Beercation: combining the best in beers and vacations

Beercation: combining the best in beers and vacations

VicesMay 10, 2013

Tour the state, drinking all the way. 
It happens every week: The clock keeps ticking and you’re no closer to freedom. Why does Saturday have to be so far away? You need a beer-cation. That’s right, a vacation taken for the sole purpose of touring beer country, and there’s no better place to start than right in your back yard. Colorado boasts 150 breweries and counting. They range from the giants like MillerCoors (Golden) and Anheuser-Busch (Fort Collins) who brew millions of gallons of beer annually to the little guys like Strange Brewing (Denver) and Revolution (Paonia) who churn out single innovative barrels at a time and serve them until they’re gone.

It’s almost impossible to escape breweries in Colorado, and we’re here to help you plan the best beer-cation ever.

Denver boasts the most breweries within city limits in the state. It’s hard to walk a block without running into one, making it great for a beer-cation. There’s no way you’re going to hit them all in one day — you may just keel over and die from alcohol poisoning — but that doesn’t mean you can’t section off the city and take your time.  Denver beers have attitude and are brewed with love and passion. You’ll find beers in Denver you won’t find anywhere else, including Kurt Vonnegut’s special recipe brewed at Wynkoop.

Miles from Boulder: 29.1
Miles from Fort Collins: 65.1
Number of Breweries: 25 and counting
Drink: Wynkoop Brewing Company, Renegade Brewing Company, Wit’s End, TRVE Brewing Company, Prost Brewing Company, River North Brewery, Prost Brewing Co., Great Divide, Strange Brewing Company, Breckenridge Brewery
Multitask: Denver Chophouse and Brewery, Bull & Bush Pub & Eatery, Vine Street Pub and Brewery
Amenities: professional sports, fantastic restaurants, historic hotels, city parks, 16th Street Mall, Broadway, Santa Fe Art District, LoDo, The Highlands, fun runs
Transportation: walk, bike, bus, pedi cab, shuttle tours, B-Cycles
Events: Great American Beer Fest, Firkin Tapping Fridays, One Barrel Wednesdays, beer release parties, brewery birthday parties, tap takeovers, music festivals sponsored by breweries, beer and food parings.

Boulder is like its own planet. It’s home to the first microbrewery in Colorado, Boulder Beer Company. Ever since it opened, some of America’s most amazing beers have flowed here. Beers here are innovative and created to teach people to enjoy uniqueness and variety. Don’t kid yourself: It makes some pretty wacky ones too, like beer brewed with ghost chilies. Boulder offers a great mash up of outdoor activities, wonderful restaurants and some of the best people watching in the state. Because this is a beer-cation, you’re encouraged to drink craftily at one of the many breweries this city has to offer.

Miles from Denver: 29.1
Miles from Fort Collins: 55.5 miles
Number of Breweries: 16 and counting
Drink: Boulder Beer Company, Avery Brewing Company, Twisted Pine Brewing Company, Upslope Brewing Company, BRU, Asher Brewing Company
Multitask: Walnut Brewery, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewery, Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery, FATE Brewing Company
Amenities: hiking, biking, rock climbing, river tubing, parks, Pearl Street, restaurants, farmers’ markets, Colorado Brewers Guild, tours, music and film festivals, the Bolder Boulder, CU Buffs games, local art
Transportation: bike, walk, party bus, bus, B-Cycles
Events: Boulder Brewfest, tap takeovers, Boulder Strong Ale Festival, special batch unveiling, brewery tours

Fort Collins is one of the most well-known beer-cation destinations in Colorado. With breweries including New Belgium and Odell, Colorado beer is represented all over America. Fo-Co is characterized by its young crowd, delightful restaurants and a ton of breweries close together so nobody needs to buy gas. Fort Collins is a lifestyle town, promising a life lived around brewing, the outdoors and chillin’ out. It takes tradition to another level and creates beers that at first seem familiar, but feature shocking, delightful twists. Take for example, Odell’s Tree Shaker Imperial Peach IPA. The lovely locals double as beer connoisseurs and are primed and ready to talk beer with outsiders.

Miles from Denver: 65.1
Miles From Boulder: 55.5 miles
Number of Breweries: 12
Drink: New Belgium Brewery, Odell Brewing, Funkwerks, Equinox
Brewing, Pateros Creek Brewing Company, Black Bottle Brewery
Multitask: Coppersmith’s,  Gravity 1020 + Fort Collins Brewery
Amenities: hiking, biking, rafting, rock climbing, reasonably priced restaurants, parks, downtown Fort Collins, art, music
Transportation: walking, bike trails (eight of the main breweries are centrally located and connected by a bike path), party bike, B-Cycles
Events: Firkin Tappings, seasonal small-batch beer parties, music festivals, Rams college sports, Colorado Brewers Fest, tap takeovers, tours

When you take a Durango beer-cation, you’ll want to grab a hotel. The best way to get into beer country is to dive deep, deep inside, away from big cities and cell phone service. OK, it’s not a po-dunk town, you will have cell service, stop freaking out. Some of the best emerging breweries are coming out of Durango. They cater to the adventures more than any other brew town in Colorado and let beer-cationers get away from it all completely. You can’t avoid the beer scene in Durango. If you’re not at a brewery, the bar/restaurant you’re at serves craft beer on tap. If you have the weekend to spare, head on down to and experience Durango right, with sore muscles, dirty hair and a cold craft brew in your hand.

Miles from Denver: 337.8
Miles from Boulder:  349.2
Number of Breweries: 5
Drink: Ska Brewing Company, Steamworks Brewing, Durango Brewing Company,
Multitask: Carver Brewing Company, Brew Pub & Kitchen
Amenities: hiking, rock climbing, snow sports, mountain biking, white-water rafting, brewery tours, Durango Mountain Resort
Transportation: biking, cruising around responsibly
Events: Durango Oktoberfest, brewery tours, brewery tours that happen after you’ve been white-water rafting all day, special recipe beer revealing, live music, bike polo matches, brewers competitions, crawfish boils

Colorado Springs is in the shadow of Pikes Peak. It doesn’t get much recognition, but the beer scene is active enough to ensure its spot as a Colorado beer-cation destination. When in the Colorado Springs/Pikes Peak region for a beer-cation, practice responsibility because most of the breweries aren’t close enough to each other to walk or bike to. That is unless you’re in Woodland Park; they’re all down the street from each other there. Its biggest claim to fame is Bristol Brewing Company’s nine-time medal-winning Laughing Lab Scottish ale. Not many beers from Colorado Springs make it out, but that’s OK, that’s all the more reason to go there. Also, Pikes Peak: Once you’ve climbed a 14er like that, you’ll want to celebrate with a cold tasty beer. 

Miles from Denver: 64.8 miles
Miles From Boulder: 68.4 miles
Miles From Fort Collins: 97.1 miles
Number of Breweries: 10 and counting
Drink: Bristol Brewing Company, Colorado Mountain Brewery, Great Storm Brewery, Kevin Baity Kraft Beers, Pikes Peak Brewing Company, Bierworks Brewery, Paradox Brewing Company
Multitask: Phantom Canyon Brewing Company, Ute Pass Brewing
Amenities: hiking, biking, rock climbing, rafting, Air Force Academy, Monument, Woodland Park, restaurants, Pikes Peak, North Cheyenne Canyon, Garden of the Gods, history centers and museums
Transportation: biking, cruising around responsibly
Events: Brewers Broads Educational events, prohibition parties, ski and beer parties, music festivals, session beer days, brewery tours
—Alyssa Serres