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Golden Brewery Power Rankings

When it comes to Golden breweries, you can’t go wrong.

First there was Coors. Then, Coors and a craft brewery. Then—the frenzy.

Golden Breweries: New Terrain
Photo: Glevity

Our hometown of Golden, Colorado has all the traits of a beer mecca. More than 300 sunny days per year. Mountain views. Pervasive outdoor recreation. And a population of people who like to have a good time.

Since 2013, the number of breweries in town has more than quadrupled. Hazy IPAs, food trucks, patios, live music, merch, four-packs of tall cans—it feels like the Golden Age in Golden.

So because it’s summer and we’re skiers, we decided to poll Powder7 staffers about their favorite Golden breweries. If you’re wondering whether or not you should take beer advice from skiers, look at it this way—we’re probably one of the most reliable sources you can find.

Our verdict? You’ll be happy if you end up at any of the breweries below. But here’s how the watering holes rank among our staff.


The big one. Fun fact? Coors pre-dates Colorado.

9. Coors Brewery

Staff upvote: “Nothing better than Colorado Cool-Aid.”

The skinny: Sure, everyone knows Colorado as a brewery haven. But wrap your head around this: Coors has been brewing beer in Golden longer than Colorado has been a state.

Since 1873, of course, a few things have changed. Coors grew into the world’s largest single-site brewery. The original Coors Brewing Company and its holder, Adolph Coors Company, merged with Molson in 2005. MillerCoors ran the show as the parent brand before ceding the US operation to Molson Coors. That company moved HQ out of Golden to Chicago. Then Covid-19 halted the brewery’s famed tours.

Here in 2022, the brew operation keeps running in Golden—the only place where Coors Banquet is brewed. Tours are back, although they’re no longer free. A sixer of “yellow jackets” tastes as good on the golf course or in the parking lot as ever. It’s not exactly #drinklocal—but for better or worse, there’s arguably nothing more originally local here in Golden than Coors.

Full disclosure: Our staffers enjoy Banquets and Coors Lights out in the wild, but they unanimously opt to visit local craft breweries instead. Better vibes. Better businesses to support. Better beer.

golden breweries: cannonball creek
Cannonball knows how to brew beer. They’ve won a medal at Great American Beer Festival every year since they opened. PHOTO: Cannonball Creek Brewing Company

8. Cannonball Creek Brewing Company

Patio | Food truck | Indoor seating area

Staff upvote: “Nice combination of indoor and outdoor seating, and generally plenty of it. So almost regardless of the weather, you’ve got a good place to sit. Also has great food trucks typically!”

The skinny: Look at a map of Golden and you won’t find a “Cannonball Creek.” That wasn’t always true, though. Before it was Clear Creek, the idyllic waterway that flows through Golden was known as Cannonball Creek. When they discovered this historical tidbit, brewery founders Jason Stengl and Brian Hutchinson found a name to roll with.

Since they opened in 2013, Cannonball has turned out some of Golden’s favorite beers—looking at you, Trump Hands. The beers also play well at the Great American Beer Festival. In fact, Cannonball beer has received a medal at GABF every year since the brewery opened. In our terms, that’s as good as a monthly ski streak that covers nine years.

Oh, and for bonus cred: Cannonball brewed our first-ever custom beer, the Powder7 Pale Ale.

It’s difficult to have a bad time at Mountain Toad. PHOTO: Mountain Toad Brewing

7. Mountain Toad Brewing

Patio | Food truck | Indoor seating area

Staff upvote: “Cool art in the inside and a cool, intimate outdoor area. Also lots of non-alcoholic choices.”

The skinny: Tucked along Washington Street in downtown Golden, Mountain Toad also opened in 2013. From the first pour, the Golden locale has been infused into what they do. Original beers like Apex Amber, White Ranch Wit, and Mt. Zion IPA. Colorado nature art on the walls. A sun-kissed patio. A cycling toad mural. It’s hard to forget where you are.

What’s up with the toad? Well, the brewery gets its name from the Rocky Mountain Toad, a symbol for good health and vitality. That’s what Mountain Toad aims to embody. As Visit Golden puts it: “Rugged, adventurous, and whimsical, the Mountain Toad is a playful character that embodies the atmosphere of the brewery.”

Golden Breweries: Holidaily
Holidaily takes gluten-free beer to a new level.

6. Holidaily Brewing Company

Patio | Food truck | Indoor seating area

Staff upvote: “It’s gluten-free beer that is actually good! Also…great patio.”

The skinny: Located just down the street from Powder7, Holidaily is the only local brewery to be fully committed to brewing gluten-free beer. As founder Karen Hertz says: “The concept behind Holidaily Brewing Company is driven by a personal understanding and a passion to provide those with Celiac diagnosis, gluten sensitivity, or any interest in trying a tasty gluten-free craft beer, a guaranteed safe, delicious beer to enjoy.”

For Hertz, it’s personal. She’s been on a gluten-free diet since surviving melanoma and thyroid cancer in her early 30s. Rather than choosing a beer-less life, she set out to level-up the gluten-free landscape. It’s safe to say she’s succeeded.

Golden Breweries: Barrels and Bottles
There’s hardly a better sight in Golden. PHOTO: @flyingjen

5. Barrels and Bottles Brewery

Patio | Kitchen | Indoor seating area

Staff upvote: “Wine slushies, how innovative! Also very cool move to have their own brewed beers but also have really sweet guest taps. The food has drastically improved since the beginning and the huge-ass wooden tables inside are sweet.”

The skinny: Someone say wine slushies? The much-loved Barrels staple, available in red, white, or mix—may be an institution in itself. After a bike ride, a run, or a day of meetings, wine slushies are the perfect respite. Ninety-percent of the staffers we surveyed named them the best thing about the brewery.

