Friday, September 7, 2012

Labor Day in Durango part 2

Brewery touring in DurangoBy Labor Day, we still had a couple more breweries to visit in Durango and luckily both Ska Brewing and Steamworks Brewing Company were still open. We spent a leisurely morning walking around the Durango downtown area visiting the various shops, the train depot and a few art boutiques and also spent some time touring around Fort Lewis College up on top of the hill overlooking Durango. The day was getting hot (upper 80s) and we decided to hit the breweries to cool off a bit.

Ska Brewing Company

Ska Brewing's tap roomWhen I first walked into Ska Brewing shortly after 1pm on Labor Day, we practically had the place to ourselves. Apparently, everyone in town was someplace else or recovering from the weekend. Through one of the windows in the taproom, we could see into the brewhouse and saw that the canning line was in full production. They were canning their seasonal Euphoria Pale Ale that day, even on a Labor Day. Apparently the employees are loyal and don't mind working on holidays. The canning line they were using was apparently previously used by Oskar Blues and sold later on to Ska once they outgrew it.

I wasn't sure how long we'd get to stay, so we ordered a sampler flight of 5 beers and sat down to try them out. I had just previously tasted their beers in one of their Mixed Up variety 12-packs the week before, so I knew what I was in for.

Ska Sample FlightIn the sample flight, we got their: True Blond Ale, Buster Nut Brown, Ten Pin Porter, Steel Toe Stout and their Nefarious Ten pin Imperial Porter. I'm also a big dark beer fan and had no problem sipping my way through all of those dark wonders. Steel Toe Stout is one of my favorite Colorado stouts and Nefarious was one I had really enjoyed a few years back.

While we were tasting the brews, Holly, their tap room manager talked with us and offered to give us a personal tour inside the brewery. Normally, they only give tours at 4pm each day, but since things were still a bit slow that afternoon, she had time to give us the tour inside the brewhouse.

Ska Brewing's tank farmHolly told us that their brewhouse was already at capacity and they were brewing just about every day at Ska. They had a nice tank farm and had a big collection of brite tanks as well. Most all of the fermenters were busy making beer that day. Off in one corner was their canning line that was in full operation. She offered me a can of Euphoria Pale Ale right off the canning line just before the lid was put on. Beer always tastes its best fresh from the brewery and that was about as fresh as it could get.

Ska Brewing outdoor patioAfter the tour, we walked outside onto their back patio area. We sat and finished the Euphoria out underneath a big table umbrella. They have a nice seating area out there where a food vendor, Zia Taqueria, trailer sits. The food wasn't available that day due to Labor Day, but it was the perfect place to sit and enjoy a beer on a warm end of Summer day. We felt like we had the place all to ourselves, but only momentarily as other customers quickly showed up.

Ska HQWe were told that in the next couple of weeks, their seasonal stout series was about to begin and to look for those beers to be released on each equinox or solstice during the next 12 months. Their first one will be their Mole Stout, brewed with cocoa nibs, spices and peppers. Nice to know that a Colorado brewery loves to cater to the dark side of craft beer.

Ska Brewing Company
225 Girard Street
Durango, CO 81301

Steamworks Brewing Company

Steamworks Brewing Company barThe last brewery in Durango is Steamworks Brewing Company, located in the heart of the downtown area on East 2nd Avenue. We decided to eat our last dinner in Durango at Steamworks and try out one of their beers.

When we walked inside, we could immediately see the brewhouse behind some glass windows in the center of the restaurant. We sat at a table directly next to one of the big fermenters. This place was very busy for a Labor Day evening and luckily we got a table just before it got packed.

Steamworks Brewing CoI decided to go a bit spicy on the food selection that night. I ordered both the Chicken Tortilla soup and the Buffalo Chicken wrap. Both items had a little heat to them and luckily I chose a beer that would help cool things down. No, I didn't order their Prescribed Burn chili beer, but instead I ordered the Lizard Head Red Ale. I wanted something a bit sweeter and less hoppy to compliment the hot spicy food.

Lizard Head Red Ale was a fine example of a Red Ale. It had a bold malty base and an underlying bitterness that was just enough to counter the malts. I hadn't previously tried this beer before and was intrigued by its complexity. I'll definitely have to come back to try several other styles from them on my next trip.

Steamworks taplinesSteamworks had a nice variety of beers available on tap and while I admit I had only previously tried two other of their beers, we didn't have time that evening to stay around and sample their wares. So one beer was going to have to do that night. Since the restaurant was crowded that night, service took a little time to get us our food, but it was well worth the wait. We made sure that none of the food or beer went to waste. They even had some guest beers on tap. Nice to see a brewery share taps with other Colorado breweries.

Steamworks brewhousePeering through the glass, I could spot a brewing system that seemed to be made of copper kettles, at least partially. It wasn't a big operation, but since they distribute all over Colorado, they must have more to their brewhouse downstairs where we couldn't see as much.

After dinner, we walked down the hill next to their building and looked inside a basement window of their building. While I couldn't see much, I could see that Steamworks had several wooden barrels being stored downstairs. I'll have to explore some of those beers the next time I'm in town. Also in back of the brewery was a large elevated patio. Each night we passed by the brewery, the patio was packed. Nice to see that business is good in Durango.

Steamworks Brewing Company
801 E. 2nd Avenue
Durango, CO 81301

<< Previous Page | 1 | 2 | 3 | Next Page >>

Related articles:
- Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi review.
- Ska Nefarious Ten Pin Imperial Porter review. (2008)
- Steamworks Bewing honored for can designs.

This article came from - a Colorado beer blog. Don't miss another article. Subscribe to Fermentedly Challenged by RSS today.