One thing about Golden is that the water here makes for great beer.
Adolph Coors realized this back in 1873 when he opened the Coors Brewery in Golden. It’s now in its fifth generation of family leadership and one of the world’s largest distributors of beer.
But Coors products aren’t the only locally-brewed beers available in Golden.
“We have everything from the traditional producers to the new and experimental,” said Jon Oswald, who does sales and is a beer voyager for New Terrain Brewing Company. “Golden’s beer is world-class.”
Serving unique, quality beer certainly has something to do with it, but there is another reason why Golden breweries thrive. Few other cities in the metro area can offer an experience quite the same — one that entails community, and historic, small-town amenities combined with outdoor recreational opportunities.
For about 20 years, Golden City Brewery was the only craft brewery in Golden. It opened in 1993. AC Golden Brewing Company, a subsidiary of MillerCoors operated out of the Coors Brewery in Golden, was founded in 2007, but does not offer a taproom.
Today, there are nine breweries in Golden open for business, with three more yet to come — Over Yonder Brewing is expected to open in January 2019, and Kanook Beer Company and Explore Brewing Co. are in conceptual phase, according to Colorado Brewery List.
The brewery boom in Golden got its start about five years ago — Mountain Toad, Cannonball Creek and Barrels & Bottles all opened in 2013. Then another wave of breweries opened in 2016 — Holidaily in February and New Terrain in October. CODA Brewing Co. opened on Sept. 8 of this year.
“Golden is unique to have so many breweries in such a small population,” said Karen Hertz, owner and founder of Holidaily Brewing Company. And, she added, “it’s all quality beer.”
Award-winning beer, with a niche
Although the brewers and breweries in Golden are a close-knit group with a friendly relationship, said Luke Smith, owner and head brewer at CODA, “with so many breweries, you have to make quality beer.”
Golden breweries have that requirement fulfilled, and it’s not just locals who recognize that Golden’s beer is good. This year, two Golden breweries brought home gold medals from the Great American Beer Festival — Cannonball Creek for its German-style pilsner, Netflix and Pils; and Golden City Brewery for its German-style alt bier, Legendary Red.
“People get excited about having high-quality, locally-made options,” said James Coulter, the head brewer for Colorado Plus Cidery & Pub in Golden and Colorado Plus Brew Pub and Taphouse in Wheat Ridge. “The cider provides a different experience than the craft beer, but it’s still related.”
Being a craft beer brewer is career phase two for Smith of CODA, he said. Smith has a background in science and designed cancer therapeutics at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Department of Pharmacology.
“I love geeking out about beer in our community,” Smith said.
CODA opened to provide the Pleasant View area with a “community-centric brewery for friends and family,” Smith said, but staying true to the brewery’s motto, “ale’s what cures you,” many of the beers have tinctures added to them.
They’re mostly for flavor, “but there is benefit beyond flavor,” Smith said. “There are so many different roots and herbs that have physical benefits to your body.”
For example, a beer with chocolate or coffee can have circulatory benefits, and ginger can help settle your stomach, Smith said. In addition, an enzyme is added to all 11 beers on tap at CODA, which makes them gluten-reduced.
But for dedicated gluten-free beer, look no further than Holidaily.
For Hertz, a two-time cancer survivor whose treatment plan included a doctor’s recommendation to eliminate gluten, it runs deeper than simply providing people with a good beer.
“People who are gluten-free can get emotional about it,” Hertz said. “It can make you feel high-maintenance or left out.”
In beer, the issue is with the grain, Hertz said. So, at Holidaily, millet and buckwheat are used rather than barley and wheat. There’s no sacrifice on the taste, Hertz added, so anybody can enjoy Holidaily beers with the freedom of knowing it’s both safe and quality.
“Once you find a great gluten-free product that you love,” Hertz said, “you want to tell your whole community about it.”
A thriving community equals thriving breweries
The Golden community is supportive of its local breweries, and the breweries in turn enjoy giving back to the community.
For example, each year, Barrels & Bottles partners with Golden resident Brian Quarnstrom to brew the Brian Q Pale Boy Ale. A portion of the proceeds from the tap release party of the ale goes to the Golden Civic Foundation.
“The breweries here in Golden got into the brewery business not only because of the passion, but to be a part of a community,” said Zach George, co-owner of Barrels & Bottles along with his wife Abby. “They do a great job at providing the surrounding community a place to gather after work, for fundraising, pre-and-post hike/bike meet ups, live music or a place to sit with your family over a few libations and good eats.”
Case in point, the Mountain Toad was named after the toad being an indicator species.
“It means that if the toads are thriving, then their environment is healthy,” said one of Mountain Toad’s founders Brian Vialpando during an October 2015 interview with the Golden Transcript. “The people are just as important as the beer (and) we enjoy that people come here and enjoy themselves.”
The Golden beer experience
Golden is home to a lot of breweries and taprooms, but also good bars and restaurants, distilleries and speakeasies, said Tamara Sturdavant, Golden City Brewery’s general manager.
“There’s a lot of options,” she said, but added that she believes “people come to Golden for the experience.”
They enjoy strolling around town and seeing the history while getting to try a variety of craft beers at the different breweries, Sturdavant said.
And they like to sit outdoors, she added.
“People feel like they’re relaxed at their friend’s house, rather than sitting in a crowded pub,” Sturdavant said of Golden City Brewery’s large, outdoor patio area.
While Golden City Brewery, Barrels & Bottles and Mountain Toad feature historic downtown Golden in their backdrop, Cannonball Creek, Holidaily and New Terrain offer picturesque views of the Table Mountains from their patios.
“Good beer is a big part of what brings people in, but we’re also very recreational,” said James Lambert, a beer tender at New Terrain, noting a nearby dog park and the easy access to hiking and biking trails. “From Denver to the foothills and beyond, we have these awesome panoramic views that represent the essence of life on the front range.”