With more than 20 beer taps, 24 wines on tap, and a food menu, the downtown location serves up options for every party. But that’s not all. In May 2020, Barrels and Bottles opened a second location, one with a large outdoor seating area and a mountain view. Few appetizer spreads can compete with garlic knots and wine slushies here at sunset.

Golden Breweries: Golden City Brewing
Golden City Brewery is Golden’s oldest microbrewery.

4. Golden City Brewery

Patio | Food truck | Indoor seating area

Staff upvote: “Tucked away from the main drag of Golden. Literally all of their beers are delicious. They have awesome outdoor seating / patio. Vibe is usually super low key—my kind of place.”

The skinny: GCB’s heritage runs deep. Golden’s original microbrewery, they provided the only hometown beer option other than Coors from 1993 until Cannonball Creek opened in 2013. And as if you couldn’t get any more “Golden,” the brewery was founded by two geologists: Charlie and Jamie Sturdavant.

The pair opened GCB in their home. Literally. The taproom originated in their sunroom, and today it occupies what used be the carriage house. The patio—which received the most votes among our staff for the best outdoor seating area in Golden—consumes their backyard. As for the beer? Gone are the days when the Sturdavants only distributed Red Ale and Pale Ale to customers in half-gallon growlers and kegs (although those beers remain). Visitors pick from a diverse menu with progressive experimental tastes alongside go-tos (yes, they have multiple hazy IPAs).

Laying off beer? Golden City Winery opened as a spinoff in 2014, producing hard cider and wine.

Golden Breweries: Over Yonder
Over Yonder’s beers pair well with outdoor adventures.

3. Over Yonder Brewing Company

Patio | Food truck | Indoor seating area

Staff upvote: “Easy access from I-70 for aprés ski if you’re dropping a buddy off at that park and ride. Also great before Red Rocks shows. The beers are consistently good, arguably the best in town. Lots of bluegrass and jam band stuff going on if you’re into that sort of thing.”

The skinny: When Jason, Jessica, and Ashleigh Bilodeaux opened Over Yonder in May 2019, they knew they were onto something. The new brewery would claim close proximity to I-70 and Red Rocks, and it would take on a distinct personality, fusing jam music and outdoor rec culture.

After weathering the Covid-19 storm as a new business, the founders are watching their vision take shape. Red Rocks ticket holders get discounts. Art and music, streamed and live, drive the vibe. Skiers and riders visit for aprés.

The beers? Jason populates an eclectic menu with a few staples and plenty of experimentation. He also brewed and canned our second custom beer: Tree Skier, a pale ale with spruce tips.

Coda’s taproom feels like a science lab. Because it is.

2. Coda Brewing

Patio | Food truck | Indoor seating area

Staff upvote: “Coda’s got a cool space and a bit of different vibe than the other Golden breweries. I think the theme is ‘chemistry nerd,’ and they, fittingly, seem to experiment a bit more with their beers. There’s always something different to try.”

The skinny: Coda may be the most “tucked away” of all the Golden breweries. And that kind of matches their vibe. Styled like an apothecary, Coda is all about mixology. Experimental brews regularly hit the menu, made with various elixirs and tinctures. A few of them have won medals at the Great American Beer Festival. What’s more: Coda won a “Best Startup Brewery of the Year” award from Brewbound in 2014.

Kolsches, hazy IPAs, sours, stouts, pilsners, saisons—you’ll find consistent variety on Coda’s menu. It doesn’t take long to figure out where Coda’s science-y aura came from. Prior to his Coda days, owner and head brewer Luke Smith ran a lab on the Anschutz Campus at the University of Colorado. He has worked with local foragers to collect ingredients like fruits and herbs. He’s also a veteran of the Front Range beer scene, having brewed beers for Coda’s prior location in Aurora and for New Terrain in their early days.

One notable divergence from the apothecary theme? Coda also is home to arguably Golden’s best ping pong table. Keep your eye out for tournaments. The winner gets their tab covered.

New Terrain has it all. PHOTO: Glevity

1. New Terrain Brewing Company

Staff upvote: “SO MANY ACTIVITIES! Close to a dog park, hiking, biking, and a bike park. Plus, great food trucks. It’s an awesome meet up spot. They have live music frequently in the summer. The beer is obviously delicious. Gorgeous views of North and South Table. Tons of seating so even when you think it’s going to be insane based on the cars parking along the road, you can still always find a seat.”

The skinny: New Terrain may be located on the other side of the mesas from Golden proper, but the brewery has grown rapidly since its 2016 opening into a community center-point. With a huge space, both inside and out, multiple food trucks, live music, and proximity to trails (and a dog park), New Terrain has become a go-to meet point. On any given evening, you’ll see a steady stream of mountain bikers, runners, dog owners, and even horse-riders pass through. And plenty of ski shop employees…

The name “New Terrain” emphasizes the importance of innovation and creativity in the brewing process—the focus on striking out to explore new territory. That’s the metaphorical side. Literally, the exploration ethos shapes the brewery’s identity. The merch, the beer names, the music, the location—New Terrain is a place for people who like to adventure and to wander. Along the Colorado Front Range, that’s a lot of people. They’ve turned New Terrain into a happening place.

Next Up: Bike to All the Golden Breweries in a Day

Behold: the Golden 500

Are you ready for the Golden 500?

Starting and ending at Powder7, here’s your route for an epic brewery bike ride. We recommend ordering small pours or sharing a flight with your comrades.

STATS

Distance: 26.1 miles

Singletrack: 20%

Vertical: 1,736 feet

Breweries: 9

GNAR points: 1,000

Check out the water bottle we recommend for this ride: the Powder7 Hydrapak H2Go Stow Bottle

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