Beer with a Purpose

Hop Along: Raise your heart rate on the trail and then enjoy a brew…or just sit and drink.

Match these brews to the outdoor sports that gave them their names.

The ice cold beer at the end of a hike, climb or general outdoor expedition is a well-heeled tradition in Colorado. That experience has become so impressed in local culture that just about every brewery is either named after an outdoor activity or prominently features one with a select beer release. This basically means there’s a Colorado beer for every Colorado adventure. Want a sip? Start with these four:

Poncha Springs
Trout fishing the Arkansas

with an Elevation Brewing Co. First Cast IPA Colorado’s newest brewery (as of press time anyway!) opened in May 2012. Its foundation is equal parts beer-love and outdoor adventure. The four-person team that opened it moved from Denver into the San Luis Valley for the sole purpose of raising a family (and a brewery) at the base of more than a dozen 14,000-foot peaks. Co-owner Xandy Bustamante heads to Hecla Junction with his fly rod and celebrates a catch with the aptly named First Cast, a West Coast-style IPA (which means it’s even more aggressive with the hopping). The fertile headwaters of the Arkansas River are filled with rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout. Of which, Bustamante claims pulling a modest 11-inch fish from the river:  “It’s more about quantity than quality for me; makes me feel like a good fisherman.”

Grand Junction
Wave surfing Westwater Canyon

with Kannah Creek Brewery Co. Standing Wave Pale Ale If only Jim Jeffryes had a little more time to soak in the outdoor mecca that is the Grand Valley. An avid rafter, the co-owner and head brewer of Kannah Creek would love to take a raft down the Colorado from the Loma Boat Ramp put in and launch off one of the several standing waves (a single-wave water feature that sits behind a hole caused by a rock formation) along the river. He only gets out a few times a season though as his brewery duties tie up most of his time. “It’s kind of hard to do it when you own a business,” he says, trying his best to win sympathy.  So he lives vicariously through the kayakers and rafters telling big water tales in the tasting room while celebrating with a Standing Wave.

Buena Vista
Cranking the epic Monarch Crest Trail

with Eddy Line Crank Yanker IPA The name suggests this is a kayaker-run brewery, but the reality is it’s more of a play on the water feature that suggests there’s a fine line between the hustle of the rapids (or life) and the easy going eddy pool (relaxation) to its side. So the brewery is the eddy, a place to recharge before heading back out on an epic outdoor adventure under the towering mass that is the Colligate Peaks. Brian England, Eddy Line manager and part owner, is more of a mountain than river guy, and he is waiting to take down a pint of Crank Yanker, an aggressive IPA, when he tackles the epic, technical Monarch Crest Trail. It’s a 50-mile ride that is listed as one of the top mountain bike trails in the world. … “It is a big challenge,” England says. Indeed, which is why it’s taken three years of living in Buena Vista before he’s set out to tackle it. It should take five minutes to down a celebratory beer.

Fort Collins
Climbing up the Rist Canyon out and back

with New Belgium Brewing Co.’s Shift Get ready for the overuse of the name of the newest beer from New Belgium; those crafty buggers have made it a little unavoidable when telling the story. Shift has a lot of meanings around the New Belgium campus. The newest release from Colorado’s venerable brand pays homage to the “shift” beer sample all employees get when they clock out for the day. It’s also a shift in style as the brewery’s first foray in the lager world, a somewhat rare Colorado style that requires extra aging (which many small operations have to shy from). It’s a shift to a 16-ounce can only release, but more importantly, for brewery “spokesmodel” Byran Simpson, the pale lager that features a grape-like New Zealand hop called Nelson Sauvin helps him shift (tired of the word yet?) into his afternoon activity of the day. Which, of late, is often a ride on his shiftless single-speed crossover bicycle on the Rist Canyon out and back, a near 60-mile loop out of town, through Horestooth Reservoir that climbs nearly 4,000 feet of elevation. Most will want a bike unlike Simpson’s that has gears so you can, you know, actually shift.

Jacob Harkins is editor of Local Winos Magazine (

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