When you think of visiting a local brewery to try out a couple of beers you don’t often imagine yourself making a three-hour drive. Most of the time, quite honestly, driving that far for a particular beer would seem almost foolish. In Colorado there are so many great beers why would you make the trip? You have to make it.
We often talk about the best of the best when it comes to different styles, locations, patios etc. No conversation is complete without mentioning Casey Brewing and Blending. It’s become almost mythical in its reverence. It’s spoken about in whispers. Have you been? Have you had their beer? When are you going?
You can’t get the best of what they offer anywhere outside of the brewery. You can’t get into the brewery unless you buy a ticket for the tour. It’s $20, groups are capped at 20 and you get two unimpeded hours at the brewery. It’s worth it, do it.
The drive is also worth it. Plan your trip around the weather. I went to visit just as the last of the skiers were getting off their lifts and the first signs of spring were blooming. The drive was beautiful, driving down the I-70 corridor is often a joy for all of your senses. Plans stops along the way. Sure the destination is important but why not take time to enjoy it all. We ate breakfast at Marion’s of the Rockies in Idado Springs and stopped at Bonfire Brewing Company in Eagle to check out their tap-room. The journey might be doable in a single day but take the time to enjoy it if you can.
Our tour was the early one. Just before 11am on Friday morning we pulled up and we shocked to find ourselves alone. We were also surprised to find the brewery essentially carved into the side of the canyon overlooking the Roaring Fork river. I am not certain if any other brewery has such a picturesque view.
We were greeted by John. To call him the tour guide would be a huge disservice. He was the ambassador and the guru for the brewery. His knowledge was only overshadowed by the excitement and pride exuded as he discussed every beer, every process.
There were only seven of us, which made the experience that much better, it was our private tour. We got to learn about their barrels and the growth from 60 to 250. We saw the bottling process and spotted a few magnum bottles waiting for their fill. We also explored the local ingredients with 99% of the beer ingredients coming locally.
You walked away from the tour with a new-found respect for their process, their belief and their product.
Fruit Stand – Blackberry – Triple Crown
Casey Family Preserves – Plum – Laroda
The Cut – Grape – Baco Noir
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the beer tasting was the fact that I was with a group of people who also wanted to enjoy the experience. One by one, couple by couple we all bought bottles and shared with the group. One couple even brought down a beer from Tree House brewing (where they are from) to share among everyone. Because of the generosity and the beer love that was flowing I also go to try several other amazing beers from Casey’s in-house only list.
Additional Beers Tasted:
Sleeper Series – The Cut – Emeraude Nectarine
Sleeper Series – The Cut – Italian and Duarte Plum
Dry Hopped Oak theory – Citra and Simcoe
Vintage Fruit Stand – Chardonnay
Casey Family Preserves – Montmorency
Next time I will be bringing a crowler of Cerebral or WeldWerks to share with the group, an offering of something else local. A large number of people do actually come from out-of-town, mixed in with the locals.
To say it’s hard to put into words the enjoyment of my time at Casey would be trite and unfair. It would be better to say that I am appreciative. In a world where breweries are popping up all over the place and sometimes it feels like a race to the newest and best, Casey has slowed down. There is no rush, there is only the underlying principals of doing what’s best, doing what’s right and doing it the way they want. Their beers are uniquely their own but to learn about them gives you an even deeper appreciation.
The ingredients, the process, the beer and even the tour are exceptional, well thought out and show the ultimate dedication to their craft.
I’ll be going back in September – even more excited than I was for my first trip.