunch, it can't hide their uplifting, ready-for-the-arena melodies.
#37: Dirty ProjectorsDirty Projectors
Another album from one of the most creative outfits in music (from whom I learned about "hocketing" - look it up!). The lyrics are obviously about leader David Longstreth's breakup with Amber Coffman (and her solo album, #87, is obviously about the same).
#36: Showtime Goma, Smiley Face
The first solo album from Jen Goma (better known as leader of A Sunny Day in Glasgow, and a collaborator with a number of well known indie bands), this is quirky, indie pop that spins off in unexpected directions.
#35: Matt the Electrician, The Doubles
The conceit here is that musician Matt Sever (aka Matt the Electrician) recorded the first half of this double album with his own trio, and the same basic set of songs on the second half with guest musicians. Just terrific songwriting with a great eye for detail and stories.
#34: Spoon, Hot Thoughts
Just more inventive pop-rock from the Texas quartet. Anchored by Britt Daniels interesting voice and some great keyboard riffs. "Do I Have to Talk You Into It?" is a stand out.
#33: Kevin Morby, City Music
Kevin Morby is one of the most interesting songwriters out there right now. Very much in the indie- and/or folk-rock camp, he seems to treat each song as a unique object that requires a careful approach. The result can be chill, uplifting, rhythmic, or all three.
#32: Shakey Graves and the Horse He Road In On, Noble's Fool and the Donor Blues EPs
Quirky, drugged country-blues
#31: Waxahatchee, Out in the Storm
Katie Crutchfield has expanded her sound palette and production values fairly significantly on this, her 4th album. The same basic ingredients from her earlier, more lo-fi recordings, is in evidence, though: gorgeous melodies, aching/longing lyrics, and some nice punky guitar shredding.
#30: Mondo Cozmo, Plastic Soul
An unexpected discovery, found while browsing new releases and listened to without knowing anything about it. Great neo-soul/rock and roll songwriting. "Shine," the title track, and "Chemical Dream" are all great rave-ups, passionate with a classic slightly off-kilter rock 'n' roll voice.
#29: San Fermin, Belong
Still amazingly creative, with spectacular arrangements and complex instrumentation, but not quite as strongly melodic as past efforts.
#28: Thundercat, Drunk
Funky, jazzy and a little mellow (almost sleepy): in other words, a bit undefinable, as good music often is. A bit of a Steely Dan/'70s feel, which is augmented by the appearance of both Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald on the same track, not to mention the retro LP cover.
#27: Chad Vangaalen, Light Information
This Canadian musician brings a keen understanding of psychedelia, the Velvet Underground, and glam rock to this outing. Listen to "Faces Lit" or "Glam."
#26: The Killers, Wonderful Wonderful
Big, loud, heartfelt and heartland, arena-ready rock