The lunch rush was in full swing, when I ambled in, right around 1 PM on a Thursday. I picked a seat at the bar, right under a sign that said, “You, behave yourself.”

That’s easier said than done in a place like this. 

Boulder Beer

Here’s the thing about Boulder Beer Company: they’ve been doing the “craft beer” thing since before it was cool. Their classic beers, are exactly that: classic. Buffalo Gold? Hazed & Infused? MOJO?!

These are household names in the world of beer — in Boulder especially, but also throughout Colorado at large. No matter where you go in this state, if you ask someone about the craft beer scene in Boulder, the name Boulder Beer Company is going to come up.

And they haven’t let that go to their heads. They’ve kept their quality and consistency steady over the decades, they’ve maintained their brewer’s honor and stayed true to their hoppy roots. The OG brewpub on 2880 Wilderness Place is still alive with the local vibe that this brewery began with, back in 1979.

“What are you drinkin’?” Asked an energetic server, named Kaitlin.

“What’s new here?”

“New? As in fresh?”

I nodded.

Kaitlin bit her lower lip, thinking, and then pointed to three beers on the “seasonal and limited release” list: the 40th Anniversary golden ale (oak aged and brewed with pineapple and champagne yeast), the Rockies Red Irish ale and their Gimme Some strawberry radler.

“Those three were released at the same time.” She said.

Without forethought, I ordered the radler, because I never order radlers (and I was feeling dangerous). She hesitated, looking somewhat surprised before walking off to place the order without a word.

Boulder Beer was Colorado’s first craft beer brewery, and now they’re the first Colorado craft brewery to celebrate 40 years of brewing.

Boulder Beer was also the first brewery I visited after I turned 21. I was working on a film project about craft beer, breweries and Boulder and they let me film one of their facility tours. At the end of which, they leave you in a room at a table lined with pitchers of beer — their beer — for “tasting.”

You get more than a “taste,” I can assure you. When I left, I was feeling pleasantly buzzed, happy and excited to finally be drinking *legally at such a legendary local hotspot.

It’s a nostalgic place for me, as I’m sure it is for a lot of other Boulder locals. 

Every Thursday and Saturday at the pub on Wilderness, there’s live music; every weekend the taphouse hosts brunch from 11 AM-2 PM (w/ bottomless mimosas/beermosas); there’s daily deals and specials throughout the week and their “Hoppy Hour” runs from 3 PM-6:30 PM every night (and until close on Fridays).

There’s always something going on at Boulder Beer.

The radler arrived and I could tell right off the bat that I had jumped too enthusiastically into the unknown. It’s got a light rose-gold color, that could be mistaken for a lager — that is, until you taste it. The flavor is explosively fruity, like a strawberry milkshake with a beer-ish after-flavor.

Maybe I’m not a summer beer guy. Maybe I just don’t like fruity beers, I don’t know. But the radler wasn’t for me. It was refreshing, light, crisp and flavorful — don’t get me wrong. My palette just isn’t refined enough for that kind of thing, I guess.

“Do you like this?” I asked Kaitlin when she came by again.

She cringed, smiled sheepishly and shook her head. Then she suggested I try the 40th anniversary. I took her suggestion (since my own judgement had already led me astray) and damnit I’m glad I did:

The 40th Anniversary golden ale has got a slight pineapple nose with some oaky notes off the top and a big boozy flavor (which is not overwhelming for a 9% beer). It’s crisp, it’s round and it has a brutish after-smack that must have something to do with the champagne yeast it’s brewed with. It’s an awesome summer beer. A testament to four decades of Boulder Beer’s brewing excellence.

Bolder Beer

The high ABV of the 40th Anniversary made up for the low ABV of the radler and by the time I paid my tab I was feeling pretty fresh, refreshed, lifted, buzzed and loosey-goosey.

On my way out I snagged a copy of Rooster Magazine, by the door, and walked out into the July sunshine, feeling rejuvenated, warm and content.

Happy 40th, Boulder Beer Company — here’s to 40 more.