Draft beer worth the drive: Westbound & Down Brewing Co.
Summit Suds: Beer news, reviews, recipes and more
As I’ve written about before, it’s easy to stay in the Summit County bubble when it comes to the craft beer scene. I always try local beer as much as possible when I travel to a new destination, yet the coronavirus pandemic meant I didn’t get out and about as much as I would have liked.
Now I find myself seeking gems that are a bit closer to home. With this new subseries of Summit Suds, I’ll look at nearby breweries that are worth the trip to sample pints of delicious draft beer.
I’ve driven past Westbound & Down Brewing Co. countless times since it opened 2015. Though I wasn’t consciously ignoring the establishment, it was difficult to pull off the Idaho Springs exit as I could keep going a few more miles for a tried and true favorite in Summit County.
That naturally changed when it won Midsize Brewpub of the Year at Great American Beer Festival in 2019, and I knew I had to put on the brakes when traversing Interstate 70. Then it expanded with Westbound General to offer canned beer, coffee and breakfast burritos in March 2020, and there is a second brewery set to open in Lafayette soon.
I finally ventured to the Idaho Springs pub in September for a happy hour meal of nachos, fried green tomatoes and a flight of beer. There were too many tempting options to drink from every tap, but I knew I had to start with the Double India Pale Ale that won a silver medal at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival. Brewed with Enigma, Galaxy, Mosaic and Cryo Mosaic hops, I found it grassy at the start — almost too much — but it ended with a sweeter finish that entices multiple sips.
Next up was The Coloradan, a Mexican lager made with South of the Border yeast, flaked maize and German Hallertau hops. It tasted bright and citrusy with a refreshing, clean body — a textbook lager at 5% alcohol by volume that was perfect for the warm day.
The Coffee Porter had a good balance of sweet and dry flavors. This version used Sweet Bloom Coffee Roaster’s Colbran Family Roast from Western Highlands Papua New Guinea. The 6.5% ABV gave it just the right amount of heft without it being too rich or boozy.
I saved my palate for one of the brewery’s sour beers: Fruit Squad. A blend of 8- and 17-month-old golden sours aged in pinot noir casks, it smelled eerily like wine, but in a good way. An addition of whole raspberries from Oregon’s Willamette Valley helped bring out the red fruit flavors in the beer, as well. It had just enough sour notes to be considered the style, but it also wasn’t overly tart.
Though not included in my flight, I also had a few sips of Don’t Hassle the Hef, Westbound’s hefeweizen. It had a great mix of clove spice, sweet banana and a citrus finish like the style should.
At the end, I found my two favorites to which I kept returning: The Coloradan and Coffee Porter. No matter what style you’re in the mood for, there’s something for everybody at Westbound & Down.
Westbound & Down Brewing Co. is at 1617 Miner St. in Idaho Springs. The hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Jefferson Geiger is the arts and entertainment editor for the Summit Daily News and managing editor for Explore Summit. Have a question about beer? Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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