Updated on January 16, 2024
Everyone knows that Denver is a brewing mecca. Home to 150 breweries, brewpubs, and taprooms and the site of one of the biggest craft beer festivals in America—The Great American Beer Festival—the Mile High City deserves every bit of praise it gets. But travel thirty miles northwest, and you’ll hit the town of Boulder, Colorado. Here, you’ll find some of Greater Colorado’s best breweries.
In 1982, when Charlie Papazian organized the first-ever Great American Beer Festival, he set up shop in Boulder. Today, the Brewers Association still calls the town home. From a “side project” brewery pumping out spontaneously fermented sour beer and perfectly poured Czech lagers to one putting out seldom-brewed styles like an imperial pub ale, breweries in Boulder shouldn’t be overlooked.
This means if you’re stopping in Denver to visit the aforementioned iconic beer festival, going to a concert at Red Rocks amphitheater, or just in town to enjoy the outdoors like Rocky Mountain National Park, don’t miss out on these watering holes. It’s time for Boulder breweries to emerge from Denver’s shadow!
To help with the process, we’re bringing our picks for the seven most essential breweries to visit in Boulder, Colorado.
Hop Culture’s 5 Must-Visit Boulder Breweries
2510 47th St. Suite A2, Boulder, CO | (303) 578-0041
Your quest starts here! A brewery with such a bold name needs bold beers. And VisionQuest doesn’t disappoint. This brash brewery stands at the vanguard of Boulder’s brewing scene, serving experimental creations such as the Kiwi Herman, a crisp lager with New Zealand hops. Or try the Spliffs of Dover, an imperial pub ale with Triumph and Mosaic hops.
As you can tell, the brewery serves up creative beers with a flair for the funny and punny. Cue Dad Joke American lager, which they tout is as corny and crispy as it sounds. Begin boldly with Boulder breweries by visiting VisionQuest!
Wild Provisions Beer Project
2209 Central Ave, Boulder, CO | (303) 993-3598
Started as a side project from the team behind 4 Noses Brewing Co., Wild Provisions perfects the art of Czech-style lagers and wildly fermented sours.
So much so that we named them one of our 10 best breweries to watch in 2021.
Using a koelschip for their spontaneous fermentation, Wild Provisions sours have impressed us with their unique identities and expression of terroir.
For example, take the brewery’s Metes & Bounds: Red Globe Peach farmhouse-inspired sour beer, which features Red Globe peaches aged in an American oak foeder. A perfect balance of sour and sweet, this is a beer meant to be shared with friends who truly understand the perfection of expertly executed beer (well, as perfectly as you can execute with a sour beer!).
Or, from the lager program, any of the European-inspired beers—all triple decocted, brewed with noble hops and soft water—including a Czech-style pale lager, Czech-style dark lager, and Black Forest-style lager.
At Wild Project Provisions, they even pay special attention to how they pour their beer. Using the Czech side-pull LUKR taps to execute pouring styles, including the Hladinka, Šnyt, and Mlíko. (Curious about those words? Check out our complete guide on Czech pours.)
Perhaps it’s the Colorado air, but this brewery has something special going on.
Avery Brewing Co.
4910 Nautilus Ct N, Boulder, CO | (303) 440-4324
One of the most iconic breweries in Colorado, Avery Brewing Co. started with humble roots. For twenty years, homebrewer-turned-pro Avery President and Head Brewmaster Adam Avery made award-winning beers in a tiny warehouse.
In 2015, Avery opened its state-of-the-art location in Boulder, featuring thirty taps and top-notch food, such as the famous fried chicken night.
On the beer side, you’ll find the classics like White Rascal, Avery IPA, Maharaja IPA, and Old Jubilation Ale alongside one-off experimental beers from its Barrel-Aged Series. If you’re in the Boulder area, make sure that you pay homage to one of the OGs!
Twisted Pine Brewing Co.
3201 Walnut Street Suite A, Boulder, CO | (303) 786-9270
A local favorite, Twisted Pine has hit home in Denver too, accumulating at least ten GABF awards over the past fifteen years, including a gold medal for its Northstar Imperial Porter in 2019. Other successful beers include its West Bound Braggot, Big Shot espresso stout, Reilly’s Oak Whiskey Red, and James Brown. The depth of awards reflects the number of beers this brewery currently pumps out. Featuring thirty taps, Twisted Pine is like the craft beer version of the “Cheers” bar in Denver—homey, comforting, and where someone probably knows your name and wants to share a great award-winning beer with you.
Westbound & Down Brewing Co.
2755 Dagny Way Ste. 101, Lafayette, CO | (303) 593-0120
Yes, technically, this brewery’s original taproom is about an hour’s drive southwest of Boulder. Luckily for all of us, in December 2021, Westbound & Down opened a location a mere fifteen-minute drive from Boulder in Lafayette, CO. We strongly feel this brewery is worth the short trip outside the city limits. (Also worth noting, Westbound & Down now has a permanent location in Denver.)
Dubbed one of our most under-the-radar breweries in Colorado, Westbound & Down produces creative and refreshing beers that have continually impressed us over the year.
The brewery’s Meta Coconut collab with Amalgam Brewing made our list of the 20 Best Beers We Drank in 2020 for its decadent marriage of coconut, vanilla, and chocolate.
Westbound & Down is a brewery you don’t want to skip.
Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery
1535 Pearl St, Boulder, CO | (303) 546-0886
This brewpub, the first of five around the state, exudes Colorado drinking at its finest. What do we mean by that? At Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery, the mission is to not only brew the highest-quality beers on its six-barrel system but also to promote community engagement, environmental stewardship, and employee equity. All in an eclectic, warm, friendly space. Sip on standards in styles ranging from kölsch, Italian pilsner, Baltic porter, and dark lagers to amber ales, wheats, saisons, and hoppy IPAs. If you truly want a taste of Boulder, hit up Mountain Sun.
Upslope Brewing Company
1501 Lee Hill Dr, Boulder, CO | (303) 449-2911
1898 S Flatiron Ct, Boulder, CO 80301 | (3030 396-1898
With two locations around Boulder, Upslope likes to say that “Colorado provided the backyard. We brought the beer.” Embracing that apres mountain life, Upslope gets its name from a weather pattern that creates conditions for some perfect snow dumping, a thought that gives exciting goosebumps to any outdoor adventure lover. Some might say Upslope is creating all the right conditions for the perfect storm. The brewery’s beers pay tribute to those willing to be the first one up the mountain and the last one down, where at the bottom, they’ll celebrate the day with anything from the simply named India Pale Ale or West Coast Style IPA to the nine-time award-winning Brown Ale and three-time award-winning Craft Lager.