The best Colorado breweries and distilleries for apres-ski drinks The Denver Post

Spending the day skiing or snowboarding is fun in its own right, but there’s also something to be said for that “ahhhh”-inducing moment when you can finally unhook your boots, take off your helmet and head to the bar.

And in Colorado, where local craft beverages reign supreme, that bar is often located at a brewery or distillery. These welcoming spots, which range from ultra-casual to more sophisticated, are perfect for reliving the day’s best runs with friends.

“With every pint enjoyed, the adventure stories get better, the powder gets deeper and the little cliff you hucked gets bigger and bigger,” said Wendy Tucciarone, who co-owns Steamboat’s Mountain Tap Brewery with her husband, Rich.

Below, some of our favorite Colorado apres-ski breweries and distilleries worth checking out on your next visit to the slopes.

Steamboat Springs

After a day spent playing in the trademarked champagne powder of Steamboat Resort, pull on a beanie and head to Mountain Tap Brewery, located downtown along the Yampa River. The Tucciarones have been cultivating a lively apres-ski scene with long community tables and wood-fired Neopolitan pizzas since first opening the brewery in 2016.

There are ski gondolas converted into private dining areas out front, plus four fire pit tables for folks who aren’t deterred by a little cold.

“While many ski resorts might pull your pass for having beers in their gondola cabins, at Mountain Tap, we encourage it,” said Wendy Tucciarone.

Other Steamboat spots to bookmark: Steamboat Whiskey Company and Storm Peak Brewing

Grand Junction and Palisade

Powderhorn doesn’t get as much love from the Front Range as other resorts, but that’s exactly why it should be on your list — shorter lift lines, easy parking, lots of powder. After a day of unharried skiing or riding on top of the Grand Mesa, head down into Palisade or Grand Junction for apres snacks and drinks. Peach Street Distillers will welcome you with open arms and a free cocktail (if you’re a Powderhorn pass-holder and you order food).

“Our Powderhorn corporate passes get a pretty good workout every year, so if we’re going to apres-ski at our own pub, we might as well invite in the other snow hooligans, too,” said Dustin LeMoine, Peach Street’s director of sales.

If beer is more your vibe, hit up Kannah Creek Brewing Company or its sister location, Edgewater Brewery, both in Grand Junction. Deciding between the two really comes down to your preferences: Kannah Creek focuses more on American and British styles, while Edgewater leans more toward German styles, according to Jim Jeffryes, who co-owns the breweries with his wife, Bern.

Other Grand Junction and Palisade-area spots to bookmark: Ramblewine Brewing Company, Highlands Distillery, Palisade Brewing Company, Monumental Beer Works

Summit County

The best thing about skiing in Summit County is that you’ve got options (Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper and Arapahoe Basin) — and the same is true for apres-ski drinks.

One of the county’s most popular spots is Dillon Dam Brewery, which is located just off Interstate 70 in case you want to kill some time while waiting for traffic to (sort of) clear. Founded in 1997, the brewpub is warm, inviting and bustling, everything you want after a day spent out in the cold.

In Breck, head to Breckenridge Distillery or its Main Street tasting room for some soul-warming whiskey, vodka, gin or rum, plus an array of finishes and flavors. At the distillery, you can sip cocktails and munch on delicious happy hour snacks like 420 tots or sweet potato hummus.

“People love the unique atmosphere the distillery offers,” said Jessie Unruh, Breckenridge Distillery’s marketing director. “You can smell the whiskey in the air, you can hear the roar of our active production facility and you’re surrounded by barrels and quirky art.”

Other Summit County spots to bookmark: Broken Compass Brewing, Pug Ryan’s Brewery, Rising Sun Distillery, Breckenridge Brewery, Angry James Brewery, The Bakers’ Brewery, Outer Range Brewing Co.

Aspen

Aspen’s chic, high-end apres scene is well known around the world, but it’s not for everyone.

Aspen Tap — the downtown tasting room for Aspen Brewing Company — stands out from the crowd by being approachable, affordable and casual. The brewery even has ski-themed beers like the Foggy Goggles IPA and the 10th Mountain Imperial Stout, named for the famed skiing soldiers of World War II. Plus, its heated patio has a great view of Ajax and lots of seating for groups.

“We offer a place where folks can feel comfortable in snow pants or even their neon onesie,” said Ryan Williams, a brewery spokesman.

Other Aspen-area spots to bookmark: Marble Distilling Co. (and their Marble Bar in Aspen), Woody Creek Distillers

Crested Butte

After a day on the snow at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, it’s easy (and responsible) to hop aboard a free Mountain Express bus and head downtown for a drink at Montanya Distillers’ new tasting room, which opened in December. Bartenders expertly mix the distillery’s American rum into creative craft cocktails, like the Strawberry Jive, made with strawberry, orange, lemon, basil, mint and simple syrup. While you tell tales from the day’s adventures, snack on appetizers like pesto zoodles or warm crab dip.

Other Crested Butte spots to bookmark: The Eldo

Winter Park and Fraser

Any day skiing or riding through the trees on Mary Jane (or exploring the rest of Winter Park’s 3,000 acres of terrain) is a day well-spent. But it can get even better with an apres-ski visit to Fraser River Beer Company, just north of the town of Winter Park in neighboring Fraser. Here, owners Brian and Angie Nichols have created the ultimate comfy-cozy spot to kick back and enjoy a few casual pints with friends.

The brewery is a little bit removed from the hustle and bustle of Winter Park Resort (and a short drive from Granby Ranch), plus there’s a permanent taco truck in the front yard that pays homage to this region’s long-standing ski culture: The logo for Shreddy’s Taco Truck features a skeleton riding a snowboard.

Other Winter Park and Fraser spots to bookmark: Hideaway Park Brewery, Idlewild Spirits Distillery, Camber Brewing Company, The Peak Bistro & Brewery, Big Trout Brewing Company, Fraser Valley Distilling

Vail

All of the staffers at Vail Brewing Co. are big into skiing and snowboarding (some even have second jobs as ski instructors or coaches), so they know a thing or two about apres-ski. The brewery has two locations you can visit: An intimate tasting room in Vail Village that’s just steps from Gondola One, and the brewery in Eagle-Vail.

On any given day at either location, you’re sure to encounter a wide variety of Eagle County residents and visitors from far-flung locales.

“We have a fairly diverse population from all over the world,” said Garrett Scahill, head brewer and partner. “People are always looking for a local brewery and to have that option at the base of a world-class ski resort makes it that much better.”

Other Vail-area spots to bookmark: 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits, 7 Hermits Brewing Company

Telluride

Take a road trip to the San Juan Mountains to take advantage of the short lift lines at Telluride Ski Resort, then grab a cocktail at Telluride Distilling Company. Located in Mountain Village at the base of the slopes, the distillery’s lounge-style tasting room feels just like a mountain cabin, complete with a massive stone fireplace, wooden ceiling beams and rustic decor.

And the apres-ski cocktails — made with the distillery’s whiskey, vodka, gin, peppermint schnapps and agave spirit — are affordable, so you won’t feel guilty having a couple while you play pool or darts. The $5 Telluride Mule, for example, is a big hit, according to co-owner Abbott Smith. You can also snack on free popcorn or order rotating wild game sausages for something more substantial.

Other Telluride-area spots to bookmark: Telluride Brewing Company, Smuggler-Union Brewery & Restaurant, Stronghouse Brew Pub

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