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Archive for April 18, 2012

Road Trippin’ On I-70. Last Stops – Backcountry Brewery and Pug Ryan’s.

After a full lunch and some tasty beers at Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs, CO, it was time to move on to our final destination of Breckenridge, CO.  Breck is only another 40 minutes west down I-70 and there are a few spots worth checking out if you’ve got the time.

First up is the town of Dillon, CO.  Dillon is actually home to two breweries.  Dillon Dam Brewery has been around since 1997 and offers a large selection of beers and a full menu.  There’s only so many hours in a day, so we decided to pass up Dillon Dam on this trip and opted to hit Pug Ryan’s instead.

This was our first time visiting Pug Ryan’s and the parking lot was packed.  We arrived just in time for happy hour and seems like the rest of the town had the same idea as us.  $2.50 pints and 25% off appetizers is tough to beat.  Pug’s has been brewing since 1997 and offers 4 year round beers: Morning Wood Wheat, Pallavicini Pilsner, Over the Rail Pale Ale and a Scottish Ale.  They also keep a few rotating seasonals and on this trip it was the Gorilla Vanilla Oatmeal Stout.  Patti snagged the Oatmeal Stout before I could get my order in, so I went with the Pale Ale.  Both were solid.  The Gorilla Stout is infused with Jim Beam, Frangelico, Meyers Rum and vanilla beans.  Big, bold flavors and really enjoyable.

The place was hoppin’ and we somehow managed to snag the last two seats at the far end of the bar.  The brewery is lined with glass windows overlooking the Dillon Reservoir.  The brewhouse is just off the bar and from our seats, you could reach out and touch the fermentation tanks.   Again, really surprised by the large crowd, especially considering it was the off-season.  I guess that’s a good sign that the locals appreciate this place and business is good.

Pug Ryan’s has been serving food since 1975 and they have a huge menu.  From chicken wings to crab cakes to filet mignon to prime rib.  They really have it all.  We were still stuffed from lunch, so I guess we’ll have to hit them up for food on our next visit.

They’re currently working on expanding and had a large area roped off outside for construction.  All of their beers are available to-go in growlers, along with cans of their Pilsner and Wheat.

After Pug’s, we had time for one last stop, so we rolled down the highway to Frisco, CO.  Frisco sits just outside of Breckenridge and is home to Backcountry Brewery.  Backcountry opened in 1996 as an effort to bring great beer to Summit County.

The brewery is located on ground level, while the bar and restaurant are upstairs.  We walked upstairs and found a large lounge area with a fireplace, couches and TV’s.  Over at the bar we looked over the beer menu.  Their standard lineup covered all the bases.  Wheat, Pilsner, Amber, IPA and Robust Porter rounded out the year round options, but Backcountry really stood out with their seasonals.  On our visit, they were pouring a Double IPA and a Breakfast Stout.

I love a good coffee beer, so decided on the Breakfast Stout.  It was on nitro, which made it very, very smooth.  The beer was pitch black, with tons of coffee flavor, roasted grains and chocolate.  Tasted like a delicious iced coffee.  Patti ordered the Double IPA, which poured a clear, orange color.  Big citrus, grapefruit smell.  Nice hoppy flavor, but nothing that might make your tongue go numb.  Both were very enjoyable.

We caught the tail end of happy hour, which runs from 3-6 PM, mon-fri.  All beers during happy hour are only $2.50!  Kind of nuts to be get a 10% ABV Double IPA for only $2.50.  Between the discounted beers and 1/2 price appetizers, Backcountry might have the best happy hour in Colorado.

The dining room has an area that allows customers to look down into the brewhouse on the lower level.  In the bar, the windows look towards the mountains.  We sat in the windows looking out on the snow-capped Rocky Mountains and really didn’t want to leave.  Although we weren’t ordering food, they offer pizza, pasta, burgers and salads.

Backcountry offers bottles to-go and 2 gallon party pigs.  We agreed that this was probably our favorite stop of the day.  Good beers, great happy hour deals, knowledgable employees and a warm atmosphere make Backcountry a place we’ll be sure to visit again in the future.

So in the past few posts, I’ve mentioned several places that are well worth checking out.  Make a day trip or get away for the weekend and pay them a visit.  You won’t be disappointed.  If you’ve got the time and want to keep chuggin’ west on I-70, there are plenty more that await your discovery.  Seems like every little mountain town has their own brewery these days.  Trust me, that’s not a bad thing.  Get out, explore and enjoy.