Parker, Colorado is a town that is often overlooked when people talk about the craft brewing scene in Colorado. Recently that has changed due to a production facility opening in this small suburb, but in all actuality the craft beer scene changed dramatically here in 2010. It was in July of that year that Tom Bell changed careers and this avid home brewer of twenty plus years made the change to professional brewer. He decided to open his brewery in this small town south of Denver and name it after the area where he hunted for many years, Elk Mountain Brewing.
Upon walking into this brewery it is clearly obvious that aside from craft beer the other passion of this owner is hunting. After taking a seat at the bar it is hard to decide whether you are at a microbrewery or a hunting lodge. From the beetle kill pine bar top to the elk antler chandelier for a moment it is easy to forget you are not in the mountains. Then the empty malt bags hanging from the ceiling, tap handles, and chalkboard menu behind the bar are a quick reminder that you are in fact at a microbrewery, and the quick glance of being in a strip mall are a reminder that you are in fact in the suburbs, not in the mountains. Relaxing, and mountain themed environment aside there are plenty of beers to choose from in a variety of styles, and a rarity in a microbrewery something that everybody will enjoy.
While there are many types of beers offered at this brewery, some of the styles that are done the best are those from Germany. Whether that beer be the Mine Shaft Kolsch or the Wild Wapiti Hefeweizen both beers will leave you feeling refreshed but craving another sip. The Kolsch is a traditional German style ale that is light in color, but big on flavor. The addition of three different types of hops adds a very hop forward flavor, but it doesn’t overpower the beer or make it bitter. The beer finishes very clean, and is so refreshing that ordering just one might be the hardest part of this beer. From a different part of Germany but at the same brewery is their take on a hefeweizen, a Bavarian wheat that is cloudy in appearance and straw colored. This beer has all the qualities one loves from the strong banana taste to the subtle undertone flavor of clove. The beer also finishes clean and has such a unique flavor profile that you will want another sip of this very traditional wheat beer.
Aside from traditional German beers this small brewery also makes very traditional ales that are very common in the microbrewery scene, but with a unique twist on them. How about a beer that has won two awards at the Colorado State Fair? The Ghost Town Brown is an American style brown ale that has a great malt flavor but is still light in body, and finishes both crisp and clean. With hints of both nuts and chocolate this is a complex beer that appeals to fans of all styles, and it is no wonder that it has won a couple awards along the way. Now of course there is a beer that caters to the hop heads in Colorado, and the Puma IPA is both very traditional but also unique. Either way it is one that is a must try when at Elk Mountain. A very hop forward beer with three additions creates the main flavor profile, but it is balanced out by the caramel and honey malts used in the brewing process. This creates a sweetness that balances out the bitterness of the hops and creates a very well rounded beer. The aftertaste is strong but the beer is so good that taking another sip won’t be an issue.
With so many styles from different countries and regions it is no wonder that this small brewery has become so popular in a town that was strongly lacking a craft beer scene. With beers that range from light to dark, malty to hoppy picking just one to order can be a daunting task. Plus add in the constantly rotating seasonal beers and there are almost too many to choose from. So order a flight that will come to you in a snowshoe which just adds to the hunting/wilderness environment this brewery has worked so hard to maintain. Since they first opened in 2010 this brewery has been going strong with their wide variety of beers, so when in Parker, Colorado the decision is easy. Skip the chain restaurants, the bars, and go to Elk Mountain Brewing instead, it will be a very worthwhile experience.
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