A first-timers guide to the beers and bars of Broken Compass Brewing

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A glass of Tangerine Dream sits on Broken Compass Brewing’s bar at its original location Monday, July 12. The beer is 5.9% alcohol by volume and has 20 International Bitterness Units.
Photo by Jefferson Geiger /

Way back in January 2020, I made a series of New Year’s resolutions that didn’t seem terribly impossible. On that list was visiting Broken Compass Brewing for the first time. Well, we all know how the rest of the year went, and the pandemic put a stop to my plans.

I did pick up some to-go cans, but that isn’t the same as sitting down for a few hours and truly soaking in the ambiance of a place. This past week, I finally visited the brewery, including its new second location, and I can now cross that off my out-of-date list.

Obviously, one visit doesn’t make me an expert in all things Broken Compass, but I want to recap my experience and give tips for any other potential first-timers such as myself.

From left are Broken Compass Brewing’s Slope Sipper Kolsch, Irish Red, Mango Passionfruit Sour and Zamba Juice hazy India pale ale pictured Monday, July 12, at the brewery’s Main Street Breckenridge location. The new spot opened in January.
Photo by Jefferson Geiger /

Get a flight

Flights are a series of small taster pours that can be a great way to know the breadth of a brewery. Sampling is easier on the wallet and constitution, as well.

For my first visit, I stayed away from beers I’ve had and enjoyed, such as the award-winning Coconut Porter and Ginger Pale Ale, as well as beers I knew probably wouldn’t appeal to my palate, like the Westy G. grapefruit India pale ale. I frequently prefer New England-style IPAs over West Coast style, and I’m not the biggest fan of bitter grapefruit notes — though my recent Tiki cocktail hobby is starting to change that.

Throughout the afternoon, I tasted the Slope Sipper Kolsch (4.3% alcohol by volume, 30 International Bitterness Units), Irish Red (4.2% ABV, 20 IBUs), Mango Passionfruit Sour (4.5% ABV, 9 IBUs), Zamba Juice hazy IPA (7.3% ABV, 32 IBU), ColoradBro Citra double IPA (8.5% ABV, 32 IBUs), the Strawberry Blonde (5.7% ABV, 15 IBUs), Tangerine Dream (5.9% ABV, 20 IBUs) and Misdemeanor Barley Wine (9% ABV and 80 IBUs).

My favorite of that particular lineup is the Strawberry Blonde. I think it’s the first blonde I’ve had made with lactose, which gives it body that is reminiscent of a buttery pie crust. It has the right combination of sweet and tart, too.

I was hoping Tangerine Dream being served on a nitrogen tap, meaning less carbonation and a thicker body, would replicate my delight with the Strawberry Blonde, yet I was disappointed to discover that the gas muted the citrus notes.

However, there was plenty of tropical goodness to be found in the velvety Zamba Juice. The Mango Passionfruit Sour has just the right amount of bite and makes a great palate cleanser.

Sit at the bar

If it’s a really nice day, I won’t blame you for sitting outside, but I think the bar should be the priority for anyone when it’s their first time in an unknown location. You can chat up the friendly bartenders who are always willing to answer questions and provide guidance on what beers you might like for that first-time flight.

The level of service received at the bar is tough to beat, and it’s a great way to make new friends. Pretty soon you’ll be Norm from “Cheers” and get a warm and fuzzy feeling when you walk in and everybody knows your name.

Use the shuttle

Are you an out of town guest who didn’t rent a car? A local without a designated driver? Then take advantage of the brewery’s free shuttle.

It currently operates roughly every half hour from about 2-8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays in Breckenridge. Call 970-406-2011 for a ride.

Broken Compass Brewing’s Strawberry Blonde is pictured at the brewery’s original location Monday, July 12. The beer is brewed with lactose to give it a rich and creamy mouthfeel.
Photo by Jefferson Geiger /

Explore both taprooms

Broken Compass is the only Summit County brewery to have two locations in the area. Both in Breckenridge, there’s the original on 68 Continental Court, Unit B12, and the second location that opened in January at 520 S. Main St.

The Main Street locale has two large booths and some high tops indoors in addition to a nice outdoor deck equipped with heaters and a tent. The main attraction is the circular bar inside that envelops the center of the room.

If you aren’t located in downtown Breckenridge, then I suggest heading to the original location. The beer menu is a little larger there with options you can’t get on Main Street. The Strawberry Blonde, Tangerine Dream and Misdemeanor Barley Wine were all exclusive options as well as the Snow Blind IPA that I didn’t sample.

No matter the choices, menus at both places are organized by flavor and strength, with the larger of the two going from Slope Sipper Kolsch to Misdemeanor Barley Wine.

In terms of seating, the space has a couple of chairlift benches, larger communal tables and an expansive outdoor space that matches the wood bar. There are also games to play such as cornhole. Speaking of entertainment, the original bar has trivia at 7 p.m. every Tuesday while the new spot now has trivia at 7 p.m. Mondays.

Get a snack

Drinking on an empty stomach is rarely a good idea. While both taprooms lack an on-site kitchen, that means they’re dog friendly and accept outside food if you find yourself getting hungry.

You can bring something from a nearby Breckenridge restaurant to the Main Street location or order from the Gyros Delish food truck on Continental Court from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Each location also sells small bags of snacks such as potato chips and pretzels.

Jefferson Geiger

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