Road Trippin’ On I-70. Part 2 – Tommyknocker Brewery, Idaho Springs, CO.
After finishing our beers and losing a few dollars in the slot machines at Dostal Alley, we headed back down the mountain towards I-70. Our next stop was at Idaho Springs, CO. From the Central City exit on I-70, Idaho Springs is a short 10 minute drive west. It’s a great little town, with mining tours, antique stores, the original Beau Jo’s pizza, a pinball parlour and yep, you guessed it, a brewery!
Tommyknocker brewery is located at the far west corner on Miner Street, which is the main strip through town. It’s a small town, surrounded by mountains on all sides. When Tommyknocker brews, most of the town can smell it. It’s glorious!
We arrived with an appetite and were pleasantly surprised by their enticing menu. With everything from burgers to mac & cheese, salads to enchiladas, it’s a pretty solid selection. We placed our orders and started chatting with the bartender.
They offer a wide variety of beers and brew several seasonals throughout the year. On our visit, they had 14 beers on tap, including a cask beer, which at the time was a Rye Porter. Some solid beers to choose from including a Golden Saison, Cocoa Porter and an Imperial Nut Brown that weighs in at 9.0% ABV. I went with the Hop Strike Black IPA and Patti got the Black Powder Oatmeal Stout.
Tommyknocker also does 3-4 small batch beers throughout the year that are bottle conditioned and only available at the brewery. If you’re looking for it, you have to visit the brewery and drink it AT the brewery. No take away sales, trust me, I tried.
Their latest creation in the series is called Black Mountain Belgian IPA. I didn’t get any IPA qualities, but would consider it more of a Belgian Dubbel. No matter the style, it was really, really good. It was a 50 gallon batch, aged with cherries and a Belgian yeast. On our visit, we were told they were down to their last 20 or so bottles. If you’d like to give it a try, you might want to plan a trip soon, before they run out!
The food was excellent. I had a big bowl of macaroni and cheese, made with brie, cheddar and gruyère cheeses and BACON! Nom, nom, nom! Patti got the Reuben. Good food, tasty beer and great service. Good atmosphere too. You can get a table and sit at eye level with the brewers. They were brewing during our visit and you could sit a few feet away and watch them work their magic. Good times for the beer geek in you.
We first visited Tommyknocker 5+ years ago and at the time, weren’t real impressed by the place. Unfortunately, we had kind of avoided them since then. In the past year, Tommyknocker has changed their labels, modified their logo, expanded production and started adding more experimental beers to their lineup. Without a doubt, I’d have to say all the changes were for the better. Our decision to give them another shot has put them back on the map for us. I only wish we had paid them a visit sooner.
Idaho Springs is a great little town and Tommyknocker should be on your list. Even if you’re in a hurry to head up the mountain, stop by for a growler fill or grab some bottles to go. I’m still not entirely sure what a Tommyknocker is, (some sort of oompa-loompa meets the seven dwarves meets gollum???), but if they’ve got anything to do with making good beer, I’m a fan.