Just north of Boulder, across Diagonal Highway from the Boulder Res, Finkel & Garf is brewing up some playful craft flavors. Their beers are simple, fun to drink and consistently delicious. The atmosphere is reliably lighthearted and lively.

The tap room, also just got a remodel and it’s looking really fresh.  

It’s a spunky place: Globe lights hang from the ceiling, mismatched chairs fill the tables and bar, the lighting is dim and warm and behind the bar a shining can-made-mural glows colorfully. I couldn’t tell exactly what it was at first, and my face must have betrayed that confusion.

“Look at it with your phone’s camera,” the bartender, a bearded guy named Taylor, suggested.

I pulled out my phone and sure enough, something about seeing the image through a screen made it all blend together. A pixelated ghost, a racoon face, a flower and a cloud jumped out at me. Or something like that.

BeerPhotos courtesy of Will Brendza.

“Do you know what you want to drink?” Taylor asked.

I asked for a pint of their most recently released beer, which, Taylor informed me was a papaya sorbet sour. The guy sitting next to me gave me thumbs up and told me it was delicious. His shirt said “Day Drinker” across the chest in bold letters.

“Well,” I shrugged. “I trust this guy. Let’s do the sorbet sour.”

Taylor poured the drink and I sat down at one of the tables. It was a Wednesday afternoon, the tables were largely empty but the bar was scattered with customers; locals engaged in beer conversations, filling the place with the kind of pleasant chatter that pairs perfectly with craft beer. The room smelled heavily of barley.

Finkel & Garf started in 2014, a joint venture between a father and son duo, Eric and Dan Garfinkel. Their coat of arms bears a Big Wheel, a wind-up car, a Frisbee and a jack-in-the-box — a reflection of the brewery’s lively ethos (and wifi password): Play Often.

The brewery was starting to fill up, and quickly. I sipped my sorbet sour and watched people trickle in in twos and threes. And Wow was that beer different. It’s got a smooth mouthfeel, and starts off with a big up-front blast of papaya flavor, that slowly fades into a smoothie-sorbet-dessert refresher. It’s quaffable (unlike a lot of sours) and doesn’t make your jaw lock up from citra-shock. This would be a fantastic beer for a hot summer day, with a bowl of vanilla-bean ice cream.

BeerPhotos courtesy of Will Brendza.

But this was October, and while I was into the beer, I also wanted something a little more seasonal. Their Oatmeal Milk Stout sounded awesome, and I knew it was — it took home the gold at last year’s Great American Beer Festival in the “sweet stout” category. 

The sweet stout wasn’t going to happen today, though. There was another beer on the Finkel and Garf menu that had captured my attention — something called the Kveik New England IPA, a Norwegian hazy IPA brewed with malted oats and something called spelt (an ancient wheat grain), hopped with cashmere and Amarillo hops.

It sounded funky and unique and I was in that kinda’ mood. So, I ordered round two – the Finkel and Garf Kveik NEIPA and returned to my seat.

It was the perfect opposite of the sorbet sour — sharp, bitter, dry. Unlike the typical New England IPA, which can be juicy on the verge of fruity, this Norwegian NEIPA is herbal, hoppy with some subtle farmhouse qualities.

It’s really good, in short. And I would definitely recommend it if you find yourself at the Finkel & Garf Brewery Tap Room.

Stop by for a brewery tour, whenever, really. They open at 3 and their website says they’ll gladly show you around their 15-barrel brewhouse, so you can see for yourself where all the Finkel & Garf magic happens. Play a game of cornhole on their patio outside. Or, just hang out, like the locals do, and work your way through their three-page beer-list.

You can’t go wrong while you’re there.