Wednesday, July 14, 2010. This was a day I had marked on my calendar for a long time. And not because it was Bastille Day or my brother’s 41st birthday, although those are cool. Nope, it’s because out of all of the Beer Trips to this point, this was the one I was looking forward to the most. Basically, the other trips all had one or maybe two private tours set up, while this one had five pre-arranged. So when the day finally came, I was up and ready about an hour earlier than I needed to be. Everyone else showed up pretty early as well for the 7:30 AM departure time. Well, except for Ed, but we’ll look past that.
We eventually hit the road not far behind schedule and headed west down I-70 towards Hays, Kansas. I-70 in Kansas is great for many things, but none more than the steady stream of billboards telling you about how Jesus is the greatest and abortion is the worst. I wonder how many people have changed their religion or viewpoint on abortion with this effective advertising. My guess is one person, at best. But I digress. Gella’s Diner and Liquid Bread Brewing Company is one of the best brewpubs that I have ever been to, so whenever I drive through Hays, I make it a point to stop there. Not only does their brewer Gerald make phenomenal beers (and he really, really does), but the food and atmosphere of Gella’s would, as Andy likes to say, fit in any major city in the country like New York City or San Francisco. It truly is a gem of a place. We ordered our food, enjoyed a couple pints of Lb.’s beers, including their IPA which is my favorite, and had a really satisfying first stop on Beer Trip VI. We finished up, and drove west to Colorado.
As is the case for most people, eastern Colorado is one of the most boring places to drive through. It also doesn’t help that their highway roads are awful. And like most people, I never can resist the urge to say the now hack joke line from “Dumb and Dumber”, “That John Denver’s full of shit!” when driving there. Luckily, the boring part of Colorado doesn’t last too long before you get to Denver. Our next stop was in Nederland, Colorado, to Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery. Our friend Adam, who works for New Belgium Brewing Company, told us that this was one of his favorite places in the area, so we decided to check it out. Nederland is located about 20 miles of beautiful scenery away from Boulder, and the views alone were worth the trip up there. When we arrived, we were lucky enough to get a table for six on the deck overlooking the mountains. The service there was great, and Mountain Sun’s IPA was one of the best I’d ever had. I mean this in the best way possible, but it was an unfiltered IPA (I couldn’t see my hand through the glass) that looked like orange juice and even tasted a bit like it. It was awesome. The food at Wild Mountain was great as well, as I think everyone enjoyed whatever barbeque-type plate they did. I had the pulled pork and it was solid. We hung out there a bit, taking in the view, before we headed back to Boulder to check into our hotel before heading out into town.
The next place we visited was Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery in Boulder, another place recommended by Adam and was featured in the latest issue of Beer Advocate magazine. Not that we ever doubted him, but Adam steered us right again with this place. It was really packed, which was a little bit surprising because it was summer when school wasn’t in session. I think we were expecting a busy crowd, but this was beyond what we thought. Luckily, Stefan, a bartender there, spotted me and took our beer orders. Again, for the third time on Day One, the beers at the brewpub were outstanding. We had to stand up towards the back of the bar until a table finally opened up, but it was a really cool scene worth waiting for a table. Not too hipster like I had thought it’d be. Just a nice, laid back place, at least as laid back as a really crowded brewpub can be. After a few beers, someone suggested we check out Colorado Brewing Company a few blocks away.
Colorado Brewing was kind of a trip. First of all, I didn’t like the idea of paying a cover charge to go in, but it was only $1 and there was a band. I didn’t realize there was a band at first, so I was ready to go home and call it a night. This band was a reggae band that, per the lead singer, had no Jamaicans, but she was Hawaiian so it was close enough. They were interesting enough, and after ordering a beer (a decent pale ale) I went to the restroom. Innocently, I thought, but as I returned there was a really drunk 50-something year old guy dancing right by the stage. I stood at the edge of it, and said drunk guy (who was really drunk if I, after a day of solid brewpubs, thought he was) decided to push himself in front of me and proceeded to slam his ass into my crotch. It was around that time that I decided I had enough, which I think the rest of the Beer Trippers felt the same about. We walked back to the EM-50, where I felt it would be a good time to pull a “Teen Wolf” on the still-parked RV. And if you think about it, there really isn’t a better way to end Day One of a Beer Trip.