Saturday, October 25, 2008

Breweries of Longmont Part I - Pumphouse Brewery

Today's article begins the first of a three part series featuring the breweries of Longmont Colorado. Longmont is quickly becoming a big beer town. Much like it's neighbors in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins, Longmont is home to several breweries and brewpubs, some of which may not be well known to the general public. Today, Fermentedly Challenged spotlights the Pumphouse Brewery & Restaurant.

Getting to the Pumphouse Brewery is fairly easy to get to. Just about 8 miles due west of Interstate 25 at exit 240 (Highway 119) and then about 1 mile north on Main Street (Hwy 285). Click on the map to see it's location in relationship to the town and other breweries in the area.

The Pumphouse Brewery was opened back in 1996 by four engineers / entrepreneurs after a year long remodeling effort. Previously, the brewery site had been home to a wood and coal storage yard, a gas station and a car dealership. The Pumphouse Brewery is adjoined by the Red Zone Sports Bar. The brewery itself sits smack dab in the middle of the restaurant. Its four huge shiny fermentation tanks are easily viewable from all areas of the restaurant.

The Pumphouse Brewery offers up 5 regular year-round beers and also produces between 3 to 5 seasonal beers at any given time. If you order their taster set, you'll be given 5 4oz glasses of their regular brews. The beers currently in the set include: Wild Fire Wheat, 4-Alarm Copper Ale (altbier), Red Alert (amber), Igniter Pale Ale and their Pyro Porter. All these beers have a firehouse theme as evident in the decor of the brewery / restaurant itself.

Once you try those, I also recommend ordering a sample set of their seasonal brews which included: Hindenburg Light (Kölsch), Blackberry Wheat and their Pyro Espresso Porter (coffee infused porter).

The Pumphouse Brewery was honored this year by the 2008 Great American Beer Festival when they were awarded a Silver Medal in the American-Belgo style ale for their Brush Fire Ale. Unfortunately, they didn't have any available that day as it sold quickly. The Pumphouse doesn't sell beer in bottles or cans to stores so you need to come down to the brewery to sample some there directly. You can take home a 64oz growler of your favorite beer however.

I was very fortunate today to have met one of the founders and brewers at Pumphouse - Craig Taylor. Craig is a former aerospace engineer and gave up the corporate lifestyle gradually over the last several years and now works full time at the brewery. He was gracious enough to show me around his brew house. The Pumphouse has 4 large 10 BBL (~300 gallon each) fermentation tanks up front and nearly a dozen large cold serving tanks in the back of the facility.

Craig was busy brewing up several batches that day. Three of the four fermenters were bubbling away creating some new brews and also a new 300 gallon batch was boiling in his large boil kettle. Craig opened up the kettle and threw in a large amount of hops into the boil while I was there. The aroma of boiling wort and hops is just delightful! Right next to the brew kettle was his equally large mash tun that has the capability of holding over 600 pounds of grain at a time.

Craig stated that they are brewing all the time and they are just barely able to keep up with the demand for their beers in the restaurant. Later this year they plan on adding a huge 20 BBL (600 gallon) fermenter in the back so that they can expand the number of brews they can make simultaneously. They currently have no plans to bottle or widen their distribution as they have all the work they can handle now to satisfy the locals. Craig was nearly done fermenting a new batch of a Strawberry Blonde Ale that smelled wonderful.

So if you're looking to expand your beer horizons and want to sample some award winning beers that you can't get anywhere else, come to Longmont for a lunch or dinner and visit the Pumphouse Brewery and Restaurant. It's family friendly too. If you want to stay late, go over to the Red Zone Sports Bar on the other side of the building and watch some sports and play some fun games in their game room.

Pumphouse Brewery & Restaurant
540 Main Street
Longmont, CO

Continue reading:
- The beers of the Pumphouse Brewery
- Pumphouse brewery tasting notes.
- Breweries of Longmont Part II - Left Hand Brewing.
- Breweries of Longmont Part III - Oskar Blues.

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