HighSide Brewing in Frisco celebrates first year, being named one of the nation’s 10 best brewpubs | SummitDaily.com

HighSide Brewing in Frisco celebrates first year, being named one of the nation’s 10 best brewpubs

'Doin’ Good Havin’ Fun' benefit bash on May 18

Staff members of HighSide Brewery. From left, bartender Steve Nolan, food and beverage manager Chris Galceran, brewmaster Jon Zatkoff, general manager Kurt Zolbe, and owner Dave Axelrod at the brewery on Thursday, May 16, in Frisco.
Hugh Carey / hcarey@summitdaily.com

Frisco has long been known as a sleepy resort town at the foot of Mount Royal, with its quaint Main Street that serves as a cozy stop for travelers within a stone’s throw of some of the world’s best skiing.

But seemingly overnight, Frisco has also become an essential stop on any beer-lover’s tour of Colorado’s booming brewery scene. The town is now home to two of the nation’s best beer establishments, with Main Street’s HighSide Brewery being ranked by a USA Today reader’s poll as one of the nation’s 10 best brew-pubs, a year after Outer Range Brewery was ranked as the nation’s second best brewery.

Both breweries got national recognition in their first year of business. HighSide will be celebrating their first year with the “Doin’ Good Havin’ Fun” benefit bash on May 18, featuring can releases, live music from big-hitters in the bluegrass scene and the long-awaited opening of the establishment’s second floor.

Owner David Axelrod is a Breckenridge local of 22 years who co-founded Broken Compass Brewing in Breckenridge four years ago before starting up HighSide in 2018. He said that he wanted to mark the brewery’s success in its first year by saying thanks to the community around it.

“We’ve had so much support from the local community, and we’re super excited for year two.”

“It’s feeling great right now,” Axelrod said. “We’ve had so much support from the local community, and we’re super excited for year two.”

HighSide, located at 720 Main St., used to be home to Backcountry Brewery. Despite the initial lack of signage and “under construction” feel of the brewery at its start, HighSide’s beer has remained its strongest selling point. Axelrod said that the brightly-colored hand-drawn beer menu and its eclectic rotating beer selection is part of the brewery’s overall philosophy, which was borne out of his own experience as a raft guide.

“In rafting, oftentimes if you try to do something different, like get offline a little bit, you almost flip, and ‘high side!’ is an emergency command to keep the boat upright and keep on going,” Axelrod said. “So what we’re trying to do, to be creative with the beer and try doing different things. Sometimes you hit a home run, sometimes you end up high-siding.”

The menu usually features something for everybody — IPAs, pilsners, ambers, stouts, browns and even non-alcoholic kombucha or root beer are all on tap. Axelrod and brewery general manager Kurt Zolbe said that the selection is meant to cater to all tastes, with occasional zany limited releases — such as a one-day release on 4/20 of a Fruit Loops blonde and a PB&J brown — thrown in from time to time.

The beer menu pairs with a food menu crafted by Chris Galceran, part-owner of Briar Rose Chophouse, Empire Burger and Sancho Taco in Breckenridge. Combined with the location at the corner of Main Street and Highway 9, general manager Kurt Zolbe hopes HighSide becomes a communal space for all locals.

“This has been a hub of Frisco and the community in general, at a very accessible spot right across from the Frisco Bay Marina,” Zolbe said. “As people start taking advantage of the all the summer activities at the marina, they might want to come down for a beer, and everyone will be treated like a local.”

While the taproom has been open for a year, the second floor has been closed off due to permitting issues and liquor license approval. When the 5,000-square-foot space opens on Saturday, it will feature everything the taproom doesn’t have, including a full bar with wine and liquor, TVs, dart boards, a shuffleboard, arcade games and pinball, cornhole and a long deck with a great view of Mount Royal.

Aside from opening the second floor, the event will also feature live music from local string quintet Shaky Hand String Band at 4 p.m. They will be followed by a headlining trio of bluegrass greats.

Leftover Salmon founding members Drew Emmitt and Vince Herman will be joined by Benny ‘Burle’ Galloway on bass. Galloway has written songs for most major bluegrass acts in the area, including Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Wayword Sons and The Infamous Stringdusters.

The event will also feature giveaway events with a fundraiser to benefit local nonprofits High Country Conservation Center and Building Hope, as well as the Summit County Animal Control and Shelter.

The day opens at 11 a.m., with the first 100 customers getting a free breakfast burrito. At noon there will be a free lunch buffet while supplies last. The event will also feature face painting for kids and other activities.

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