Everywhere you look, a new craft brewery is popping up. But Durango has been a haven for hop-heads since the late 1980s, so it was doing it before it was cool. Durango is now home to six craft breweries, which pair perfectly with its mountain-town vibe. Whether you’re looking for a patio pint, a full-blown flight or a sit-down dinner, these Durango breweries offer all the options.
Carver Brewing Co.
Carver Brewing Co. was the O.G. craft brewer in Durango, but it actually got its start in another business that uses yeast: baking. Caver Brothers Bakery opened in 1983 in Winter Park, Colorado, followed by Carver’s Bakery and Cafe in Durango in 1986. Two years later, the Carvers opened the brewery, making it the Four Corners’ first brewery since the end of Prohibition, according to the company. Carver Brewing Co. may be Durango’s original and oldest brewery, but it’s never outdated. The brewery has a full farm-to-table menu serving breakfast, lunch and dinner along with a cocktail menu (for those who — blasphemy! — don’t drink beer). In addition to its slate of flagship brews, including Old Oak Amber Ale and Lightning Creek Lager, the brewery always has something new on tap with special brews and seasonal beers making the rounds.
Ska Brewing Co.
Two guys who shall be known simply as “Bill” and “Dave” started Ska Brewing Co. when they started brewing their own beer in 1995. Today, Durango is world headquarters of Ska (so named because they listened to a lot of it back in the early beer-brewing days). Ska is known for its canned brews, including flagship beers such as Modus Hoperandi IPA and Buster Nut Brown Ale, which you know you want to order just to say the name. Food options abound at The Container of Food: Think stationary food truck housed in a shipping container parked in Ska’s beer garden. The menu is chock full of brick-oven pizzas, gourmet sandwiches, snacks, salads and sweets. The brewery also does fun stuff like Happy Hour Yoga every Monday and live music on Thursday nights.
Durango Brewing Co.
Durango Brewing Co. is another legacy brewer in our mountain town. Durango started brewing in 1990, and the brewery’s original taproom had only enough space for 11 people. That room is now the brewery’s grain-handling room. The company grew and expanded over the years, eventually buying the entire building to house the taproom and kitchen, and in 2016 completed renovations that included a new parking lot, a refresh of the taproom and expanding the patio. Durango Brewing today is a full-service restaurant with tasty brewpub fare such as burgers, beer-battered onion rings and chips and queso. With several year-round beers, such as Derail Ale and and Colorado Wheat, and a lineup of seasonal rotators with brews like a Blueberry Wheat and Saison on the roster, Durango Brewing has something for everyone.
Steamworks Brewing Co.
Steamworks Brewing Co. has been serving up its brews since 1996 and in that time has brought home 16 Great American Beer Fest awards, including two 2016 Silver Medals for Slam Dunkel and Backside Stout, and four World Beer Cup awards, most recently for the 2016 Gold for Steam Engine Lager. Not too shabby for something that the founders started for fun — and as a way to keep their home kegerators filled. Steamworks is a standby for locals and a favorite for visitors. In addition to a menu that features staples like burgers and pizza and surprises like Indonesian peanut salad, one of Steamworks’ staples is its Cajun boil.
Brew Pub & Kitchen
Longtime locals Erik and Lainie Maxson opened Brew Pub & Kitchen in March 2013, marrying two of their loves: Durango and beer. Note that both “brew” and “kitchen” are in the name for a reason. The couple focuses on making from-scratch food in the brewpub’s kitchen to complement the handcrafted beers. Brew doesn’t label beers by their color: red, brown, amber, blah, blah, blah. Instead, they focus on ingredients and categorize their beers that way: malt, yeast, hops, etc.
Animas Brewing Co.
You can’t go wrong with a pint and pasty. Animas Brewing Co. is the newest addition to the lineup of Durango breweries. Owner Scott Bickert opened the doors in December 2014 after spending plenty of time working for other Durango brewers, so he knows both the scene and what he’s doing as evidenced by his beers, such as What’s Up Wit, Hogsback Black and Boxcar Red. The menu gives a twist on comfort food, but ABC-goers won’t find pizza or fries. Instead, they’ll find things they probably won’t make at home, like pasties: a traditional handheld pastry stuffed with hearty goodness that miners could take with them into the tunnels for lunch.